Last updated on 16 September 2021
Under the Northern Ireland Protocol, from 1 January 2021, the EU Pet Travel Regulation continues to apply to travel into and between Northern Ireland, EU Member States and third countries. In other words, Northern Ireland remains part of the EU Pet Travel Scheme.
The EU Pet Travel regulation (Regulation (EU) 576/2013) details the documentary, health and compliance check requirements for the travel of pet dogs (including assistance dogs), cats and ferrets between and into EU Member States (MS) including Northern Ireland to avoid the quarantining of animals.
From 1 January 2021, Great Britain became a ‘Part II Listed’ country, for the purposes of pet travel and is therefore no longer a member of the EU Pet Travel Scheme.
This change in Great Britain country status means there are additional documentary requirements, health preparations and compliance checks for travelling with a pet from Great Britain or returning to Northern Ireland from Great Britain. This includes an EU pet passport for Northern Ireland travellers or an Animal Health Certificate (AHC) for Great Britain travellers, as well as a rabies vaccination.
On 15 September 2021, DAERA Minister Edwin Poots MLA announced that checks on all pet dogs, cats and ferrets travelling from GB to NI would be suspended indefinitely while negotiations between the UK government and EU continue.
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This follows the UK Government announcement on 6 September 2021 that the grace period relating to routine checks on pet travel within the UK will be extended beyond 1 October 2021. There will be no routine checks until further notice.
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Officials reserve the right to undertake checks in the interim should there be a suspicion of illegal activity or welfare concerns.
Briefing notes were issued to Northern Ireland’s authorised Private Veterinary Practitioners (PVP) on 15 and 18 December, covering the most up to date information, advice and guidance. Only Private Veterinary Practitioners authorised by the Department can issue EU pet passports and pet export health certificates.
All travellers with pets (cats, dogs and ferrets) including those travelling with Recognised Assistance Dogs are subject to the requirements of Regulation (EU) 576/2013 and must follow the same rules if they wish to travel under the EU Pet Travel Scheme.
It is recommended that you contact the competent authority of the country of destination before travelling in case there are any additional requirements that need to be met.
The following Q&A provides clarification for pet travel between Great Britain and Northern Ireland from 1 January 2021.
For the purposes of pet travel, Great Britain includes England, Scotland, Wales, the Channel Islands and Isle of Man.
The additional requirements will impact significantly on those travelling with pets within the United Kingdom, particularly on travellers with assistance pets and guide dog trainers - what is being done to reduce the impact and remove these additional requirements?
- The Minister is aware of the impact of these additional requirements and has written to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, George Eustice MP and to the European Commission, highlighting the specific issues and officials continue to engage with counterparts in Defra to explore mitigations.
- The Minister has requested that urgent consideration be given to the introduction of a ‘Common Travel Area’ for pets travelling between Great Britain, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and a joint UK/NI/ROI working group has been established to urgently consider where flexibilities can be achieved.
- This matter has also now been escalated by the UK Government to the European Commission, seeking an urgent resolution. The Commission has responded and discussions are ongoing to find pragmatic solutions to the issues.
If I am travelling from Northern Ireland to Great Britain with my pet but I am not returning to Northern Ireland with my pet, what are the requirements?
- If travelling from Northern Ireland to Great Britain and not returning to Northern Ireland with your pet, there are no documentary or health preparations. However there is a legal requirement that dogs are microchipped at 8 weeks old.
- It is recommended that you check with your transport company before travelling as they may need a statement from a vet confirming your pet is fit to travel.
If I am travelling from Great Britain to Northern Ireland with my pet, what are the requirements?
To travel from Great Britain to Northern Ireland your pet needs:-
- a microchip
- a valid EU pet passport, or EU animal health certificate confirming microchip and vaccinations (valid for 10 days from issue for entry to an EU Member State (including NI) and valid for 4 months onward travel within the EU)
- a rabies vaccination (make sure your pet is microchipped first or the vaccination will not count) – (the dog must be at least 12 weeks old before vaccination and the vaccination must be in date at the time of travel).
- you must wait 21 days from the date of the rabies vaccination before travelling
- tapeworm treatment (dogs only) administered between 1 and 5 days before entering NI
- entry to NI must be through a Travellers Point of Entry
- it is recommended that you check with your transport company before travelling as they may need a statement from a vet confirming your pet is fit to travel
If I am travelling to Great Britain and planning to return to Northern Ireland, what documentation and health preparations do I need to make?
Pet owners returning to Northern Ireland from Great Britain will need to make the same preparations as set out in answer to the previous question.
