Travelling and Pet Law


The Pet Travel Scheme is the controlled measure to prevent rabies, certain tick-borne diseases and tapeworm from entering the country via the importation of pets. Before pets can enter the UK under the Scheme they must meet certain animal health requirements, such as being vaccinated against rabies, which are laid down in EU law (EC Regulation 998/2003).


Pets Entering the UK


From 1 January 2012 there are some changes to the rules:

  • Pets travelling from other EU Member States and 'listed' Third countries (countries which the EU considers do not present a higher risk of rabies incursion compared to movements within the EU, for example USA, Australia and Japan) will no longer need to be blood tested after they have been vaccinated against rabies.

  • Pets travelling from other EU Member States and listed Third countries will only have to wait 21 days following their rabies vaccination before they can enter the UK, rather than waiting six months as previously required.

  • Pets travelling from 'unlisted' Third countries (countries which have not applied or been accepted for listed status, because of less robust veterinary or administrative systems or higher rabies incidence, for example China, India and South Africa) will no longer be required the six months compulsory quarantine and will be able to enter the UK if they meet certain requirements (they are micro chipped, vaccinated against rabies and have passed a blood test). They will not be allowed to enter the UK for four months after the date of the vaccination.

  • Pet owners who need to travel to the UK at short notice will continue to have the option of voluntarily placing their pet in UK quarantine, where it will be required to undergo the necessary health treatments, such as being vaccinated and blood tested if required, before being released.

  • There will be no mandatory tick treatment before pets enter the UK, and the tapeworm controls now require treatment 1 – 5 days before returning to the UK.

The UK will maintain a robust level of protection against rabies, and have robust plans in place to deal with any detected cases of the disease. Although the rules changed on the 1 January 2012 efforts continue to be made to ensure that every pet arriving in the country is checked to ensure that it meets the EU requirements, regardless of where it arrives from, and it is expected that the private quarantine sector will retain a vital role in dealing with non-compliant animals. Stringent penalties remain in place for those that breach the law by smuggling animals into the country or by knowingly using false or misleading information/documentation.


If you require further information or advice on these changes, please visit the DEFRA website: www.defra.gov.uk/wildlife-pets/pets/travel/pets/


Travelling Abroad


It is still vitally important that you protect your pet abroad. Just because the government have reduced and relaxed some of the rules does not mean that your pet is at lower risk.  You must check before you travel about some of the diseases that are prevalent in an area that you may be travelling to. Many of these diseases seem exotic and will be unfamiliar. We are seeing more cases of diseases such as Leishmoniasis.


  • Take measures to cover your pet from ticks. This means using Frontline or Certifect every 4 weeks. Carry a tick hook so that you can safely remove any ticks that do attach. The diseases that are spread by ticks are many and include Babesiosis, Ehrlichia, Lymmes disease, Tick Borne fever.

  • If you are in area where heart worm is prevalent then you will need to use Programm or Advantix.

  • Leishmaniasis is a disease spread by sand flies and is difficult to cure and generally needs expensive and constant medication. Scalibor is a collar that can be used to ward off sand flies. Keep your pet in early in the evening and first thing in the morning when the sand flies are most active.

The Veterinary Health Centre Ltd, 4 Greenways, Lytham St Annes, Lancashire, FY8 3LY. Tel: 01253 729 309 | Company Reg. Number 5507480 | VAT number 636464523
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