Many people want to travel with their pets. For some, the holiday or short break would just not be the same without their faithful, furry friend joining in the fun. For others, a long, overseas job posting or emigration might mean a lengthy journey for the family animals. The information below is designed to help answer some common questions about travelling with dogs, cats or ferrets. Travelling as a private individual with less common mammals, birds, reptiles, insects or fish may require different procedures. DEFRA (the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) has a comprehensive website where you can check out all rules and regulations regarding travel with your pets or you can contact your local Animal Health Divisional Office.
The Pet Travel Scheme (PETS)
This UK government scheme allows you to travel in and out of European countries and certain Non-EU countries without your pet requiring a six month stay in quarantine upon its return. In order to qualify for this scheme, your pet will have to fulfil certain criteria. Your pet will require:
• a microchip to be fitted by a qualified vet. The number should be read before and after fitting to ensure it is working properly. You should also ask your vet to read the chip each time you visit.
• a vaccination against rabies after the microchip has been fitted to make sure the animal is correctly identified.
• a bloodtest to make certain that the vaccination has provided the necessary protection against rabies. Important: six months must pass between receiving a satisfactory test result and your pet entering or re-entering the UK.
• comprehensive documentation which you will need to obtain from qualified professionals.
• treatment against parasites such as ticks and tape worms before re-entering the UK.
Your destination country
You will need to find out whether or not your chosen destination country is part of the PETS Scheme. If it is, then you will be able to travel in and out of that country or countries with relative ease. If not, then your pet will be required to spend up to six months in quarantine when you return to the UK.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What do I do if my destination country does not have PETS status?
Countries outside the scheme will have their own conditions of entry for you pets. You should contact your local Animal Health Divisional Office who will be able to provide advice as to which authorities you will need to contact in your destination country to ensure you meet their criteria for animal export.
Upon returning to the UK, your pet will be required to spend 6 months in quarantine to ensure that it has not contracted any serious diseases. For more information see Defra’s quarantine procedures
How and where will my pet travel?
This will depend on the size of your animal. Some airlines will allow you take small pets onboard the plane with you but the kennel in which the creature is travelling must be small enough to fit under the seat in front of you and usually cannot exceed 8kg. It should be secure, but well ventilated and leak-proof.
Larger creatures will be placed in the pressurised hold of the plane and will need to be housed in an IATA (International Air Travel Association) approved kennel.
Each airline has its own regulations about transporting animals so one of the golden rules is to get in touch with your chosen carrier and make sure you understand their particular terms of passage for your pet. For example Virgin offer a “Flying Paws” reward scheme for its four-legged customers with welcome gifts and the option for owners to earn points on their flying club account every time their pet flies.
Do low-cost and budget airlines take pets?
No UK-based low cost carriers allow pets to travel with their owners in the cabin and only Flybe will take pets as cargo in the hold. Some cheaper airlines based in Europe are somewhat more flexible though so consider the following carriers as options:
Germanwings will take pets weighing less than 8kg as hand-luggage from as little as £17.
Sterling will let you swap your hand-luggage allowance for your pet instead as long as it does not exceed 10kg in weight and the transporting container meets the required dimensions. The Scandinavian carrier will also take animals in the hold at a cost of 6 Euros per kilo.
It all depends how far you are travelling with your pet. For all journeys you will need an IATA approved kennel and these start at around £30 for the smaller size containers and move upwards of £100 for the larger size kennels. They should meet certain criteria (see Tips for travellers with pets section) to ensure the safety and wellbeing of your animal.
Your animal will have to under-go the necessary tests and vaccinations in order to qualify for the Pet Travel Scheme and costs vary here so it pays to shop around. The website www.passportforpets.com suggest prices can range from £160 to around £400 in the UK.
You should then contact your carrier to discuss the price of transporting your animal since they will have different prices depending on your destination and it is not possible to provide an exhaustive list here.
Are there companies that will help me arrange transport for my pet?
There are a number of companies that specialise in arranging transportation for your pets. If you are travelling long haul however, be warned that prices can be expensive. To make a bespoke kennel, arrange documentation and fly a Labrador to Kenya, one company contacted quoted £1300 – one way. Bear in mind of course, that upon returning to the UK, a six month stint in quarantine will be required which will be around another £3000 since Kenya is not a country within the DEFRA scheme. This would mean a total of around £5000. You can get a quotation from the companies below – just several of the many companies that can help with you pet transport needs:
Tips for travellers with pets:
• Prepare for travelling with your pet well in advance. Allow at least seven months before you consider going anywhere with a pet that has not been through the process to qualify for the Pet Travel Scheme.
• Do not feed your pet more than 4-6 hours before a long flight. Food should not be left in the sky kennel since the animal could choke – plus obvious other results from eating.
• There should be an adequate supply of water for the flight.
• Toys are not recommended since again, this could cause the animal to choke.
• The animal must NOT be sedated in any way since changes in pressure can adversely affect a tranquilised animal.
• Use bedding or blankets that the pet has used before so it can be comforted by a familiar smell.
• Get your pet used to the kennel a few days before your journey. Make it spend a few nights at least in the container so it is not alarmed when embarking upon the journey.
• Container requirements – click on the link to find a comprehensive list of useful hints.