Obtaining a dog passport, officially called a ‘Pet Passport’, is a rather straight forward process that should take you between 24 hours and 1 week.
However, it’s important to note that there are specific requirements on timing that vary between different countries and territories.
Furthermore, there are additional rules if you are planning on travelling back to the UK.
Therefore, it is highly recommended that you give yourself at least 1 month to 6 months to prepare. The timings depending on where you are are travelling to.
In order to get your dog passport, your dog will NEED the following:
- Rabies vaccination
- Animal health certificate
These are compulsory and are quick to obtain, but again, there are specific rules on the timing.
Additionally, you may want to take the following into consideration:
- Rabies Blood Test (essential when returning to the UK from unlisted countries OR visiting certain unlisted countries)
- Tapeworm Treatment (essential if returning to the UK)
There are also particular rules when it comes to these, and the rabies blood test in particular is very time consuming.
I will walk you through the whole process of getting your dog passport, and the particular time requirements for each stage.
What is a dog passport?
Between 2000-2020, dogs could get their very own dog passport (officially called a ‘Pet Passport’), under the Pets Travel Scheme, which is also known as ‘PETS’. However, since Brexit, the UK government have scrapped pet passports. Instead, your dog will now just need an animal health certificate, microchip and rabies vaccination, at minimum. Depending on where you are traveling from, you may also require additional parasite treatments, vaccinations and blood tests.
We can just use the term ‘dog passport’ to refer to all of the documents required to for pet travel.
Having a ‘dog passport’ allows pet owners to bring their dogs abroad with them, without them having to endure a lengthy quarantine period. Most of the time. Yes, this means you can even take your dog on the airplane with you – some airlines even allow dogs to sit in the cabin with their owners!
Dog passports include a record of all the vaccinations and treatments that your dog has had, as well as your dog’s name, address, physical traits and breed.
A dog passport basically shows that he/she is fit and healthy to travel with you.
In the UK, in order to get your dog passport, your pooch must MUST have a microchip (“transponder”).
A microchip is a small chip the size of a grain of rice that holds a unique number which can be detected by a microchip scanner. It is implanted just under your dog’s skin between his/her shoulder blades.
You can get your dog microchipped at any vet, or even at a local charity.
Getting your dog’s microchip will take no longer than 15 minutes.
This should be the first step in the process of obtaining a dog passport.
If your dog isn’t microchipped before the next step, their rabies vaccination, then the vaccination will not be valid.
This would mean your dog would have to be vaccinated again, which would take up more of your time.
If you want to save some money and take advantage of this free service, it is recommended that you start the process sooner so you can attend a free event.
In order to obtain a dog passport in the UK, your dog MUST be up to date on his/her rabies vaccinations.
There is absolutely no exception to this rule.
Your dog can get their rabies vaccination at your local vet, or through a charity.
For a UK dog passport, you must be able to prove that your dog has had a rabies vaccination within the past year.
If your dog is being vaccinated against rabies for the first time, you must wait 21 days (3 weeks) before travelling.
Even once you have obtained your dog passport, your dog must have a rabies booster each year.
If you fail to vaccinate your dog each year, 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 time scale of your dog’s rabies vaccination.
These rules differ depending on where you are travelling to.
a) Travelling to an EU or a listed country
If travelling to an EU country or a listed country, the process will be quicker.
The Pet Travel Scheme requires you to wait 21 days (3 weeks) after your dog’s rabies vaccination, before travelling.
This is also the case if you are planning on re-entering the UK.
Therefore, it is recommended that you allow yourself at least 1 month to get your dog’s rabies vaccinations. Just to be safe.
b) Returning to the UK from any unlisted country OR visiting certain unlisted countries
If you are planning on travelling to certain unlisted countries or will be returning to the UK from any unlisted country – the process will be longer.
This is because before returning to the UK from any unlisted country, your dog must also have a rabies blood test.
Even if you are not returning to the UK, some countries require that dogs have a rabies blood test before entering.
In these cases, you will need to 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 dog’s rabies vaccination at least 1 month to 6 months earlier.
How early you start the process should depend on whether you are travelling to an EU country, a listed country or an unlisted country.
Animal Health Certificate
Obtaining your dog’s animal health certificate is a straight forward exercise and should take no more than 30 minutes.
You will need to bring the following when meeting with the veterinarian:
The veterinarian will perform a basic health exam on your dog, review your paperwork and complete your dog’s animal health certificate.
