Q1- Now that the laws have been relaxed with regards to moving your pets around Europe I am thinking of taking my 5 year old terrier on holiday with us to France. Can you advise on what is needed to get a pet passport for him and if there is anything we have to do when we go away?
The laws for issuing pet passports have now been relaxed such that our criteria in the UK now match that of the rest of the E.U. Previously, animals had to be identified by a microchip and then vaccinated against rabies. 21 days later a blood test was performed to confirm that the rabies vaccination had been effective. If this was not found to be the case – as has sometimes happened – then the rabies vaccination and blood test were repeated until the animal got the ‘all clear’. At this stage a pet passport could be issued. The animal could now leave the country, but could not return to the U.K within 6 months. There is now no need to confirm the success or otherwise of a rabies vaccination and after vaccination a passport can be issued. You still need the 21 day wait for the vaccine to take effect, but once that has passed you can travel out of and back into the UK. Before returning you must ensure your pet is treated against tapeworm 24-120 hours (1-5 days) before you arrive in the UK and this must be completed by a suitably qualified vet who can sign off your paperwork. There is no longer any requirement for tick treatment.
A few things to keep in mind are how often you intent to travel abroad. If it is not an isolated journey make sure you keep up the rabies vaccinations according to the booster schedule required by the countries you are travelling between. DEFRA are able to advise on this in more detail. Also, remember that you can only transport your pet with an approved travel company or on an approved route. This means you cannot fly him there yourself or take your own private boat!
Finally, although there is no longer a requirement for a blood test to ensure that the rabies vaccination has been effective this may be something you wish to consider for your own peace of mind. Rabies is a killer disease and transmissible to people. Any animal suspected from suffering from the disease must be reported to the government and would then be destroyed in the interests of public health. The vaccine is not 100% effective and sometimes we have needed to repeat doses to get the full protection. France is considered a rabies free country although occasional cases have been seen in dogs illegally imported from countries where the disease has not been eradicated. Depending on where you are planning to travel this is certainly a matter I would discuss with your vet.
More information is available on the DEFRA website www.defra.co.uk
Written by Miss Gemma Clark BVSc, PG(Dip), MRCVS.