If you are going to be traveling internationally with your cat or dog
there are a lot of hoops to jump through to make sure that you have all
of the necessary vaccinations and paperwork. This is extra true if you
are going to be traveling between countries. You may want to get your
cat or dog (in some cases ferrets are also allowed) its own pet passport
to make traveling a bit easier.Pet Passport from the Netherlands (Photo by M.M.Minderhoud/Creative Commons via Wiimedia)Pet Passport from the Netherlands (Photo by M.M.Minderhoud/Creative Commons via Wiimedia)

The pet passport is the result of the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS), a system that is in the process of being assembled to allow easier movement of pets, primarily cats and dogs, between member nations without the animals having to undergo a period of quarantine. Since all of the requirements have yet to be standardized, there can still be some confusion when crossing borders.

The program was started to allow animals to exit and enter England more easily. The UK has had strong, long-standing controls against rabies that has required a six-month quarantine of animals entering the country. The scheme has been slowly spreading around the world. The travel must also be completed on approved carriers 

The document is accepted by agreeing countries such as those in the European Union as well as the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Malaysia just started pet passports this month.

The Pet Travel Scheme Extended to the U.S. and Canada in 2002 (Public Domain Image)The Pet Travel Scheme Extended to the U.S. and Canada in 2002 (Public Domain Image)The document shows all of the necessary veterinary checks and vaccinations that are required for travel between countries. This information must be filled out by a vet qualified to approve travel. It also contains the number of the identifying microchip that is required for all pets applying for a passport. Much like a human passport it has other pertinent information as name, address, and owner.

Since different countries still have different requirement for animals, you still need to make sure that the passport covers the requirements of each of the countries you will be traveling through. This process can take up to a year, so plan ahead. Some tests and vaccines must be administered on a very strict time line that must be followed carefully. If you are a frequent international traveler with your pet it is best to keep the information up to date at all times. 

Since not all countries accept the pet passport yet you may need to carry additional information such as vaccination records. Always research the requirements of each country thoroughly to make sure that you have completed all of the necessary tests and vaccinations. You also want to check the requirements for returning to a country since they can differ widely from the destination country.

Other considerations include making sure that you will be using the right travel carrier for your pet for airlines and other entities involved. Animals should not be sedated for the trip because the altitude can have an effect on medications. Not all airlines will carry animals. Some airlines only ship animals as cargo. The UK only accepts animals coming in on airlines as cargo. It may be better to fly into another European city such as Paris that does not have this requirement and then enter the UK by rail or ferry.

For information on obtaining a pet passport in the U.S., click here. Please keep in mind that leaving your animal at home with a pet sitter or in a boarding kennel may be easier on both you and your pet. The decision to include your pet in your travel plans should never be taken lightly.

Sources:  Gadling, Wikipedia