When travelling with your pet dog, cat or ferret, the rules you must follow depend on the country you are going to or coming from.

Last updated on 24 May 2024

Ukraine

If you are travelling to Northern Ireland from Ukraine with your pets, email daeratradeimports@daera-ni.gov.uk or call +44 28 90 524588 to find out what to do.

Україна

Якщо ви подорожуєте до Північної Ірландії з домашніми тваринами, для отримання інформації щодо ваших подальших дій надішліть електронного листа за адресою daeratradeimports@daera-ni.gov.uk або подзвоніть за номером +44 28 90 524588.

Pet Travel from 1 January 2021

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 (NI) to avoid the quarantining of animals.

Under the NI Protocol, from 1 January 2021, the EU Pet Travel Regulation continues to apply to travel between NI, EU Member States and Third Countries. In other words, NI remains part of the EU Pet Travel Scheme.

From 1 January 2021, Great Britain (GB) has become a ‘Part II Listed’ Third Country, for the purposes of pet travel and is therefore no longer a member of the EU Pet Travel Scheme.

This change in GB country status means there are additional documentary requirements, health preparations and checks for travelling with a pet from GB to NI, including a rabies vaccination and an EU pet passport for NI travellers or an EU Animal Health Certificate (AHC) for GB travellers.

Travelling from GB to NI or travelling from NI to GB and returning to NI

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.

The UK Government and the EU have agreed the Windsor Framework. There will be no routine compliance checks on the non-commercial movement of UK origin pets (dogs cats and ferrets) travelling from GB to NI until the Windsor Framework pet travel provisions are implemented.

Please note, until further notice, all current requirements for the non-commercial movements of pets (dogs, cats and ferrets) continue to apply.

Further information on changes will be published here in due course.

Pet Checks

Until further notice, there will be no routine physical or documentary checks on the non-commercial movement of pet dogs, cats and ferrets travelling from Great Britain to Northern Ireland where Northern Ireland is the final destination.

Officials reserve the right to undertake checks in the interim should there be a suspicion of illegal activity or welfare concerns. This applies to all journeys, irrespective of origin or destination.

Overview

Pet Travel Scheme (PETS)

PETS allows pet dogs, cats and ferrets to travel between and into EU Member States (including NI) without quarantine, as long as they meet the conditions of the scheme.

The EU Pet Travel Regulation covers the movement of up to 5 pets with their owners. Where more than 5 pets are travelling in a consignment (see exception for travelling to shows below) or in the case of the commercial movement of pets, as well as the preparations needed for pet travel, the requirements for commercial trade laid down by the Animal Health Law Regulations 429/2016 must also be met.

The Animal Health Law can be found at: Regulation (EU) 2016/429 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 9 March 2016 on transmissible animal diseases and amending and repealing certain acts in the area of animal health (‘Animal Health Law’) (Text with EEA relevance) | eur-lex.europa.eu.

Commercial trade includes any transfer of ownership and also relates to dogs travelling for the purpose of re-homing. Further information can be obtained from daeratradeimports@daera-ni.gov.uk.

Before travelling, it is always recommended that you contact the competent authority of the country of destination as there may be additional requirements that have to be met.

Getting a pet passport

From 1 January 2021, UK style EU Pet Passports issued in GB or NI up to 31 December 2020 are no longer valid. However, as NI remains part of the EU pet travel scheme, NI travellers can obtain a valid EU pet passport in NI to use as an alternative to an AHC.

As an interim measure, NI pet owners can contact their private vet, who will update their UK style EU pet passport appropriately to allow travel. A new style UK (NI) branded EU Pet Passport will then be distributed to veterinary practices in due course.

You can obtain a pet passport directly from one of the veterinary practices participating in the pet travel scheme. See link below for details:

List of Practices participating in the Pet Passport Scheme

If you live in England, Scotland, Wales, Channel Islands or Isle of Man please contact Animal and Plant Health Agency (please ring 0370 241 1710 or email pettravel@apha.gov.uk) for details.

Requirements/Preparations for Pet Travel

The requirements for travel to EU Member States (including NI) with your pet depends on the country you are travelling from.

