Under current legislation, all pet dogs or cats brought into Ireland, other than pets coming from the UK, must undergo six months' quarantine. A new harmonised system for the EU has now been agreed. Under this new system, it will be possible to bring pet dogs and cats directly into Ireland from a range of countries deemed low-risk for rabies, provided that certain conditions are met.
The new system comes into effect on 3 July 2004. From that date pet dogs and cats can travel directly into Ireland provided that the animal is travelling from an eligible country — the list of eligible countries is yet to be drawn up but will certainly include all west European countries, Australia, New Zealand and, probably, North America; the animal is identified by means of a microchip; the animal has been vaccinated against rabies; the animal has, at least six months before entry, been successfully blood-tested for rabies antibodies; and the animal has been correctly treated for tick and tapeworm. The evidence that an animal complies with the last four of these conditions will be contained in its passport, a document standardised throughout the EU.
Transport companies and specific routes will be approved by the Department on conclusion of an operational agreement with the transport company and provided the port or airport is an approved entry point. In the case of air transport, approved airlines will be responsible for establishing that an animal is compliant with the conditions of the system before release from custody in the airport of destination. To be an approved entry point, the airport of destination would have to have suitable facilities available for inspection of animals. In the case of sea transport, approved ferry companies will establish that an animal is compliant before embarkation.