Under the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) you can bring your guide dogs back to the UK after visiting abroad without having to quarantine your dog. This scheme covers assistance dogs, guide dogs, ferrets, and cats which can be brought back to the UK provided they fulfill certain requirements and conditions. This scheme covers travel by rail, sea, and air. But it does not cover any routes that have not been agreed by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA). It is the DEFRA that administers The Pet Travel Scheme.
To enjoy an accessible travel, see if your route and airline is in the list of approved routes by the DEFRA, click here. But routes are constantly being update with some routes irregular or only operating during certain times of the year, and thus it is advised that you call the DEFRA helpline at 0870 241 1710 for updated information on the route you plan to travel on.
Under the DEFRA scheme, guide dogs or assistance dogs are allowed to travel in the aircraft cabin along with their owners so they can enjoy an accessible travel without requiring assitance.
The following are the conditions outlined by the EU pet movement system, that you have to fulfil when traveling from the UK to any other EU country.
- All pet cats, dogs, and ferrets that are traveling between EU Member States must be vaccinated against rabies, micro chipped, and accompanied by a pet passport. The waiting period before you can enter an EU state after first vaccination date is 21 days.
- Each country has their own additional requirements as well and thus it is advised that you contact the relevant authorities of the country you are traveling to, to find out about their additional entry requirements.
Under the DEFTA scheme, your guide dog should have a pet passport. If you originally have a PETS 1 certificate, you can have it replaced by the new EU Pets Passport.
Before your guide dog qualifies for an EU Pets Passport, you have to strictly follow the procedures mentioned below:
- Get your guide dog micro – chipped —- Most assistance and guide dogs already have a microchip fitted but it is advised that you check with your veterinary surgeon to ensure that the microchip your guide dog has been fitted with, complies with all EU Pets Passport requirements.
- Get your guide dog vaccinated —- Get your assistance or guide dog vaccinated by any vet against rabies. But this can only be done once your dog has been fitted with a microchip.
- Arrange a blood test for your guide dog —- After 30 days of getting your assistance or guide dog vaccinated against rabies, you should get arrange for a blood test that helps see how satisfactory the protection level is of the vaccine against rabies. This is especially important if you are traveling to non – listed EU countries like India, Africa, and South East Asia. Once you have followed these three rules, you can apply for your guide or assistance dog’s EU Pets Passport through any government approved vet, otherwise called Local Veterinary Inspector (LVI). The cost for these passports is normally around £80.
- Follow the 21 day rule —- Once you have followed the above three rules and have received your guide dogs EU Pets Passport, you must wait for 21 more days before you can re-enter or leave the UK from other EU and listed countries. When traveling to non – EU countries, you will be required to administer another blood test 30 days after the rabies vaccination. Some other export and import rules might apply and thus you are advised to contact the Consulate or Embassy of the country that you will be visiting for further details.
When you are re-entering the UK after your trip abroad, you will have to have your assistance or guide dog treated against tapeworm. This treatment should be administered to your guide or assistance dog not less than 24 hours and not more than 120 hours (5 days) before scheduled travel time.
For a list of all those countries that are eligible under the PETS Scheme, click here.
For visually impaired people traveling by air, it is advised that they plan their journey well in advance so they have enough time to check with their booking agent, airline, airport, and regulations of the country they are traveling to. Travelers with assistance or guide dogs will be required to bring along identification for both themselves and their dogs, a Pets Passport for their dog, any documentation required by the airline, and adequate car safety harness so that their dogs can be secured during take – off and landing and if required during the flight.
When traveling back to the UK, you should fax your guide dogs Pets Passport documentation to the Animal Reception Centre of the UK airport you will be arriving at, prior to your flight.
When you land at that airport, an Animal Clearance Officer will be there to meet you either on the aircraft or the arrival gate, so you can have your documentation approved.
Once your documentation has been approved, the Animal Clearance Officer will make provision for you through Customs and Immigration and baggage claim.
THE NEW EQUALITY ACT 2010:
Under The New Equality Act 2010, service providers have to allow assistance and guide dogs access in restaurants, pubs, hotels, taxis, banks, and other such public areas to allow for you to have more accessible options readily available.