Taking your pets 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.
The 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).
For more information about the scheme, use the link below:
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 or
- not have visited any non-approved countries or territories for at least six months before entering or re-entering Northern Ireland
Cats and dogs must also:
- be blood tested with a satisfactory result by a European approved laboratory
- wait six calendar months from the date the satisfactory blood sample was taken before entering/ re-entering the UK
Travel to non-approved countries
- 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
In addition to the above, you must also ensure that your pet:
- is issued with a pet passport by a vet
- dogs are treated by a vet for tapeworm – not less than 24 hours and not more than 5 days before checking in with PETS-approved carrier for the journey back to Northern Ireland
- travels into the UK on a PETS-approved sea, air or rail route
You can get additional information at the following links:
- PETS scheme - DARD website
- List of PETS countries, routes and transport companies - Defra website
- European Union countries participating in PETS - Defra website
- Non-European Union countries participating in PETS - Defra website
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.
From 1 January 2012, 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 4 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 the Defra Website Disease Factsheet.
- Northern Ireland Rabies Control Strategy ( Department of Agriculture and Rural Development website)
- Additional information on rabies (Defra website)
Before you travel
The page below provides other useful information about what you should do before you travel with your pet: