Obtaining a cat passport, officially called a ‘Pet Passport’, can take you as little as 24 hours to obtain.
However, it’s important to note that there are specific requirements on timings that vary depending on where you are travelling to.
There are also further rules if you are planning on returning to the UK.
In order to get your cat passport, your cat will NEED (1) a microchip and (2) a rabies vaccination.
These are compulsory and are quick to obtain, however, there are specific rules on the timing.
Additionally, your cat MAY also require (3) a rabies blood test. This is very time consuming.
It is highly recommended that you allow at least 1 month to 6 months to prepare. The timings dependant on where you are are travelling to, and if you’ll be returning to the UK.
I will walk you through the each stage of getting your cat passport, and the particular time requirements you will face.
To qualify for a cat passport in the UK, your cat must MUST have a microchip (“transponder”).
A microchip is a tiny chip the size of a grain of rice that holds a unique number detectable by a scanner. It is implanted between your cat’s shoulder blades, just under his/her skin.
Any vet can microchip your cat, and you can even get it administered through a local charity.
Getting your cat’s microchip will take around 15 minutes.
This must be first step in the process of obtaining a cat passport.
The next step, their rabies vaccination, will not be valid if it is completed before your cat is microchipped.
Your cat would, therefore, have to be vaccinated again, which would be more time consuming.
In order to save money and take advantage of this free service, start the process sooner so you can attend one of their event.
#2 Rabies Vaccination
Your cat MUST be up to date on his/her rabies vaccinations, in order to obtain a cat passport in the UK.
There is absolutely no exception to this rule.
Your cat can be vaccinated against rabies at your local vet, or through a charity.
For a UK cat passport, your cat must have been vaccinated within the past year.
If your cat is getting their first rabies vaccination, then you must wait 21 days (3 weeks) before travelling.
Your cat must have a rabies booster each year, even once you have obtained your cat passport.
Failing to follow this rule would mean that his/her passport will no longer be valid for travel.
It’s very important to note that there are specific requirements when it comes to the timings of your cat’s rabies vaccination.
The timings differ between countries.
a) Travelling to an EU or a listed country
If you and your cat are travelling to a country in the EU, or a listed country, the process will be quicker.
The Pet Travel Scheme requires you to wait 21 days (3 weeks) after your cat’s rabies vaccination, before travelling.
This also applies if you are planning on re-entering the UK from an EU or listed country.
It is therefore recommended that you give yourself a minimum of 1 month to get your cat’s rabies vaccinations. Just to be safe.
b) Returning to the UK from any unlisted country OR visiting certain unlisted countries
If you will be travelling to specific unlisted countries, or will be re-entering the UK from any unlisted country – the process will be longer.
This is because your cat must also have a rabies blood test, before returning to the UK from any unlisted country.
Even if you will not be returning to the UK, some countries require that cats have a rabies blood test before entry.
In these cases, you should allow yourself at least 3 months to prepare, 6 months to be safe.
Scroll down to the ‘#4 Rabies Blood Test’ section, for more information.
It is sensible to get your cat’s rabies vaccination at least 1 month to 6 months earlier.
How early you start the process depending on whether you are travelling to an EU country, a listed country or an unlisted country.
#3 Cat Passport Application
Obtaining your cat’s passport will take a quick 30 minute trip to the vet.
Having said that, not all vets are qualified to complete cat passports.
For that reason, when booking an appointment, make sure you let the vet know the reason for your visit.
This will prevent you from showing up to an appointment to find that they’re not able to issue your cat passport.
If your local vet isn’t able to complete for forms for you, then get in contact with the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).
You will need to bring the following to your appointment with the vet:
The veterinarian will check your cats health, review your paperwork and fill out the passport book.
The appointment should take no longer than 30 minutes of your time.
Although vets normally say the passport will be ready in 1 week, it is often much quicker than this.
However, to be safe, give yourself at least 1 week, to allow time for busy periods and vet absence.
#4 Rabies Blood Test or ‘Rabies Titer Test’
Some countries require cats to have a rabies blood test, also known as a ‘rabies titer test’, before entry.
This will be the most time consuming part of getting your cat’s passport, taking at least 3 months – if your cat requires one.
This is usually a requirement for countries that are rabies-free or rabies-controlled.
First of all, your vet will take a blood sample from your cat.
After that, the blood sample must be sent to a laboratory to be tested. There are 40 worldwide laboratories that are authorised to conduct the test.
Your cat’s blood test results must show that his/her blood contains at least 0.50 IU/mL of the rabies antibody.
The test must be completed between 30 days and 180 days before entry. Timing vary depending on which country you are travelling to.
Your cat will not require the rabies blood test if you planning on travelling to an EU or listed country.
He/she will need the test on two occasions, listed below.
a) Returning to the UK from ANY unlisted country
If you and your cat wish to return to the UK from an unlisted country, your cat will need to have a rabies blood test.
The UK requires that you must wait at least 30 days after the rabies vaccination, before your cat’s blood sample is taken for the titer test.
After the vet has taken your cats blood sample, it must be sent to an EU-approved blood testing laboratory.
You may have to wait up to 4 weeks to get your cat’s blood sample back.
To be granted re-entry into the UK, you must wait 3 months from when the blood sample was taken.
Unfortunately, if the test is unsuccessful, you will need to wait another 3 months before your cat is able to return to the UK. This is because you would have to start the process all over again.
b) Travelling to CERTAIN unlisted countries
Your cat may still need a rabies blood test, even if you are not planning on travelling back to the UK.
Certain countries require cats to have a rabies titer test, no matter where they are visiting from.
For example – Cats are not required to take a rabies blood test when visiting Thailand. However, if visiting The Seychelles, a rabies blood test must be completed more than 30 days and under 6 months of entry.
Check the specific requirements of the country that you are visiting.
So, if you and your cat are planning on travelling to an EU or listed country, he/she does not require the rabies blood test.
Therefore, 1 month should be a sufficient amount of time to prepare for your trip.
On the other hand, if you and your cat would like to return to the UK from an unlisted country, OR are travelling to certain unlisted countries – allow yourself at least 6 months to prepare.
This will allow time for waiting, and will allow enough time to restart the blood test process in case of a failed result
So, although it is certainly possible to obtain your cat passport within as little as 24 hours, it’s highly recommended that you begin the process much further in advance.
Allow yourself 1 month to prepare, if you are travelling to an EU or listed country.
However, under certain circumstances, it’s recommended that you start preparing at least 6 months in advance. This applies, if you and your cat will be visiting certain countries that require a rabies titer test, or if you will be returning to the UK from any unlisted country.
Hope this has been helpful.
Happy & safe travels!