If you travel with an EU export health certificate (EHC) rather than an EU pet passport, you should report to the travellers’ point of entry at time of arrival in NI, to have the EHC endorsed by Portal Officials, which will allow you to use the EHC for 4 months onwards travel into the EU. Without this endorsement, the EHC will not be valid for onwards travel to the Republic of Ireland or the rest of the EU. This requirement applies to GB origin pets as well as to Rest of World origin pets.

There are 4 categories of countries. The category your country falls into will determine the preparations you need to make for your pet to travel. Details for each category are set out below:

Category 1

Travelling within EU Member States (including NI)

A list of EU Member States can be found at: Countries in the EU and EEA | gov.uk.

A pet needs:

  • a microchip,
  • a rabies vaccination administered by an authorised vet. The animal must be microchipped beforehand and be at least 12 weeks old at the date the vaccine is administered,
  • to wait before travelling until the appropriate immunity has developed, as stated by the datasheet of the vaccination given, which must be at least 21 days after the primary vaccination is given. If the datasheet of the vaccination used says that immunity is not present until day 30 after vaccination, then you must wait 30 days before travel and your vet should record the same in the passport / animal health certificate. (This wait does not apply to an annual or 3 yearly booster vaccination, provided the booster is administered before the original vaccination expires),
  • a valid EU issued pet passport or an EU Animal Health Certificate,
  • tapeworm treatment for dogs if you’re travelling directly to Finland, Ireland, NI, Norway or Malta,
  • Check with your transport company, as they may need a statement from a vet confirming your pet is fit to travel.

Category 2

Travelling from a Part 1 listed country to an EU Member State (including NI)

A list of part 1 listed countries can be found at: Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/1293 of 29 July 2019 amending Implementing Regulation (EU) No 577/2013 as regards the list of territories and third countries in Annex II and the model of animal health certificate for dogs, cats and ferrets set out in Annex IV (Text with EEA relevance.) | eur-lex.europa.eu.

A pet needs:

  • a microchip,
  • a rabies vaccination administered by an authorised vet. The animal must be microchipped beforehand and be at least 12 weeks old at the date the vaccine is administered,
  • to wait before travelling until the appropriate immunity has developed, as stated by the datasheet of the vaccination given, which must be at least 21 days after the primary vaccination is given. If the datasheet of the vaccination used says that immunity is not present until day 30 after vaccination, then you must wait 30 days before travel and your vet should record the same in the passport / animal health certificate. (This wait does not apply to an annual or 3 yearly booster vaccination, provided the booster is administered before the original vaccination expires),
  • a pet passport issued by a part 1 listed country or an EU Animal Health Certificate (valid for 10 days from issue to entry of an EU Member State (including NI) and for 4 months onward travel within the EU),
  • tapeworm treatment for dogs if you’re travelling directly to Finland, Ireland, NI, Norway or Malta,
  • Check with your transport company as they may need a statement from a vet confirming your pet is fit to travel

Category 3

Travelling from a Part 2 listed country (including GB) to an EU Member State (including NI)

A list of part 2 listed countries can be found at: Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/1293 of 29 July 2019 amending Implementing Regulation (EU) No 577/2013 as regards the list of territories and third countries in Annex II and the model of animal health certificate for dogs, cats and ferrets set out in Annex IV (Text with EEA relevance.) | eur-lex.europa.eu.

A pet needs:

Category 4

Travelling from an unlisted country into an EU Member State (including NI) (an unlisted country is any country not included in the list of EU, Part 1 or Part 2 listed countries)

A pet needs:

  • a microchip
  • a rabies vaccination which must be administered by an authorised vet and valid at the time of travel - the animal must be microchipped beforehand and be at least 12 weeks old at the date the vaccine is administered
  • a blood test taken at least 30 days after the rabies vaccination and the blood test must show the vaccination was successful. (the date of the vaccination counts as day zero not day 1)
  • a single use EU Animal Health Certificate confirming microchip and vaccinations (valid for 10 days from issue to entry of an EU Member State (including NI) and for 4 months onward travel within the EU
  • tapeworm treatment for dogs if you’re travelling directly to Finland, Ireland, NI, Norway or Malta
  • to wait 3 calendar months from the date the blood sample was taken before travelling
  • to enter EU (including NI) through a Travellers’ Point of Entry
  • Check with your transport company as they may need a statement from a vet confirming your pet is fit to travel

(You don’t have to wait 3 months if your pet was vaccinated, blood tested and given a pet passport in the EU (including NI) before travelling to an unlisted country)

Please note if you are travelling directly to NI by air you must contact DAERA for further information at daeratradeimports@daera-ni.gov.uk.

