Information on PETS Travel scheme

This information is for guidance purposes only. For more detailed advice and support regarding the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS), please go to the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) website.

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Your guide or assistance dog will need to have a working microchip to comply with the Pet Travel Scheme. All UK guide and assistance dogs will have been microchipped by the recognised organisation who trained your dog. However, microchips can fail or move from the point where they were first placed, so additional scanning to locate a chip or a replacement chip might be necessary to comply with the scheme. Your dog’s microchip should be checked by an Official Veterinarian (OV), as the first part of issuing a dog with a PETS passport.

European PETS passport

Your guide or assistance dog, as with all other pet dogs, will need a European PETS passport to leave and return to the UK. PETS passports are obtained from veterinary practices with a vet who is an OV. You will need to ensure that this passport is taken with you as a part of your documentation when travelling out of the UK, as it will be inspected on return to the UK and more than likely checked prior to departure.

Rabies vaccination

Your dog, like other pet dogs, will need to be vaccinated against rabies for travel outside the UK after it is microchipped. This is carried out as a part of the PETS passport process. These vaccinations must be kept up to date, which should be reflected by the rabies stamp in your dog’s PETS passport provided by an Official Veterinarian.

You should ensure that booster vaccinations are re-administered prior to, or no later than, the end date of the effective vaccination period in your dog’s PETS passport. Failure to do this will result in you having to start the PETS passport process from the start for your dog.

For dogs travelling to and returning from the EU and listed Third Countries, there is no longer a need for a rabies blood test. If you wish to visit unlisted Third Countries with your dog, you will need a rabies vaccination (given when the microchip is in place, as mentioned before) and additionally a blood test must be taken at least thirty days later (the day of vaccination counts as day 0 and not day 1, but no maximum waiting period is specified), as part of the PETS process for visiting those countries. Also, a more frequent cycle of rabies vaccinations may be a condition of entry imposed by a country that you are visiting. Whilst some rabies vaccines are designed to last for three years, some countries visited will ask that a rabies vaccination is no more than a year old.

Travel after 21 days

Guide or assistance dogs with a qualifying PETS passport are not able to re-enter the UK from EU countries and listed Third Countries (E.g. USA, Japan and Australia) before 21 days from the date the dog was vaccinated the first time for rabies (the day of vaccination counts as day 0 and not day 1). This rule does not apply for subsequent rabies vaccinations, as long as they are carried out before or on the expiry date in your dog’s PETS passport. It is therefore recommended that you plan ahead and avoid leaving the UK before the 21 day period expires.

It is recommended that you wait 21 days before leaving the UK. The reason this 21-day wait is in place is to ensure that sufficient time has elapsed for the vaccine to become effective. If you leave the country before the 21 day period has elapsed the dog may not be protected against rabies in the country you are visiting.

Additional blood sample

If you wish to take your dog from the UK to and return from what are called unlisted Third Countries (e.g. countries or states within Africa, India and China), your dog will need to be microchipped, vaccinated against rabies and have an acceptable blood sample taken after 30 days from the rabies vaccination. This must all be done in the UK or another EU country. If a dog passes its blood test, the vet will issue a PETS passport or a stamp in an existing PETS passport.

Additional requirements

Please note, if you take your dog to a country outside the EU, this country may have its own import rules and they may not accept an EU PETS passport as the only qualifying entry document. You can only use a valid and complete PETS passport without additional documentary evidence, to get back into the UK or other EU country. It is advisable that you check with the qualifying pet travel rules of non-EU listed Third Countries and unlisted Third Countries before you travel.

Additionally, there are diseases in other countries, which are not prevalent in the UK or other European states, which may impact on the health of your guide or assistance dog. You are advised to check with your Official Veterinarian, the DEFRA Pet Travel helpline and the Embassy or Consulate of the country you are visiting as soon as you can, prior to departure, to find out which diseases may potentially impact on your dog’s health and what you need to do to prevent that happening.

Tapeworm treatment

You will need to get your dog treated against tapeworm by a qualified vet before embarking on the last leg of your journey to re-enter the UK. The treatment must be administered 24 to 120 hours (1-5 days) before your scheduled time of arrival back into the UK.

It is recommended that you also obtain a second tapeworm treatment for your dog from your vet once you have arrived home, if the first treatment was administered over 48 hours before arriving back into the UK. This is to ensure that, if your dog has contact with tapeworms after the treatment, prior to returning to the UK, they are eradicated from the dog on its return.

Optional Tick treatment

Guide Dogs and all UK assistance dog organisations strongly advise that you also administer a tick treatment to your guide or assistance dog prior to travel, and every 4 weeks whilst you are away from home (tick prevention is normally covered in the regular flea treatment dog owners should be using, but the cover for ticks in most preparations is only effective for 4 weeks from its application).

UK PETS checks

On your return to the UK with your dog, your dog’s PETS passport will be checked by the appropriate staff member from your transport operator, port authority or Animal Clearance Officer, prior to your onward journey. Failure to provide the correct documentary evidence or to comply with the PETS Travel Scheme could result in your dog being taken into quarantine, although every effort will be made to avoid this happening. This is why your dog’s PETS passport may be checked on your outward journey to avoid unforeseen complications on your return to the UK.

Dog health

The legislative requirements for international travel are designed to protect human health and will only protect a dog from rabies and tapeworm. Dogs are the same as humans, and when travelling overseas, there is always risk of coming into contact with a disease for which they have no immunity, as the disease is not present in the UK. The level of risk will vary from one country to another, and before considering travel, we would strongly recommend that you discuss the risks with your veterinary surgeon or local Guide Dog Mobility Team’s Dog Care and Welfare Advisor, or assistance dog training organisation, so that you can make a fully informed decision as to whether it is appropriate to take your dog abroad.

Currently, guide dog owners are required to pay all veterinary costs associated with the PETS Passport. If your guide dog is taken ill whilst abroad, if requested Guide Dogs will provide financial support for veterinary costs. However, you would be required to cover these costs at the time of treatment and then claim the cost of treatment (with receipts of treatment costs) from Guide Dogs on your return to the UK. Dog owners with dogs from other assistance dog organisations should contact your own organisation at the planning stage with regards to meeting the costs associated with overseas travel.

PETS Travel helpline

When emailing PETS Travel helpline, please give them your name, address and day time telephone number.

0370 241 1710