Bringing your Pet to the UK from Abroad
Bringing your pet into the UK is subject to strict but sensible regulations imposed by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). The greatest risk of animal contamination is from rabies, and only dogs, cats and ferrets which have been vaccinated will be allowed into the country without the prospect of quarantine. Remember that the current limit is five animals per person between EU countries, so if you're a fetter fancier as well as a dog lover you might have to make some tough decisions!
Step 1: Pet Travel Scheme
DEFRA operates its Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) for animals travelling in and out of the UK, and to and from the EU and certain non-EU countries. So rabies vaccination is essential for all animals before travelling abroad from the UK, to ensure their safe return. There is a statutory wait imposed by the EU of 21 days after rabies vaccination, before animals are allowed to enter other EU countries from the UK. Pet owners should be aware that rabies is still a very real threat in the rest of Europe and neighbouring countries, but just as much in this country.
Step 2: Blood tests & a Pet Passport
Following your pet's rabies vaccination, it will need a blood test to ensure that the procedure has taken effect, and then a pet passport. The blood test is a standard procedure that can be arranged by your vet. An EU pet passport is essential documentation which will prove that your dog or cat has been microchipped, vaccinated and has had the blood test done.
Step 3: Microchipping
All animals travelling to and from the UK should also be microchipped, but really this procedure should be mandatory for any animal lover who cares if their animal may get lost near their home. Microchipping is the ideal way for missing pets to be traced by the police. The procedure is quick and simple. For peace of mind and ease of travel, it is an expense worth paying for.
Everyone should have their pets microchipped, even if they never intend to take them abroad. It is the best known way to save ourselves from the distress of a missing loved companion, and the RSPCA, dog wardens and the police use microchips to trace owners when a stray dog is found. It can make the difference between being reunited with your dog or not!
If you have followed all the procedures above, there should be no problem taking your dog or cat to the continent and back again.
Of course, we have all heard the horror stories about people trying to smuggle snakes and more exotic specimens through the customs at Heathrow, but these are rare - which is exactly why they make the news. DEFRA's procedures are not about imposing regulations on animal lovers, but protecting the UK as a whole from the spread of rabies and other diseases, which threaten not only the infected animals, but also those they come into contact with, including vulnerable humans.
For people wanting to bring animals into the country from further afield, there may be special requirements, for instance for anyone wanting to bring a cat from Australia into the UK because of the Hendra virus.
For more information, you can follow links from: www.defra.gov.uk/wildlife-pets/pets/travel DEFRA also operates a Pet travel Scheme helpline on: 0870 241 1710
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