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EU Regulation on the non-commercial movement of pet animals

The European Regulation on the animal health requirements for the non-commercial movement of pet animals was published on 13 June 2003 as EC Regulation No. 998/2003. It came into force on 3 July 2003 and applied from 3 July 2004. The Regulation can be downloaded from the European Union (EU) website.

The Regulation sets out the requirements for the movement of pet animals (dogs, cats and ferrets) travelling within the European Community, and into the Community from non-EU countries. It also refers to importation requirements applying to rodents, domestic rabbits, birds (except certain poultry), ornamental tropical fish, invertebrates (except bees and crustaceans), amphibians and reptiles. We are still waiting for more information from Brussels about requirements relating to some of these species.

For dogs and cats, the Regulation allowed the rules of the UK Pet Travel Scheme to continue largely unchanged for 5 years until 3 July 2008. The main changes relate to the introduction of a pet passport for dogs, cats and ferrets, an expanded list of qualifying countries, and the requirements for other species.

On 4 June 2008, the European Commission published a new Regulation which allows the UK to continue its Pet Travel Scheme rules for a further two years until 30 June 2010.  Sweden, Ireland, Malta and Finland are also able to keep their own pet entry rules until that date. This extension has been introduced because the European Commission has not yet published proposals for changes to the European Community pet passport system.       

This means that the rules for dogs, cats and ferrets entering the UK remain in place until 30 June 2010. This page will be updated when the Commission proposals are published.

The European Commission has published a proposal to extend the transitional arrangements applicable for the movement of pet dogs, cats and ferrets into the UK, Ireland, Finland, Malta and Sweden until 31 December 2011. This proposal needs to be agreed by the European Parliament and Council before it can be formally adopted. A news release has been issued.

EU pet passport

Dogs, cats and ferrets meeting the necessary requirements may move between EU Member States if they are accompanied by an EU pet passport. All Member States recognise this document. You can view and print the passport from the European Union website Adobe acrobat pdf file (PDF). Certain non-EU listed countries may also issue a passport. Gibraltar, Norway, San Marino and Switzerland are doing so.

The passport is accepted for entry to the UK from other Member States and from other qualifying countries.

Non-EU countries certificate

Pet dogs, cats and ferrets entering the EU (including the UK) from non-EU countries require a Third Country Official Veterinary Certificate Adobe acrobat pdf file (128 KB). This Certificate may only be used to enter the UK when completed and issued in a listed non-EU country.

Qualifying or listed countries

Dogs, cats and ferrets are able to enter the UK from listed countries provided they meet the relevant requirements. There is important information you should read if you are considering bringing your pet to the UK from north Cyprus (the area north of the Buffer Zone).

Czech Republic, Latvia, Slovenia, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia became qualifying countries on 3 July 2004. Some other countries were also added to the list on 3 July 2004. They are Aruba, Croatia, the Faroe Islands, French Guyana, Greenland, the Grenadines, the Netherlands Antilles and St Pierre & Miquelon.

From 20 October 2004 the following countries became qualifying countries for the Pet Travel Scheme: Chile, Hong Kong, Russian Federation and the United Arab Emirates plus the Spanish Islands of Cueta and Melilla. From 20 January 2005, Taiwan became a qualifying country. Argentina qualified on 26 July 2005, and Guam, Trinidad and Tobago, Mexico, Belarus and Romania qualified on 2 December 2005. Bulgaria and Bosnia Herzegovina qualified on 10 March 2006 and the British Virgin Islands on 11 July 2006. Malaysia qualified on 8 March 2007. Only some of these countries have approved routes to the UK. Animals that enter the UK on an unapproved route must be licensed into quarantine with a view to obtaining early release. This must be arranged before the animal travels to the UK.

There is free movement within the British Isles, including between the UK and the Republic of Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. However, owners with PETS documents are advised to take these with them when travelling with their animal. Pets can be carried on any route within the British Isles subject to the transport company's agreement and conditions of carriage.

Further information

We have produced factsheets on the EU Regulation and the rules for travelling with dogs, cats, ferrets, rabbits and rodents. We will continue to update this website with more information as it becomes available. Please contact the PETS helpline if you need further information.

Commercially traded animals

The EU Regulation also made some amendments to the Balai Directive on commercially traded animals (Council Directive 92/65/EEC of 13 July 1992) which applied from 3 July 2004. For more details on commercially traded animals contact your local Animal Health Divisional Office.

Page last modified: 16 June, 2009
Page published: 11 October 2004

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs