How long does it take to get a Pet Passport? This was one of the biggest questions I had when we got our new adventure puppy, Mac, as obviously we wanted him to come on adventures with us as soon as possible!! But finding out what we needed to do and when we had to do them was a lot harder than it should have been- not helped by the amount of rubbish advice on the internet.
So, without further ado, and as the proud owner of a new and shiny Pet Passport (I guess technically Mac is the owner… but as I'm his owner, that makes it mine…right??) here's everything you need to do in order to get a Pet Passport.
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How do you get a Pet Passport for a dog?
The whole process would have been a lot easier if I had realised one important fact at the start- NOT ALL VETS CAN ISSUE A PET PASSPORT! Who knew?!?!
Each vet surgery should have at least one vet who can do the pet passport check and issue the passport, but they may not work there all the time and there may be several other vets who work at the surgery who CAN'T issue the passport.
I tried 7 (yep, SEVEN) different vet surgeries and had problems booking in with all of them. Admittedly, it would have been a lot easier if it hadn't been the last week of August (most of the vets seem to be on holiday then) and if we didn't have major time pressure due to an upcoming trip at end of September. In the end, I ended up at our local Pets at Home vets, who were brilliant. Although not the cheapest, they were very knowledgeable and efficient.
Here are the important things you need to know about getting a Pet Passport for a dog:
- They have to be at least 12 weeks old BEFORE they can get the rabies shot
- They MUST have had their second immunisation jab at least 1 or 2 weeks before getting the rabies shot
- They MUST be microchipped either before or at the time of the rabies jab.
- You must have at least 3 clear weeks between the rabies jab and re-entering the UK, so think carefully before you book that holiday the week after!
What do you need to take with you to get a Pet Passport?
You need a record of the vaccinations and the dates they were given. And your dog. They're pretty important. 🙂
How long does it take to get a Pet Passport?
To get the actual pet passport in my hands took… well, not very long at all. The inspection and rabies jab took about 20 minutes. Then the vet made sure they had all the details correct on their system and he sent me off, saying it would take about a week until the passport was ready. I actually got a phone call less than 2 hours later saying it was ready to collect.
Again, don't forget about the 3-week wait before you can return to the UK. Some people think it's 3 weeks until you can leave the UK. This isn't true… although you may prefer waiting 3 weeks before you leave to avoid any confusion! We were initially told we had to have the rabies shot a clear 3 weeks (22 days) before we travelled. As we're leaving on 24th September, that only gave us about a week between Mac being clear after his second vaccination… hence the pressure and frustration when most of the passport vets were on holiday at end of August!! But it all worked out in the end.
What jabs do a dog need to get a Pet Passport?
Your dog needs to have had both of his immunisation vaccinations, and then needs a rabies jab. They also checked he had been wormed and given flea treatment (although I'm not sure if this is a requirement or if the vet was just being thorough.)
IMPORTANT NOTE: The timing of the rabies jab depends on what type of immunisation vaccination your dog was given. For example, our dog's vaccinations were Canigen and he had to wait 2 CLEAR weeks (ie, 15 days) before they would give him the rabies jab. I believe some vaccinations are only a week and some may be longer, so make sure to check when you book the appointment.
We were told Mac might be a bit drowsy or a bit more clingy after the rabies shot… but as he's a puppy and does nothing but sleep or stick to our feet, we didn't notice anything different. We certainly didn't notice any adverse side effects… or foaming at the mouth!
Ok, now for the complicated part. There are HUGE discrepancies all across the internet on how often you need to give rabies shots and ‘top-ups' to your dog. From what I can understand, there are either different types of rabies shots (like there are different initial immunisation vaccines) or the shots have changed recently. Anyway, we were given the Nobivac rabies shot and the paperwork from my vet says Mac need another ‘Rabies and Health Examination' in 3 years. The date in his passport is also until that date. I have no idea what other options are available, so please check with your vet.
If you are travelling within the EU, a valid Pet Passport is all you need (at least until Brexit!) If you are going outside the EU, some countries require a rabies shot within 12 months, so again check with your vet or the embassy of that country plenty of time before you are due to travel.
How much does a Pet Passport cost?
More than we expected!! We paid £156.64 which consisted of:
- £36 initial consultation
- £55.86 Rabies and Health exam
- £64.68 Pet passport initial issue
This seems pretty expensive, although I guess it won't cost that much again as we've already got the passport now… until it gets full!
What countries can you travel to?
You can travel to most countries with a Pet Passport. Returning from most of them back to the UK is fairly straightforward if they're ‘on the list'. Unlisted countries are a little more complicated: the GOV website can tell you which counties are ok (most of the EU) and which require further tests for your dog and possibly a period of quarantine.
What else do you need to do once you have your Pet Passport?
When you collect your Pet Passport at the vet, check it carefully. It's an official document, exactly like your own passport. Check your name, address, spelling and CHECK HIS MICROCHIP NUMBER against your own paperwork. You then need to sign it and add in a photo of your dog. I don't believe there are any strict requirements for this photo as the microchip is how they identify the dog, but make sure he or she is easily identifiable from the photo.
What are the rules for returning to the UK?
You must get your dog a Tapeworm treatment from a local vet no less than 24 hours and no more than 5 days before returning to the UK.
The tapeworm treatment must contain praziquantel or an equivalent proven to be effective against the Echinococcus multilocularis tapeworm- sounds delightful- and I'm really hoping the french vets know what I am talking about!!!
There are plenty of vets across Europe, and the ones close to all the ports going to the UK are well versed in what is required. This helpful guide from DFDS shows the vets closest to their ports… but remember to leave at least 24 hours.
Make sure you get the pet passport stamped/ signed so you can prove it has been done. You need to make sure they mark the following into the Pet Passport in the ‘Echinococcus treatment’ section:
- the name and make of the product
- the date and time they treated your dog
- their stamp and signature
If you are only going abroad for the weekend or even a day, you can get a UK vet to give the tapeworm treatment. Just make sure it's been at least 24 hours before you try to return. Again, make sure they have marked the pet passport in the appropriate place.
I hope that's helped clear up some of the confusion that's out there. If I've missed anything or not answered your question, please let me know in the comments below. Let me know the name and ages of your dogs below- it's so fun to see how many people are travelling with their pooch!
Looking for more tips and tricks before your holiday?? Check out our Road Trip Countdown– 21 days of information to make sure you are totally prepared for your adventure!
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