The Pet Travel Scheme (PETS)
Before July 2004 ,all pets entering the UK had to be quarantined for six months. A new European Regulation 998/2003, which took effect on 3 July 2004 introduced the PETS which allowed cats and dogs quarantine-free travel between EU countries (including the UK) and selected non-EU countries as long as the pet has a valid passport.
Steps you have to follow to obtain a pet passport
1: The microchip
The cat has to be microchipped. A microchip is a small (pin sized) chip which carries a unique number. Once injected under the cat's skin it can be read by a microchip reader. Not all microchips can be read by all microchip readers. It is therefore important that your cat is fitted with a chip which meets ISO Standard 11784 or Annex A to ISO Standard 11785 to avoid any problems when entering the country. If your cat is already fitted with a non-standard microchip you will have to provide a reader that can read the microchip number at the time of inspection. Remember your pet passport is only valid if it can be verified by a microchip number!
Where can I get my cat microchipped?
Your vet should be able to do this for you. If he cannot he will advise you on the best place to have it done. Once the cat has been injected with the microchip, a pet id registration form containing the cat's name, date of birth, microchip number and owner's details has to be sent to the appropriate authorities so that the microchip number can be included in the pet database. Once the chip is registered, the owner will receive confirmation of registration - similar to that shown here. It is important to keep this safe. You may need it when obtaining your cat's passport. The microchip should be for the lifespan of the animal, although sometimes the microchip can move and become difficult to find. In that case the cat will have to be re-chipped. It is therefore important that the microchip is read during every visit to the vet to make sure that it can be easily found.
Step 2: The rabies vaccination
Once the cat has been microchipped it can be vaccinated against rabies. Depending on the vaccine, it may require one or two initial injections. A cat must be vaccinated after a microchip has been fitted. If the cat has been vaccinated prior to fitting with the chip, it will have to be vaccinated again.
Following vaccination, the pet will have to be tested, to determine whether the vaccination has been successful. A blood sample has to be sent to a registered center where a test can be carried out. The test measures whether protective antibodies have been generated by the cat's immune system and whether the titer of the antibodies (the amount of antibodies produced) is sufficient to give protection. A satisfactory blood test result will show that the rabies antibody titre was equal to or more than 0.5IU/ml. Make sure your vet gives you a certified copy of the result, accurately showing the microchip number and the date the blood sample was taken, and keep it safe.
Your pet will not be able to enter or re-enter the UK under PETS until 6 months after a satisfactory blood test has been carried out. The six months is necessary because an animal infected with rabies before vaccination would not be protected by the vaccine. Six months is the maximum time for most infected animals to display clinical signs of the disease.
Rabies vaccinations require boosts every one to two years depending on the vaccine used. As long as the rabies booster vaccinations are given by the required date, your cat will only need one initial satisfactory blood test.
Once your cat has been microchipped, vaccinated against rabies, and a satisfactory blood test has been carried out, you can apply for a pet passport.
Step 3: Pet passport
In Great Britain, the passport is issued by a local Veterinary Inspector (LVI). If your veterinary practice does not have a resident LVI, your vet will tell you where the nearest one is. You can also obtain a pet passport from your local Animal Health Divisional Office.
A valid pet passport will contain the following information:
- your cat's date of birth/age
- the microchip number with the date of injection and the location where it was injected.
- the date of rabies vaccination
- the vaccine manufacturer, product name and batch number.
- the date by which the booster vaccination must be given (i.e. the "Valid until" date)
Step 4: Treatment against parasites
Before you can enter or re-enter the UK your cat will have to be treated against ticks and tapeworms not later than 24 hours and not earlier than 48 hours prior to arrival. The treatment has to be done by your vet and recorded in the pet passport. This treatment will have to be carried out every time prior to entry into the UK. If your cat has not got a record of treatment against parasites it will have to be treated on arrival. Some airports, e.g. Heathrow have its own facilities to do this, but other airports may not and your cat may have to be taken to the nearby quarantine unit for the treatment.
The product used for the tick treatment must be licensed for use against ticks and have a marketing authorization in the country of use. Tick collars are not acceptable. The product used for the tapeworm treatment must contain praziquantel.. The treatments are to stop the tapeworm Echinococcus multilocularis and certain ticks entering the UK. These parasites can carry diseases which can infect other animals and humans causing illness and sometimes death.
After the treatment, the vet must fill in sections VI and VII of the pet passport or the third country official veterinary certificate. For both documents, the date and time of treatment (using the 24 hour clock), the name of the product used and its manufacturer must be shown. The vet must stamp and sign the passport or sign, date and stamp the certificate.
It is your responsibility as an owner to make sure that your pet's passport is in order!
Replacing a lost or full passport
To replace a full passport just take the passport and your cat to the vet (LVI in the UK). They will be able to issue your pet with a new document.
If the pet passport is lost, you will need the official pet vaccination record and the blood test result.
The information supplied here is intended as a guideline only. Make sure you discuss all these issues with your vet who will be able to give you the most up to date information. Remember also that this information is particularly relevant to bringing a cat into the UK. Regulations for other countries can vary, so check before you travel.
For more information, go to the DEFRA website - here