DEFRA Definition

Dogs, cats and ferrets moving for sale, or re-homing (rescue animals) need to moved under Balai conditions (commercial rules).

This applies to all animals being transported to a rescue centre, foster home, or charity as there will be a onward transfer of ownership as a result of the transport AND to recently adopted animals whose owners already live in a different country as the requirement for the transport has not been necessitated by a move by the owner.

Rescue animals entering the UK must

  • be from a holding registered with the EU Member State of origin under Council Directive 92/65/EEC
  • be identified by a microchip prior to rabies vaccination
  • be vaccinated against rabies in accordance with the recommendation on the vaccine manufacturer’s data sheet
  • the waiting period before entry to the UK is 21 days after a valid vaccination
  • before entering the UK all dogs must be treated for tapeworm, administered by a vet not less than 24 hours and not more than 120 hours (1-5 days) before its scheduled arrival time in the UK
  • be accompanied by a passport containing a rabies vaccination record modelled on Annex 1 of Commission Decision 2003/803/EC.
  • be accompanied by a health certificate (as laid down in Part 1 of Annex E to Directive 92/65/EEC) that confirms 24 hours before dispatch a clinical examination was carried out by a vet authorised by the competent authority showing that the animal is fit and healthy to travel


  • the Member State of origin will notify the movement to the competent authorities of destination through the Community Trade Control and Expert System (TRACES)
  • the importer must notify the Regional AHVLA Office 24 hours prior to import, in writing
  • the dogs/cats must stay a further 48 hours at the place of destination on the health certificate
  • they will not be checked at the point of entry as they are not pets, but may be checked at the place of destination by the Regional AHVLA Office
  • the transporter of the dogs/cats must be authorised to transport animals commercially
  • the importer must keep the original health certificate for at least three years
  • there is no requirement to keep records of onward movements, but we recommend these are kept

What does this mean for ALStrays?

Basically nothing in that as having a Type 2 Transporter License and DEFRA certified vans we qualify as being authorised to transport animals commercially, and all that is required from us is to provide the authority completing the TRACES documentation with our license and registration details, and, as requested, details of our transport route and schedule.

We are more than happy to transport any rescue animal under this scheme. The paperwork is the responsibility of the owner/person organising the transport so it makes very little difference to us to be honest!

When you are using the booking form please make it very clear if you are requesting a place for your pet or a rescue animal.

You can download an example of the Clinical Examination Form in English by clicking on this link.. Your government approved vet will get the originals for you and complete the paperwork in time for the transport.

Transporting your rescue animal via TRACES with ALStrays

TRACES does involve more work for the rescue centre. The animal’s passport (or more often than not a copy) usually has to be with the official vet at least 5 days prior to the departure, and the animal has to be taken to an official vet for a clinical examination 48 hours prior to the transport departure. Spain has recently trained a number of ‘regular vets’ to undertake this examination and complete a health certificate which you can then take to the Government Vet to obtain the TRACES documentation. Please check with your own vet and/or Government vet as different regions have been known to apply different ‘rules’.

ANY registered association in Spain can apply to be TRACES registered, and ONLY an association registered for TRACES which is also the OWNER of the animal can complete the TRACES process legally.

ALStrays Transport DOES NOT get involved in facilitating or doing the TRACES for a rescue as that is 100% the responsibility of the rescue.

For more information please read this page:

TRACES system

The TRACES system is a management tool for tracking the movement of animals and products of animal origin from both outside of the European Union and within its territory. This system consolidates and simplifies the existing systems. It is a major innovation in improving the management of animal diseases and for reducing the administrative formalities which weigh down the economic operators and competent authorities.


Commission Decision 2003/623/EC of 19 August 2003 concerning the development of an integrated computerised veterinary system known as TRACES.


The trade control and expert system (TRAde Control and Expert System – TRACES) created a single central database for monitoring the movements of animals and products of animal origin both within the European Union (EU) and those coming from outside of the EU.


