Because the United Kingdom is rabies free and an island, they have had a six month quarantine requirement for cats and dogs entering their country to make sure no imported animals brought in rabies. This meant that any cat entering the country had to stay at a government approved quarantine facility for six months before being released to the new owner.
This was both difficult and stressful for the animals and expensive for the new owner.
But this changed with the introduction of United Kingdom's Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) which has now been extended to Canada and the United States.
What is PETS?
As of December 11, 2002, dogs and cats that meet the rules of the United Kingdom's Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) can travel to the UK from mainland USA and Canada without having to undergo the usual 6 months quarantine. Hawaii is already part of PETS.
In order for your cat to qualify for entering the UK without going into quarantine, there is a series of things you need to do.
Microchip: Before all else, the cat must be at least 3 months old and microchipped in order that all following tests and documentation can be confirmed to be on the identified animal.
Rabies Vaccination: After microchipping the cat is vaccinated for rabies.
Blood Test: Blood is drawn and sent to a lab to be tested for rabies at a recognized laboratory.
PETS Passport: Apply for an official PETS certificate signed by an official veterinarian. It will only be valid for a specified time.
Six Months: If the blood test comes saying you cat has the correct level of immunity against rabies, you must wait six months from the time the blood sample was taken.
Parasite Treatment: 24-48 hours before your check-in time for the flight your cat must be treated against ticks and tapeworms and issued with an official certificate of treatment.
- Certificate of Treatment signed by Official Government Veterinarian (not a private vet).
- Approved Route: Dogs and cats are required to enter the UK on an approved air route and travel as cargo in a container bearing an official seal.
- Declaration of Residence: Complete a declaration of residence confirming that your animal has not been outside certain countries in the 6 months before entering the UK..
Your dog or cat can be fitted with a microchip in any country. The rabies vaccination (and boosters), blood sampling, tick and tapeworm treatment and issue of official certificates should normally be done in the same qualifying country (i.e. USA or Canada). Please note: As Hawaii has been part of PETS since 31 January 2002, that State issues its own official PETS and tick and tapeworm certificates.
What Does This Really Mean?
While the British breeder hoping to import a kitten from the US will still not receive the new addition without at least a six-month "wait", the kitten will no longer need to spend that six months waiting in a British quarantine facility. Instead, it will simply remain longer in the home of its breeder where it was born. From the kitten's POV this is so much better.
From the British importer's POV, the expense of quarantine is avoided.
And it may also mean that more exhibitors in Championship and Premiership from Britain can fly over to compete in a US show like the CFA International and fly back with their cat! So this opens things up in both directions for cats (and their owners) to travel back and forth across the Atlantic Ocean between Britain and the US/Canada more freely.
MORE ABOUT PETS:
The Six Month Rule
Your dog or cat may not enter the UK under PETS until 6 months have passed from the date that your vet took the blood sample which gave a successful test result. Once the vet has signed the PETS certificate and that 6 month period has passed, the PETS certificate is valid and your animal may enter the UK.This rule is necessary because an animal infected before vaccination would not be protected against rabies by the vaccine. Six months is the maximum time needed for most infected animals to display any clinical signs of rabies.You are responsible for obtaining the correct documentation for your dog or cat to enter the UK under PETS. We strongly recommend that you obtain all the necessary certification before you travel. Bring the supporting documents (e.g. vaccination record card, blood test result) with you.
In Europe, ISO (International Standards Organization) Standard microchips meeting specifications 11784 or Annex A to ISO Standard 11785 are generally used. A different type of microchip is often used in the USA and Canada. If the microchip used does not correspond to one of these ISO Standards, you are advised to bring your own microchip reader, particularly if you intend to travel to Europe with your animal and then return to the UK under PETS.
Get your vet to test that the microchip works before and after it has been fitted and each time your animal visits the vet.
Your dog or cat must be at least 3 months old before being vaccinated for rabies. The vaccination must be done after it has been microchipped. Make sure your vet checks the microchip number and enters it on the vaccination record. If your animal has been vaccinated before it was fitted with a microchip, it will have to be vaccinated again.
Vaccination record card
When your dog or cat is vaccinated, make sure your vet records the following on its vaccination record:
- its date of birth/age (if known)
- the vaccine product name
- the microchip number
- the batch number
- the date of vaccination
- the date by which the booster must be given
After your dog or cat has been vaccinated and successfully blood tested, it will need regular booster vaccinations. These must be given by the "Valid until" date on the PETS certificate .If this date is missed, your animal will have to be vaccinated and blood tested again and the 6 month rule will apply from the date the new blood sample is taken.
