End of Quarantine in Britain!

Published July 2002

Great news from Britain will make it easier for British cat fanciers to import cats from the United States and Canada!

The government of Britain said Monday it intends to lift the six-month quarantine it imposes on North American pets entering Britain, after research showed there is little risk the cats and dogs could introduce rabies to the country.

Animal Welfare Minister Elliot Morley said he hoped to announce the change in the autumn, once a final assessment of the rabies risk has been completed.

Morley said the government was inclined "to go ahead and extend the scheme to the U.S.A. and Canada."

"The government recognizes that extending the scheme could remove a significant barrier for people in the U.S.A. and Canada wanting to come to the U.K. with their pets on holiday, business or even permanently," he added.

A century-old law requires animals from most countries to be quarantined for six months upon their arrival in rabies-free Britain.

Two years ago, the government introduced a pet passport plan allowing cats and dogs from Western Europe to skip quarantine, as long as they have documents confirming their identities and rabies-free status.

The plan was later extended to 50 territories, including Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Hawaii.

The British government has come under pressure from U.S. diplomats to extend the policy to the rest of the United States as well. In April, U.S. Embassy spokeswoman Karen Morrissey said American agriculture envoy Peter Kurz had met several times with British officials about the issue.

"It's something that the U.S. government has wanted to see happen for a long time," Morrissey said.

More than 50,000 cats and dogs have entered Britain under the passport program, which requires pets to be tagged with an identification microchip, vaccinated and blood tested before they travel to Britain.

Morley also said Britain welcomed a European Union plan, currently before the European Parliament, to establish a pet passport scheme — similar to the British one but not limited to cats and dogs — across the EU.

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