The main features of TRACES are:

electronic transmission of information;
centralised management of the statutory reference data;
interoperability with other information systems;

The aims of the TRACES system are as follows to:

improve the quantity and quality of information on animal movements;
improve the exchange of information between the national and European authorities;
provide a system of electronic veterinary certificates which enables commercial operations to obtain information on-line;
produce lists of establishments from countries outside of the EU which are authorised to export products of animal origin to the EU;
manage consignments rejected at EU borders;
target controls on public and animal health and animal welfare (particularly during their transport, etc.);
centralise the evaluation of potential risks of an epidemic;
overcome linguistic difficulties by making information from other countries more accessible;
integrate all the operators concerned by putting in place a system for implementing operations related to exchanging documents between economic operators and competent authorities.

Economic operators may be integrated into TRACES, subject to being registered by the competent authority to which they are linked. When they wish to transport animals, they must fill in an electronic form in a standardised format which contains all the appropriate information concerning the animal or product of animal origin, the destination and any stages.

In the case of intra-European trade in animals or products of animal origin, the information will be forwarded to the competent authority of the Member State of origin. After having checked the content of the form, the authority may reject or validate the transport. Where appropriate, it will issue the health certificate and the route plan relating to the animals’ welfare in the official languages of the Member State of origin and of destination. The private operator may only carry out the transport if they have received authorisation.

In the case of import or transit of animals or products of animal origin from outside of the EU, it is the official at the border inspection post who checks the animals or products and the veterinary import documents is responsible for entering the relevant information in the TRACES database, including the decision on whether to grant entry or refuse access to EU territory, and for issuing a Common Veterinary Entry Document (CVED).

All this information is sent to the veterinary authority of the Member State of destination, to the central veterinary authority of the country or countries of transit and to all appropriate control points. It can then be consulted during checks carried out en route and/or at the destination. This information may also be consulted by the economic operators registered in the database. The system is available to users free of charge.


The TRACES system replaces several previously separate systems, notably ANIMO and SHIFT. ANIMO was established to monitor the movements of live animals and to exchange information between the national and Community authorities. In order to improve the health security of imported animals and products of animal origin from outside of the EU, an information system called SHIFT was established. SHIFT was composed of two other systems: the SML system for generating list of establishments authorised to export to the EU and the RCS system for managing the consignments refused entry at the EU border. Replacing these different systems with the single TRACES system will avoid duplication, whilst also simplifying the monitoring of animal movements and making it more efficient.

The European Commission is responsible for controlling the TRACES system, for developing and maintaining it, whereas the ANIMO system was based on a contract between the Member States and a private company. The Court of Auditors asked the Commission to take on this responsibility in the wake of problems encountered during the classical swine fever crisis in 1997.



It should be noted that TRACES is required for any rehomed dog being transported across a EU boarder. Please do not think that it only relates to transports into the UK.

While many Spanish government vets will accept a DEFRA certification for their van, they do not have to as the Spanish equivalent is more stringent. For example a van in Spain must be fitted with a divider between the animals and the driver, and it must have a grill for ventilation. In the UK it isn’t necessary to have one. With the van floor in Spain it has to be washable i.e. rubber based, and the cages must be removable so they can be cleaned. Again not the same in the UK.

And Finally ….

We didn’t invent TRACES so however tempting please don’t shoot the messenger.

It has taken us a while to fully research and understand the TRACES system, and our view remains that it is somewhat OTT for a rescue dog, but the reality is that it is the correct system, albeit a system that didn’t envisage being used for these animals when it was set up.

We will trust you if you say the animal qualifies for the PETS Scheme, but we can’t allow you to use it when we know for a fact that it is a rescue dog.

No doubt other transport companies will take a different view and that is totally up to them and you. We do not judge. We have used the PETS Scheme in the past, but have decided on the way we will operate in the future.

As a transport company we are not registered for TRACES so all we can do is transport cats and dogs for TRACES registered organisations. The re-homing project that we run for the cats has always been done in partnership with TRACES registered organisations and it is there cats that are being re-homed and transported. We also transport their re-homed dogs for them under contract. That is our involvement with TRACES.