It will be cheaper and easier to travel abroad with pets from 1 January 2012, when the UK harmonises its rules governing pet movement with the rest of Europe.
The Pet Travel Scheme has been successfully operating across Europe since 2004, and will allow the UK to maintain high levels of protection against animal disease whilst bringing it into line with scientific advances and updating a system first devised in the 1800s.
All pets will still need to be vaccinated against rabies and dogs must be treated for tapeworm, with important checks still being performed before animals are allowed to enter the UK. The scheme could save UK pet owners around £7 million in fees – around £100 in vet fees per person travelling inside the EU and up to £2,500 in quarantine fees for those travelling outside the EU.
Animal Welfare Minister Lord Taylor said:
“From the 1 January it will be cheaper and easier to travel with your pets thanks to new rules being implemented as part of the Pet Travel Scheme.
“Science has made tremendous advances since quarantine was introduced in the 1800s. We now have vastly improved vaccines and treatments but have not updated our old-fashioned systems to reflect this, which places an unnecessary burden on pet owners who need to take their animals abroad.
“It is about time we made changes that allow pet owners to travel abroad more easily and cheaply whilst still maintaining our high level of protection against animal diseases. The Pet Travel Scheme has been operating successfully in other countries since 2004 and from the 1 January pet owners in the UK will also be subject to its sensible and proportionate rules.”
Under the Pet Travel Scheme, pets from the EU and other countries with robust veterinary systems (listed non-EU countries), such as the USA and Australia, will be required to vaccinate against rabies and then wait 21 days after vaccination before they travel.
Pets from unlisted, non-EU countries, such as India, Brazil and South Africa, will need to meet stricter criteria. This includes vaccination against rabies, a blood test, and a three month wait after the blood sample before they enter the UK.
All dogs must be treated for tapeworm up to five days before entering the UK. Pet owners planning to travel abroad with their animals are advised to discuss with their vets what they are required to do some time before their travel dates, as part of good animal health practice.
Ireland and Sweden will also bring its pet travel rules into line with the rest of the EU from the 1 January.