Pet Passports

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

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
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Posted 21 SEPTEMBER 2020

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, it’s a legal requirement that they have a pet passport. 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.

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.

Which countries can I take my pet to?

With a pet passport, you should be able to take them to all EU and EEC countries, as well as many other countries, particularly from the Caribbean, as well as the Americas, Asia and Oceania. For the full and most recent list of countries, you can find the latest government advice here.

It’s important to know that, from 1 January 2021, the rules for travelling to and from EU countries with your pet may change, as the UK’s Brexit transition phase ends.

What information does a pet passport contain?

Your pet’s passport should include the following information:

  • Details of the pet – this could include the type of animal, its breed, age, size etc.
  • Microchip information
  • Proof of rabies vaccination and blood test (if applicable)
  • Tapeworm treatment (if applicable)
  • Your information as its owner

How much will a pet passport cost?

There’s a number of costs involved in getting a pet passport. These vary considerably based on the individual requirements of different countries.

Generally, it will be compulsory to get a pet passport, which costs around £60, a microchip for your pet, as well as a rabies vaccine or booster. A microchip costs an estimated £20 and a rabies vaccine/booster can set you back between £15-£60 in total.

You may also be required to get a rabies blood test, costing up to £120, a tapeworm treatment, which can cost up to £30 and, of course, pet insurance. You’ll need to check your policy to make sure it’s valid for travel abroad, and if it isn’t, add on more cover.

Keep in mind that it could cost a lot more to keep your dog or cat at the kennels or with a pet sitter while you go on holiday. It’s a good idea to compare your options and investigate what best suits you and your pet.

What is a veterinary certificate?

If you’re bringing a pet into the UK and it doesn’t have a pet passport, you’ll need to get a veterinary certificate from an approved vet in the pet’s country of origin. You’ll always need to get a veterinary certificate if you’re travelling with your pet from a listed or an unlisted country. The veterinary certificate will be valid for a period of no more than 10 days, during which you and your pet will need to travel to the UK. The certificate will be stamped and signed by the relevant authorities when you arrive in the UK and is valid for four months afterwards, allowing you to travel freely with your pet within the EU.

What is a third country veterinary certificate?

For some countries, you may also use a third-country official veterinary certificate. This is in replacement of a pet passport for selected non-EU countries, that aren’t listed by the UK government. However, this certificate must be presented if your pet has had a blood test or rabies vaccination while in an unlisted country.

Your pet’s certificate is only valid for entry to an EU country for 10 days, so you should make sure that you plan accordingly. The certificate can then be used to travel with your pet between EU countries (including the UK) for four months after your pet first enters the EU.

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.) However, it’s important to note that the passport is only valid for as long as the various requirements are met. That means keeping your pet up to date with all their vaccinations.

Also, keep in mind that the standards and requirements for getting a pet passport in the UK will change in January 2021 as a result of Brexit.

Pet passports after Brexit. What you need to know

During the transition period, which will last until at least 31 December 2020, the rules will stay the same – so your pet can travel with you to countries in the EU using their pet passport. After this, there will be changes. What these will be depends on the UK’s future relationship with the EU.

Possible outcomes include:

The UK becomes a Part 1 listed country. This would mean that everything will stay the same, except you’d need to apply for a new UK pet passport, as opposed to an EU one. Your pet would still need to be microchipped and vaccinated against rabies, a minimum of 21 days before you travel. Tapeworm treatment may also become compulsory.  

The UK becomes a Part 2 listed country. In this instance, pet owners will need to do all the above, as well as be required to get an Animal Health Certificate (AHC) from an official vet 10 days or less before travelling. A new AHC will need to be issued every time you travel with your pet.

The UK becomes an unlisted country. If this happens, as well as all the above requirements, pets will need to have a blood sample taken by an official vet. This will be sent to an EU-approved lab and the results printed on the pet’s AHC. Pets will need to wait a minimum of three months following the successful blood test before they’re allowed to travel.

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 for the rabies vaccine/booster, a microchip and its insertion (if your pet doesn’t already have one), and 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.
  • 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.

Keep in mind that you’ll need to wait at least 21 days after your pet’s vaccination before you travel. This is why it’s recommended to start the process early, giving yourself at least one to six months before your departure date.

Which vaccinations are needed?

Whether your pet needs vaccinating, or which vaccinations they need, depends on their species. If your pet is a dog, cat or ferret, they must be vaccinated for rabies. Dogs must also be treated for tapeworm.

Other types of vaccination, such as hepatitis, can be recorded on your pet passport, but these aren’t required.

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 and all the pets travelling with you will need to be at least six months old. If you’re travelling with more than five pets and they’re not attending or training for an event, you’ll need to follow the commercial rules for importing animals.

If you’re travelling to the UK with more than five pets, you’ll need to:

  • make sure you have the right certification
  • enter the EU through a border control post (BCP).

Depending on where you’re travelling from, you may also need an import licence and a commercial document.

If you’re travelling from the UK within the EU with more than five pets, you’ll need to:

  • apply for a free Intra Trade Animal Health Certificate (ITAHC) for each type of animal
  • adhere to the rules for transporting animals.

If you’re travelling from the UK outside of the EU with more than five pets, you’ll need to:

  • complete an export health certificate (EHC).

See more information on live animal experts from GOV.UK.

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.

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 doublecheck 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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