What you must do to take your dog or cat abroad

The rules for pet travel are different for different countries and should be fully read and understood before plans to travel are finalized. It is vitally important to view the most current detailed advice on DEFRA Pet Travel Scheme website before traveling with your pet.

For traveling within the EU and from certain other approved countries into the UK dogs and cats can travel as part of the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS). To qualify for travel between EU countries and return to the UK, the pet must have met the following criteria in the order shown:

  • The pet must microchipped
  • Vaccinated against rabies (and kept fully up to date with boosters)
  • Have a pet passport issued by your veterinary surgeon
  • Have at least a 3 week interval to have elapsed from the date of initial rabies vaccination before travel
  • Certain other basic conditions also need to be met, since for example travel must be via an approved route with an approved carrier

Pet travel into the UK prior to 2012 required dogs and cats to pass a blood test assessing the response to rabies vaccination. In addition a tick treatment had to be applied 24-48 hours prior to return. These two rules ceased to apply from 1 January 2012, although an obligation to treat for the dangerous Echinococcus multilocularis tapeworm which is endemic and increasing in continental Europe 1-5 days before return continues to be in place for dogs only while the UK remains free of this parasite.

A second major change introduced from 1 January 2012 dogs and cats can also qualify for entry into the UK from non-PETS approved countries without quarantine on the basis that they meet a number of specific criteria. These include microchipping, rabies vaccination and blood testing to assess the immune response 30 days following rabies vaccination, followed by a 3 month wait before travel. For further information on this or further clarification of the PETS rules please visit the DEFRA Pet Travel Scheme website or contact them via their PETS helpline on +44 (0)870 241 1710

Pet owners are urged to speak to their veterinary surgeon and contact DEFRA to find out the latest information on pet travel and bringing pets back into the UK.


Beyond the PETS rules it is also vitally important to remember as we would for our own health when traveling abroad to check regarding other health issues appropriate to the country you are visiting before you go . Different pet diseases are prevalent even just across the English Channel in Northern France and UK pets are especially vulnerable because their immune systems are naïve to such risks. Taking your vets advice on other important preventative health measures should help ensure your pet doesn’t return with a serious and life-threatening disease.
DEFRA government website quarantine link
Pet diseases abroad link