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A guide to pet passports

A guide to pet passports

Pet passports allow you to take your pet pooch or friendly feline abroad, so that they can enjoy the family holiday too.

Tom Harrison
Content writer
minute read
posted 10 OCTOBER 2019

What are pet passports?

Pet passports carry a record of all your pet’s vaccinations to make sure they’re vaccinated against diseases such as rabies, and that your much-loved companion is fit to travel. Under the Pets Travel Scheme (PETS) you can travel abroad with your cat, dog or ferret without them having to be quarantined when you come back to the UK, provided you have a pet passport.

If you don’t have a valid pet passport, your pet could be quarantined for up to 4 months - or refused entry to a country if you travelled by sea. You'll also be responsible for any fees or charges as a result of not having a pet passport.

Do I need a passport for my pet?

If you want to travel abroad with your pet, then it’s a legal requirement that you pet has a pet passport. If you’re travelling with your pet to the UK from a country outside the EU, you’ll need a ‘third-country’ official vet certificate. You can get this from the country you’re in. Pet passports cover the EU and other listed countries. You’ll also need a pet passport for countries that aren’t on the list if you’re travelling from the UK then returning with your pet.

Do I need a pet passport for a guide dog or an assistance dog?

Yes. Guide dogs and assistance dogs must meet the normal rules for travelling with dogs. However, they’re allowed on more routes than other pets and can travel inside the plane cabin.
Check with the airline, rail operator, ferry or cruise company for any extra conditions you need to know about before you travel inside or outside the EU. The Guide Dogs Association website also has advice about taking assistance dogs abroad.

How much will a pet passport cost?

Pet passports can be issued by most vets and cost £150-£250 for dogs and £25-£50 for cats. 

How long does a pet passport last?

Your pet’s passport is valid for their lifetime. (Or if your pet is a frequent flyer, until all the pages have been used.)

How do I get a pet passport?

Simply take your cat or dog to your vet. You’ll need to pay for the passport there, as well as any other procedures your vet advises. 

You’ll need to make sure:

  • Your pet is at least 12 weeks old – this is the earliest that they can be vaccinated against rabies. You need to wait at least 21 days after their vaccination before you travel.
  • Your pet has been microchipped before it has its rabies vaccination – by law, all dogs must be chipped.

Your dog will also need a tapeworm treatment no less than 24 hours and no more than five days before coming back to the UK.

How many pets can I bring to the UK?

You can’t bring more than five pets to the UK unless you’re attending or training for a competition, show or sporting event. You’ll need written evidence of registration for the event when you travel.

Is getting a pet passport worth it?

The benefit of a pet passport is that it’s a one-off cost. On average, it can cost from £200-£300 every holiday to keep your dog at the kennels or with a pet sitter. It’s a good idea to compare your options; see what suits you and your pet best.

A pet owner’s tale

“I got a passport for my cat Angel to go to Ireland. I was worried that it would cost loads and be a lengthy process, but it was quick and easy. 

The vet carried out a full health check, she had her rabies vaccination, got microchipped and we were good to go. 

Now I know the process is so easy, if I had a dog I would be happy to take them on holiday instead of putting them in kennels.”  

Deirdre Whybrow
Cat owner

Will my pet insurance cover my pet outside the UK?

Not necessarily, so it’s best to double check your policy to make sure you have the right cover in place before travelling. If you haven’t already got pet insurance it would be a good idea to get a policy that covers your cat or dog while you’re abroad.

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