15th Feb 2019

As Brexit approaches, there is still much confusion about what will happen with regards to dogs returning to the UK or entering the UK for the first time.

Although DEFRA has said that dogs entering from an EU country or re-entering (in the case of a dog returning to the UK) that the rules will remain the same.

The dogs (cat or ferret) will still have to comply with the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS). There are plenty of websites that explain the process but few explain the pitfalls. These can be due to the passports not being filled in correctly or microchips failing. This may seem extreme circumstances but they happen a lot more often than you may expect.

UK Animals (dog, cat or ferret) going to the EU and returning to the UK
So you go along to your vet in the UK and assuming it has already been microchipped, they will
  • vaccinate the dog against rabies
  • Provide a UK Pet Passport
  • The stamps must be signed and in the case of the microchip and rabies pages sealed with a clear film to prevent tampering
  • Give a fit to travel examination
All being well when you want to return, you will need to see a vet to do the following
  • Give a fit to travel examination
  • Give the dog a worming tablet against tapeworm
  • Record the tapeworm treatment in the Pet Passport.
  • The treatment must be given between 1 and 5 days (24 to 120 hours) before you’re scheduled to arrive in the UK

Problem with Pet Passport

The issuing of passports by UK vets may not be the most regular of tasks they perform and human error in completing the passport is always a risk. A full description of how it should be completed can be found here. But it doesn't explain all the pitfalls.

You will only find out if it has been completed correctly, either when the other vet looks at it to complete the details of tapeworm treatments on your return, or more likely when it is examined by Pet Passport Control at your point of entry such as Heathrow or at Calais or other points of crossing.

Now the people that examine the passports for compliance are trained to look for errors and this is often the first you realise there is a problem.

If it hasn't been properly completed, signed where appropriate and contain the relevant the passport will be invalid. This is when the problems start. If you are able you may have the chance to rush off to the nearest vet and get a new passport issued. But if the timings are wrong and the worming treatment is older than 120 hours (5 days) then your travel may be delayed, to allow for the min of 24 hrs for the worming treatment.

Our first rescue dog was from Thailand, who flew to the Schiphol, Amsterdam. We thought the passports and papers were correct but a small anomaly (with the threat of him having to go back to Thailand) resulted in a new Dutch Pet Passport being issued.

So when we went on holiday to Portugal, Raffles our Thai dog was traveling with his Dutch Passport. When we tried to re-enter at Calais we very surprised to learn that there was a signature missing over one of his stamps. So we had to rush to a local vet in Calais and after being relieved of 125 Euro's for the vet to issue a new passport out of hours, we were then allowed to travel.

We managed all this in only 30 mins before departure! So Raffles now has a Thai passport, Dutch Passport and now French Passport!

The photos above are of a typical UK Pet Passport with the relevant entries.


Failed microchips

In the event that the original microchip is unable to be scanned and read, the pet must be re-chipped. If the pet has been
previously prepared for travel, then it must be re-prepared in accordance with pet travel rules and a new pet passport
issued. A note should be added in Section XII of the passport, advising that there is another microchip present that cannot
be scanned and read. This is in case the fault is intermittent and the failing chip is picked up at the port on entry to the


Young animals

The EU Regulation requires pets to be at least 12 weeks old when vaccinated. This means that no pet can enter the UK
unless they are 15 weeks old (12 weeks + 21-day wait). The UK does not permit the entry of young unvaccinated pets.
Some EU Member States may accept dogs and cats under 12 weeks of age which have not been vaccinated against
rabies but are accompanied by a pet passport. In such cases, it is possible to issue a passport without vaccinating the
animal. There must be written evidence to support this.