Permanent solutions needed for pet checks

Date published: 15 September 2021

DAERA Minister Edwin Poots MLA has instructed his officials to indefinitely allow all pet dogs, cats and ferrets to travel from Great Britain (GB) to Northern Ireland (NI) without checks while negotiations between the UK government (UKG) and European Union (EU) continue.


The move comes after the Minister spoke to Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs George Eustice, raising a number of issues he remains concerned about, including pet travel. It also follows last week’s statement by Lord Frost to extend the overall grace periods for GB to NI trade indefinitely.

Minister Poots said: “While negotiations continue between the UKG and EU to find solutions to the currently unworkable Protocol, I am not prepared to let people travelling with pets between GB and NI deal with the ongoing uncertainty around checks and whether or not they need to vaccinate their animal for diseases that are all but eradicated here. 

“I want to give much needed clarity and therefore, I have instructed my officials to indefinitely allow all pet dogs, cats and ferrets travelling from GB to NI without checks, until the negotiations are successfully concluded.

“The checking requirements I have paused are not necessary, particularly given that the last case of rabies on these islands was in 1922. I have also been particularly concerned about the impact these measures may have on travellers with assistance pets.”

The Minister continued: “I will continue to press the UK Government and EU for long term solutions to the currently unworkable Protocol - on an almost daily basis, I hear from retailers, the agri-food sector, businesses both big and small, travellers and the general public about the difficulties they are facing as a result of it. This must change. They must find pragmatic, and most importantly, permanent solutions to the range of issues still outstanding.”

While DAERA will not be conducting routine checks it is important to note that DAERA officials reserve the right to carry out checks if illegal activity is suspected or there are welfare concerns.

Notes to editors: 

  1. As a result of the Withdrawal Agreement and Northern Ireland (NI) Protocol, pets moving from Great Britain (GB) to NI are now required to adhere to the pet travel rules for third countries. This includes the requirements for additional documentation, rabies vaccination and a tapeworm treatment.
  2. On 6 September, Lord Frost issued a written statement declaring that the current approach to the operation of the Protocol would continue.  The Statement builds on the proposals set out in the UK Government Command Paper of 21 July which proposed that pets remaining in the UK, and that meet domestic legal requirements, should be able to move freely between GB and NI.
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  5. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hour’s service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

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