What is a Pet Passport?
A pet passport is an official registration document that is unique for the pet that contains data about the pet itself (including details of permanenet identification), the registered owner, and a number of health related aspects.
In all cases this will include a certification of rabies vaccination, but there are other items (blood tests, tick and worm treatments) that may only be required in specific circumstances. The format of the passport is the same in all european countries. However, it is important to understand that the use of the passport is somewhat different on mainland Europe compared to the UK.
Pet passports in mainland Europe
In general the petpassport is regarded as an official registration document and is therefore compulsory for all dogs, cats and ferrets. Each country may have slightly different requirements, and the situation for Belgium is highlighted below as an example.
To find out more about the general situation in Europe, go to http://ec.europa.eu/food/animal/liveanimals/pets/qanda_en.htm
Pet passports in Belgium
Since 1st June 2004, the identification and registration of all dogs in Belgium is obligatory. The Pet Passport is the registration document.
If a dog is born on the premises, and it is intended to keep possession of it, the dog must be registered by 4 months of age. If the dog is to be sold or given away as a gift, registration must be done before disposal.
If someone buys a dog, it must first be registered and have an appropriate passport. The passport is issued by a veterinarian or other approved agency.
In the case of dogs identified and registered prior to 7th June 2004, the passport is only obligatory for travelling.
To find out more about the Belgian situation, go to:http://www.abiec-bvirh.be/en/registration
Travelling to and from the UK
The situation in the UK is different and changed again on 1st January 2012. Dog Registration and identification is not compulsory for dogs permanently resident in the UK.
In addition, since the UK is free from rabies, routine vaccination of dogs for this disease is not a requirement.
The petpassport is therefore only required when the dog travels abroad. The requirements for dogs entering, or returning to, the UK are more stringent than those for export only. It is important that you ensure all the appropriate documentation is correct before you attempt the enter the UK.
The following summarises the requirements for the UK from 1st January 2012.
If you are a UK resident and wish to take your dog on holiday within Europe (or other countries included within the scheme), your dog must have a Pet Passport.
This is a small blue booklet similar in size to your own passport, and contains pages where the details of microchip number, rabies vaccinations, blood tests and tick and worm treatments can be recorded. Not all the pages have to be completed for the passport to be valid. There is a page for the insertion of a photograph of your dog, but this is optional as the unique identification is achieved by the microchip.
Obtaining a Pet Passport
To obtain a passport, the dog must be:
- At least 3 months of age
- Permanently identified by implantation of a microchip (to the approved ISO Standard) under the skin. In the UK the standard implantation site for microchips is in the midline between the shoulder blades, while in other European counries it is more commonly done on the left side of the neck.
- Vaccinated against rabies
3 week qualification period
Although the Pet Passport can be issued following the rabies vaccination, the UK require a further 3 week qualification period before the passport is valid for travel from or entry into the UK.
Are there any other additional requirements?
Yes! The dog needs to be treated between 24 – 120 hours (1 - 5 day) before their entry to the UK with a specific tapeworm treatment. A registered veterinarian (within that country) must do this and certify the treatment has been given within the Pet Passport. Prior to 1st January 2012, a specific tick treatment was also required. Although this is no longer a legal requirement, it is strongly recommended that dogs be protected against ticks as a routine.
For how long is the Passport valid?
Regular rabies boosters are required to keep the passport valid. The time interval depends on the specific vaccine used, but is generally every 2-3 years. Some European countries demand annual rabies vaccination for pets resident in their country. You would need to check this if you intend to stay in a country for more than 3 months at a time.
Do I need any other documentation?
No! A valid Pet Passport should allow free movement between countries of the EU. Individual countries can demand additional restrictions, but as the UK is one of the strictest, a Pet Passport that allows entry into the UK is likely to be suitable for all other countries of the EU. The transport of dogs within the Pet Passport scheme is only allowed along specified routes.
Pets travelling by air may require additional Health certification. In the case of dogs, the certificate will include details of the size of the carrying crate appropriate for the size of the dog. This must comply with the International Air Transport Authority (IATA) regulations. For more information see the travelling by air with your pet section.
Does Quarantine still exist in the UK?
Yes! All dogs (and cats) entering the UK that do not have a valid Pet Passport must undergo a period of 6 months quarantine. It is therefore essential that you ensure all documentation is valid and correct before you travel.
Do non-European countries have different requirements?
Some may be part of the Pet Passport scheme, whereas others may have specific requirements. Australia and New Zealand are especially strict, requiring blood samples to be taken about 1 month before. It is recommended you contact your veterinarian well in advance to ensure the appropriate tests can be done in good time. For further information check the website of the appropriate national Government departmant. In the UK, this is DEFRA Website:
Are there dangers for your pet when travelling in Europe?
The quick answer is yes! – and these dangers are significant.
People take their holidays in more and more exotic destinations and are familiar with the need to have particular vaccinations or medications for themselves as a precaution.
Protection for all diseases is not possible – the “locals” may have some immunity to the diseases occuring in their area. Visitors may not have such immunity, so disease risks when travelling are a reality. The same concerns relate to your pets. The risks are increased in the hotter Mediterranean areas that are especially popular holiday destinations. Find out more in the disease risks of holiday travel section.