Travelling abroad with your pet

Not so long ago, Britain’s strict pet quarantine laws meant that even if you did take your pet on holiday with you, they’d have to spend several months in quarantine on your return home. Pet passports have changed all that, though. Now, the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) means that you can take your dog or cat on holiday with you, providing you take a few simple precautions.

Your pet has to fulfil certain criteria, which includes:

  • Be vaccinated against rabies
  • Have a blood test
  • Be issued with an official PET certificate
  • Have treatment for tapeworm and ticks – and be issued with an official certificate to prove it has been treated
  • You must sign a declaration of residency

Planning ahead is the key as no animal can re-enter the UK within six months of having a blood test. As the blood test has to be done at least a month after the rabies vaccination, you need to ensure you’ve allowed a minimum of seven months before your planned trip.

Altogether, the microchip, vaccinations, blood test and documents can cost around £200. The vaccination then lasts two years – after that time you’ll need to renew the passport.

When you actually make your journey, be sure to enter or re-enter the UK on a route approved by PETS (for the latest information on this, visit DEFRA and make a prior booking for your pet.

As for the pet, there is lots you can do to make the journey and the holiday itself – more pleasant for them. Travelling can be quite traumatic for animals, so you need to make them feel as comfortable as possible. Here are a few simple tips:

  • If you’re flying, your pet will have to be in a container. Make sure it is big enough that they can stand or lie down, and turn around and let them get used to the container they will be travelling in for some time before the trip
  • If you’re driving, cats should still travel in a container, for their safety and yours. Stop regularly for water and exercise
  • Try to take them on a short trip or two before you embark on a longer one, so they get used to it
  • If your pet hates travelling, ask your vet for advice on tranquillisers
  • Put a favourite blanket or cushion in the container and leave it open for them to wander in and out of
  • Before you leave, give them food and water and let them go to the toilet
  • Take the food they like with you
  • When you arrive at your destination let them have a good look round but be aware that distressed animals, particularly cats, can run off

Direct Line’s pet insurance can be extended to cover all countries included in PETS and your insurance would then include vet’s expenses and the loss of your pet passport while abroad. If you’re thinking of taking your pet with you on your next holiday, why not get a quote for pet insurance from Direct Line.

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