If I am travelling from Northern Ireland to Great Britain with my pet, what are the requirements?
Whilst the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has confirmed there will be no checks or changes to the requirements for pets travelling from Northern Ireland to Great Britain, any person travelling from Northern Ireland to Great Britain with a pet and then returning to Northern Ireland, will be required to adhere to the EU requirements for travelling into the EU/Northern Ireland from a Part II listed country. However, Northern Ireland travellers will be able to obtain a valid EU pet passport in Northern Ireland to use as an alternative to an Animal Health Certificate.
If I am travelling from Northern Ireland to the EU including the Republic of Ireland, what are the requirements?
Current pet travel within the EU, including Republic of Ireland, requires a pet passport and rabies vaccination. There is no change to these requirements.
Will my current EU pet passport, issued in Northern Ireland, prior to 31 December 2020, still be valid for return travel into Northern Ireland from Great Britain, or do I apply for a new one?
From 1 January 2021 UK pet passports issued in both Northern Ireland and Great Britain up to 31 December 2020, are no longer valid for travel to the EU (including Northern Ireland). Interim measures have been put in place. If you are intending to travel you should contact your vet who will arrange to update your pet passport appropriately to allow travel. A new style UK (NI) branded EU Pet Passport will be distributed to every authorised Private Veterinary Practitioner in due course. A list of veterinary practice contacts can be accessed at the following link:-
Will my pet be subject to checks if I am returning to Northern Ireland from Great Britain?
EU regulations require checks in respect of pet movements for pets entering the EU (including Northern Ireland) from third counties.
However the UK government have announced that there will be no routine on pet travel within the UK until further notice. Further updates can be found on the following links
Officials will reserve the right to undertake checks should there be a suspicion of illegal activity or welfare concerns.
If there are no checks why do I require the documentation?
The European Union (EU) Pet Travel Regulation (Regulation (EU) 576/2013), which details the documentary, health and compliance check requirements for the travel of pets between or into EU Member States, continues to apply in Northern Ireland following the end of the transition phase.
Therefore there are now additional requirements for pet travel from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, including the need for appropriate documentation and rabies vaccination, as a direct result of Great Britain now being listed as a Part II country.
These continue to be legal requirements and are not affected by the recent decision to delay the introduction of routine compliance checks.
Will my documentation be checked if I adhere to the requirements and obtain documentation and adhere to the health requirements?
There will be no routine checks carried out until 1 October 2021. However officials reserve the right to undertake checks in the interim should there be a suspicion of illegal activity or welfare concerns.
If I have no documentation will I be subject to checks?
Will I be checked by the ferry companies or Defra before leaving Great Britain to travel to Northern Ireland?
Defra have confirmed that they will not be carrying out checks in respect of travel from Great Britain to Northern Ireland. However you may wish to contact your transport company to confirm any additional requirements that they may have.
Where can I get a pet passport and how much will it cost?
You can obtain a pet passport directly from one of the authorised Private Veterinary Practitioners participating in the pet travel scheme, (see link below for details). The price of consultation and advice, rabies testing, any necessary vaccinations and issuing documents, is set by each individual vet. Please speak to your vet about the cost if preparing to travel with your pet.
Will my pet require a rabies vaccination for travelling to Northern Ireland from Great Britain?
Yes, a rabies vaccination will be required and you need to make sure your pet is microchipped first, or the vaccination will not count. The pet must be must be at least 12 weeks old before vaccination. You must wait 21 days from the date of the rabies vaccination before travelling and the vaccine must be in date at the time of travel.
I am concerned that the rabies vaccination will have a detrimental effect on the health of my pet?
There is already a requirement for such a vaccination for pets intending to travel to the EU, including the Republic of Ireland, from Northern Ireland. All vaccinations recommended for use in NI/EU have undergone rigorous testing to assess safety and ensure effectiveness. The Veterinary Medicines Directorate, an Executive Agency within DEFRA, regulate the safety and quality of veterinary medicines in the UK and you may wish to seek further advice from them regarding any vaccination concerns. The Veterinary Medicines Directorate can be contacted here.
How do I know if my pet’s rabies vaccination is up-to-date?
Your vet will be able to advise you when a rabies vaccination is due. They will also be able to advise whether other health and documentary checks are required for travel. We recommend that you contact your local vet before planning any travel with your pet.
How long does my pet’s rabies vaccination remain valid for?
The lifespan of the rabies vaccination depends on the brand of vaccination used and your vet will be able to advise you when rabies boosters will be required. In order for an EU pet passport to remain valid, rabies vaccinations and any future boosters must be administered by an authorised veterinarian within the EU. Details of the vaccination must be entered in the pet passport.
