Health Professionals


27 January 2012

Changes to UK Pet Travel Scheme.

Update to News Item July 2011

On 1 January 2012 the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) introduced changes to the UK Pet Travel Scheme to bring it in line with the rest of the European Union (EU). All pets can now enter the United Kingdom (UK) from any country in the world without quarantine, provided they meet the rules of the scheme. These vary, depending on the country or territory the pet is arriving from [1].

All pets must be vaccinated against rabies before entering the UK. However, under the new scheme, pets travelling from the EU and countries such as Australia only have to wait 21 days after vaccination before entering the UK. Pets from other countries must have a blood test to confirm immunity, followed by a three month wait, before they are allowed into the UK [2].

Rabies advice:

Defra states that the risk of imported animal or human rabies as a result of these changes is extremely small. In the UK, if there is any suspicion of animal rabies, the responsible veterinary agencies undertake rapid assessment and testing of the suspected animal [2].

In the unlikely event of a case of animal rabies in the UK, rapid identification, diagnosis and close liaison between veterinary and public health experts ensures urgent risk assessment and provision of rabies post-exposure prophylaxis for human contacts. Pre-exposure rabies vaccination is offered to occupational groups at increased risk of contact with potentially rabid animals. This includes anyone regularly handling imported animals (staff in animal quarantine centres and zoos) and bat handlers [2, 3].


1. Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Travelling with pets: Pet Travel rules changed on 1 January 2012. 3 January 2012.  [Accessed 27 January 2012]. Available at:

2. Health Protection Agency. Health Protection Report: Changes to the Pet Travel Scheme –implications for human health. 20 January 2012. [Accessed 27 January 2012]. Available at:

3. Health Protection Agency. Centre for Infections Clinical Rabies Service handbook. April 2010. [Accessed 27 January 2012]. Available at:



Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency: Q&A for pet travel scheme.

Defra: List of countries and territories.

Directgov: Taking your pets abroad.

NaTHNaC Health Information Sheet: Rabies

HPA Rabies page