What is the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS)

Understanding the Pet Travel Scheme

For pet owners looking to travel internationally with their furry companions, the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) allows animals to enter or re-enter the UK without extended quarantine. Administered by the UK government, PETS has specific requirements for documentation, vaccinations, treatments, and more.


What is PETS?


The PETS program allows people to take their pets between EU countries, and into the UK from approved locales without quarantine. It was established to manage the spread of disease while still permitting freedom of movement. 


Countries like the EU member states, Northern Ireland, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, and a few others participate in PETS. Each sets general program rules around things like microchipping, vaccinations, paperwork, etc. Countries can also tailor aspects to their specific import regulations.


PETS originally launched in 2001. The UK version existed between EU states with shared principles. Following Brexit, amendments were made regarding entering/re-entering the UK under PETS versus just traveling within EU member countries. 


Is PETS Still in Effect Post Brexit?

Yes, PETS still permits pet travel to and from the UK. The core principles remain, although new regulations around entering the UK took effect on January 1, 2021 after the Brexit transition period ended. These primarily center around tick treatment certification and entrance points for pets.


Who Oversees PETS Compliance?

In the UK, PETS is governed by DEFRA – the government Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs. They set the high-level rules for taking animals in and out of the country such as permitted species, transport methods, quarantine policies and documentation protocols.


Individual airlines and transport companies have their own specific requirements as well, which must comply with DEFRA’s minimum expectations.Environmental health officers at points of UK entry complete an examination and document check to accept or deny pets into the country.


Core PETS Requirements

While particulars vary slightly country to country, the fundamental PETS requirements are:


  • Microchipping – Dogs and cats must have ISO-standard 15-digit microchips. Other pets require approved unique identifiers.


  • Vaccinations – Up-to-date rabies vaccines given by a vet. Timing protocols must be followed. 


  • Documentation – Completed health certificate, vaccination records, microchip info, tick treatment certification, lab results, import licenses and more depending on the destination.


  • Approved Transportation – Pets should travel per IATA Live Animal Regulations via airline or transport vehicles designed to maintain a stable, comfortable climate.


  • Parasite Treatments – Dogs require approved tapeworm treatment 1-5 days pre-entry. 


  • Border Checks – Verification of paperwork, microchips, general health upon arrival to the destination country.


UK Import Specific PETS Changes After Brexit

While pet travel within EU member countries remains status quo post Brexit, some amendments apply exclusively for entering the UK under PETS:


  • Entry Points – Pets can only enter the UK from the EU through travel routes approved for ETAs carrying goods. Unaccompanied pets in small vehicles now require logistics support. 


  • Tick Treatment – Tapeworm treatment 1-5 days before arrival is mandatory with signed confirmation from the vet.


  • Six Month Rule – If traveling from the EU, pets must enter the UK within six months after the blood sample date for the anti-rabies titer test to remain valid. 


  • EU Paperwork – Animals from EU heading to UK need a new Animal Health Certificate endorsed by an Official Veterinarian verifying microchip, rabies vaccine, and tapeworm treatment instead of using the EU Pet Passport.


What About Other Species?

While PETS explicitly covers cats, dogs and ferrets, other species can also enter the UK without quarantine if they meet import licensing specifications. All pets entering Scotland require specific authorization under the Animals and Wildlife Act regardless of where they originate. Birds, fish, reptiles, rodents and more have additional prerequisites for border entry.

PETS scheme rules only exist within the EU, UK and approved countries – not universally. Always check individual nations’ policies before traveling internationally with any pet. Transport operators can walk pet owners through country-specific processes and documentation for smooth, worry-free pet travel.


Navigating Changing Regulations

With regular adjustments to post-Brexit PETS particulars plus individual country import/export variability, international pet travel gets complicated quickly. Allowing enough lead time before a planned move or trip is crucial. Working with a professional pet transport service intimately familiar with PETS across various borders streamlines everything.


Airpets International specializes in smooth international relocation and travel logistics for pets. Our expert global team can handle all details related to reservations, routing, paperwork, examinations, permits and customs coordination. Clients enjoy end-to-end service tailored for their pet’s unique needs while avoiding hassle and guesswork.


For more information on pet travel within the EU or entering/departing the UK under PETS before, during or after Brexit, contact us at Airpets International. Our full-service pet transport solutions get beloved pets where they need to go with comfort and care.

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