I often get asked questions about how easy it was to fly my two cats from the UK into Spain when I moved here six years ago. Easy is certainly not the word I would use as I was undertaking this risky venture just when airlines were starting to offer pet transport! So I thought it might be useful to share my experiences with anyone else who was thinking of bringing their family pets to Spain.
First of all you need to decide whether you are just moving them here to stay put with no more need for air travel (and just need to get a Veterinary Certificate) or whether they will be flying back and forth to the UK - in which case you will need to get a pet passport.
DEFRA are the Government Department in the UK who are responsible for issuing the Veterinary Certificate or Pets Passport through the Pets Travel Scheme policy (PETS) which you need to get your dog or cat through immigration. The entry of dogs, cats, or ferrets under three months of age is not allowed in Spain.
ISSUE OF VETERINARY CERTIFICATE
If you do not want to go the pet passport route then you need to take your animal to a vet who is registered with DEFRA and who can issue an Official Veterinary Certificate. The veterinary certificate is valid for 4 months or until the vaccine's expiration date - whichever occurs first. Animals without this certificate will be denied entry into Spain. Ideally you should allow at least three months to get all this in place.
The certificate will include the following information:
1. Identification of the owner or person responsible for the animal
2. Description and origin of the animal
3. Microchip or tattoo number, location and date of insertion.
4. Information on the rabies vaccine
So the first thing to do is to get your pet micro chipped and vaccinated against rabies.
After your pet has been vaccinated, it must be blood tested to make sure that the vaccine has given it a satisfactory level of protection against rabies.
The health certificate must be issued by DEFRA no more than 15 days prior to bringing your pet into the country so the animal has to have a final check with the vet a couple of weeks before it is due to travel so that they can get a final clean bill of health. This is sent to DEFRA who then issue the travel certificate.
Don't worry that this all seems a bit last minute as you will have applied for the certificate beforehand giving details of the date of travel so that they will be expecting to hear from the vet.
ISSUE OF PETS PASSPORT
If you are applying for a pet passport this is a much longer process which takes about 7-8 months, but plan as far ahead as you can.
The main steps in getting the Pet Passport are as follows:
1. get the pet micro chipped
2. your animal must be vaccinated against rabies and also have received regular boosters to ensure continued immunity. Your timing on vaccinations is crucial, just missing dates by 1 day can result in the whole process commencing from the start
3. your vet must test your pet's immunity to rabies approximately 30 days after the vaccination. This is done by blood testing and if the test shows there is insufficient rabies antibodies, a further vaccination is required and another blood test after 30 days.
4. after a positive blood test is achieved, you have to make a further visit to your vet who carries out a health check and then issues the pet passport along with a copy of the blood test result. The pet passport will last for your animal's lifetime. If you want to bring your pet back into the UK it will not be allowed re-entry until 6 months after a positive blood test.
After this 6 month period they can leave and enter the country assuming the following:
* You have a Pet Passport which continues to be valid by keeping the rabies booster vaccinations completely up to date. If you miss a booster vaccination by just one day the whole blood testing process will have to be done again.
* Your Pet Passport must show your pet has been treated for tapeworms between 24 and 48 hours prior to re-entry. You will obviously need to get this done by a Spanish vet and ensure your passport is correctly updated. Entry back into the UK will be denied if you time this wrong.
* Your pet will only be allowed entry to the UK if it has travelled with an approved transport company. You cannot bring an animal back on a private boat or plane.
All of the above seems a lot of work, but remember that it is spread over a period of several months and I am happy to report that it was well worth going through to bring my cats with me. They love their new life here and are thriving in the Spanish climate.