Taking your pet on holiday abroad

Thinking about taking your pet on holiday abroad, or perhaps you’re relocating to foreign shores? Here’s all the information you’ll need to get your four-pawed pal on the plane.

Pets need holidays, too...

Pets need holidays, too…

Pet Travel Scheme – at-a-glance guide to holidaying with pets

Taking your pet abroad then bringing it back into the UK (if you’re not permanently relocating) used to involve months of separation while the animal was quarantined against diseases such as rabies, however, this is no longer the case. Since early 2012, the new Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) means it’s far easier to take your dog, cat, or ferret on holiday. Here’s all you need to know.

Pass the lotion Fido

Pass the lotion Fido

The Pet Travel Scheme allows you to take your pet to EU and certain non-EU countries without the need for lengthy periods of quarantine or extensive blood testing.

Here’s what you’ll need to qualify for the PETS scheme…

What your pet will need

Fitment with microchip: This is a small chip injected beneath the pet’s skin that’s used for identification purposes. It is not dangerous and remains in place for the duration of the animal’s life.

Vaccination against rabies:To protect pet from this killer disease and prevent it reaching the UK. You will have to wait 21 days after the vaccination before travelling with your pet.

Treatment for tapeworm (dogs only): The Echinococcus multilocularis tapeworm can cause a fatal liver disease in humans and is found in France, Germany and other parts of continental Europe. The treatment needs to be given to your dog not less than 24 hours and not more than 120 hours before a dog enters (or re-enters the UK). This is to ensure that tapeworm eggs are not shed in the UK.

Please note – if you’re out of the country for more than five days, you’ll need to find a registered vet to administer the tapeworm treatment before you return to the UK. The treatment must also be recorded in the dog’s EU Pet Passport (see below). Ensure that the vet dates and signs the EU Pet Passport to confirm the tapeworm treatment has been given.

Pet Passport:

Pet Passport: As an EU national, you can freely travel with your cat, dog or ferret if it has a valid European pet passport. This is available from any authorised veterinarian and must contain the following details:

1) Pet’s date of birth/age
2) Microchip number, date of insertion and location in your pet
3) Date of rabies vaccination
4) Vaccine manufacturer, product name and batch number
5) Date by which the booster vaccination must be given

Getting your EU Pet Passport

Getting your EU Pet Passport: Organising an EU Pet Passport can be a tricky process, with each stage needing to be completed in the correct order and within strict timelines. Failure to do so could leave your pet refused entry to the country you’re travelling, or stuck in quarantine as you return to the UK. Follow this four-step guide to ensure you pet doesn’t get left at the airport.

Step 1: Microchip
This has unique data that’s used to match your pet to its passport, so is essential to have in place before applying.Make sure the chip conforms to ISO Standard 11784 or Annex A to ISO Standard 11785. This will ensure it can be read by the widest range of readers. Make sure you know the microchip’s number and that it has been recorded correctly on any documentation.

Step 2: Vaccinations
You need the microchip number to be entered on the vaccination record, so without the chip – the vaccination is pointless. If you get this in the wrong order, you’ll need to vaccinate the pet again and wait a further 21 days before travelling. It’s vital to ensure the official vaccination record has the following information entered:

  • The microchip number (ensure it matches your records).
  • The vaccination date and vaccine details.
  • The date by which the booster vaccination must be given.

Step 3: Apply for the EU Pet Passport
Now that the microchip has been inserted and the vaccination given, you can apply for the EU Pet Passport. In the UK you will need to visit an Official Veterinarians to issue the EU Pet Passport.

Step 4: Use approved routes and carriers:
Only certain transport companies and routes can be used to bring dogs, cats and ferrets back into the UK under the PETS scheme.

Listed countries - where you can take your pet under the PETS scheme

Here is the full list of countries that are covered by the PETS scheme. These countries will let you enter with pets, while the UK will also allow you to return with your pets from them (providing all documentation is in order and up to date).

EU countries



Balearic Islands



Canary Islands



Cyprus (1)

Czech Republic





French Guiana




Guadeloupe (2)





















Non-EU countries


Faroe Islands






San Marino


Vatican City State

The remaining non-EU listed countries and territories are

Antigua and Barbuda



Ascension Island

Australia (1)





BES Islands (Bonair, Saint Eustatius and Saba) (6)Bosnia-Herzegovina

British Virgin Islands


Cayman Islands


Curacao (5)

Falkland Islands


French Polynesia



Hong Kong

Jamaica (2)


Malaysia (4)


Mayotte (until 1 January 2014)



New Caledonia

New Zealand

Russian Federation (3)

Saint Maarten (6


St Helena

St Kitts and Nevis

St Lucia

St Pierre and Miquelon

St Vincent and The Grenadines


Trinidad and Tobago

United Arab Emirates (5)

USA (7)