Travelling from NI to GB but NOT returning to NI

If travelling from NI to GB with your pet and not returning to NI, there are no documentary or health preparation requirements. However, there is a legal requirement that dogs are microchipped at 8 weeks old.

Travelling from NI to the Republic of Ireland (ROI)

There is no change to the requirements for travelling between NI and ROI. Under the terms of the NI Protocol, the EU Pet Travel Regulation continues to apply to travel between NI and EU Member States, including the ROI, following the end of the transition period.

As was the case before EU Exit and from 29 December 2014, all pets travelling from NI to the ROI will continue to require the following:

  • a microchip;
  • a rabies vaccination;
  • an EU Pet Passport and
  • to wait before travelling until the appropriate immunity has developed, as stated by the datasheet of the vaccination given, which must be at least 21 days after the primary vaccination is given. If the datasheet of the vaccination used says that immunity is not present until day 30 after vaccination, then you must wait 30 days before travel and your vet should record the same in the animal health certificate. (This wait does not apply to an annual or 3 yearly booster vaccination, provided the booster is administered before the original vaccination expires).

A risk-based approach is taken with regards to the level of compliance checks on pets travelling between NI and the ROI. DAERA and the Department of Agriculture Food & Marine (DAFM) reserve the right to carry out checks should there be a suspicion of illegal activity or welfare concerns.

Under Article 35 of the EU Pet Travel Regulation (EU) 576/2013, an EU Member State can take appropriate action if non-compliance is discovered. These actions can include returning the pet animal to its country of dispatch or isolating the animal under official control for the time needed to comply with the necessary conditions.

If allowing the animal entry was considered to be a significant animal or public health risk, the powers exist to euthanise the animal. However, it should be stressed that this measure would only be used in an extreme situation and after extensive veterinary checks, associated risk assessment and would be matter for the jurisdiction where the non-compliance is detected.

Guide dogs and other assistance dogs

The rules for assistance dogs travelling under the EU pet travel scheme are the same as for other dogs.

Assistance dogs must meet all the requirements of the Pet Travel Scheme or may be subject to quarantine on arrival in to NI.

Assistance Pets may be permitted to travel in the aircraft cabin with their owner with carriers registered to carry assistance dogs and on approved routes. This may apply to other means of transport also.

You are advised to contact your travel operator in advance of your journey to ensure you are prepared and aware of all their requirements.

The Guide Dogs Association website has advice about taking assistance dogs abroad.

When you return to NI

On arrival if you don’t have the correct documents or your pet hasn’t been properly prepared it may be licensed into quarantine until it fully meets the entry requirements or be sent back to the country it travelled from. You must pay the costs for this.

EU Animal Health Certificate

For countries outside of the EU, authorised vets issue EU animal health certificates instead of pet passports.

This certificate is single use, confirms microchip and vaccinations and allows your pet to enter the EU (including NI).

You may need other supporting documents too. Check your certificate for full details.

If you travel with an EU Animal Health Certificate (AHC) rather than an EU pet passport, you should report to the travellers’ point of entry at time of arrival in NI, to have the AHC endorsed by Portal Officials, which will allow you to use the EHC for 4 months onwards travel into the EU.

Without this endorsement, the AHC will not be valid for onwards travel to the Republic of Ireland or the rest of the EU. This requirement applies to GB origin pets as well as to Rest of World origin pets. DAERA Trade Imports Branch can be contacted for further guidance via daeratradeimports@daera-ni.gov.uk

Moving commercial dogs into NI from GB

Before moving dogs for commercial purposes into NI from GB, you need to obtain an Export Health Certificate. The guidance in the link below will help you obtain an export health certificate, pre notify the arrival of the consignment into NI in advance and advise you on what you need to do on arrival at a Point of Entry.

