Pet Travel Scheme
General Scheme Rules from 1 January 2012
The Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) is the system that allows pet dogs, cats and ferrets from any country to enter the UK without quarantine as long as they meet the conditions of the scheme.
It also means that people in the UK can take their dogs, cats and ferrets to any country and bring them back to the UK without the need for the animals to enter quarantine.
These rules are in place to keep the UK free from rabies and certain other diseases.
Entering the UK
Dogs, cats and ferrets may only enter the UK from any country if they are fully complaint with PETS.
For full guidance on the Pet Travel Scheme, please see the Defra pages on GOV.UK.
Entry routes and transport companies
At present, only certain transport companies and routes can be used to bring pet dogs, cats and ferrets into Great Britain. For a list of transport companies and routes, see the Defra pages on GOV.UK.
If you are a transport company wishing to transport pets into Great Britain, you will need to seek prior approval from AHVLA to do so. This is because the transport company is responsible for carrying out checks on pets to make sure they meet the rules of the Pet Travel Scheme before they enter Great Britain. Transport companies may delegate those checks to a third party to carry them out on their behalf but prior approval will still be needed.
Whether you are a transport company based in the UK or outside the UK, you will need to get in contact with the relevant AHVLA Office(s) which cover the ports or airports where you wish to bring pets into. The AHVLA Office will tell you about the next steps to get approval. To find out which is the relevant AHVLA Office and how to contact them, see our contact details.
Guidance on checks required by carriers and the requirements of the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) can be found in the appropriate Carrier Checks on Pets (COPP) Guide:
Recognised assistance dogs and ferry/cruise operators
Regulation (EU) No 1177/2010 requires Union sea carriers to transport assistance dogs, with the person requiring assistance, into Great Britain. A Union Sea carrier in the Regulation could be either:
- transport companies offering ferry services by sea where the port of disembarkation or a port of call is situated in the territory of Great Britain (hereinafter referred to as “Ferry Operators”)
- transport companies offering sea cruises where the port of embarkation is situated in the territory of a Member State and a stop-over is made in Great Britain (hereinafter referred to as “Cruise Operators”)
To ensure that dogs entering Great Britain are compliant with EU disease control regulations governing the non-commercial movement of pet animals, carriers will need to agree a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with AHVLA. Once agreed, the Memorandum of Understanding and Addendum to the MOU sets out the procedures by which carriers should check for compliance with these regulations when transporting recognised assistance dogs. A list of Carriers with an MOU can be found on the Defra Website.
Carriers requiring assistance in drawing up a Memorandum of Understanding should contact their local AHVLA Office, which will be able to offer advice regarding the best procedures for carrying out compliance checks.
Recognised assistance dogs carriers and community registered air carriers
Community registered air carriers wishing to transport assistance dogs into GB should refer to the guidance notes below. To bring assistance dogs into Great Britain, they will need to have an agreed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Specialist Service Centre. In addition to the guidance notes a blank copy of the MOU is available.
Once agreed the Memorandum of Understanding allows Community Registered Air Carriers to transport recognised assistance dogs into any approved airport in accordance with the conditions set out in the agreed MOU. A list of approved airports and registered carriers is available on the Defra website.
Assistance dog procedures for airports
Airports wishing to obtain approval should contact their local AHVLA Office. They will be able to offer advice regarding the conditions for approval, in addition to the guidance below:
- Guidance notes for checks on assistance dogs
- Guidance note for airports to provide checking facilities for recognised assistance dogs
- Guidance note for Community Air Carriers to carry recognised assistance dogs
- Airport protocol for entry of assistance dogs under the Pet Travel Scheme
- Airport protocol - contact details
PETS is administered in the UK by Official Veterinarians (OV) on behalf of Defra. Contact your local veterinary practice who will hold copies of PET passports, microchips and rabies vaccinations and will be familiar with getting you started on the scheme.
Further PETS guidance
Extensive information on the Pet Travel Scheme is available on the Defra website which includes guidance on:
- what pet owners need to do
- making sure your trip goes smoothly
- countries, routes and transport companies
- what vets need to do
Pet Travel Scheme Helpline
Additional guidance is available from the Pet Travel Scheme Helpline and AHVLA Specialist Service Centre – International Trade:
Telephone: +44 (0)870 241 1710 – Monday to Friday – 8am to 6pm UK time (closed Bank Holidays).
Any evidence of cases of smuggled animals which have not been checked should be referred to Trading Standards. OVs requiring guidance should refer to the regional office responsible for their training in the first instance. General guidance for the public can be obtained from the PETS Helpline. In the case of specific complaints that a carrier has failed to perform adequate checks on a legally declared pet, the complainant should forward the details of the passenger, route travelled and time of presentation for checks with any additional comments regarding the failure to the Pet Travel Section at Pettravel@ahvla.gsi.gov.uk for further investigation.
AHVLA Specialist Service Centre – International Trade
Telephone: +44 (0) 1228 403600 (Option 1)
There is also a minicom/textphone number for the deaf and hard of hearing: 0845 300 1998
Fax: +44 (0) 1228 591900
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org – please enclose your postal address and a daytime telephone number.
Pet Travel Section
Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA)
Hadrian House, Wavell Drive
Rosehill Industrial Estate
Carlisle, CA1 2TB