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.

Pet passports

Your dog, cat or ferret must have a pet passport or third country official veterinary certificate to enter (or re-enter) the UK.

To apply for a pet passport in Northern Ireland:

If you live in England, Scotland or Wales, please ring 0370 241 1710 or email pettravel@apha.gsi.gov.uk (Animal and Plant Health Agency).

The passport stays valid as long as you continue to meet the entry requirements.

Third country official veterinary certificate

Outside of the EU authorised vets issue official veterinary certificates instead of pet passports.

This certificate allows your pet to enter the UK (or another country in the EU). You’ll need other supporting documents too. Check your certificate for full details.

You must arrive in an EU country within 10 days of the date the certificate was issued. You can then use it for up to 4 months for travel within the EU.

Other documents

Your transport company may need a statement from your vet confirming that your pet is fit to travel.

Check with the country you’re travelling to for information about any extra documents you’ll need to enter with your pet.

Travel with more than 5 pets

You must get a health certificate for each group of more than 5 pets you want to travel with. You get this from the country you’re coming from.

You must do this at least 10 days before you want to travel.

You need this certificate in addition to the other rules for pet travel for the countries you’re travelling to and from.

This rule is for travelling with your own pets.

Travelling within the EU (or into the EU from another ‘listed’ country)


When travelling to or returning to the UK from another EU or non-EU listed country, your pet needs:

  • a microchip
  • a rabies vaccination (make sure your pet is microchipped first or the vaccination won’t count)
  • a pet passport or official third country veterinary certificate
  • tapeworm treatment (for dogs only)

You must wait 21 days from the date of the rabies vaccination before travelling.

Travelling into the EU from an unlisted country

An ‘unlisted’ country is any country not included in the list of EU and non-EU countries.

When travelling to or returning to the UK from an unlisted country, your pet needs:

  • a microchip
  • a rabies vaccination (make sure your pet is microchipped first or the vaccination won’t count)
  • a blood test - the vet must take the blood sample at least 30 days after the rabies vaccination (the date of vaccination counts as day 0, not day 1)
  • an official third country veterinary certificate
  • tapeworm treatment(for dogs only)

You must wait 3 calendar months from the date the blood sample was taken before travelling. The vet must give you a copy of the test results. These must show that the vaccination was successful.

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

Commercial movement of pets

The EU Pet Travel Scheme covers the movement of pets with their owners. In the sale or commercial movement of pets (or where more than 5 pets are travelling in aconsignment), as well as the preparations needed for pet travel, the requirements for commercial trade laid down by the ‘Balai’ Directive (Directive 92/65/EEC4) must also be met.

Commercial trade includes any transfer of ownership and therefore also relates to dogs travelling for the purpose of re-homing.

Contact Trade Section for further advice.

Going to shows

Although travelling with 5 pets or more is considered a commercial move, if the travel is for the purpose of a competition, show or training for an event, then a Declaration can be completed which will allow exemption from the requirements for commercial movements.

Pet owners travelling to an event in Northern Ireland (NI) 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 travelling to an event in Great Britain should complete the declaration form available from the gov.uk website.

Guide dogs and other assistance dogs

Assistance dogs must meet the requirements of the Pet Travel Scheme or may be subject to quarantine on arrival in to NI.  They are allowed to travel in the aircraft cabin with their owner on approved routes and carriers registered to carry assistance dogs.

They can normally also travel in areas of other forms of transport where other animals aren’t allowed.

They can travel on more routes than people with pets.

Apart from that, the rules for assistance dogs travelling under the EU pet travel scheme are the same as for other dogs.

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

When you return to Northern Ireland

As Northern Ireland does not have any pet approved routes.  All pet animals travelling here must enter the UK through a pet approved route via Great Britain (GB) or the Republic of Ireland (RoI).  When the pet has been cleared in GB or RoI the pet is free to travel onward to NI. Owners who travel directly into Northern Ireland must do so under an Import Authorisation issued by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs. Please complete an application for an Import Authorisation at least 10 days before your pet enters Northern Ireland.  If you complete the attached application you must also engage the services of an approved quarantine establishment to facilitate the checking of accompanying paperwork as we do not have the facilities at the airport to do this.  You will have to pay for this service.

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

Other types of pet

There are no restrictions on bringing pet rodents, rabbits, birds, ornamental fish, invertebrates, amphibians and reptiles to the UK from other EU countries.
Pet rabbits and rodents from other countries must spend 4 months in quarantine. They need a rabies import licence and must enter the UK at a Border Inspection Post.

Pet travel regulations

The document at the link below provides information for pet owners and other stakeholders with an interest in pet travel of new rules that took effect from 29 December 2014.  

It sets out the background to the EU Pet Travel Scheme and outlines the requirements of the new EU Pet Travel Regulation that give rise to these new rules.

Microchipping

Your pet must be microchipped before it’s 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 DAERANI 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’s 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.

Rabies vaccination & boosters

You must get your dog, cat or ferret vaccinated against rabies before it can travel to another EU country or back into the UK.

