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From 3 July a new EU-wide system of passports for pet dogs, cats and ferrets
is introduced. The UK was able to offer its experience of running the suc
cessful Pet Travel Scheme in the development of the European scheme.

The key feature will be a single European passport which gives details of the
animal's identity and vaccination record. One of the benefits of the new
style document is that it also records tick and tapeworm treatment within the

Transitional arrangements apply to 30 September 2004. Under these, dog and
cat owners who have obtained a certificate under the UK Pet Travel Scheme will
still be able to use them until the certificate expires.

Animal Health and Welfare Minister Ben Bradshaw said:

" The UK Pet Travel Scheme - which this Government introduced - has been very

"We have been able to put our experience to good effect in helping to shape
the European system. And in a way that ensures the safeguards we have in place
to effectively manage the risk of rabies entering this country are not

"The new system of pet passports has been welcomed by pet owners and the
veterinary profession as it now means that a single document is all that will be
needed for pets to travel around the EU."

Notes for editors

1. Regulation 998/2003 on the non-commercial movement of pet animals came
into force on 3 July 2003, and takes effect on 3 July 2004.

2. Before 2008, the Commission will carry out a science-based review of
certain arrangements in the Regulation and may make proposals for further changes.

3. To qualify for entry into the UK under the passport scheme, dogs and cats
in the EU must first be microchipped, then vaccinated against rabies, blood
tested by an approved laboratory and issued with a passport. They will be able
to enter the UK six months from the date the blood sample was taken which led
to a successful blood test result. Pets must also be treated against ticks and
tapeworms 24-48 hours before they embark on the approved route bringing them
into the UK.

4. For dogs and cats entering the UK from non-EU countries listed in the
Regulation, the rules are the same but they will not be able to obtain a passport.
Instead, vets in those countries will issue a new certificate which will
record details of the required procedures.

5. Dog and cat owners issued with a Pet Travel Scheme certificate before 1
October 2004 can continue to use that certificate to enter the UK until it
expires. They will still need to get a separate certificate of tick and tapeworm
treatment when their animal is treated before it can enter the UK.

6. Details for ferrets will be confirmed shortly. The Regulation also applies
to some other species, e.g. pet rabbits and rodents. Requirements for these
species will be finalised in Brussels at a later date. In the meantime, animals
of these species may enter the UK from EU and some other European countries
without having to meet any rabies requirements. If entering from other
countries, they will still have to undergo 6 months quarantine when they arrive in the

7. More information on the Pet Travel Scheme is available on the Defra
website at , or from the PETS Helpline
on 0870 241 1710 (open 8.30 - 5.00 Monday to Friday).