After vaccination your dog or cat will need a blood test to make sure that the vaccine has given sufficient protection against rabies. Your vet will arrange to take a blood sample and send it for testing to a laboratory recognized by the UK's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). In most cases, this means an official government-recognized lab in your country. Make sure that the vet gives you a record of the date the sample was taken with the microchip number clearly stated. A successful result will show that the rabies naturalizing antibody titre was equal to or greater than 0.5 IU/ml.Ask your vet for a copy of the blood test result, with the microchip number clearly stated, and keep it safe. Be warned that if your animal fails its blood test it will need to be re-vaccinated and blood tested again and the 6 month rule will apply.
After your dog or cat has passed its blood test, you should get an official PETS certificate which will show that your animal has been microchipped, vaccinated against rabies and successfully blood tested.
How to Get a Certificate
Only vets authorized by the USA or Canadian government can issue the certificate. Take your animal, its vaccination record and blood test result when you go to get the certificate.
Validity of the Certificate
The certificate will show "Valid from" and "Valid until" dates. Your cat can enter the UK only between these dates. The "Valid from" date will be 6 months from the date that the blood sample was taken which gave a successful test result. Ask your vet for a renewal certificate each time your animal is given its rabies booster. The booster must be given by the "Valid until" date. Renewal certificates are valid as soon as they are issued.
Treatment Against Parasites
Before your cat can enter the UK, it must be treated against certain ticks and tapeworms. Any registered vet can do this. You cannot give the treatment yourself. Make sure the vet checks your animal's microchip number with a scanner before treatment.
This treatment must be done between 24 and 48 hours before your animal is checked-in on an approved route to the UK. It must be done every time your animal enters the UK.
Dogs and cats must be treated for the tapeworm with a product containing praziquantel and for ticks with a product licensed for use against ticks which has a marketing authorization in the country in which it is given. Tick collars are not acceptable.
The Certificate of Treatment
After your cat has been treated, the vet must give you an official certificate (not a private veterinary certificate or headed letter) to show that it has been done. An official certificate is one issued for the purposes of PETS by a government authority of the USA or Canada. It will have the name of the government department at the top.
Make sure the certificate shows your animal's microchip number, the date and time of treatment and the products used. The vet must also sign, stamp and date it.
Cats traveling from the USA or Canada are required to travel to the UK on an air route approved for PETS by the UK Government. These routes will take you only to an airport in England, not one in Scotland, Wales, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland.Animals raveling from the USA or Canada may not enter the UK on a route departing from any other country.They must also travel as cargo in a container bearing an official seal.
Seals on Containers
Dogs and cats coming to the UK under PETS, or those entering under early release arrangements, must travel in a container complying with International Air Transport Association (IATA) standards and bearing an official seal. The seal ensures that your animal is not exposed to the risk of infection from rabies on its journey. A government official (such as a customs or immigration officer) must apply the seal and record the seal number either on the official certificate of tick and tapeworm treatment or on the import license (if your animal is being licensed into quarantine - part 5a). Airlines can help you with these arrangements, so contact the airline as early as possible before you travel. If the seal is broken during the journey, a government official of the country in which it was broken must replace it with a new seal. The official must certify in writing that your dog or cat did not come into contact with any other animal between the time the original seal was broken and the new one was applied. The new seal number must be recorded as indicated above. If it is necessary for your animal to be removed from its container, the airline will do so under official supervision.
The Declaration of Residence
When you arrive in the UK with your dog or cat you must fill in a PETS 3 form. This is a declaration that your animal has not been outside the PETS countries in the previous 6 months. The list of countries is shown on the PETS 3A form accompanying PETS 3. You can either get these forms from the transport company when they check your pet or in advance by ringing the PETS Helpline. You may still sign this declaration as long as your dog or cat has not left its container (unless under official supervision) during transit or stopover on its journey to the UK.
Cats will be checked at the airport when they land in England. Your animal's microchip and both the official PETS certificates will be checked. You will also have to provide the top copy of the completed PETS 3. The seal on your animal's container should also be intact.
If any of these checks fail, your cat will either have to go into quarantine or be re-exported. If your animal has failed only because it has not met the rules on tick and tapeworm treatment, it may be possible to have it treated on arrival and then held for 24 hours after treatment. If the animal arrives at Heathrow, this can be done at the airport. In other cases it will have to be done at local quarantine premises. If it is treated in quarantine, you will have to seek approval for its early release.
Before you book that flight to the UK for your cat be sure that your cat has fulfilled all the requirements necessary to avoid quarantine.
More information on exporting a cat to the United Kingdom
France has changed it's import requirements to include a microchip or tattoo and a rabies vaccination plus a blood test three months prior to arrival in France.
More more information, go to: