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 2 June 2021

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 Animal Health Certificate (AHC) for GB travellers. 

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

GB pet owners need to follow the guidance below for ‘TRAVELLING FROM A PART 2 LISTED COUNTRY TO AN EU MEMBER STATE (INCLUDING NI)’.  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 NI to GB, any person travelling from NI with a pet to GB and returning to NI, will be required to adhere to the EU requirements for travelling into the EU/NI from a Part II listed country. 

However, NI travellers will be able to obtain a valid EU pet passport in NI to use as an alternative to an AHC.  Please contact your Private Veterinary Practitioner (PVP) to discuss the preparations necessary for a return journey from GB to NI.

Link to AVI practices here.

Pet Checks

Routine checks on the non-commercial movement of pets from GB to NI will be delayed until at least 1 October 2021.

This will allow time for the Department and the public to prepare for the introduction of the new documentary and health requirements of the EU Pet Travel Regulation.

DAERA is currently developing a process for the implementation of compliance checks from 1 October 2021 Stakeholders and the public will be kept informed of any developments via this website and the frequently asked questions. 

Officials reserve the right to undertake checks in the interim should there be a suspicion of illegal activity or welfare concerns.

Please see link to Press Article announcing delays to Pet Checks:

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

A list of veterinary practice contacts can be accessed at the following link:-

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 preparations.  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 21 days from the date of the rabies vaccination before travelling.

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.

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 ‘Balai’ Directive must also be met.   The ‘Balai’ Directive can be found here.  Commercial trade includes any transfer of ownership and also relates to dogs travelling for the purpose of re-homing.

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 if you live in NI

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

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.

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 here

A pet needs:

  • a microchip
  • a rabies vaccination administered by an authorised vet and must be in date 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 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
  • to wait 21 days from the date of the rabies vaccination before travelling
  • 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 here.

A pet needs:

  • a microchip
  • a rabies vaccination administered by an authorised vet and must be in date 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 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
  • to wait 21 days from the date of the rabies vaccination before travelling
  • 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 here

A pet needs:

  • a microchip
  • a rabies vaccination administered by an authorised vet and must be in date 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
  • tapeworm treatment for dogs if you’re travelling directly to Finland, Ireland, NI, Norway or Malta
  • 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
  • to enter EU (including NI) through a Travellers’ Point of Entry
  • to wait 21 days from the date of the rabies vaccination before travelling
  • Check with your transport company as they may need a statement from a vet confirming  your pet is fit to travel

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 administered by an authorised vet and must be in date 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 TradeAdminPost@daera-ni.gov.uk

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.

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

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)

Going to shows, competitions or training for an event

Pet owners travelling to an event in NI 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 returning to NI from an event in GB should also complete the declaration below

The EU Pet Travel Scheme covers the movement 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 ‘Balai’ Directive must also be met.  Details of the ‘Balai’ Directive can be found here.

One of the requirements for commercial movement is an export health certificate.  In NI, to apply for an export health certificate, instructions can be found at the link below:

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.

Rabies vaccination & boosters

You must get your dog, cat or ferret vaccinated against rabies before it can travel.

The vaccination must be administered by an authorised vet and must be in date at the time of travel.   The animal must be at least 12 weeks old at the date the vaccine was administered.  Your pet must be microchipped before the rabies vaccination or they will need to be vaccinated again.

Tapeworm treatment (dogs only)

Your vet must treat your dog for tapeworm and record it in the pet passport or third country 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 Trade Section, DAERA for advice by telephone 028 77 442141 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.

Movements for other types of pet

There are no restrictions on bringing pet rodents, rabbits, birds, ornamental fish, invertebrates, amphibians and reptiles to NI from 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 EU at a Border Control Post.

Bringing a pet rodent or rabbit from Great Britain

You can bring a pet rodent or rabbit to Northern Ireland from Great Britain if your pet:

  • is accompanied by you or travels within 5 days of your travel or travels within 5 days of your travel and is accompanied by someone authorised on your behalf
  • complies with all the health requirements as set out in the National Health Certificate
  • travels with the original signed veterinary health certificate, which must be produced on request on arrival into Northern Ireland

National Health Certificate for the movement of pet rabbits and rodents from Great Britain can be found here.

Bringing a pet bird into Northern Ireland from another EU/EEA country

You may bring your pet bird to Northern Ireland from another EU country or from Andorra, the Faroe Islands, Greenland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco,  Norway, San Marino, Switzerland or the Vatican City State if:

• the bird is accompanied by you, or a person acting on your behalf and they are travelling within five days before or after you travel

• you fill in an Owner Declaration Pet Birds form for your pet bird, which you must carry with you and your bird adheres to the health requirements

• you fill in and email a Form of Advance Notification of Importation of Pet Birds into Northern Ireland to daeratradeimports@daera-ni.gov.uk at least 24 hours in advance of arrival of the bird into Ireland

Some species of birds are covered by the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species)  legislation. For example, virtually all parrot species are on the list with the exception of budgerigars, cockatiels, lovebirds and ring-neck parakeets.

If you wish to import birds which are among the CITES listed species, the birds must be accompanied by the appropriate CITES documentation in addition to the owners declaration and transported according to CITES guidelines for transport.

The main office for the UK is based in Bristol and further information can be obtained from the UK CITES website. Please contact the CITES licensing Section (telephone 0117 372 8774) for further advice.

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.enniskillen@daera-ni.gov.uk.

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