This is a good opportunity to ask the veterinarian about potential additional entry requirements for the country you are visiting. They should be able to administer any additional treatments or vaccines required, as mentioned earlier.
Once you have obtained your animal health certificate, they are valid for 10 days. Therefore, you will need a new animal health certificate each time you wish to travel, and may also need to obtain another one while you are abroad, if you are away for more than 10 days.
Rabies Blood Test or ‘Rabies Titer Test’
Some countries require that dogs have a rabies blood test, also known as a ‘rabies titer test’.
IF the country does require one, this will be the most time consuming part of getting your dog’s passport, taking at least 3 months.
This is a requirement for many rabies-free or rabies-controlled countries.
Firstly, a blood sample is taken from your dog by your vet.
Next, the vet will send it to one of forty worldwide approved laboratories, which are authorised to conduct the test.
The rabies blood test results must show that your dog’s blood contains at least 0.50 IU/mL of the rabies antibody.
The test results must return between 30 days and 180 days before entering the country – the timing varies depending on which country you are visiting.
For those of you planning on travelling to an EU or listed country, you will not require the rabies blood test.
There are two occasions in which your dog will need to have a rabies blood test.
a) Returning to the UK from ANY unlisted country
If you will be returning to the UK from an unlisted country, your dog will need to have a rabies blood test.
The UK requires that the rabies blood test must be taken at least 30 days after the rabies vaccination.
Once the veterinarian has taken your dogs blood sample, they must send it to an EU-approved blood testing laboratory.
The blood test results can take up to 4 weeks to come back.
Before re-entering the UK, you must wait 3 months from the date of the blood sample.
If the test is unsuccessful, you will need another 3 months before travelling. This is because your dog will need another rabies vaccination and the process will have to start again.
b) Travelling to CERTAIN unlisted countries
Even if you are not planning on returning to the UK, your dog may still require the blood test.
Some countries require dogs to have a rabies titer test, no matter where they are travelling from.
For example – Thailand does not require dogs to have a rabies blood test before entering the country. However, The Seychelles does – the rabies blood test must be completed between 30 days and 6 months before entering the country.
Check the specific requirements of the country that you are visiting.
So, if you are travelling to an EU or listed country, then your dog does not require the rabies blood test.
However, if you are planning on returning to the UK from an unlisted country OR are travelling to certain unlisted countries – it’s highly recommended that you start preparing at least 6 months in advance.
This will allow time for waiting and the possibility of vaccine failure and restarting the process.
This isn’t a requirement to get a dog passport, however, it is essential if you are planning on returning to the UK with your dog.
Before re-entering the UK, your dog MUST have been treated against tapeworms within the past 24 hours (1 day) and 120 hours (5 days).
This rule applies no matter where you are returning from.
Unfortunately, over the counter tapeworm treatments don’t count. The treatment must be administered by a vet and officially recorded in your dog’s passport.
It is very important that you adhere to these rules.
If fail to have your dog treated within this time scale, then it may be put into quarantine for up to 4 months.
How much does a Dog Passport Cost?
The cost for a UK ‘dog passport’ can range between £125-£340:
- Microchipping – £0-20
- Rabies Vaccination – £15-60+
- Animal Health Certificate – £110 (approximately)
- Tapeworm treatment – £20-30
- Additional Vaccinations – varies depending on destination country
- Rabies Blood Test – £60-120 (compulsory only when traveling from certain countries)
- Pet Insurance – £6-230+ (optional)
The price you pay will depend on where you get your dog’s microchip, rabies vaccinations and additional vaccinations. While vet’s will charge for microchips and rabies vaccinations, some charities in the UK will offer this service for free.
Additionally, the cost of your dog’s complete pet passport will depend on your destination country. I say ‘complete’ because a standard British Dog Passport just consists of a microchip and rabies vaccination. However, in order to enter many countries, especially outside the EU, your dog may require additional vaccinations and treatments.
For more detailed information, check How Much Does a Dog Passport Cost in the UK?.
So, although it is possible to obtain your dog passport within 24 hours, it’s highly recommended that you start the process much earlier.
If you are travelling to an EU or listed country, then you will want at least 1 month to prepare.
In some instances you will want to start preparing at least 6 months in advance. This being the case if you’re planning on travelling to certain countries that require a rabies titer test, or if you are returning to the UK from any unlisted country.
Hope this has been helpful.
Happy & safe travels!