Taking your cat abroad

Since the UK left the EU the rules of the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS), which allowed for limited movement of pets between the UK and EU countries no longer apply. You must check the up to date guidance on the gov.uk website to see what rules are in place at the time of travel. 

If you wish to take your pet abroad with you AND bring it home again you must ensure that you follow all the rules

The current requirements for travelling with your pet should be checked on https://www.gov.uk/taking-your-pet-abroad.

You are responsible for ensuring that all the relevant documentation is completed before you travel and for arranging to see a vet abroad before you return to the UK. The cost of meeting all these requirements is your responsibility. 

Before you enter the UK your pet's microchip and all relevant documentation will be checked by the transport company. If documentation is not in order your pet will be returned to the country from which it is travelling or be required to undergo 6 months quarantine before being allowed back into the UK. 

  • To re-enter the UK your pet must be fitted with a permanent form of identification (a microchip). 
  • Your pet must have received a rabies vaccination. This is NOT carried out as part of the routine vaccination protocol in the UK. 
  • Your pet must have been issued with a Pet Passport or have an Animal Health Certificate. 

Make sure you can answer YES to the following before travelling

There are details to help you answer these questions below.

  • My pet has a microchip. 
  • My pet's rabies vaccination is up to date. 
  • My pet has a special certificate indicating that they have had a blood test to demonstrate they are protected against rabies. This must be issued no more than 10 days before travelling. 
  • We are travelling to an approved country. 
  • We are travelling by an approved route using an approved carrier. 
  • I have checked that additional certificates are not required by the country I plan to visit. 

Does your pet have a microchip implant?

A microchip is a small implant that your vet will insert under your pet's skin that carries a permanent identification number.

Although in the UK, DEFRA do not specify a particular type or brand of microchip to be used, in Europe, particular microchips may be required. It is therefore best to ensure that your pet has an ISO (International Standards Organisation) Standard microchip meeting specifications 11784 or Annex A of ISO Standard 11785, if you plan to take your pet abroad.

Is your pet vaccinated against rabies?

A microchip must be implanted BEFORE the rabies vaccination is given. First vaccinations can begin from 12 weeks of age. Rabies boosters must be kept up to date. For more information, visit: https://www.gov.uk/taking-your-pet-abroad/rabies-vaccination-boosters-and-blood-tests.

Has your pet got adequate protection against rabies?

A pet must not enter the UK under PETS until at least 21 days have passed from the date of rabies vaccination. Your pet must have a blood test to show that the rabies vaccination had been effective in protecting them against rabies. This blood test must be taken at least 30 days after their last rabies vaccination and you will not be able to travel with your pet until 3 months after the blood test. This means that it can take at least 4 months to complete the necessary documentation.     
(https://www.gov.uk/bring-pet-to-uk/rabies-vaccination-boosters-and-blood-tests). 

Do you have necessary certificates for your pet?

There is free movement of pets within the British Isles, including between countries in Britain, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. However, owners with travel documents for their pets are advised to take these with them when travelling with their animal. 

If you are travelling to the EU or Northern Ireland, you will need an Animal Health Certificate (AHC) for travel. Your vet will examine your pet before you travel to certify that it has a microchip and is up to date with rabies vaccination. You will also need a certificate detailing your pet’s response to the rabies vaccination. The travel documentation can only be completed by a specially registered vet. Only vets approved by the government (OVs) can sign and issue travel documents - so check with your veterinary practice that they have a vet who is able to complete your documentation. If they do not, they will be happy to tell you where you can find the nearest vet who can do this. 

In some instances, it may be necessary for your vet to complete a separate certificate to show that your pet meets the health requirements of the countries you are visiting or travelling through. You should contact the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) office or Embassy of the country you are visiting for details of these requirements.

Does your pet normally live in the UK and has it only visited countries in the following list?

Qualifying EU Countries and Territories:

Austria, Azores, Balearic Islands, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canary Islands, Ceuta, Cyprus (Republic only), Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Faroe Islands, Finland, France, French Guiana, Germany, Greece, Greenland, Guadeloupe, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madeira, Malta, Martinique, Melilla, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Reunion, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.

No preparation or documentation is currently needed for the movement of pets directly between the UK and the Republic of Ireland, but this may change on 1st January 2021 and as a precaution you should travel with any official documentation you have.

Pets returning to the UK from an increasing number of countries are eligible to enter the UK under the Pet Travel Scheme. An up-to-date list of these countries can be obtained from: https://www.gov.uk/bring-pet-to-uk/listed-and-unlisted-countries.

Is your pet travelling by an approved route and using an approved carrier?

You may not bring a pet into the UK from a private boat or plane.

Your pet may travel to the UK via any qualifying country or countries. It must not have been to any non-qualifying country in the 6 months before entering the UK. If you are travelling to the EU then you must also travel by the approved routes specified by the country you are visiting. Once you have entered the EU with your pet via an approved route you should be able to move freely between countries for the time your Animal Health Certificate remains valid. 

There are a number of countries from which there are no special approved routes. The up-to-date list of approved routes and approved carriers should be obtained from the Goverment website (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/pet-travel-approved-air-sea-rail-and-charter-routes-for-the-movement-of-pets).

Has your cat been treated for parasites abroad?

There is no legal requirement for cats to be treated for tapeworms or ticks before re-entering the UK. However, it is in the interest of pet owners to take precautionary measures to avoid bringing foreign parasites back into the UK. These unwelcome visitors can result in serious disease in your pet and other animals in the UK.

For further information visit: https://www.gov.uk/taking-your-pet-abroad/tapeworm-treatment-for-dogs.

Does your pet have holiday insurance?

Strange as it may seem, holiday insurance is now available for your pet too. This can cover emergency veterinary fees, third party liability, loss of passport and many other eventualities. Insurance is available for 30 days or longer periods. If your pet is already insured ask your insurance company if they offer discounted premiums for travelling.

The Government website contains full details on Pet Travel. This should be consulted to check all up-to-date requirements of the scheme: https://www.gov.uk/taking-your-pet-abroad.   

Pet Owner Factsheets