Movement of animals - pet travel - Brexit Q&A

You can use the menu on the right hand side of the screen to skip between questions. Last updated on 12 Nov 2019

Travelling with your pet after Brexit

How to prepare for travel with your pet to any EU country after Brexit

In the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal the UK will be treated as an unlisted third country under the EU Pet Travel Scheme. A current UK issued EU pet passport will become invalid

You will still be able to travel with your pet to the EU no matter the outcome of negotiations.

However, pet owners are advised to contact their vet in advance to check on what they need to do. As health preparations could take up to four months in a No Deal scenario, pet owners are recommended to start preparations as soon as possible.

Pet travel if the UK is an unlisted third country

As an unlisted third country, you will still be able to travel to the EU with your pet if you follow the steps below.

  • you must have your dog, cat or ferret microchipped and vaccinated against rabies before it can travel. Your pet must have a blood sample taken at least 30 days after its last rabies vaccination.
  • your vet must send the blood sample to an EU-approved blood testing laboratory.
  • you must wait 3 months from the date the successful blood sample was taken before you travel
  • dogs travelling from the UK to EU listed tapeworm free countries (Finland, Ireland and Malta) must be treated for tapeworm before travel.
  • you will need to obtain a health certificate from your Vet no later than 10 days before travel.

Health requirements

Before you travel to any EU country with a pet, you should contact the relevant competent veterinary authority in order to confirm any specific entry requirements.

People won’t always be able to plan their holidays 4 months ahead - aren't the health requirements around rabies simply unworkable? 

The health requirements for rabies are set out in the EU pet travel regulations and, should we become an unlisted third country, we would need to follow the rules set out for this category. However, the additional requirements relating to the three-month wait period after the antibody titre test would only be required for the first journey to the EU after Exit, as long as rabies vaccinations are kept up-to-date.

How do I know if my pet’s rabies vaccination is up-to-date? How will I be able to determine whether a blood test is required?

Please contact your local vet before planning time abroad with your pet. The vet will be able to refer to your pet’s health treatments and advise on what would be required after the UK leaves the EU. If you are planning to travel we recommend you contact your vet at least four months in advance to check what you need to do.

The 3-month waiting period, following the drawing of the blood sample for testing – I presume this is 3 calendar months (as it is now) and NOT 90 days?

This is correct.

What happens if my pet fails the rabies antibody test?

Under the EU Pet Travel Scheme rules, pet animals (cats, dogs and ferrets) from unlisted third countries must demonstrate they have developed a minimum level of blood antibodies to enter the EU under the Pet Travel Scheme. Your pet may need another vaccination before being retested, and your vet will be able to advise regarding this.

My pet previously underwent a successful rabies blood antibody test. Does it need to have another one?

Provided the blood was drawn at least 30 days after the relevant rabies vaccination, the test was undertaken in a laboratory approved by the EU to carry out rabies antibody tests for the Pet Travel Scheme, and you have kept your pet’s rabies vaccination up to date, there should be no need for another test. If in doubt, please contact your vet.

If we leave the EU with no deal will my pet still need a microchip?

Yes, your pet will still need a microchip as per current arrangements. This must be implanted before your pet is vaccinated. 

Will the same rules also apply to continental pet owners, who have brought their pets into the UK and are returning home?  Will they need the blood tests and health certificates to take their pet home?  If they do, that is likely to create greater issues than a UK owner who at least has the option to return home?

Yes, EU citizens would require their pets to take a blood test to return to the EU, from the UK; provided the blood test was taken in the EU before travel, there would be no three month waiting period. Health certificates are not required since pet passports issued in the EU will continue to be accepted by member states.

Does the blood test need to be given every time you intend to visit the EU, or is it a one-time procedure?

Provided the animal’s rabies vaccinations are kept up to date blood tests will not need to be further repeated.

Vet advice, vaccinations and tests are expensive - how much will these preparations cost?

The price of consultation and advice, rabies testing, any necessary vaccinations and issuing documents is set by each individual vet. There will also be a charge for analysing the blood test set by the approved laboratory.  Please speak to your vet about the cost of preparing to travel with your pet abroad. 

Documentation to travel to the EU

You say pet owners would need to obtain a health certificate no later than 10 days before travel in the event of a No Deal.  How long would such a certificate be valid for? 

The health certificate is only valid for 10 days after issue by a vet, so pet owners would need to arrive in the EU within that time period.  Once they have arrived in the EU, the certificate is valid for 4 months for onward travel within the EU.

Will people need to apply for a new health certificate every time they want to go to the EU with their pet?

Correct, pet owners will need to get a new health certificate for each trip to the EU. This is a requirement in the EU Pet Travel Scheme rules for unlisted third countries.

What happens if my health certificate expires while I’m in the EU?

If the certificate expires while you are in the EU and you plan on travelling to another Member State from the one you are in, you will need to visit an Authorised Veterinarian in the country you are currently in who will issue the required documentation.

What about travel to other countries?

As happens now, if pet owners enter non EU countries, such as the USA or Australia, they need to comply with the entry requirements of that particular destination. In most cases this would involve your local Official Veterinarian providing your pet with an export health certificate.  Pet owners should also check the NIDirect website for more information.

