An island nation that has remained largely free of rabies throughout its history, the United Kingdom is notorious for the stringent measures it has taken to remain this way. Historically, it has meant enforcing a 183-day quarantine for virtually all domestic pets coming in to the country. The quarantine period is used to observe the pets for behavioral evidence of infection, including restlessness, viciousness and apparent imperviousness to pain.
Though quarantine has been largely successful in keeping rabies at bay, most pet owners agree that it is not an ideal solution: kennel fees can be expensive and the separation difficult for both pet and owner. Additionally, there are those who would claim the practice is cruel, citing the deaths of more than 1,200 quarantined animals throughout the UK over the last ten years. This is why in 2000, the UK government decided to try something new. Under the new Pet Travel Scheme (PETS), it is now possible to bring a pet dog or cat (though currently no other pets) into the UK without subjecting it to quarantine.
In order for a pet to qualify for PETS, you must fulfill the following requirements (in this order) prior to the arrival of your pet in the UK:
- Your pet must be fitted with a microchip for identification purposes. There is no set requirement for the type of microchip used, but in Europe ISO (International Standards Organization) Standard microchips meeting specifications 11784 or Annex A of ISO Standard 11785 are generally used. The microchip can be fitted by a veterinarian in any country. All other steps in the process (vaccination, tapeworm treatment, certificate issue, etc.) can only be completed in the UK or a country participating in the PETS scheme.
- Your pet must also be vaccinated against rabies. This cannot be done before the pet is three months old, or before it has been fitted with a microchip. If your pet received a rabies vaccine prior to being chipped, it will need to receive another vaccination after the chip has been implanted. When your pet is vaccinated, make sure that your vet has recorded the following details on its vaccination record:
- Its date of birth/age (if known)
- The microchip number (and date of insertion, if known)
- The date of vaccination
- The vaccine product name
- The batch number
- The date its booster vaccination is due (calculated by reference to the vaccine manufacturer's data sheet)
- Approximately 30 days after the vaccination, your pet must undergo a blood test to ensure that its inoculation is providing a sufficient level of protection. You will need to bring proof of vaccination to the blood test.
- Once all these requirements have been fulfilled, you will need to get a PETS certificate from a government-accredited veterinarian in a participating country. The certificate will detail the dates of its validity; your pet may only enter the UK during these dates. The soonest date the pet will be permitted to enter the UK will be six months from the date on which a successful blood test was administered. This rule is necessary because an animal infected before vaccination would not be protected against rabies by the vaccine. Six months is the maximum time needed for most infected animals to display any clinical signs of rabies. The certificate will also confirm that your pet is identifiable by its microchip number, has been successfully vaccinated and shows no clinical signs of the disease. The certificate may be renewed each time you bring your pet in for a rabies booster.
- Once the certificate has been issued, the pet must be treated for ticks and tapeworms and subsequently issued an official certificate of treatment. This procedure should be undertaken between 24 and 48 hours prior to travel. In order to be considered valid, this certificate will have to detail the pet's microchip number, the date and time of the treatment and what products were used.
- Finally, you must fill out a Declaration of Residency form. This is a declaration that your pet has not traveled outside a PETS-compliant country within the last six months. You can obtain this form by calling the official PETS scheme help line on +44 (0)870 241 1710
Animals that fulfill the PETS requirements will be allowed to enter (or re-enter) the UK without having to undergo six months' quarantine. Currently, countries participating in PETS include: Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Portugal, Monaco, Spain, Sweden, Norway, Vatican, Luxembourg, San Marino, Netherlands, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. At the end of 2002, Canada and the United States also joined the scheme. Also participating are a number of long-haul (non-European) countries that have been determined to be rabies-free, including: Antigua, Australia, Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, Guadeloupe, Jamaica, Japan, Martinique, Mauritius, Mayotte, Montserrat, New Caldonia, New Zealand, St. Helena, Singapore, Vanuatu and Wallis & Futuna.
Crown Relocations can assist with pet transfers anywhere in the world as well as all an expatriate's relocation needs. The company is part of the Crown Worldwide Group and a leader in the international relocations industry with over 100 offices in 42 countries.
Along with Crown Relocations, the Crown Worldwide Group is comprised of Crown Records Management, focusing on the management and storage of business records and the Crown Logistics division, providing other specialized transportation, forwarding, and warehousing services to expanding businesses around the globe. For more information visit the company's website at http://www.crownrelo.com.