Does the rabies vaccination need to be given every time you intend to travel?
No. Provided the rabies vaccination is kept up to date, you should only need to get your pet vaccinated for the first trip.
How much will obtaining a pet passport and health preparations cost?
The price of consultation and advice, rabies testing, vaccinations and issuing documents (including a pet passport) is set by each individual vet.
Is an EU pet passport transferable between owners?
Yes. An EU pet passport is transferable and remains valid if you comply with the requirements of the EU Pet Travel regulations. However, within the passport there is only space for the details of 2 owners. Once both are used you will need to get a new passport to travel with the pet.
Will my pet require Tapeworm / Echinococcosis Multilocularis (EM) treatment every time I return to Northern Ireland from Great Britain?
Yes. EU regulations require that dogs comply with preventative health measures, and that tapeworm / EM treatment is administered within 24 to 120 hours (1 to 5 Days) of entry to the EU (including Northern Ireland). This treatment can be administered by a veterinarian in Northern Ireland or Great Britain. Depending on the duration of your trip, you may be able to have the treatment administered in Northern Ireland before you leave i.e. if you are returning to Northern Ireland within 5 days.
What countries require Tapeworm / Echinococcosis Multilocularis treatment to enter with a dog?
Tapeworm treatment is required for entry to Finland, Norway, Malta, Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Please note you do not require tapeworm treatment if travelling to or from Northern Ireland to any of the countries listed above.
Can any vet sign the part about the Tapeworm treatment regardless if they are an authorised Private Veterinary Practitioner or not?
Yes. Any vet can administer tapeworm treatment as long as it is recorded and stamped in the passport.
Can an authorised Private Veterinary Practitioner certify and prepare their own pet for travel?
The RCVS Principles of Certification state that "Veterinarians should not issue a certificate which might raise questions of a possible conflict of interest e.g. in relation to their own animals". On the basis of this, it is advised that treatment/certification to meet PETS requirements should be carried out by a qualified veterinarian who is not the owner of the pet.
Will I need to enter Northern Ireland through a Travellers Point of Entry if travelling from Great Britain?
Yes. You will need to enter the EU, including Northern Ireland, via a Travellers Point of Entry when you are travelling from a third country such as Great Britain in order to facilitate compliance checks.
Where will the Travellers Points of Entry be located in Northern Ireland?
Travellers Points of Entry will be located at the following locations: Belfast Port, Larne Port, Belfast International Airport, Belfast City Airport and City of Derry Airport.
Is there any ‘grace period’ regarding pet travel from Great Britain to Northern Ireland for these changes being introduced, in relation to the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol?
Yes the UK Government has confirmed that the grace period relating to routine checks on pet travel within the UK will be extended until further notice.
However, officials will reserve the right to undertake checks in the interim should there be a suspicion of illegal activity or welfare concerns.
Are there any other requirements for travelling with a pet other than those detailed above?
The requirement for the non-commercial movement of pets under the Pet Travel Scheme are set out in the paragraphs above, however it is recommended that you contact the competent authority of the country of destination before travelling in case there are any additional requirements that need to be met.
Commercial movement of pets
What are the requirements for the commercial movement of pets between Great Britain and Northern Ireland?
There is no change to the requirements for the commercial movement of pets from Northern Ireland to Great Britain, other than that they must be microchipped at 8 weeks old.
Where more than 5 pets are travelling in a consignment, you will need to comply with the pet travel scheme rules. In addition, for commercial trade, you must also meet the requirements laid down by the ‘Balai’ Directive link, here.
Before moving dogs for commercial purposes from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, you need to obtain an Export Health Certificate. The guidance in the link below will help you obtain an Export Health Certificate, pre notify in advance of the arrival of the consignment into Northern Ireland and advise on what you need to do on arrival at a Point of Entry.
Does the indefinite postponement for pet checks apply to the commercial movement of pets?
No. The grace period does not apply to the commercial movement of pets.
What if I am travelling to Northern Ireland with more than 5 pets to attend a show, competition or training for an event?
Pet owners travelling to an event in Northern Ireland from any country, including Great Britain, should complete the Declaration using the link below and make the completed Declaration available to a DAERA Portal Inspector upon arrival in Northern Ireland.
This Declaration should also be completed by those returning to Northern Ireland from an event.
Where can I get further information regarding pet travel?
Information regarding travelling with pets will continue to be updated on the DAERA website as information becomes available and can be found here.
If you cannot find an answer for your query please contact the following Tel-No is 0300 200 7840 or email email@example.com.