A New Year it may be but we are still getting a lot of questions regarding when people have to use TRACES and when they can use the PETS Scheme.
For now though I will attempt to provide a very clear, very simple, clarification on when the two schemes should be used.
Probably the simplest way is to look at when the PETS Scheme can be used: that is when it is YOUR pet (i.e. the chip is in your name) who is traveling because it has to travel with you (holiday, moving house etc) or because of a change of circumstance to you (e.g. sickness means your pet needs to go to a family member or friend for a while BUT will be returning to you in due course or you will be traveling to be with the animal). In these situations the PETS Scheme can be used and if you are unable to transport the animal personally you are allowed to use an authorised transport provider (which basically means a DEFRA certified van driven by someone with a Type 2 Transport License – or equivalent from other countries). You can not use a friend to take your pet for you.
If the animal is being transported because it has changed ownership i.e. has been adopted and needs to be transported to it’s new owner, or it is traveling to a new country in the hope of being adopted i.e. to a foster home or rescue centre then it MUST be transported under the TRACES scheme. It really is that simple.
Of course it is easy to abuse the systems if you so desire as they are not policed that strongly in every country, and the PETS Scheme in particular is hard to prove. BUT and it is a highly relevant BUT it can be proved and many countries are starting to look at it much closer.
In particular Germany and the UK are both asking local vets to report when an animal is brought to them for a change of ownership, new passport etc. The vets are notifying the government vets who are contacting the individual for evidence of the TRACES documentation, transport company and re-homing papers (from a registered organisation).
At the border (UK in particular) they are being far more thorough in checking the DEFRA certificates and Type 2 Licenses of the transporter, and the paperwork for the animals, in particular the ownership and address details in the UK.
Many people tell us that it will be all right as they can’t access the microchip system to check but that misses the point, in a number of ways: 1) they can check the microchip registration details by requesting a copy of the paperwork is carried with the passport (this is something that we insist on if transporting under the PETS Scheme), and 2) why would a transport company risk the welfare of the other animals on the transport for the sake of helping you abuse the system?
We made the decision early in 2013 that we would adhere strictly to the two schemes as like many a transporter we had used (and abused) the PETS Scheme in our early days, through ignorance it must be said, but once we fully understood the two schemes in detail we had no hesitation or issue in making our decision.