Understanding rabies country classification
Pet import regulations change depending on the country your pet is travelling from. Understanding your country’s rabies classification is crucial to making travel plans; the length of quarantine, the veterinary requirements, and the health tests are different for different country categories. To effectively manage your pet’s travel plans, it is imperative to comprehend your country’s category as well as the category of the country you will be travelling to.
Rabies is a viral disease that spreads from one infected animal to another. Not just dogs, other domestic animals such as cats, ferrets, and cattle also carry rabies. Wild animals such as bats, skunks, racoons, foxes and coyotes can spread rabies too. Rabies is especially dangerous because it can spread from animals to human; it can be fatal if timely treatment is not administered. Most countries have quarantines and other health tests to be entirely sure that rabies and other exotic diseases do not enter the country.
Know your country category
When it comes to pet import, most countries in the world fall under one of three rabies categories.
Rabies-free countries: These countries do not have any reported cases of rabies. Countries generally recognised as rabies-free countries are: American Samoa, Antigua, Aruba, Australia, Barbados, Belgium, Bermuda, England, Fiji, French Polynesia (Tahiti), Guam, Hawaii, Ireland, Jamaica, Japan, Malta, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Saint Lucia, Scotland, Singapore, Sweden, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Turks and Caicos Islands, United Kingdom, Vatican.
This list is for guidance and not all countries follow this classification. For instance, the EU does not consider any country as rabies-free; all countries are either rabies-controlled or high rabies according to EU regulations.
Rabies-controlled countries or low-risk countries: These are countries that have a low incidence of rabies. These countries have stringent measures in place to stop the spread and prevalence of rabies. Some of the countries that are generally classified as rabies-controlled are: Bahrain, Belgium, Belarus, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Grenada, Hong Kong, Hungary, Kuwait, Latvia, Qatar, Slovakia, Taiwan, Trinidad and Tobago, UAE, USA, UK.
This is an indicative list, and the classification between the three categories is fluid depending on the country you are travelling to.
High rabies countries or high-risk countries: These countries have a high incidence of rabies where rabies occurs in both wild and companion animals. Pets travelling from these countries have to spend time in quarantine if they are moving to a country for a different category. Many of the world’s countries fall into this category.
The rabies classification varies from country to country and what Australia considers rabies-free may not necessarily be true for the US. Rabies risk categorisation by the United Kingdom can be read here. This list can be used as a general guide as many countries in the EU follow this classification. If you are planning to travel with your pet to a different country, it is recommended to check the classifications for that country before beginning with your travel plans.
Travelling from one country category to another
If your pet is moving from one country to another, the rabies risk categorisation of both countries has to be considered before making travel plans. Generally, it is easy to move between countries of the same category and from low risk to high-risk countries. However, if your pet is moving from a high-risk country to a low-risk country, additional documentation and health tests are required.
- Moving from a rabies-free country to another rabies-free country: Your pet will be able to enter the country with minimal paperwork. In most cases, your pet will not be quarantined either.
- Moving from a rabies-free country to a low-risk or high-risk country: Your pet can enter the country without quarantine and with minimal paperwork. However, your pet will face restrictions when they return home.
- Moving from a low-risk country to a rabies-free country: Your pet will have to fulfil all veterinary requirements including valid rabies vaccination, an import permit and other health documents. Some countries might require a rabies titre test and quarantine too.
- Moving from a low-risk country to another low-risk country: Your pet will have to fulfil all the veterinary requirements of that country. Generally, an import permit and valid vaccinations are required to travel. Usually, no quarantine is necessary.
- Moving from a low-risk country to a high-risk country: Your pet will need a pet passport and valid vaccinations to travel. Most countries do not require a rabies titre test or quarantine.
- Moving from a high-risk country to a rabies-free country: Many rabies-free countries such as Australia and New Zealand do not permit the entry of animals from high-risk countries. If your pet is travelling from a high-risk country, he or she will have to spend six months or more in a low-risk country before allowed entry into such countries. Your pet will need a rabies titre test and valid vaccinations. Some countries in the EU require six-month quarantine after fulfilling all veterinary requirements and the rabies titre test.
- Moving from a high-risk country to a low-risk country: Your pet will have to satisfy all veterinary and biosecurity regulations to be able to travel. Valid vaccinations and a rabies titre test are mandatory for most countries. Depending on the country your pet is travelling to, he or she might have to spend time in quarantine.
- Moving from a high-risk country to another high-risk country: Your pet will need to the correct documentation and valid vaccinations to travel. No quarantine or rabies titre test is necessary.
Get professional help
Relocating to a different country with a pet can get challenging because of the complex pet import regulations in different countries. The paperwork and the health tests must be accurate and completed at the right time; failure to do so could result in your pet being denied entry or having to undergo more health tests or spending extra time in quarantine.
If you are planning to relocate internationally with your pet dog or cat, contact us at Petraveller for a detailed travel itinerary and other pet travel advice.