The Pet Travel Scheme
PETS – the Pet Travel Scheme, allows pet dogs and cats only from certain countries to enter, or re-enter, the UK without quarantine provided they meet certain rules.
Are there many participating countries?
Yes. In February 2002 there are:-
a) 24 European countries and
b) 26 Long haul (non-European) countries
qualifying under the scheme.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, (DEFRA), publishes two Fact sheets. One covers the European countries and the other the long haul (non-European) countries. Information is included regarding requirements for UK pets returning home from one or more of these countries. It is our advice that you obtain the appropriate Fact Sheet from DEFRA well in advance of making any travel arrangements.
Contact DEFRA on the PETS Helpline 0870 241 1710 between 8.30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday to Friday, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or fax 020 7904 6834.
Up to date information regarding qualifying countries and any individual requirements is posted on the DEFRA Pet Travel Scheme website, www.defra.gov.uk./animalh/quarantine.
Basic requirements are as follows:-
Only dogs and cats can enter or re-enter the UK under the PETS scheme. Guide dogs and Hearing dogs are included but they must meet the rules.
Other pets, e.g. rabbits, are not eligible and have to undergo the usual import requirements.
In order to take part in the PETS scheme, pet dogs and cats, including Guide dogs and Hearing dogs, must fulfil the following requirements:-.
1. Be fitted with a microchip, preferably meeting ISO standard 11784 or Annexe A to ISO standard 11785
2. Have been vaccinated against rabies using an approved vaccine and received boosters as recommended by the vaccine manufacturer. This must be done in the British Isles or one of the qualifying countries.
3. Approximately 30 days after primary vaccination against rabies a blood test must be carried out at a DEFRA approved laboratory to ensure the vaccine has conferred the necessary protection.
4. An official PETS certificate (PETS 1) issued by a Local Veterinary Inspector of DEFRA must have been issued, indicating that the above requirements have been fulfilled and carrying the animal’s microchip number as well as other details.
5. The dog or cat cannot be brought into the UK until at least six months from the date of the satisfactory blood sample.
Are there any concessions for guide dogs or hearing dogs?
As far as regulations are concerned, guide dogs and hearing dogs have to undergo the same microchipping, rabies vaccine, blood testing and certificate issuing procedure. However some transport companies offer concessions in that these dogs may travel with the owners in the cabin on certain routes. You must contact the individual transport companies for details.
What happens if my pet was vaccinated against rabies before the microchip was inserted?
Under those circumstances it will be necessary to re-vaccinate and then re-blood test since it is essential that positive identification is established before vaccination. Regretfully it will also be necessary to then wait six months from the date of the successful blood test before the pet can enter (re-enter) the UK.
What happens if my pet fails its blood test?
If the result of the blood test shows your pet has not been satisfactorily protected against rabies, it is likely that re-vaccination followed after approximately 30 days by a further blood test will be necessary. Again the six months rule will apply.
Do I have to go to an LVI to get all this done?
No. Your pet can be fitted with a microchip in any country. Rabies vaccination (including boosters) and blood sampling can be carried out by your own veterinary surgeon. Only a Local Veterinary Inspector (LVI) can issue the PETS 1 certificate. At that time your pet’s microchip will be checked together with the certificates for vaccination and results of the blood test.
How long is the PETS certificate valid?
Until the date the booster vaccination is due, which will be entered upon the rabies vaccination certificate.
Will that mean further blood tests?
No. Provided booster vaccination is carried out on or before it is due, a further blood test will not be necessary. If the booster becomes overdue a further blood test after 30 days and then a wait of six months from the date the successful blood sample was taken is mandatory before the pet can enter the UK
How do I get my PETS certificate renewed?
You will have to ask a government authorised vet for a renewal certificate each time your pet receives its booster vaccination. This will only be issued if the booster is given on time.
Are there any other requirements before I can bring my pet into the UK?
There is one more very important step that has to be taken before your dog or cat can enter the UK. It must be treated against certain ticks and a tapeworm that can be carried by cats and dogs. Any veterinary surgeon in any of the authorised countries can do this. You must not administer the treatment yourself since an official certificate has to be issued.
When has this to be done?
It has to be done between 24 and 48 hours before your pet is checked in with the approved transport company for your journey to the UK. It has to be done every time your pet enters the UK. The vet must give you an official certificate to show that this has been done. The certificate is one issued by the government authority for the purposes of the scheme and usually has the name of the government department at the top. The certificate must be in English and may contain a translation in another language. Please note a private veterinary certificate or headed letter is not acceptable. The certificate must show your pet’s microchip number, date and time of treatment and the product used. Praziquantel, (Droncit) must be used for treatment of the tapeworm Echinoccocus multilocularis and tick treatment must be with an approved acaricide, usually containing fipronil.
Are there any other essential forms I need to know about?
You will have to fill in a form (PETS 3) to declare that your pet has not been outside PETS countries or territories during the six months before entering the UK. These countries are listed on a form which accompanies PETS 3. These forms are available from the transport company when you present your pet for checking in or you can get a copy in advance by ringing the PETS Helpline.
If coming by boat from a long haul (non European country) you can still sign this declaration as long as your pet has not left the confines of the container (unless under official supervision) or left the boat during transit or stopover on the journey to the UK.
What happens if I want to take my dog to Europe on a day trip?
Provided you have a PETS 1 certificate there should be no problem but it is essential that the treatment for parasites is carried out and certified prior to your going. Provided you return within 48 hours the PETS 2 certificate will be valid. If there is any delay you will have to seek a local veterinary surgeon and a new official certificate must be issued.
What happens if I am delayed and it is more than 48 hours after the tick and tapeworm treatment has been given before I leave?
It may be possible to have this treatment repeated on arrival and the pet then held for 24 hours after treatment. If the animal arrives at Heathrow this can be done at the airport but otherwise your pet will be transported to local quarantine premises. You will then have to seek approval for early release and bear any additional costs.
Is there anything else I need before I leave for the UK?
Some qualifying countries may need a separate export health certificate to show that your pet meets the health requirements of the country or countries you will be visiting. These requirements may be different from those of the Pet Travel Scheme. For instance some countries require your dog or cat to have been vaccinated against rabies within a specified period. It may therefore be necessary to vaccinate again despite the fact that theoretically a rabies booster is not due. Under PETS blood tests will not be necessary under such circumstances.
A separate export health certificate is no longer needed if you want to take your dog or cat to France. Instead it is possible to obtain a PETS 5 certificate from an LVI on production of your PETS 1 certificate. Possession of this means you no longer need an export certificate to enter France from the UK with your pet. However this does not apply to other countries.
Are these any restrictions on travel routes?
Yes. Only authorised routes and transport companies may be used. These change from time to time and therefore it is essential that you ring the PETS Helpline or visit the PETS website for up to date information. On some air routes guide and hearing dogs may travel in the cabin. Please check with your carrier for details.
Some transport companies have additional conditions of travel and therefore it is worthwhile always checking with them prior to your trip.
What checks will my pet have to undergo when I reach the UK?
1. You must be travelling on an approved route with an authorised carrier
2. The transport company will check
(a) Your pet’s microchip
(b) The official PETS 1 certificate
(c) The PETS 2 certificate ( treatment for tapeworm and ticks)
(d) Your declaration of residence, PETS 3.
Any animal that fails to meet the conditions of the scheme will have to go into quarantine on arrival or be returned to the country of origin.
Despite the apparent complexity of the PETS scheme nevertheless 30,199 pet cats and dogs entered England, under PETS, in August 2001. This is the latest statistic available at the time of going to press.