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Changes to pet travel regulations in the EU

By Fintan Browne, Veterinary Surgeon in Blanchardstown Veterinary Hospital

On the 1st January 2012 the law governing pet travel regulations in the EU changed in a way that is significant for people travelling in or to Europe with dogs, cats and ferrets. Up until 31st December 2011 Ireland and a small number of other countries that were clear of rabies, a tapeworm (Echinococcus multilocularis) and certain tick-borne diseases operated with additional disease-control measures to help maintain their disease-free status. The derogation that allowed for these additional measures expired at the end of last year.

The main change that resulted is that pets travelling into Ireland no longer have to have a rabies serology blood test done. Up to the end of last year in order for a pet to enter Ireland it had to be microchipped and vaccinated against rabies. A few weeks after the vaccination the pet had to be blood tested to prove that it had developed a protective level of antibodies from the rabies vaccination. Provided it had then it was free to travel into Ireland on a valid pet passport, but only after six months had elapsed since the date of the blood test. This also affected Irish people wishing to bring their pets on holidays to continental Europe, as the 6 month delay had to be taken into account before the pet would be able to travel back into Ireland. Effectively this meant that pet owners planning to travel with their pets had to begin the process of preparing for this at least 7 months in advance. Since 1st January 2012 the requirement for a rabies serology blood test has been dropped, as has the 6 month wait before travel. Effectively the pet travel regulations have been harmonised throughout the EU. Now in order to travel a pet must be microchipped and vaccinated against rabies and is free to travel into Ireland 3 weeks after the vaccine is administered. Dogs still need to be treated for tapeworm before travelling into Ireland, and this needs to be certified by a vet in the pet’s passport. This treatment must be administered not more than 120 hours (5 days) and not less than 24 hours (1 day) prior to scheduled arrival time in Ireland. The requirement for tick treatment before travelling into Ireland has been dropped completely.

An unexpected consequence of the changed regulations is that in order to legally travel to and from the UK pets should now have a valid pet passport and rabies vaccination. However the relevant authorities in both the UK and Ireland have indicated that compliance checks will not be carried out.

We would encourage clients that intend to travel with their pets to read the relevant section of the website of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine at http://agriculture.gov.ie/pets/ which will carry the most up to date requirements and information.

Finally, the vets at Anicare recommend that clients planning to travel to continental Europe with their pets should arrange a pre-travel consultation to discuss other important health issues related to travel abroad. There are a number of serious parasitic diseases that can be contracted abroad that are not currently present in Ireland. Our vets can advise you on the appropriate measures to take to protect your pet.

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