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The Pet Travel Scheme ("PETS") is a system which allows animals to travel easily between member countries without undergoing quarantine. A Pet Passport is a document that officially records information related to a specific animal, as part of that procedure. The effect is to drastically speed up and simplify travel with and transport of animals between member countries, compared to previous procedures, if the regulations are followed.
PETS was originally introduced for the benefit of animals entering or returning to the United Kingdom from other European Union countries, since historically the UK had very strong controls to safeguard against rabies including a compulsory 6 month quarantine period on imports of many animals. On October 1, 2001, several European Union countries introduced the PETS scheme, under which animals from any member country may freely travel (with the correct procedure) to any other member country on approved carriers. Over time the scheme has rolled out to other countries such as the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
The pet passport itself comes in multiple forms, sometimes a pink A4 sheet, sometimes a small blue booklet. It contains the microchip or tattoo number of the animal, the certification that it has had a rabies vaccination, and needs to be signed by an officially approved veterinary surgeon.
The passport is not to be confused with a much smaller folder (sometimes purple coloured), routinely issued by vets, which records the complete vaccination history of the pet.
Every country has different requirements, both for export and import of animals, although some features are common to all.
In some countries the formal passport is needed. Others will accept documentation in any form, so long as it is clearly evidential of the procedure being followed. Usually the animal and its papers are checked thoroughly both on boarding or export, and again upon arrival.
The Pet passport alone can be used to enter some countries if it records all relevant information (e.g. the UK), but it will not suffice to enter many countries. For instance Guatemala, in common with almost every country operating such a scheme, demands that all imported pets have a rabies vaccination, but will not accept the Pet Passport as proof of said vaccination. They need to see the proof of the rabies in the animal's vaccination records.
Tapeworm treatment must be administered by a vet not less than 24 hours and not more than 120 hours (1–5 days) before scheduled arrival time.
The PETS scheme is not yet standardised. This leads to much confusion. Every journey between any two countries should be researched separately to ensure that the animal will be accepted for travel upon arrival at the departure point.
A correctly prepared cat or dog may be imported without quarantine into the United Kingdom from the following countries under the Pet passport scheme, but only by an authorised transport company: Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France*, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Hong Kong, Iceland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the Vatican, Antigua and Barbuda, Ascension Island, Australia, Barbados, Bahrain, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Cyprus, Falkland Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia*, Guadeloupe, Jamaica*, Japan, Réunion*, Malta, Martinique*, Mauritius, Mayotte*, Montserrat, New Caledonia*, New Zealand, St. Helena, St. Kitts & Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Singapore, Sweden, Taiwan, United States of America, Vanuatu, Wallis and Futuna.
Note: *=France or French DOM (Départements d’Outre-Mer)*Although Jamaica is a qualifying country under the EU Regulation, Jamaican law currently prevents the involvement of that country in PETS. PETS-prepared animals may not enter Jamaica and animals may not be prepared for PETS in Jamaica(Source:Defra).
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