Get your pet microchipped before the rabies vaccination or they will need to be vaccinated again.

EU and listed countries

You must wait 21 days after the vaccination before your pet can travel to or return to the UK from another EU or non-EU listed country.

After the first vaccination and waiting period, you can enter the UK whenever you like as long as booster vaccinations are given on time and you continue to meet the other entry requirements.

Unlisted countries

Your pet must have a blood test 30 days after the rabies vaccination. The date of the vaccination counts as day 0, not day 1.

You must wait 3 calendar months from the date the blood sample was taken before travelling. The vet must give you a copy of the test results. These must show that the vaccination was successful.

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

Tapeworm treatment (dogs only)

Your vet must treat your dog for tapeworm and record it in the pet passport or third country official veterinary certificate every time you want to enter the UK.

The treatment must be given between 1 and 5 days (24 to 120 hours) before you’re scheduled to arrive in the UK.

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 the UK from Finland, Republic of Ireland, Malta or Norway.

Quarantine

You must put your pet into quarantine when it arrives in the UK if it does'nt meet the entry requirements You must pay the costs for this.

You’ll 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

Check when making the reservation.

If they don’t do these things, you’ll need to do them yourself.

Contact Trade Section, DAERA for advice by telephone 028 77442 141 or tradeadminpost@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.

Pet Travel to the EU after Brexit

In the event of a ‘no deal’, you will need to contact your vet at least four months in advance of the date you wish to travel to the EU with your pet.

Rules for pet travel to the EU

The rules for taking your pet to a European country will change in the event the UK leaves the EU with no deal and is treated as an unlisted third country.

The rules for unlisted third country for travel to the EU are set out in EU Pet Travel Regulations.

You will still need to get your dog, cat or ferret microchipped and then vaccinated against rabies before it can travel.

You will also need to take the following steps to make sure your pet can travel after 29 March 2019:

  • Your pet must have a blood sample taken at least 30 days after the rabies vaccination. You will need to talk to your vet about whether you need a rabies vaccination or booster before this test. 
  • Your vet must send the blood sample to an EU-approved blood testing laboratory.
  • The results of the blood test must show that the vaccination was successful. 
  • You must wait 3 calendar months from the date the successful blood sample was taken before you travel.
  • Take your pet to an Authorised Veterinary Inspector (AVI), no more than 10 days before travel to get a health certificate.

In a no deal scenario, pet passports issued in the UK would not be valid for travel to the EU.

You should discuss these requirements with your vet at least 4 months before you plan on travelling.

For example, if you plan to travel on the 30 March 2019, you need to start this process by the 28 November 2018.

A successful blood test will continue to be valid as long as your pet’s rabies vaccinations are kept up to date with boosters.

Pets that have previously had a blood test and have an up-to-date rabies vaccination do not need to repeat the blood test.

Your pet health certificate would be valid for:

  •  ten days after the date of issue for entry into the EU,
  •  four months of onward travel within the EU.
  •  re-entry to the UK for four months after the date of issue

You will need to enter the EU through a designated Travellers’ Point of Entry (TPE) if you are travelling with your pet. At the TPE, in addition to your pet's health certificate, you may be asked for:

  • proof of your pet's microchip
  • proof of an up to date rabies vaccination 
  • evidence of your pet's blood test result

You are advised to contact the competent veterinary authority in the country you are travelling to in order to confirm specific entry requirements including locations of TPEs.

Repeat trips to the EU

Your pet will need a health certificate for each trip to the EU.

You will need to take your pet to an AVI no more than 10 days before travel with proof of vaccination history and a satisfactory blood test to obtain a new health certificate.

Return to the UK

It is important to note that there will be no change to the current pet travel health requirements for pets entering the UK from the EU.

The following documents will be valid for entry into the UK:

  • An existing EU pet passport (both for UK and EU citizens); or
  • The EU health certificate issued in the UK used to travel to the EU; or
  • A UK pet health certificate.

Using the established approved routes pet owners will be required to present their pet travel document and the pet will have its microchip scanned as now.

In addition, as currently required, you must take your dog to a vet between one and five days before returning to the UK for an approved tapeworm treatment.

You do not need to treat your dog for tapeworm if you are coming directly to the UK from Finland, Ireland, Malta or Norway.

UK nationals living abroad

If you are living in Europe and are planning to travel with your pet using a UK issued pet passport, you should speak to your local vet. They will be able to help you understand the impact of Brexit and how to ensure you are compliant with the EU Pet Travel Regulations. 

If you have a pet passport issued by an EU member state, you can use it to bring your pet to the UK.

To return your pet to an EU country from the UK, you’ll need to ensure it has a satisfactory rabies antibody blood test.

If your pet has a successful blood test before leaving the EU you will not need to wait the three months before travelling.

More useful links

If you require any further information please contact:

Trade Section
Veterinary Service Animal Health Group
1st Floor
Ballykelly House
Ballykelly
Limavady BT499HP                                                                                                         
Tel: 028 77442 141
E-mail: tradeadminpost@daera-ni.gov.uk

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