Do you need a pet passport for your dog, cat or other pet so you can travel abroad?
Wondering how long does it take to get a Pet Passport? What are the requirements for taking a dog to France, how much does it COST and How do you even GET a UK pet passport?
We're going to answer all of these questions today because I get it- travelling Europe with a dog or a pet is NOT easy. It's a worry; you don't want to do something wrong and land your pet in quarantine for months on end.
NOTE: This is for the OLD UK Pet Passport scheme, which ended when the UK left the EU. For travel after 01 January 2021, visit this post for taking a dog to France or Europe
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How do you get a Pet Passport for a dog?
Getting a UK pet passport was one of the biggest concerns I had when we got our new adventure puppy, Mac; obviously, we wanted to take our dog from the UK to France as soon as possible so we could have lots of adventures!
But finding out the requirements for a dog passport and how we went about getting one 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 UK 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 know in order to get a Pet Passport (and start traveling abroad with your dog!)
How to get a pet passport UK
Getting a UK pet passport would have been a lot easier if I had realised one important fact at the start- NOT ALL UK VETS CAN ISSUE A PET PASSPORT!
Each vet surgery should have at least one vet who is authorised to complete the pet passport check and issue the passport, but they may not work at that surgery all the time and there will probably be several other vets who work at the surgery who CAN'T issue the passport.
Trying to do International Dog travel with a puppy!!
We didn't mean to get a puppy. Well, we did MEAN to, but we hadn't factored in getting his dog passport with our timeline of exploring Europe in a motorhome.
Which meant we were stuck with a puppy too young to have his jabs, and a ticket for a ferry to cross from UK to France with our motorhome. At the end of September (in the middle of the summer rush!)
I tried 7 (yes, SEVEN!) different vet surgeries and had problems booking in with all of them- they were fully booked weeks in advance. In the end, I ended up at a Pets at Home vets, who were brilliant. Although not the cheapest, they were very knowledgeable and efficient.
How do you get a pet passport for your dog?
Before you get a dog passport, you need to know the following:
- Dogs 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!
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 if 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!
What do you need to take with you to get a Pet Passport?
When you go to the vet, you MUST tell them you want to get a pet passport, so they can book you an appointment with the correct vet. When you attend, you need to bring
- a record of the vaccinations the pet has had and the dates they were given.
- Your pet. They're pretty important. 🙂
You do NOT have to go to your normal vet or the vet who gave them all the vaccinations. As long as you have proof of the jabs and dates given, any vet approved to issue pet passports is fine.
How long does it take to get a Pet Passport UK?
So, the big question-How much time does it take to get a pet passport before you can travel Europe with your dog?
To get the actual pet passport in my hands took about 5 hours, but could be as much as a week.
The inspection and rabies jab took about 20 minutes. Then the vet made sure they had all the details correct on their system. He told me the passport would be ready to collect within a few days, but I actually got a phone call less than 2 hours later saying it was ready.
How much does it cost to get a Pet Passport?
So, just how much is a UK pet passport? More than we expected!!
We paid £156.64 (2018 price) which consisted of:
- £36 initial consultation
- £55.86 Rabies and Health exam
- £64.68 Pet passport initial issue
This is pretty expensive, and we have heard of vets which issue dog passports cheaper. We are right in Portsmouth, south coast UK, so it's one of the most expensive areas apparently- too much requirement for International Dog Travel!!
What are the requirements for taking a dog to France?
Don't forget about the 3-week wait between being given the rabies jab and when you can return to the UK.
But it is a CLEAR 3 weeks (22 days) so make sure you check the diary carefully!
Travelling Europe with a dog- what do I need to do to take my dog to Europe?
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.
There are either different types of rabies shots (like there are different initial immunisation vaccines) or the shots have changed recently.
Our dog was 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.
Travelling outside the EU with a dog
If you are travelling the EU with your dog, 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.
Find out all the latest rules about taking a pet to Europe and driving in Europe after BREXIT here
What countries can you travel to with a UK pet passport?
You can travel abroad with a dog 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 THE 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
We have now done this many (many!) times and never had a problem. Find a vet withing 48-24 hours of where you leave mainland Europe, and book an appointment. Most vets will speak a little English, but we often find it easier to go into the vet surgery and book the appointment in person instead of over the phone.
Vets in France for tapeworm treatment
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.
We never book one earlier than 48 hours, in case our travel is delayed (has happened several times on the ferries.) Talking of which, did you know there are now pet-friendly cabins on ferries from UK to France? We LOVE them and use them as often as we can.
Make sure you get the pet passport stamped/ signed so you can prove it has been done. The authorities at the tunnel or at the ferries check this date VERY carefully. 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
Travelling Europe with a dog for the weekend or a few days?
If you are traveling abroad with a dog 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.
Do you NEED a passport for your dog?
If you are never planning on travelling abroad with your dog, then you do not EVER need a pet passport for them. It is only when you want to cross international borders that you need to get this sorted.
Will pet passports be valid after BREXIT?
No- the pet passport scheme is no longer valid after 31st December 2020. For the new scheme and details on taking your dog from UK to Europe, read this
EU Pet Passport
One option to consider if you are travelling to Europe with a dog frequently, is to get them a European Pet Passport (from a country staying in the EU!) Because we recently bought a small house in France, we have been able to get Mac a French passport, and he now uses that to travel to the UK and back into Europe.
Yes, he still needs the tapeworm treatment and yes, he is only allowed to stay in the UK for so many days, but we spend most of our time travelling Europe anyway, so it works for us. If we ever return to the UK more often or for longer, he still has his UK passport or we'll abide by whatever conditions are required for him.
I hope the above has helped you answer some questions about getting a UK pet passport. I wish you many happy adventures in Europe with your dog!