ENSURING that their pet is able to travel into France will be high on the ‘to do’ list for many families.
The Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) has been running since February 2000 and it is vital that you follow and understand the different steps you must take.
The scheme only applies to cats and dogs ("pets") including guide dogs and hearing dogs.
It is limited to pets that come from certain countries and only operates on certain sea, air and rail routes to England.
The most important part of the scheme is the order in which the different procedures are carried out.
The first thing to do is to get your pet microchipped, in Europe ISO (International Standards Organisation) Standard microchips meeting specifications 11784 or Annex A of ISO Standard 11785 are generally used.
Also in France a cat or dog is considered resident after being in the country for three months so they need to be registered through a veterinary practice.
It is also necessary to have your pet vaccinated against rabies once a year, if you leave it for over a year it will be necessary to go through the whole PETS procedure again.
Look for the ‘valid until’ date on your PETS certificate once you receive it.
The next stage is to get your pet vaccinated against rabies.
Your pet must be at least three months old before it is vaccinated and it can be done any time after your pet has been fitted with a microchip.
Before vaccinating your pet, make sure your vet checks its microchip number and enters it on the vaccination record.
And then it is necessary to get your pet blood tested to check that the rabies injection has worked, again make sure the identification number is entered on the forms correctly.
Blood test results can take a long time to come back, often over a month, for my own dog it was close on two.
If everything has gone smoothly you will then receive your official PETS certificate (a PETS 1 in the UK).
The certificate will show 'Valid from' and 'Valid until' dates. Your dog or 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.
And that is the key element - the certificate is not valid until those six months have passed.
So if you are forced to return home and your pet falls within this first six month period it will not be able
to enter the UK under the scheme.
That is why it is a good idea to crack on with claiming your PETS certificate as soon as possible.
EXPORT HEALTH CERTIFICATE
It is also necessary to obtain an official Export Health Certificate from DEFRA so that you can enter France.
Again it is a little bit complicated and there is also a procedure for this certificate.
First you need to fill out an application form (EXA1), which you get from an Animal Health Divisional Office, see here.
Then once you have completed this send it back to the AHDO who will forward it to your vet who will carry out an examination of your pet.
The certificate is only valid for five days, so again it is worth doing this in advance so that your vet then has the necessary paperwork in time for your departure.
WELFARE OF YOUR PET WHEN TRAVELLING
You must ensure your pet is fit and well to travel on the day and that they are secure, have plenty of fresh air, drinking water and are properly fed.
The carrier company will want to see proof that your pet is being taken care of during the journey, for more advice click here.
Final leg of PETS passport