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 Travel (up to and including 31 December 2020)

The United Kingdom left the European Union (EU) on 31 January 2020.  During the transition period until the 31 December 2020, current EU Pet Travel Regulation (Regulation (EU) 576/2013) continues to apply to the whole of the United Kingdom. There are currently no requirements for pets travelling between Northern Ireland (NI) and Great Britain (GB).

Pet Travel from 1 January 2021

From 1 January 2021, EU pet travel rules will continue to apply to Northern Ireland.  The EU Pet Travel Regulation (EU) 576/2013 details the documentary health and compliance check requirements for the non-commercial movement of pet dogs (including assistance dogs), cats and ferrets between and into EU Member States (MS) including Northern Ireland. This includes the need to have a pet passport and a rabies vaccination. There will be no change to the requirements governing pet travel between NI and the EU including the Republic of Ireland (ROI). 

What are the changes for pet travel following the end of the Transition Period?

It has been confirmed that from 1 January 2021, Great Britain (GB) will be treated as a Part II listed country.  This means that under the EU Pet Travel Regulation (EU) 576/2013 pet travel from GB to NI, including where a traveller is returning to NI from GB), will require an EU pet passport or an EU Animal Health Certificate, rabies vaccination, a 21 day wait from the successful rabies vaccination and tapeworm treatment and entry to NI via a Travellers Point of Entry (TPE) at Belfast Port; Larne Port, Belfast International, Belfast City or City of Derry Airports.

On 1 January 2021 it is expected that a number of pet owners will be unable to comply with the EU Pet Travel Regulation, for movement of pets between GB and NI.  For example, pet owners who have already travelled from NI to GB and intend to return following the Christmas period.  Pets travelling from GB to NI will therefore not be subject to routine compliance checks until 1 February 2021.  However, officials will reserve the right to undertake checks should there be a suspicion of illegal activity or welfare concerns. 

Current EU pet passports issued in NI and GB up to 31 December 2020, will not be valid for travel to the EU (including NI) after the 31 December 2020.  Interim measures have been put in place.  If you are travelling in early 2021, 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 available shortly and these will be distributed to veterinary practices in due course. A list of veterinary practice contacts can be accessed at the following link:-

GB pet owners travelling from GB to NI need to follow the guidance below for “TRAVELLING FROM A PART 2 LISTED COUNTRY TO AN EU MEMBER STATE (INCLUDING NORTHERN IRELAND)”. NI travellers returning to NI from GB also need to follow this guidance but can use a valid EU pet passport as an alternative to an EU animal health certificate.

Overview

Pet Travel Scheme

The EU Pet Travel Regulation (Regulation (EU) 576/2013), details the documentary, health and compliance check requirements of the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS), for the movement of pet dogs (including assistance dogs), cats and ferrets between or into EU Member States (including NI).

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 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 Northern Ireland

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:   

TRAVELLING WITHIN EU MEMBER STATES (INCLUDING NORTHERN IRELAND)

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
  • an EU issued pet passport or an EU animal health certificate
  • tapeworm treatment (dogs only) (except when travelling from Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Finland, and 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

TRAVELLING FROM A PART 1 LISTED COUNTRY TO AN EU MEMBER STATE (INCLUDING NORTHERN IRELAND)

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 (dogs only)
  • 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

TRAVELLING FROM A PART 2 LISTED COUNTRY TO AN EU MEMBER STATE (INCLUDING NORTHERN IRELAND)

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 (dogs only)
  • an 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

TRAVELLING FROM AN UNLISTED COUNTRY INTO AN EU MEMBER STATE (INCLUDING NORTHERN IRELAND) (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)
  • an 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 (dogs only)
  • 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 Northern Ireland by air you must contact DAERA for further information at Tradeadmin@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 (external link opens in a new window / tab) has advice about taking assistance dogs abroad.

When you return to Northern Ireland

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.

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

Commercial movement of pets includes a sale or commercial movement, 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 exclusion for going to shows 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 Northern Ireland, to apply for an export health certificate for the commercial movement of pets, instructions can be found at the link below:

Movement of pets from Northern Ireland 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:

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 from another EU Member State 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 from another EU Member State to an event in Great Britain should complete the declaration form available from the gov.uk website

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 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’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.

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 Northern Ireland.  The treatment must be given between 1 and 5 days (24 to 120 hours) before you are scheduled to arrive in Northern Ireland.

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

Check when making the reservation, if they don’t do these things, 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.

More useful links

If you require any further information please contact:

Trade Section
Veterinary Service Animal Health Group
1st Floor
Ballykelly House
111 Ballykelly Road
Ballykelly
Limavady
BT49 9HP
                                                                                                       
Tel: 028 77 442141
E-mail: tradeadminpost@daera-ni.gov.uk

 
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