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Pet Travel Rules

Dogs, cats and ferrets entering or re-entering the UK from within the EU and from listed non-EU countries need to:

  • Have been microchipped - this should be done, by someone appropriately trained (see section below on microchipping), before any of the other procedures for pet travel are carried out.
  • Be vaccinated against rabies - the vaccination should be current and done after microchipping, at least 21 days before travel. From the 29 December 2014 the pet animal must be at least 12 weeks of age at the time of the first vaccination.
  • Have an EU Pet Passport or an official third country veterinary certificate - these must be issued by a vet.
  • Have had tapeworm treatment 1-5 days before arrival (dogs only).
  • Travel with an approved transport company on an authorised route.

In order to enter the UK from unlisted non-EU countries dogs, cats and ferrets need to:

  • Have been microchipped - this should be done, by someone appropriately trained (see section below on microchipping), before any of the other procedures for pet travel are carried out.
  • Be vaccinated against rabies and passed a blood test taken at least 30 days after vaccination - the vaccination should be current and done after microchipping.  From the 29 December 2014 the pet animal must be at least 12 weeks of age at the time of the first vaccination.
  • Wait 3 months after the blood test before entry into the UK.
  • Have a third country Health Certificate - these must be issued by an official vet.
  • Have had tapeworm treatment 1-5 days before arrival (dogs only).
  • Travel with an approved transport company on an authorised route.

The current, full Non-Commercial Movement of Pet Animals rules are detailed on the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) website and should be consulted in advance of making travel arrangements.

Pet owners can bring their animals from abroad directly into Scotland on certain approved routes which are operating through the Animal Reception Centre/Border Inspection Post at Edinburgh Airport and the Animal Reception Centre facility at Glasgow Airport. Animals using this service must meet all the requirements of the Pet Travel Scheme set out above. Within the British Isles pets can be carried on any route subject to the transport company's agreement and conditions of carriage.

Do owners need to accompany their pets during travel?

Travelling with an EU pet passport - If you are not able to accompany your pet (for example if your pet is travelling on a different flight) then your pet’s movement must be within 5 days of either your movement or the movement of a person you have authorised in writing to be responsible for your pet. If you can’t meet this requirement then your pet will have to travel under the rules of the commercial trade and import regime.

If you are travelling from outside the EU then you must sign a declaration confirming that your movement is non-commercial. This declaration must accompany the pet and its pet passport during the journey and is required for all movements from outside the EU, even where you are able to directly accompany your pet.

Travelling with a Third country certificate - All pet owners travelling with a third country certificate must complete a declaration confirming that they do not intend to sell or transfer ownership of their pet. Your pet must move within 5 days of your movement or the movement of a person you have authorised in writing to be responsible for your pet. If you can’t meet this requirement then your pet will have to travel under the rules of the commercial trade and import regime.

Travelling with more than five pets

The maximum number of pet animals that can accompany their owner or an authorised person under the pet travel scheme – including into and out of the UK – is limited to five per person (unless you are attending a show or competition). If there are more than 5 pets travelling you will need to comply with additional rules.  These include:

  • travelling from a registered premises
  • using an authorised transporter
  • registering the movement on the TRACES system
  • if you are travelling from outside the EU you will also need to enter through a Border Inspection post (BIP) - there are only three BIP's in the UK which are located at; Edinburgh Airport, Heathrow Airport and Gatwick Airport

Shows and competitions

If you are travelling with more than five pets that are over six months of age and can present written evidence that they are registered to attend a show, competition or sporting event (or training for these events) you do not need to comply with these extra rules and can continue to travel under the EU Pet Travel Scheme.

You will have to complete a declaration confirming that you are eligible to make use of this exemption and any supporting evidence provided will need to be sufficient to establish that the movement of the identified animals is not commercial (i.e. no intention to sell or transfer ownership)

Recognised Assistance Dogs

Recognised Assistance Dogs entering the UK under the Pet Travel Scheme must meet all of the rules of the Scheme. On certain approved air routes assistance dogs can travel with their owner in the passenger cabin rather than in the hold as cargo. Detailed advice on travelling with assistance dogs and authorised routes for travel is available on the Defra website. http://www.defra.gov.uk/wildlife-pets/pets/travel/pets/assistance-dogs/

Quarantine

In some "exceptional circumstances" (for example when the owner needs to travel urgently at short notice) an import licence issued under the Rabies (Importation of Dogs, Cats and Other Mammals) Order 1974 may be obtained in advance. This requires your pet to be detained, at your expense, at approved quarantine premises until they are compliant. These licenses are issued by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) and applications will be kept under review to ensure they are for exceptional circumstances only.

Where a non-compliant pet is licensed into quarantine or where a licence is issued in advance, these pets must remain in quarantine until they are compliant with the pet travel rules or for a maximum period of no more than four months.  The four month maximum applies to animals that have complied with all of the applicable preventative health measures other than for rabies.  This is consistent with the maximum period that applies to other animals that require rabies quarantine under the Rabies Order, and is based on veterinary advice in relation to the incubation period for rabies.

Please be aware that there are no quarantine premises available for animals licenced for "exceptional circumstances"  in Scotland, only emergency quarantine premises for those pets found to be non-compliant on or after arrival.

Microchipping

Your pet must be fitted with a microchip to identify it.  You can get your pet fitted with a microchip at any time but it must be done before it is vaccinated against rabies.  Make sure that the microchip number is also correctly recorded on the EU pet passport or third country official veterinary certificate at the time of issue.  You should also get your vet to read the microchip every time you visit and before you travel to ensure it still works.

If your pet already has a microchip when you decide to take it abroad you do not need to get it re-chipped.  In this case your vet should read the microchip to ensure it is working then record the date of reading and its number in the EU pet passport.  Then the rabies vaccination can be administered.

Only certain trained people can implant microchips in pets (dogs, cats and ferrets) that are being prepared for travel under the EU pet travel scheme:

  • vets
  • vet nurse, student vet or student vet nurse acting under the direction of a vet
  • individuals who have been assessed on an approved training course (see below)
  • individuals who, before 29 December 2014, had received training which included practical experience of microchipping

Since 29 December 2014 it has become a legislative requirement for non-veterinarians who implant microchips in pet animals to be satisfactorily assessed on a training course approved by the Scottish Ministers, unless before that date they had received training which included practical experience of implanting a microchip.

LANTRA’s Level 3 Award in performing microchip implantation in animals is approved by Scottish Government, Defra and the Welsh Government as a suitable qualification for microchip implantation in pet animals for the purposes of the Pet Travel Scheme.

Further information on microchipping can be found on the GOV.UK website.