Commercial movement of pets (including travel with more than 5 pets) within the EU

Commercial movement of pets includes a sale or, the transfer of ownership including dogs travelling for the purpose of re-homing or, where more than 5 pets are travelling in a consignment. (See section below on going to shows, competitions or training).

The EU Pet Travel Scheme covers the movements of pets with their owners. For commercial movements or travel with more than 5 pets, in addition to meeting the preparations needed for pet travel, the requirements for commercial trade laid down by the Animal Health Law, in force from 21 April 2021, must be met.

Going to shows, competitions or training for an event

Pet owners travelling to an event in NI with 6 or more pets from any country, including GB, should complete the Declaration using the link below and make the completed Declaration available to a DAERA Portal Inspector upon arrival in NI.

Pet owners from NI travelling to and from an event in GB with more than 5 pets should also complete the declaration below

Please note that if attending a show, training event or competition irrespective of number of pets you must meet the welfare requirements laid down in 'The Welfare of Animals (Transport) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2006 as amended'. Further guidance and information regarding animal welfare during transport can be found at: Welfare of animals during transport..

Movement of pets from NI to outside the EU

Before travelling, it is recommended that you contact the competent authority of the country of destination as there may be additional requirements that have to be met.

If you need to apply for an export health certificate instructions can be found at the link below:

Microchipping

Your pet must be microchipped before it is vaccinated against rabies.

Make sure the vet records the number of the microchip on the pet passport or official third country veterinary certificate.

An official from DAERA NI will read your pet's microchip on arrival in NI.

You must bring your own microchip reader when you travel if your pet’s microchip doesn’t meet ISO standards.

Tattoo

You don’t need to have your pet microchipped if it has been tattooed with an identification number and all of the following are true:

  • your pet was tattooed before 3 July 2011
  • the tattoo is clearly legible
  • your pet was vaccinated against rabies after it was tattooed

Your vet must record the date of tattooing, the tattoo number and the date of the rabies vaccination in the pet passport or official third country veterinary certificate.

Tapeworm treatment (dogs only)

Your vet must treat your dog for tapeworm and record it in the pet passport or EU Animal Health Certificate every time you want to enter NI. The treatment must be given between 1 and 5 days (24 to 120 hours) before you are scheduled to arrive in NI.

Your vet must record the following details in your dog’s pet passport or certificate:

  • the name and manufacturer of the product used to treat your dog
  • the date and time they treated your dog
  • their stamp and signature

The treatment must have praziquantel or equivalent as its active ingredient.
You don’t need to treat your dog for tapeworm if you’re coming directly to NI from Finland, Republic of Ireland, Malta or Norway.

Quarantine

You must put your pet into quarantine when it arrives in NI if it does not meet the entry requirements. You must pay the costs for this.

You will need to book quarantine premises.

The quarantine premises will normally deal with all documentation on your behalf. They should:

  • submit an application form for an import authorisation
  • arrange to collect your pet when they land
  • organise clearance through customs
  • arrange transport for your pet to the quarantine premises

It is advisable to check when making the reservation that the premises will do the above. If they do not, you will need to do them yourself.

Contact DAERA Trade Imports for advice by telephone: 028 90 524588 or email: daeratradeimports@daera-ni.gov.uk

Release from quarantine

Your pet will become eligible for release when it meets the entry requirements.

A DAERA Veterinary Officer or quarantine kennel owner will tell you when your pet will be released from quarantine.

Movements for other types of pet

If travelling with other pets such as, reptiles, birds , rodents, rabbits, please contact daeratradeimports@daera-ni.gov.uk for further advice and guidance. See also other animal species movements from GB to NI at: Other animal species movements from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

More Useful Links

General

Where can I get further information regarding pet travel?

Information regarding travelling with pets will continue to be updated on this DAERA website as information becomes available.

If you cannot find an answer for your query please contact the following Tel No 0300 200 7840 or email daeradirect.armagh@daera-ni.gov.uk.

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