What's the issue?
The EU Pet Travel Schemeallows pet owners to move dogs, cats, and ferrets within the European Union without the need for quarantine. To bring your pet dog, cat, or ferret to the UK you must meet certain conditions, such as having the correct documentation, identification, vaccination, and treatments.
Making it easier for pet animals to travel around the EU raises a number of concerns regarding health and welfare. We are particularly concerned about:
- the ongoing misuse of the Pet Travel Scheme to illegally import puppies;
- the increased risk of exotic and zoonotic diseases (those that can be passed between animals and humans) being brought into the UK via travelling pets; and
- the rehoming of stray dogs from abroad with unknown health histories.
In addition, we are concerned about abuse of the commercial movement of pets (under the Balai Directive). The Directive requires compliance checks at the start and end of an animal’s journey. However, we know that less than 10% of consignments are checked when they reach their destination. This leaves the legislation open to abuse by illegal importers.
The EU pet travel rules cover the non-commercial movement of dogs, cats, and ferrets travelling within EU and listed non-EU countries.
Up to date information on pet travel rules is available on GOV.UK.
On leaving the EU, the rules around pet travel will need to be updated and the UK will need to secure listed country status. See our policy page on Brexit for more information.
What's our view?
BVA supports the regulation of pet travel - both commercial and non-commercial - to enable the safe and legal movement of pets. Any movements must ensure that animal health and welfare, and public health, are protected, and travel routes are not abused.
Whilst the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) and the Balai Directive have made the transport of pets between the UK and mainland Europe easier and more cost effective, BVA supports the strengthening of commercial and non-commercial pet movement legislation to safeguard the health of the UK’s animals and wider public and prevent unintended consequences to animal welfare through the circumvention of existing legislation.We're encouraging the public to be responsible when choosing a pet.
We're asking potential owners to use The Puppy Contract and to be aware of the risks of rehoming a stray dog from abroad. So if you're thinking about rehoming a pet, we'd encourage you to rehome from the existing UK dog population through UK rehoming charities or welfare organisations.
We’re calling on the UK government to strengthen pet travel legislation to protect the health and welfare of the UK’s animals and wider public. Our key asks are:
- reintroduce compulsory tick treatments for all cats and dogs travelling under the Pet Travel Scheme;
- introduce tapeworm treatment for cats as well as dogs and shorten the tapeworm treatment window;
- extend the waiting time post-rabies vaccination to 12 weeks;
- restrict the movement of stray dogs from other countries with high rates of diseases that aren’t commonly found in the UK, and introduce mandatory testing in stray dogs for these diseases before travel;
- strengthen enforcement provisions and compliance checks for the commercial movement of pets; and
- support vets to report suspected illegal imports and non-compliance with the Pet Travel Scheme.
If and when the UK leaves the EU, the UK government must ensure listed country status for the UK and the ongoing recognition of UK pet passports.
- Write to your MP to support our calls to strengthen pet travel legislation. Find your MP.
- Report a suspected illegal importation or non-compliance with the Pet Travel Scheme to your local Trading Standards office.
- Download the GOV.UK ‘How can I take my pet on holiday when the UK leaves the EU?’ posters for your practice.
- Share our Trojan dogs campaign to highlight the risks of rehoming dogs from overseas.