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France and Denmark change all pet travel requirements

JUST UNDER two years after the pets’ Passport Scheme was unveiled, allowing animals to enter the UK from approved ‘rabies-free’ countries, without the need for six months quarantine, two countries’ own residential requirements for animal identification have changed, prompting a sudden amendment to details of the scheme as listed by DEFRA, writes Nick Mays.

Under the PETS scheme, in order for pet cats and dogs to qualify for entry to the UK they must be fitted with a microchip, vaccinated against rabies, and then blood tested to show the vaccine has worked.

In France, however, there has been a different domestic system for identifying cats and dogs.

When the UK’s Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) started, French veterinary surgeons were only permitted to microchip pets after they had first been tattooed with a unique number, then vaccinated against rabies and then successfully blood tested. The tattoo number must, by law, be registered on a national database. The owner’s copy of the registration document is sent to the database and a copy is returned to the owner with the tattoo and microchip numbers on it.

In view of this system, the British authorities changed the law to include within the PETS Scheme those cats and dogs resident in France that had first been tattooed, then vaccinated against rabies, and then blood tested at a recognised laboratory.

The French authorities have now changed their legislation. Now any cats and dogs in France may be microchipped before they are vaccinated and blood tested, but without the necessity for tattooing. This is in line with the original requirements of the pet.

Animals from France still also need to meet the other requirements of the Scheme in order to enter the UK without quarantine.

The French authorities now require any cat or dog resident in France for at least three months to be officially identified and registered on a national database. (Under the previous rules, there was no specified time limit as to when the animal would be considered resident). The animals can be identified either by a tattoo or microchip.

Travel scheme

DEFRA have noted, however, that it appears that non ISO-standard microchips will not be recognised by the French authorities, and that French vets will have to replace these with microchips meeting ISO standards. This is a requirement of the authorities in France, but it may affect an animal’s eligibility for the UK Pet Travel Scheme. If an animal’s microchip is replaced, it will then need a further vaccination against rabies, followed by another blood test and a six-month wait from the date the blood sample is taken before it can qualify for travel under PETS. If any owner thinks this requirement will affect their pet, DEFRA have suggested that they should discuss it with a French vet in advance, and certainly before travelling to France.

A statement on the DEFRA website (PETS section) states: “Individual countries are, of course, able to change their national laws as they see fit. Whilst we would like to provide full and accurate information on this issue, it is not an area over which we have direct control, and we are aware that we may not yet have complete information about how the new requirements are operating in practice. We will update our advice to pet owners as more information becomes available.

“If you intend to prepare your pet for the scheme in France, or wish to renew a PETS certificate in France, we suggest you contact a French vet in advance to discuss the identification of your pet and any effect this may have on the vet’s ability to issue a PETS certificate. You should make it clear whether the animal is likely to be permanently resident in France or, for example, temporarily resident for as long as it takes to qualify for PETS. The vet may wish to contact his or her local office of the Ministere de l’Agriculture et de la Peche for advice.”

Details of French vets can be obtained from:

a. French Vets;

b. The PETS Helpline can also give advice on 0870-2411710.

The minor changes to the Danish requirements are less stringent than in France, but still have an effect on the PETS Scheme.

In Denmark there is a national register for dogs - but not cats - which have either been tattooed or microchipped.

This means that dogs from Denmark that have first been tattooed, in accordance with national rules, and then vaccinated, blood tested and microchipped can qualify for travel to the UK under PETS, provided that the vet issues an official PETS certificate that shows that he/she has seen the registration document showing the microchip number.

Pets that are identified solely by tattoo do not meet the rules of the Pet Travel Scheme.

The DEFRA PETS Scheme website address is: