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Pet Passports for European Assistance Dogs

Picture of Dog with a Pet Passport

The European Veterinary Association and the Federation of European Companion Animal Veterinarian Associations have compiled an information sheet about the new pet passport and everything you need to know about travelling with your dog,  Guide dog and other assistance dog owners know that trained service dogs have rights in law not offered to pet dogs and  rightly  do not want them referred to as pets.   Although the rules for travelling in an aircraft distinguish assistance dogs from pet dogs, the rules surrounding the EU pet passport apply equally to ALL cats, ferrets and dogs, whether assistance dogs or pets.  In the abstract below we refer only to dogs.

A new format for pet passports started on 29 December 2014.  All new passports will be in the new format to improve security, but the old format is still valid.  To get a pet passport you should contact a veterinarian in your home country.  This passport applies to all dogs, cats and ferrets, whether pets or assistance dogs.  There is no fixed fee for a passport; the price depends on the country and the veterinarian issuing it.

The new pet passport:

  • includes laminated strips to cover the pages with microchip information and any treatment certified with a sticker
  • has a dedicated page to record the details of the vet who has issued the passport.
  • requires a ‘valid from’ date for rabies vaccinations (excluding boosters). This allows dog owners to see clearly when the passport will be valid for travel and simplify compliance checking.

If you have lost your old pet passport you should contact your vet in order to get another passport issued for your dog and have it revaccinated.

Your dog’s first passport

If you are applying for your first pet passport and you are travelling within the EU, you should go to your vet at least two months before travelling; if travelling outside the EU, go earlier.  For travelling within the EU your dog will have to be micro chipped, with a valid vaccination against rabies, and a waiting period of at least 21 days after vaccination and prior to travelling.  Treatment against Echinococcus Multilocularis is optional for dogs to some countries.  If you are travelling outside the EU you must inquire about the requirements of the country you are travelling to and the EU requirements that apply on return from that country. In addition to micro chipping and valid vaccination against rabies, your dog may need to be tested before leaving the EU on a blood sample collected at least 30 days after vaccination and analysed in an approved laboratory.  It is suggested to start this preparation work well in advance of your travel, as for some countries the procedure takes several months to complete.

Your dog must be at least 12 weeks old before you can get it vaccinated against rabies for the purpose of travel. Some countries accept animals less than 12 weeks without rabies vaccinations, most not. You must inquire before travelling.  If an animal receives a rabies vaccination which according to the technical specifications of the vaccine only requires one shot, the owner can travel with the animal not less than 21 days after the vaccination.

It is prohibited to travel abroad with your dog without following the pet travel rules. Dogs that are non-compliant may pose a potentially serious risk to both animal and human health. They could introduce rabies into a country with dramatic results. Non-compliant dogs may be put into quarantine, rejected or put down as a last resort at the expenses of the owner.  Stringent penalties are in place for those that break the rules.  Countries check ALL animals entering their territory from outside the EU and operate non-discriminatory checks on animals entering their territory from countries inside the EU.

Micro chipping is a legal obligation before travelling.  In order to ensure the identity of the animal at the time of vaccination, it must be micro chipped before it gets the vaccination.

About rabies

Rabies vaccination protects your dog against rabies exposure.  Rabies remains one of the most serious viral zoonoses worldwide. Despite being 100 per cent preventable, it is estimated that 55,000 people die from rabies each year: almost all in developing countries and half of them children under the age of 15.  In the European Union, the incidence of rabies has decreased enormously since the 1980s, mainly due to a combination of vaccinating domestic dogs and wildlife. Thanks to these efforts, many European countries are now declared ‘rabies free’ and rabies almost became a forgotten disease.  However, rabies is still endemic in several countries around the European Union. This means it is of utter importance to keep our dogs vaccinated and to be very extremely careful when bringing dogs from countries where dog-mediated rabies is still present.

A blood sample will be needed to travel to and return from certain countries outside the EU.  For travelling within the EU, no other vaccinations are needed except rabies. If travelling outside the EU, other vaccinations may be required. Please enquire in advance.  Nevertheless, for the health of your dog it is highly advisable to also vaccinate it for the other common diseases especially canine parvovirus, canine distemper virus and canine adenovirus.

Side effects to vaccinations including rabies vaccination are very seldom, but they can occur. If your dog has a reaction from a vaccine, always notify your veterinarian of the problem, even if it is just a mild reaction.

Who should get a passport?

If you live in the EU but are not an EU citizen you can still get a pet passport. You should contact a veterinarian in any EU Member States to get the vaccination and passport.

If you are travelling from outside the EU to the EU you do not need a pet passport because it is only used for pets travelling between Member States.  However, you can also use the pet passport if you are travelling to or from one of the neighbouring countries which apply the EU rules. This includes: Andorra, Faroe Islands, Gibraltar, Greenland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino, Switzerland and the Vatican City State.  You can also use the pet passport if you are travelling to or from the following territories:  French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Réunion (French pet passport); Canary Islands (Spanish pet passport); Azores and Madeira (Portuguese pet passport).

Tapeworm and other diseases

Tapeworm treatment is required for dogs before traveling to Finland, Ireland, Malta or the UK.  If you take your dog abroad, it may be exposed to diseases not occurring in your countries, for example diseases transmitted by the bite of certain ticks, and parasites such as heartworm and tapeworm. It may not have a natural immunity to such diseases and could become infected. Some of these diseases can affect humans.

If your dog shows signs of illness after returning from abroad, notify your vet so that they can consider if it contracted a disease or infection whilst it was abroad We recommend you consult your vet about your dog’s health and fitness to travel before you take it abroad. Depending on where you are going, your vet should be able to advise you on preventative treatments, or any other precautions you need to take and how to look for signs of ill health in your dog.

For further information, look at the European Union website: