New legislation on the "non-commercial transport" of pets, already informally agreed with EU ministers, was approved by Parliament on Thursday. Taking pets abroad will be easier, but pet health requirements will be stricter. Online information for pet owners will also be made clearer.
Before taking their pets across borders, owners should check that their anti-rabies vaccinations are still valid. Young animals between 12 and 16 weeks that have been vaccinated against rabies - but have yet to achieve immunity - should still be allowed to travel.
"There are 64 million cats and 66 million dogs in the EU. One household in four has a pet. In future, travelling across borders with pets will involve far less administrative hassle. We have eased the rules, and this should have a direct impact on citizens" said rapporteur Horst Schnellhardt (EPP, DE) after his resolution was adopted by 592 votes to 7 with 4 abstentions. The legislation will be applicable 18 months after it is published in the EU Official Journal.
Under today's rules, people may not cross borders with more than five pets at once. This restriction is needed to prevent or discourage any abuse of the rules for commercial purposes. However, the new law says owners may be exempted from it if they can prove that they are taking part in a competition, exhibition, sporting or other recreational event (e.g. with a team of sledge dogs).
The new legislation lays down clearer rules on pet "passports" and anti-rabies vaccination. Identification documents must be issued by an authorised veterinarian and should specify the transponder code, anti-rabies vaccination details and other information on the animal's health status.
Since July 2011, electronic tagging has been the only officially approved means of identifying pet dogs, cats and ferrets (which can carry the rabies virus). However, a clearly readable tattoo applied before that date is still considered valid.
Procedure: Co-decision (Ordinary Legislative Procedure), 1st reading agreement with Council