It is only a few weeks since I wrote an explanation of the mechanics of the Pet Passport on these pages. In the last week or so, the scheme has been revised and some significant changes have been introduced which streamline the system.

The scheme, which was introduced some years ago required animals to be microchipped, vaccinated against Rabies and blood sampled to prove that they had acquired sufficient immunity from the vaccine. A 6 month wait was then required to prove that the animal was not incubating Rabies then the pet could travel between other countries who had signed up to the scheme.

From 1st January 2012, dogs will need to be microchipped and vaccinated against Rabies however a blood test will not be required. It has been proven that the vaccine is so efficient at stimulating immunity that is no longer felt necessary to check with a blood test. It is also now felt that a 6 month wait is draconian and that 21 days after vaccination, the animal should be fully protected and is free to travel. It will still be very important that the pet receives Rabies booster vaccinations to maintain immunity.

The veterinary profession has, by and large, been comfortable with these changes as they maintain safety but speed up the passport issuing process and reduce the costs to pet owners.

The Pet Passport has always required owners to have their pets treated for ticks and tapeworms prior to re-entry into the UK and the requirements for the new scheme in this regard are less clear at present. There is some talk within Europe that this requirement is restricting free travel. The view held by many within the veterinary profession is that it is essential that this protection remains. A parasitic disease called Echinococcus is endemic in Europe but is not currently found in the UK. Echinococcus is a condition which can affect pets and even be fatal when passed to people and the veterinary profession is lobbying hard that the requirement to treat animals before re-entry to the UK is maintained to prevent introduction to this country.