Getting Microchipped, Rabies Vaccination, Health Certificates
The key to the Pet Travel Scheme is microchipping. It is simply the best way to identify pets.
Cats and dogs over 3 months old can be fitted with a tiny microchip, the size of a grain of rice, which is inserted under the skin at the back of the neck. Fitting is no more painful than a normal injection and the microchip will normally remain in place for rest of the pet’s life. The microchip has a unique reference number, which is registered on a database together with the owner’s details.
Using a hand-held scanner the microchip’s number can be read, which allows the animal to be identified and matched to its owner. The Pet Travel Scheme uses this unique number to positively identify pets that have been vaccinated against rabies and then blood tested at a recognised laboratory.
Once microchipped, your pet can be vaccinated against rabies. This is usually administered in two doses, two to four weeks apart. Approximately 30 days later, your vet will take a blood sample from your pet and send it for testing at a DEFRA approved laboratory. The test ensures that the vaccination has been effective.
If your pet fails the blood test, it will have to be vaccinated and tested again, so plan ahead and discuss your travel arrangements with your veterinary practice as soon as you have decided to travel abroad with your pet.
Following successful vaccination, boosters are required at regular intervals as specified by the vaccine manufacturer, usually every year or two years. Your vet will record the date of each vaccination and advise you when the booster is due. If you keep your pet’s vaccinations up to date, there is no need for the blood tests to be repeated. If there is a break in the specified vaccination programme, a further blood test will be required after re-vaccination.
Once your pet has been microchipped and successfully vaccinated you will need to apply for a Health Certificate, which is available from the Local Veterinary Inspector (LVI). Your vet can help you obtain this certificate.
Unfortunately standards vary around the world and a separate certificate may be required for animals to enter some countries. The requirements may differ from the Pet Travel Scheme. Your veterinary practice will be able to tell you the requirements at the time of travel. Alternatively, you can contact DEFRA for advice.
How much will it all cost?
The cost of preparing your pet for travelling abroad will vary from vet to vet. Ask your vet what the cost will be. You will also be charged by the veterinary practice that treats your pet for ticks and parasites before you come back to the UK.
From time to time regulations do change. Always consult DEFRA for the latest information about travelling abroad with your pet.