Arrival in the EU

There is a requirement on pet owners to present their health certificate at a designated Travellers Point of Entry (TPE) upon arrival in the EU. Won’t that create extra hassle and burden at the beginning of a holiday?

The requirement to show your documents at a designated TPE is set out in the EU Pet Travel Regulations 576/2013. In the event that the UK leaves the EU with no agreement in place, pet owners will need to comply with the rules set out for unlisted third countries. You should contact the competent veterinary authority in the EU member state you are travelling to in order to confirm any specific entry requirements including locations of TPEs.

Travelling to the UK

What about travelling with my pet to the UK?  Will anything change? 

We want pet owners to continue to be able to travel abroad with their pets with the minimum of disruption whilst maintaining controls to protect biosecurity and the welfare of travelling animals. There will be no changes to the current health requirements for entry into the UK. For more information on the documents required to travel to the UK visit NIDirect.

When returning to the UK, will pets still have to use only the approved routes? Currently there are Defra approved transport routes, will these remain the same?

Yes, there will be no changes to the current UK pet travel regime which includes the current approved routes.  If you are unsure please contact your transport carrier ahead of travel.

If I’m travelling to the EU before the UK leaves the EU and returning after the UK leaves the EU, will I still be able to re-enter the UK with my EU pet passport?

Yes, you will still be able to use your EU pet passport to re-enter the UK. There will be no change to the current requirements for pets entering the UK from the EU after EU exit.

If I get an EU pet passport from an EU Authorised Veterinarian (e.g. in France); can I use this to enter and leave the UK?

You can acquire a pet passport while in the EU, which would mean you could use your EU passport for entry into the EU rather than a health certificate for each journey. However, should the UK become an unlisted third country after exiting the EU, a pet with an EU Member State issued passport would still have to undertake a rabies antibody titre test to re-enter the EU, the first time it does so, despite having an EU issued passport. This would need to be administered prior to leaving the EU but there is no requirement for a three month wait period before travel.

Will there be a revised limit on the number of animals that can travel to the UK (revised ratio of animals to person)?

No - the current UK pet travel regime will remain unchanged after we leave the EU. Therefore, the current limit of five pets per person will remain for the foreseeable future.

The requirement for dogs to have tapeworm treatment before entering the UK is an EU one. In a No Deal outcome could dogs enter the UK without such treatment?

No, health requirements for entry into the UK will remain the same. You do not need to treat your dog for tapeworm if you’re coming directly to the UK from Finland, Republic of Ireland or Malta.

Pet travel from Northern Ireland to GB

I am travelling with my pet from Northern Ireland to GB. Are there any specific requirements that are required beyond rabies vaccination and travel document?

Currently, you are not required to have pet passports, or meet the requirements of the EU Pet Travel Scheme, as this is considered as travelling within one member state (the UK) - which incorporates England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. This will continue.

Pet travel from Northern Ireland to Republic of Ireland

I am travelling from Northern Ireland to the Republic of Ireland will I be exempt?

No, pets moving from Northern Ireland to the Republic of Ireland will need to comply with the new arrangements. DAERA would therefore recommend that before you travel to any EU country that you should contact the relevant competent veterinary authority in order to confirm any specific entry requirements and discuss these with your vet.

Will my documentation be checked travelling into ROI?

Historically, in recognition of the negligible risk of rabies associated with the movement of pets between the jurisdictions, there have been no systematic border checks on pets moving between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. DAERA would recommend however that before you travel you should contact the competent veterinary authority in the EU member state you are travelling to in order to confirm any specific entry requirements.

UK nationals living abroad

What about travelling with my pet to the UK?  Will anything change? 

We want UK nationals living abroad to continue to be able to travel with their pets with the minimum of disruption. Therefore there are no plans to change the health or documentation requirements for those pet owners seeking to enter the UK.

Will there be a revised limit on the number of animals that can travel to the UK (revised ratio of animals to person)?

No - the current UK import regime will remain unchanged after we leave the EU. Therefore, the current limit of five pets per person will remain for the foreseeable future.

If I have an EU pet passport from an alternative member state (e.g. France, Spain etc.); would I be able to use this to enter and / or leave the UK?

Yes, these pet passports will remain valid for entry into the UK for the foreseeable future.

Are there any specific considerations I need to take before returning to the EU after EU exit? 

Pet owners intending to return to an EU member state would still need to ensure their pets had a satisfactory rabies antibody blood titre test before travel. Provided this was administered prior to leaving the EU, there is no requirement for a three month wait period before travel back to the EU.

In the event of a no deal exit UK-issued pet passports would no longer be valid for entering the EU and pet owners using these documents would need to acquire a suitable alternative, such as a temporary health certificate, before travel.

If you are abroad (outside the UK) with a pet until exit day, and are not able to acquire the appropriate documents or carry out blood test, and then want to travel into the EU after the UK leaves the EU. Can the necessary blood test and documents be achieved outside the UK / EU?

