Pet Travel to Europe – The New Rules for Pet Travel After Brexit

*Updated with the latest rules as of 18/01/21

The UK has now officially left the EU and on the 31st December, the transition period will come to an end. Therefore, as of the 1st January 2021, the rules for travelling to EU countries with your pet will change.

For many, taking your dog, cat or ferret abroad is essential and leaving them behind is not an option. As pet lovers ourselves, we understand, and therefore we’re working hard to ensure that we’re prepared for all of the changes to come.

The good news is that the EU has relaxed the Brexit pet travel curbs. It’s now been announced that Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales), including the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, will become a Part 2 listed third country under the EU Pet Travel Scheme from 1st January 2021. Therefore, it is now clearer as to what the new rules for pet travel will be.

In our guide below we have tried to answer all of your essential questions. The information below applies to anyone travelling to the EU or Northern Ireland from Great Britain with their pet cats, dogs or ferrets. This includes assistance dogs.

Pet Passports after Brexit

From the 1st January 2021, current EU issued pet passports, will no longer be valid for travel.

If you’re planning on taking your dog, cat or ferret to the EU or NI for the first time at any point after 1st January 2021, you’ll need to take the following steps.

It’s advised that you contact your vet at least four months in advance of your travel date to ensure that you have plenty of time to prepare.

As Great Britain has been granted Part 2 listed status the steps are similar to the current process for taking your pet to the EU, however, there are a few changes.

Instead of obtaining a pet passport, you will need to get an animal health certificate (AHC).

Rules for accompanied pets travelling to the EU or Northern Ireland

(‘accompanied means if you are travelling on the same flight or within 5 days of your pet’)

Before your pet can travel to the EU or NI, the following must be completed:

  • Your pet must be microchipped.
  • Your pet must be vaccinated against rabies – your pet must be at least 12 weeks old before it can be vaccinated.
  • You must wait 21 days after the rabies vaccination before your pet can travel.
  • Visit your vet to get an AHCfor your pet, no more than 10 days before travel to the EU.

How do I get an Animal Health Certificate?

An Animal Health certificate (AHC) has to be issued BY an Official Veterinarian (OV) appointed by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the Scottish Government or the Welsh (please check with your vet practice to ensure they have an OV at their practice).

The OV vet will need to apply for the AHC certificate and certify it no more than 10 days prior to travel, at which point they will need to examine your pet.

How long is my pet’s AHC valid for?

Your pet’s AHC will be valid for 10 days after the date of issue for entry into the EU and for onward travel within the EU it will remain valid for 4 months after the date of issue.

You will then be able to re-enter Great Britain for 4 months after the date of issue.

Fit to fly Letter

In addition to the AHC, the airlines will require the vet to write up a letter to state that your pet has been examined, is free from any contagious disease and is fit to fly – again, this needs to be issued no more than 10 days prior to travel.

Taking your pet to Finland, Republic of Ireland, Norway or Malta

If you’re planning on taking your dog to Finland, the Republic of Ireland, Norway or Malta, your pup must be treated against tapeworm one to five days before arriving. Once this treatment has been administered, your vet must record the details on the AHC.

What will I need to do when arriving in the EU or NI?

When you arrive in the EU or Northern Ireland with your pet, you will have to enter through a designated Travellers’ point of entry, otherwise known as the TPE.

When arriving you may have to produce the following:

  • your pet’s AHC
  • proof of microchip
  • proof of rabies vaccination
  • proof of tapeworm treatment (if travelling to Finland, Republic of Ireland, Norway or Malta)

Please note, all original documents will travel with your pet once your pet is checked in, so all required documents will be available upon collection of your pet.

Making frequent trips to the EU or NI

If you’re planning on making frequent trips to the EU with your pet after the 1st January 2021, as long as you keep your pet’s rabies vaccinations up to date, you will not need to get repeat vaccinations for repeat trips to the EU or NI.

However, you will need to get a new AHC for each trip you make. This must be obtained from your vet no more than 10 days before you travel.

Again, to obtain your new AHC, you will need to show proof of your pet’s:

  • microchipping date
  • rabies vaccination history

Rules for unaccompanied pets travelling to the EU or Northern Ireland

(‘unaccompanied means if you are NOT travelling on the same flight or within 5 days of your pet’) This is also classed as a ‘commercial’ shipment.

All of the same requirements above will need to be met, apart from a DEFRA Export Health Certificate is required instead of an AHC. The DEFRA Export Health Certificate needs to be applied for in advance of travel and will require your pet to have a health check no more than 48 hour prior to travel – this health check will still need to be done by an OV (Official Veterinarian).  Please note, the OV cannot apply for a DEFRA export health certificate, this needs to be done by either the pet owner or, the pet travel agent – PBS Pet Travel can assist with these applications.

What do I need to do when returning to Great Britain?

Fortunately, there will be no change to the current process for pets entering Great Britain.

When returning to GB from the EU, your pet must have one of the following documents present:

  • an EU pet passport (issued in the EU, or in GB before 1 January 2021), or a pet passport from a Part 1 listed third country
  • the AHC issued in GB used to travel to the EU (this can be used up to 4 months after it was issued)
  • a UK pet health certificate (for travel into GB only)

There will be no need to provide proof of this documentation if your pet is entering GB from:

  • NI
  • the Channel Islands
  • the Isle of Man
  • the Republic of Ireland

When returning to GB you must travel using approved routes and ensure that your pet’s documents and microchip are present as these will be checked when entering GB.

If you’re returning to Great Britain with an assistance dog, you do not need to travel on approved routes but you must notify the point of entry in advance that you will be travelling with an assistance dog to ensure the appropriate checks are done.

You will also not need to travel on an approved route if you’re travelling to GB from other UK countries, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man or the Republic of Ireland.

If you’re planning on travelling from other UK countries, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man or the Republic of Ireland, we advise talking to your vet beforehand to get confirmation on what preparations you need to take.

Whilst we will endeavour to keep this page as up to date as possible, please visit the government website for official updates.

How can PBS Pet Travel help?

Our highly trained experienced pet travel team are ready and waiting to organise your travel and safely transport your pets around the world. We recognise that many will still be unaware of the forthcoming changes to pet travel and are here to make everything as simple and straightforward as possible.

For more information about pet travel after Brexit or to get your quotation, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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