Passport For Pooches

For some time, traveling with your pets was stymied by quarantine restrictions. With Europe being one of the most popular travel destinations in the world, the United Kingdom and most of the EU had to abide by a strictly enforced quarantine program for over 100 years.

Cruel Canine Confinement

Historically, the confinement for these pets was harsh. If you traveled with a dog, cat, or ferret, the rules dictated they had to spend six months in one of 80 quarantine kennels in Great Britain. With limited room to exercise and only the kennels' contracted veterinarians to check on them, pets were perniciously affected, both mentally and physically.

According to, there “were no uniform statutes governing these kennels; the kennel owners voluntarily agreed to provide respectable care, but this often was lacking.”

Thanking Lady Mary & Sir John Fretwell, doggone it!

With issues like this, some times it takes the intervention of those with influence to affect change. In 1987, when Lady Mary and Sir John Fretwell returned to England from one of their trips to Paris, they complained to the government about the less than adequate quarantine experience their dog experienced.

"We came back with our basset hound," Lady Fretwell says, "and it was a terrible quarantine experience. Our beloved Bertie, our favorite of all the bassets we've had over the years, was a different dog after this horrible experience, and died soon afterwards. This pushed us into doing something about the quarantine situation in the UK."

Passport for Pets to the rescue . . .

The Fretwells protest was supported by 10,000 volunteers who pushed for change and an overhaul of the pet entry system. The result was the creation of a formal organization now known as the the “Passports for Pets,” or the the Pet Travel Schemes (PETS.) The cornerstone of these new rulings was to allow cats and dogs to enter participating countries, without being quarantined.

On February 28, 2000, the initial phase of PETS was launched and the first pets arrived in England via the Eurotunnel Shuttle Service and Ferries. Since that time, thousands of pets from designated countries have come into the United Kingdom without quarantine and with surprisingly few problems.

Brexit was a new wrinkle . . .

While lawmakers, right wingers and isolationists might all be applauding their decision to leave the European Union, a threat pertaining to pets arose. Among all the macro-level economic theories pertaining to the effects of Britain’s decision to vacate the European premises, from a micro-level perspective, there was fear that Brexit could be felt in smaller ways that may not work out all that well for pets and their pet owners.

For instance, one of Brexit’s chief negotiators Michael Barnier sparked fears that British travelers might not no longer be able to take their pets with them on European holidays. 

Not to worry . . .

On February 11, 2018, fears were allayed, when the UK’s Environment Department reassured animal-lovers that there would be “no return to the quarantine restrictions phased out 18 years ago with the PETS system."

A spokesperson told the Mail: ‘Plans will be in place from day one to make sure pet-owners can travel to and from the UK with their pets. We will take the opportunity of leaving the EU to make sure this process is as simple as possible yet robust enough to protect us from disease.’

PETS & Americans

American dog owners seeking to travel abroad must first take their pets to a veterinarian certified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The vet will provide the owner with their pet passport via PETS, as long as all the necessary forms and requirements are met as follows:


  • To secure the pet passport, the dog must receive a rabies shot and/or a certificate denoting an up-to-date rabies vaccination. The vet will also fit the animal with an electronic microchip or tattoo that properly identifies the dog. Some countries also request proof of treatment for ticks and tapeworm. If owners follow the requirements of PETS, dogs can skip the quarantine period implemented at the airport during entry or re-entry to a country. The PETS policy and requirements typically apply to cats as well.



  • Regardless of vaccinations, pets cannot travel if younger than 4 months old. Although the rules vary among countries, some nations do not permit dogs to enter if vaccinated for rabies fewer than 21 days before. Some countries also stipulate that dogs must be treated for tapeworm between 24 and 120 hours before travel.


State Regulations

  • Whether you're traveling domestically or internationally, rules of entry and exit for dogs vary by state. For instance, in addition to proof of rabies vaccinations, some states require that owners provide a certificate of good health issued by a vet, as well as valid registration tags, before entering. To fly out of some states, owners must fill out the United States Interstate and International Certificate of Health Examination for Small Animals, or the APHIS Form 7001.


So, are you traveling soon with you dog, cat or ferret? Have you secured them a passport? Let us know your experiences in this regard.  Happy trails to you and yours.

Primary Source: Pet Travel Schemes (PETS)