Taking your pet abroad

If you are going abroad and want to take your pet cat, dog or ferret with you, the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) makes it easier and more affordable for you to travel with pets. Working guide dogs and hearing dogs may also travel on the scheme.

Here is all the information you need courtesy of Nidirect…

 Taking your pet abroad, The Pet Travel SchemeThe Pet Travel Scheme (PETS)

PETS is designed to halt the spread of rabies and other diseases while still allowing pets to travel. Northern Ireland has been free of rabies for many years, but in some other countries there is still a risk of the disease to mammals. All rabies-susceptible animals entering the UK are normally required to spend four months in quarantine, unless they arrive under and comply with all the conditions of PETS. Countries participating in PETS include most parts of Europe and many non-European destinations. Check the current position, and the full procedure for preparing your pet, with the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD).

Eligibility for PETS

To be eligible, your cat, dog or ferret must:
Be fitted with a microchip
Be vaccinated against rabies
Wait 21 days from the date of their first rabies vaccination before travelling to another Member State or approved Third Country
Not have visited any non-approved countries or territories for at least four months before entering or re-entering Northern Ireland

Travel to non-approved countries

Cats and dogs must:
Be blood tested with a satisfactory result by a European approved laboratory
Wait three calendar months from the date the satisfactory blood sample was taken before entering / re-entering the UK As this position is subject to change pet owners should contact DARD for details of the import rules of the countries or territories before travel.

Taking your pet abroad, The Pet Travel SchemePet passport

In addition to the above, you must also ensure that your pet:
Is issued with a pet passport by a vet / third country health certificate
Dogs are treated by a vet for tapeworm – not less than 24 hours and not more than 5 days before your expected arrival in UK or Northern Ireland
Travels into the UK on a PETS – approved sea, air or rail route


Cats, dogs and other rabies-susceptible animals that do not qualify for entry into the UK under the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) are normally required by law to spend four months in quarantine.


This requires your pet to be detained, at your expense, at an approved quarantine premises for up to four calendar months from the date of its landing. However it can be released at any time for immediate re-export. Unaccompanied pets entering the UK under licence for quarantine from third countries (those outside of the European Union) may only do so through approved Border Inspection Posts (BIPs). For the UK, these are currently London Heathrow or London Gatwick Airport.


Northern Ireland has been free of rabies for many years, although it is still present in many other countries across the world. With the Republic of Ireland also rabies free, it is unlikely that rabies will be introduced through natural wildlife spread. Consequently, the largest risk for rabies entering here would be through an infected animal smuggled in illegally. There are strict legal controls on the entry of animals into Northern Ireland aimed at preventing the introduction of rabies.

All pet dogs, cats and ferrets (including assistance dogs) can enter or re-enter the UK without quarantine under the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) provided they meet the rules of the scheme, which differ depending on the country the pet is travelling from. Animals which do not meet all the rules of PETS must be licensed into quarantine, for a period of up to four months. They might then be able to obtain early release if they can be shown to comply with the necessary pet travel requirements. Information on The Pet Travel Scheme can be found on the website of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD). In the event of a rabies outbreak, the Northern Ireland Rabies Control Strategy sets out a framework for how an outbreak of rabies in Northern Ireland would be managed. Additional information on rabies can be found on both the DARD and Defra Websites.

Before you travel with your pet

Before travelling abroad with your pet, you must book in advance as your pet will not be allowed to travel without a prior booking.

Taking care of your pet when travelling

These tips can help make your pet’s journey as comfortable as possible:
Make sure your pet is as fit and healthy as possible to withstand the journey
Give them a light meal about two hours before they travel
Give your pet the opportunity to go to the toilet before it is put in its carrying container
Let your pet ‘try out’ the carrying container before the trip
The carrying container should be well-ventilated, roomy enough for the animal to move around, safe and have adequate food and water for the trip, with easily refillable containers for a long journey
Put a familiar-smelling cushion or rug in the container to help your pet settle

If you follow this advice you should have a safe and comfortable journey.
Happy holidays!

(Article source: Nidirect)Taking your pet abroad, The Pet Travel Scheme

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