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A guide to pet passports

In the UK, we love animals, we love them so much there are 57 million pets in Britain – that equates to about 88% of the population owning a pet.

It’s also fair to say that owners are pretty indulgent when it comes to their pets, we spent a tail wagging £517m on cat and dog treats in 2015. We also can’t bear to be apart from our four legged friends, more than 128,000 pet passports have been issued since 2014, allowing them to come on holiday with us.

So if you want to take your pet pooch or favourite feline abroad, read on to find out more about how to get a pet passport.

What are pet passports?

A pet passport actually refers to the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS). This allows freer movement of pets within certain European Union (EU) countries – more importantly, it allows your pet back into the UK if you ever take it abroad.

So it’s not quite the same as a people passport! It’s more like a certificate detailing all your pet’s vaccines, you can get one from your vet and the photo is optional (but who doesn’t love a cute pet picture?)

Pet passports were introduced in 2000 but the scheme has been updated more recently so that it’s in line with other European countries. It’s ultimately there to ensure that animals coming into the UK are vaccinated against diseases such as rabies. We’ve been pretty lucky to keep rabies at bay – there have only been four cases of it in people in the UK since 2000 – and they were all bitten by dogs abroad. So pet passports aren’t just for pampered pooches to enjoy some sun – there’s a serious side to them too.

If you’re travelling outside of the EU with your pet, in order for your pet to regain entry to the UK, you’ll need what’s known as a ‘third-country’ official vet certificate and any other documents listed on it.

A guide to pet passports
What else do I need to think about if I take my pet abroad?

What else do I need to think about if I take my pet abroad?

It’s not just a passport that your pet will need. You’ll need to make sure that:

- your pet has been microchipped before it has a rabies vaccination (by law all dogs must be chipped anyway)

- your pet must be vaccinated against rabies and you need to wait at least 21 days after this before you travel (the first day of vaccination is day 0, not day 1)

- your dog has had a tapeworm treatment no less than 24 hours and no more than 5 days before coming back to the UK

- you’re not travelling with more than 5 pets

- your pet is at least 12 weeks old (this is the earliest that they can be vaccinated against rabies)

Does my rabbit need a pet passport?

Only cats, dogs and ferrets will need a pet passport. If you have a rabbit and just can’t part with it, then there are no restrictions to taking it with you on holiday and bringing it back – as long as you stay within the EU. If you take your rabbit or pet rodent outside of the EU it’ll need to spend four months in quarantine on its return – so probably best to leave Thumper at home.

We should point out that pet passports can only be issued to domestic cats and dogs, anything with a bit more of the wild side in it, such as a Bengal or Savannah cat or a Wolfdog means you’ll need to contact the Animal and Plant Health Agency to find out more specific travel advice.

How much will a pet passport cost?

The cost of a pet passport is anywhere in the region from £150-£250 depending your vet surgery. You’ll also need to think about the cost of any vaccines or boosters your pet might need before travelling as well. If you have a dog, you’ll also need to treat it for tapeworm before you travel.

How long does a pet passport last?

Your pet’s passport is valid for your pet’s lifetime (or if Fido’s a frequent flyer, until all the pages have run out). If you’re travelling through the EU, you’ll need your pet’s passport to hand as some checks may be made.

Anything else?

If you are taking your pet abroad, think carefully about what it, and you, might getting up to. Even if you think you’re going to be relaxing in the sun or taking gentle strolls along the beach, you might want to make sure you’re covered for all eventualities. Not all policies cover your pet outside of the UK so double check the policy to make sure you have the right cover in place before travelling. So why not compare the market for pet insurance and while you’re here, make sure you’re covered too by comparing travel insurance from our trusted suppliers – you’d be barking mad not to.

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