If you’re planning on travelling with your pet - either for a short holiday, or as part of a longer term move - you'll need to understand the rules about pet passports.
Travel - with or without your pets - is never cheap, so we’ll also highlight ways to cut your costs when overseas, with TransferWise. Let’s get started.
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A pet passport can be issued to dogs, cats and ferrets, and lists out the details of any treatments or vaccinations your pet may have had. Like human passports it’s also a form of identification, so this document will contain details of your pet’s description and ownership, linked to your pet’s ID microchip.
If you’re coming to the UK from the EU, or another country the UK accepts pet passports from, you’ll need this document to get your furry friend over the border. Similarly, if you’re leaving the UK with your pet, and intend to come back again after your travels, you’ll probably need a pet passport.¹
It helps to know that the rules are slightly different depending on where your pet is coming from.² It’s a smart idea to check the details for the country you’re coming from or going to, early, so you know you have the right information for your trip.
You’re advised to start arranging your pet passport 4 months before travelling to allow time for any necessary checks or vaccinations.
To get your pet passport you’ll need to prove the following:
- Your pet has been microchipped.
- Your pet has had a rabies vaccination, and blood tests afterwards if relevant.
- If you have a dog, you may need to prove tapeworm treatment has also been completed depending on where you’re travelling from.
To get a pet passport you must visit an authorised vet. You’ll need to take along your pet, as well as their identity and vaccination records. You might also need to provide clear rabies blood test results.
Your vet will complete the following information in your pet passport:
- Ownership information for your pet.
- A description of your pet including any markings.
- Confirmation that your pet has been vaccinated against rabies.
- Rabies blood test results if relevant.
- Tapeworm treatment information if needed.
- Details of the vet completing the passport.
It’s worth knowing that your pet must be microchipped before or at the same time as getting their rabies vaccination, and there is a waiting period before you can travel after the vaccine has been administered. Check all the details in good time with your vet.¹
You’re advised to apply 4 months in advance of travel, to make sure there is time to complete all the paperwork and sort out any necessary vaccinations.
How you bring your pet back home after travelling depends on where you’ve been and whether you’re travelling by land, sea or air.
Usually the travel company or airport staff will scan your pet’s microchip and check it against the documents you’re carrying. This might happen when you arrive in the UK or when you board transport to bring you home.
If you’ve been out of the EU, your pet might need to pass through customs before you can leave the airport. In this case, an agent or someone from the travel company or airline can help you navigate the process. If you don’t have anyone who can help, you should contact customs at your arrival point in the UK before you travel, to check the process.³
If you have a dog, you’ll need to have a vet administer tapeworm treatment before you travel back to the UK. There are specific instructions on this, depending on the length of trip you’ve taken, and where you’re travelling from, so do check the details before you travel.⁴
There are a few different costs involved in getting your pet passport sorted. UK website Money Supermarket estimates the passport itself will cost around £60, but you’ll also need to consider the costs of vaccinations and microchipping.⁵ More on that in a moment.
Getting and maintaining your pet passport is part of the inevitable price of travel. But there are some costs you can avoid - such as high fees for currency conversion and accessing your money as you travel.
A great way to cut your travel expenses is to get a multi-currency account from TransferWise.
You can get a linked debit Mastercard which you can use for ATM withdrawals all over the world, or to spend in stores and restaurants anywhere you see the Mastercard symbol.
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There’s no monthly cost or minimum balance - just a small fee to pay for the transactions you choose to make.
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Microchipping your pet is likely to cost around £20. However, the UK government recommend several options for free microchipping, including checking with your local council.⁶ Some animal charities also offer free or reduced price microchip services.
The cost of a rabies vaccine will vary depending on your vet, and whether your pet needs an initial vaccination or booster. You can expect this to cost between £15 and £60.
It’s worth noting that your pet might also need additional vaccinations depending on where you’re headed off to. Talk this through with your vet in advance of travel.⁷
If you already have your pet insured, you’ll want to check if the cover will still be valid while you travel. If not, you’ll need to pay a premium or arrange separate insurance for your pet while abroad.
At the time of writing it is unclear what will happen to pet passports after Brexit. The details will depend on whether the UK is named an unlisted country, a part 1 listed country, or a part 2 listed country after Brexit.
If the UK is made a part 1 listed country, the rules will remain relatively similar. You’ll need to apply for a new UK pet travel document, but this will then be accepted for travel in the EU.
As a part 2 listed country, the rules would be somewhat more stringent. You’ll probably need an animal health certificate (ACH) in addition to your existing documents to travel with your pet.
In the event of no deal, the chances are that the UK will be named an unlisted country, which will mean your EU pet passport will no longer be valid, and you’ll need to get advice from your vet on the steps needed to travel.⁸
With a pet passport you should be able to take your pet travelling with you relatively stress free. Just make sure you apply in good time before you need to travel, so all the relevant checks and vaccinations can be completed.
Don’t spend more than you need to when you travel with your pet. Get a free multi-currency account from TransferWise to cover your costs without the sky high bank fees.
- Direct Gov UK: Pet Passport
- Direct Gov UK: Taking your pet abroad - Listed and Unlisted Countries
- Direct Gov UK: Coming back to the UK with your pet
- Direct Gov UK: Take your pet abroad - Tapeworm treatment for dogs
- MoneySupermarket: Pet Insurance and Pet Passports
- Direct Gov UK: Get your dog microchipped
- Pets that Travel: Dog passport UK
- Direct Gov UK: Pet travel to Europe after Brexit
Sources checked 20-November 2019.
This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.
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