International Pet Travel Guide

Pet Passports

­For travel within the European Union, you need a passport for yourself -- and one for your pet. Sure, it sounds a little silly at first, but when you consider the number of animal-borne diseases the world has seen in the past decade alone -- hoof and mouth, mad cow, avian flu, SARS -- you can understand why a government would care about tracking the four-legged critters crossing its borders.

If you're traveling within the European Union with a dog, cat or ferret, good news: Pet passport requirements have been standardized for all member nations, and you can obtain a pet passport from your veterinarian. Once you've obtained a passport for your pet, it is valid for the rest of your pet's life.

To obtain a pet passport, you'll need to make sure your pet's rabies vaccination is up to date. Some nations have additional vaccination and identification requirements, which we'll discuss more on the next page.

EU pet passport regulations have not been standardized for pets other than dogs, cats and ferrets. To travel with a bunny, iguana or other pet, you'll need to check the requirements of your destination country or countries.

If you're traveling into the EU, your vet will need to complete a health certificate for your pet. You'll also need to prove that vaccinations are up to date; you must begin this testing process at least three months before you travel. You can find the applicable forms and regulations, in multiple languages, on the European Commission site.

The EU is the only place where pet passports are required. (You can obtain them from some pet stores in the United States, but they're strictly novelty products.) However, that doesn't mean you don't need any paperwork if you're traveling elsewhere.