- In 2015, 164,836 dogs were recorded entering the UK under the
Pet Travel Scheme. Excluding British owners returning into the
country, 65,080 dogs were imported from 128 countries.
- In 2015, over 91% of dogs entering the UK (excluding British
owners returning to the country) came from other EU Member
- The numbers of dogs being imported for commercial purposes
increased to 28,344 in 2015 from 26,399 in 2014.
- Non-commercial imports of dogs increased by 1,614 between 2014
The Pet Travel Scheme
In January 2012, the UK harmonised its pet travel rules with the
rest of the European Union (EU) to allow for easier pet travel.
The changes for anyone travelling within the EU or non-EU listed
country require the owner to ensure that their dog has:
- A microchip
- A rabies vaccination (with a wait of 21 days before travelling)
- A pet passport or an official third country veterinary
- Tapeworm treatment (with an exception for Finland,
Ireland, Malta and Norway).
For anyone travelling into the UK and EU from an unlisted
country, their pet requires:
- A microchip
- A rabies vaccination following microchipping
- A blood test 30 days after the rabies vaccination and at least
three months before travelling
- Tapeworm treatment.
Prior to travelling, the vet must provide a copy of the results
showing that the vaccination was successful. However, owners do not
have to wait for three months if their pets were vaccinated, blood
tested and given a pet passport for the EU before travelling to an
unlisted country. In both cases, owners must use an authorised
carrier and an approved route when travelling with pets.
For more information on the Pet Travel Scheme, please
With the relaxation of the Pet Travel Scheme, the legitimate
import of dogs for commercial purposes has declined as puppy
traffickers are using loopholes and poor enforcement under the Pet
Travel Scheme to evade controls.
Puppies are being disguised as being pet dogs to avoid the
commercial checks which are more stringent. According to reports
from member states and enforcement officials, puppy traffickers
have also forged vaccination certificates and microchips that are
registered to both a fake owner and address. The situation has
exposed the UK to a higher risk of rabies and other diseases
entering its borders and simultaneously has seen overly-young
puppies transported in poor conditions with minimal water and
The EU and Defra have attempted to improve legislation to
address the concerns outlined above by introducing a new Regulation
(576/2013) that will come into effect on 29 December 2014. The new
Regulation will introduce a number of changes to the EU pet travel
rules. These are designed to strengthen enforcement regimes across
the EU and increase levels of compliance.
The Kennel Club believes that these changes will improve
enforcement and increase compliance whilst helping to prevent
illegal activity. However, concerns remain to what extent these
changes will be effective in tackling the current problems of
illegal imports. Effective checks will only work if individuals
declare themselves as transporting animals. Within this framework
of conducting checks, there will be a significant limitation on the
effectiveness of enforcement carried out by carriers regardless of
how strict the pet travel rules may be.
The Kennel Club would recommend:
- the responsibility to conduct checks on pet travellers to be
transferred from ferry companies to border control agencies
- increased spot checks at ports to improve the current checking
- the need for member states to better enforce the rules
surrounding pet travel, including checks of paperwork presented to
- that Westminster undertakes a new risk assessment on the risk
of rabies being imported
that Westminster should liaise more closely with the European
Commission and the relevant veterinary authorities in specific
countries in central and eastern Europe (those with the highest
number of puppies being imported into the UK) to coordinate and
work towards reducing the risk of fraudulent pet passports and
certificates being issued.