Pet Travel - Europe

The Pet Scheme

Beginning January 1, 2000, pets traveling from the United States and Canada will no longer be subject to quarantine if the proper procedures are followed.

The information below is the current situation for travel to Great Britain.

For more than 100 years, the United Kingdom has had a strictly enforced quarantine program in effect. Bring in a dog, cat, guinea pig or rabbit, and they had to spend six months in one of 80 quarantine kennels in Great Britain, with virtually no exercise and with only the kennels' contracted veterinarians to check them out. There were no uniform statutes governing these kennels--the kennel owners voluntarily agreed to provide respectable care, but this often was lacking.

"My husband was in the Foreign Service, so this meant that each time we returned to England from a post our basset hound had to go through that awful quarantine," says Lady Mary Fretwell. "Over the years, we could see how the quarantine conditions got worse and worse."

The final straw came in 1987, when Lady Mary and Sir John Fretwell returned to England from their final post in Paris. "We came back with our basset hound," Lady Fretwell says, "and it was a terrible quarantine experience. Our beloved Bertie, our favorite of all the bassets we've had over the years, was a different dog after this horrible experience, and died soon afterwards. This pushed us into doing something about the quarantine situation in the UK."

The result was an organization called "Passports for Pets," and because of the untiring efforts by the Fretwells and 10,000 members and many volunteers who pushed for changes in the pet entry system, there is now in place a specific method of bringing cats and dogs into the UK without going through quarantine (see accompanying story).

On February 28, 2000, the first phase of the Pet Travel Scheme was implemented and the first pets arrived at Folkestone via the Eurotunnel Shuttle Service and Ferries. Since that time, more than 10,000 pets from designated European Union countries have come into the United Kingdom without quarantine and with surprisingly few problems.

There are two parts to PETS, one which guarantees and certifies that the pet has had the rabies vaccine and that it shows no signs of rabies, and the other certification that says that the pet has been treated for ticks and parasites between 24 and 48 hours before arriving in the UK. Cats and dogs that travel to Britain must have both official certifications before they will be allowed in the country.

As of January, 2011, pets entering the UK from countries with a low incidence of rabies must get a microchip, then a vaccination at least 21 days prior to entering the UK. An Annex II form completed by your veterinarian and endorsed by the government veterinarian of your country is required. The UK is making it must easier for pets to travel to their country. A lot has changed since the old days of months and months in quarantine.

Be sure to visit PetTravel.com for more information on pet travel in Europe and bringing your pet to Great Britain.