How Will Brexit Affect Pet Passports?
Whilst the UK officially left the European Union on December 31st 2019, it is currently in a transition period whereby EU rules apply until the 1st January 2021. At this time, the documentation required when travelling to and from the EU with a pet will change. Any person hoping to travel abroad with their pet (dog, cat or ferret) needs to be prepared for the various outcomes possible which may apply in the final agreement between the EU and the UK.
Options for UK Pets Following Brexit
The government has published guidance on the various possibilities. Pet owners would be wise to familiarise themselves with these options if intending to travel on or after 1st January 2021. The following information is a summary of the main points of the document:
If the UK opts to apply to be listed in the EU Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) there will be 2 possible options:
- Part 1- country status: listed – operation similar to EU member states – but you will require documentation from an approved vet, and you must apply for a UK pet passport.
- Part 2 – country status: listed – an animal health certificate (AHC) will be required from your vet (no more than 10 days before you travel) and a new one will be needed for each trip made (blood tests will not be required for subsequent trips providing they are valid). On arrival in EU countries it will then be necessary to pass through the travellers point of entry (TPE) with proof of vaccinations and microchipping.
If the outcome is that the UK will not apply to the EU to be listed in their PETS scheme, then the EU passport will be invalid. Other documentation will be required.
Steps to be Taken Before Travelling with Your Pet
Contacting a vet for all the options above will be necessary up to 4 months prior to travelling (if your pet has not got a current vaccination against rabies) or up to 21 days (if records are up to date) in order to obtain vaccinations (initial or booster) and confirmation of the animal’s health. Blood sampling has restrictions and time needs to be allowed for this process.
As suggested above there are minimum health requirements to be proven and certified by an approved vet before travelling with your dog, cat or ferret.
- Microchipping and vaccination against rabies
- Blood sampling after this vaccination
- Blood samples to be sent to an approved EU laboratory
- A wait of 3 months from the date that a successful blood sample is taken (unless your pet has been successfully vaccinated before 1st January 2021)
- A vet will provide test results with dated evidence of blood sampling and will issue the AHC
- Certain countries will require tapeworm treatment – check well in advance of travel: The Republic of Ireland, Malta and Finland currently require this evidence.
UK Nationals with their Pet/s Returning to the UK from the EU
On or after 1st January 2021, anyone re-entering the UK with a pet will be able to use a EU passport issued in the EU or the UK before 1st January 2021. Owners could also use a valid AHC for their pet or a UK pet health certificate.
The documentation may look a little different depending on the Brexit agreement. However, the safety and health of both humans and pets remain the prime consideration. Rabies is a disease that must be kept under control. Certain quarantine rules will apply should anyone fail to provide the relevant documentation whether it is in the form of a passport, other relevant documentation, or an AHC.
The overriding message is to be prepared for the new rulings and visit your veterinary practice well in advance of your anticipated travel abroad. This way you and your pet can rest assured and look forward to your adventures together.