U.K.'s Pet Passports Extended to More Countries

The British government said today it was branching out its “pet passports” to a further 15 countries that are free of rabies.

Cats and dogs from rabies-free nations including Australia, New Zealand and Japan will now be able to enter Britain without quarantine, government officials said.

“The government was committed to extending the scheme to qualifying rabies-free islands by April next year and I am delighted that we will be able to do this ahead of schedule,” government minister Baroness Hayman said.

“Feedback from the public shows this is an aspect of the scheme that has been eagerly awaited, particularly by service personnel stationed overseas and expatriates,” she said.

Thousands Come in Without Quarantine

The government relaxed Britain’s strict quarantine rules for pets in February but said it would not allow in rabies at any cost.

About 5,000 pets have so far come into the country without spending six months in isolation. The extended scheme will come into effect at the end of next January.

Pets vaccinated against the killer disease and which fulfill certain other conditions are able to travel freely with their owners between Britain, the European Union and other specified countries — a scheme dubbed “pet passports” by Britain’s media.

Owners wanting to travel with their animals must get them blood-tested and issued with an official health certificate, as well as vaccinated against rabies and other diseases alien to Britain.

The pets should also have identification microchips embedded under their skin. Owners are expected to foot the bill.

More Countries May Be Added

A certificate will be valid from six months after the blood sample was taken until the date the rabies booster vaccination is due. The owner must also make a declaration that the pet has not been outside any of the qualifying countries for the previous six months.

The full list of new islands to which the pet passport scheme now applies are: Ascension Island, Australia, Barbados, Bermuda, Cyprus, Falkland Islands, Hawaii, Japan, Malta, Montserrat, New Caledonia, New Zealand, St. Helena, Singapore and Vanuatu.

Others may be added to the list later, officials said. Some 22 European countries were involved in the initial scheme.