LONDON - For a famously animal-loving nation, pet owning visitors to Britain have had it remarkably tough. Ever since the 19th century, new arrivals have had to bid a teary farewell to their cat or dog for six months while it sat in quarantine to prove that it did not have rabies. But no longer.
As of January 1, Britain will allow animals from the European Union and listed countries such as the United States and Australia to enter with just a rabies vaccination given 21 days beforehand.
Pets coming in from unlisted countries such as India, Brazil and South Africa will also need to have been vaccinated and take a blood test, but the subsequent quarantine has been halved to three months.
The new measures will bring Britain in line with other EU nations while at the same time ensuring the risk of rabies entering the country remains "extremely low", according to officials.
Announcing the change in June, Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman said: "The UK's quarantine system was designed to combat the threat of rabies in the 19th century and has now been left far behind by scientific advances.
"It's time we changed these outdated rules which have caused hardship to generations of pets and pet owners, and those who rely on assistance dogs, with too many animals cooped up unnecessarily."