Wallis and Futuna

Notes from Gov.uk website

(1) Cats from Australia are prohibited from entering the UK unless they are accompanied by a certificate from the Australian Veterinary Authorities confirming that they have not been on a holding where Hendra virus has been confirmed during the 60 days prior to export.
(2) Although Jamaica is a qualifying country under the EU Regulation, Jamaican law currently prevents the involvement of that country in the Pet Travel Scheme. Animals prepared for the Scheme may not enter Jamaica and animals may not be prepared for the Pet Travel Scheme in Jamaica.
(3) The Russian Federation consists of 88 subjects (regions). Please note that the following Republics are not part of the Russian Federation: Moldova, Georgia, Ukraine, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.
(4) The import into UK quarantine of dogs and cats from Malaysia (Peninsula) is prohibited unless health certification provided by the Malaysian veterinary authorities is provided which confirms that the cat or dog:
Has had no contact with pigs during at least the 60 days prior to export has not been resident on holdings where during the past 60 days any case of Nipah disease has been confirmed
Has been subjected with a negative result to an IgC capture ELISA test carried out in a laboratory approved for testing for antibody against the Nipah disease viruses by the competent veterinary authorities on a sample of blood taken within 10 days of export
In order to enquire about arrangements for the test to be carried out and obtaining the health certification, you will need to contact the Malaysian veterinary authorities on 006 03 88702000. The original health certification must accompany the dog/cat to the UK and be handed to the authorised carrying agent nominated to collect the dog/cat from the port/airport of landing in the UK.
(5) The UAE consists of the following states Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Al Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, and Al Fujairah.
(6) Formally known as the Netherland Antilles. The BES Islands are Bonair, Saint Eustatius and Saba.
(7) The mainland United States of America as well as American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.

Unlisted countries - where your pet needs additional tests

These are EU or non-EU countries not included on the above lists. This means they’ve not applied for or been accepted for listed status because of poor veterinary or administrative systems or a higher rabies incidence. If your pet is travelling back from one of these countries, it will need to satisfy all PETS scheme criteria, but also have a blood test to check the rabies vaccination is working.

How much will a Pet Passport cost

The cost of obtaining an EU Pet Passport will vary depending on local vet fees, but expect to pay in the region of £150-250.

Airlines and your pets

Catching a few rays

Catching a few rays

Most carriers have their own rules, so you’ll need to contact them directly for the latest information. However, most will accept your pets for travel, with British Airways carrying them via its World Cargo service, while Virgin Atlantic will take cats and dogs in the hold on many of its routes.

UK-based low-cost airlines aren’t so accommodating when it comes to pets. Flybe will allow domestic travel for pets, but not on international routes. Big-hitters easyJet and Ryanair won’t transport pets. Monarch and Thompson will take animals, but have various conditions that might put you off.

Airline pet policies

Check out some of the travelling-with-pets policies offered by a selection of major airlines.

Aegean AirlinesAir France 
American AirlinesBritish Airways 
Iberia KLM 
Lufthansa Monarch 
SAS Virgin Atlantic 

Pet diseases – what to look out for…

Travelling abroad with your pet could bring it into contact with many diseases that aren’t found in the UK, the resulting lack of immunity could leave it susceptible to infection. Here are some of the common infections and diseases – plus how to spot them.

Jet set pets… at down-to-earth prices

Join the jet pet: <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Learjet_60#mediaviewer/File:Bombardier.learjet60.vp-crb.arp.jpg" subject="Learjet">image credit</a>

Join the jet pet: image credit

Don’t like the idea of your prized pooch or pampered pussy taking to the skies in a cage – stuffed away in the plane’s cargo hold? Then it’s time to consider booking an ‘empty leg’ flight on a private jet – where both yourself and Fido can relax and enjoy the perks of executive air travel. Don’t worry about not being the head of an international banking group – the cost could actually be less than booking with a budget airline.

What are empty leg flights: Thousands of private jets are constantly buzzing around the globe, but most are simply chartered for one-way flights – leaving them empty for the return journey. It’s estimated that 3,000 private jets make more than 40,000 flights with no one but pilots on board, so in an attempt to mitigate the cost of flying sans cargo of fare-paying fat cats – you and your very trim moggy can grab a bargain seat.

How does it work: The plane’s operator will offer the flight at a total figure, with that payable between the passengers. Typically, private jets will carry 6-15 passengers, so they’re great for larger groups – and their pets – who want to travel.

So, can I take my pet: As long as you have all the correct documentation, most private jet companies will let you take your pet. They’ll also let your four-legged pal join you in the cabin – cutting stress for the pet and costing you less in specialised pet transport cages and shipping agents.

Where and when: These flights are especially suitable for those flying to destinations in Europe and the Channel Islands. Looking for last-minute flights will save even more cash, but booking ahead will still give you and your pet a sizeable discount.

How much will it cost: Flying from Biggin Hill to Cannes in France, for example, can cost as little as £1,200, which split between the plane’s seven passengers will cost just £171.00 each. See what’s on offer by searching on Jetpartner and Victor.

Approved airlines: You’ll need to make sure the private jet carrier is approved to bring pets into the UK. Check out the full list here.

Flying with assistance dogs

Assistance dogs should be welcomed by all airlines

Assistance dogs should be welcomed by all airlines

Airlines should always allow passengers to fly with assistance dogs – such as guide and hearing dogs – as long as all documentation, vaccinations, treatments and tests are in order. They will be allowed to travel in the cabin on approved routes and with carriers registered to carry such dogs. Check with your airline in advance of travelling to confirm what documentation is required.




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