Yes, provided these are administered by an authorised vet recognised by the EU, health and documentation preparations can be carried out abroad and still be valid for travel into the EU after the UK leaves the EU. To locate an approved vet visit the countries veterinary health website, which can be located most effectively through online searches.

We are planning on returning to the EU after exit day. Will my existing UK pet passport be sufficient for my pet to accompany me home?

In the event of No Deal, pet owners seeking to return to the EU would need to follow the rules for unlisted third countries. This means UK issued pet passports would no longer be valid and alternative documentation would need to be acquired.

I live in the EU for the most of the year, how and where can I get further information about any changes? 

UK nationals living abroad who want to travel with their pet would need to speak to their local vet in the Member State they are based in, to ensure they are compliant with the EU Pet Travel Regulations after Exit. 

Are there any country specific requirements I should be aware of?

Pet owners will need to ensure that their pets meet the entry requirements of the country they are travelling to.

Croatia is the only other member state that operates full checks at its borders for all imported pet animals.

It is noted that Switzerland’s “no quarantine policy” prevents the quarantine of non-compliant animals and these would either have to be returned or destroyed. Assistance Dogs International and Guide Dogs UK have been effective in advising on this matter with regards to assistance dogs.

Assistance dogs

Will assistance dogs be exempt?

Recognised Assistance Dogs must currently follow the same rules as those for pet animals and this will continue.

Commercial movement of pets

Will commercial movement of pets be exempt?

No, in the sale or commercial movement of pets (or where more than 5 pets are travelling in a consignment), you will need to comply with the Pet Travel Regulation (EU) 576/2013 as well as the requirements for commercial trade laid down by the ‘Balai’ Directive (Directive 92/65/EEC4) which must also be met.

Additional information for veterinarians

What information will I have to help me advise my customers?

A briefing note covering the most up to date information and advice on what preparations would be needed under each of the potential scenarios is available from your Veterinary Association or by contacting the Trade Section, DAERA by telephone 028 77 442141 or email: tradeadminpost@daera-ni.gov.uk

I’m a veterinarian in the UK. Where can I obtain EU Health Certificates for pets to travel to the EU from the UK?

The Government has reached an agreement with the EU on a three-month Brexit extension.  During this period, pets will be able to travel to and from the EU with their current EU pet passport.  During the extension period, if pets have an EU pet passport,   Animal Health Certificates (AHC) will not be required.  AVIs will be advised in advance of EU exit date, when they need to start issuing AHC and of any new procedures in this regard.

Will there be waiting times for the rabies antibody tests?  How can I make sure my customers get their results in time for travel?

Waiting times for results are dependent on the individual lab used however the majority quote five days to report results (with a priority service of two to three days being offered by some labs for an additional fee).

The date that the animal can travel is taken from the date of blood sampling, not the date of reporting the results, so even if the report is delayed, the proposed date of travel would not be affected, as long as the animal passes the titre test. As some animals may fail the antibody titre test and require a revaccination and repeat blood test, allowing sufficient time for this within travel plans would be advisable.

Will DAERA continue to approve the issue of EU pet passports until the EU exit date?

Since 7 January 2019 pet passports have been issued directly from one of the veterinary practices participating in the scheme.

General

When and where can I get further information?

Further information on Travelling with Pets can also be found on the NIDirect website

Alternatively anyone considering travelling with a pet after EU exit can contact Trade Section, DAERA for advice by telephone 028 77 442141 or email: tradeadminpost@daera-ni.gov.uk

How long does my pet’s rabies vaccination remain valid for?

The lifespan of the rabies vaccination depends on the brand of vaccination used. Please consult your vet for further information.

Will my pet face quarantine - abroad or in Britain – if we are not able to meet new requirements in time?

While there may be changes to the system, we fully expect pets to continue to be able to travel to and from the EU with the minimum of disruption. Should a non-compliant animal arrive in an EU Member State the owner is able to return their pet to the UK or place it into quarantine for a specific time period.

Certain member states, for example Switzerland, do not operate quarantine facilities, and therefore non-compliant animals must be returned or destroyed. For more information please visit the veterinary health website of the member state you intend to visit. 

Is there anything I need to do before we learn about the UK’s departure from the EU?

Pet owners should make sure their pet’s rabies vaccinations are up to date and that their animal is properly microchipped, in order to be sensibly prepared for travel in every scenario.

Will my pet insurance policy still be valid after the UK leaves the EU?

If you already have a pet insurance policy, you will continue to have cover once we leave the EU, but the way your insurer services and operates the policy may change, depending on your location and the location of your insurance provider.

Generally, for UK-based customers accessing pet insurance in the UK from UK-based providers, there is unlikely to be any change as a result of EU Exit.

The Financial Conduct Authority has been clear that it expects UK-based insurance firms operating in the EU to consider the impact of EU Exit on their business and customers, work out what changes they might need to make to their business, and communicate these clearly to their customers.

As such, if your pet insurance provider requires you to take any action, or has made any changes to the way it services your policy, it should communicate this to you at an appropriate time.

Further information

If your query is not covered above, please contact the Trade Admin Team on 028 77 442141 or email tradeadminpost@daera-ni.gov.uk

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