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Pet Travel

We all need a holiday

Pet travel to the EU

For dogs, cats and ferrets (if your pet is of another species, see here for information)

As of January 1st 2021, PETS passports issed in the UK became invalid for travel to EU countries.  However, they remain valid for entry into the UK until the rabies vaccine entered in a passport expires.  If you plan to travel to an EU country with your dog, cat or ferret, your pet will still need a microchip and rabies vaccination, as was the case for PETS passports, but you will also need an Animal Health Certificate (AHC).

You will need to call us to arrange the AHC, and then bring your pet in for a pre-travel health check within 10 days of your date of travel, after which we can provide you with your AHC (provided your animal is not showing signs of certain infectious diseases, etc.).  Up to five dogs, cats and/or ferrets can travel on one AHC.

 

Animals which do not meet all the rules may be put into quarantine when they return to the UK. They might then be able to obtain early release if they can be shown to comply with the necessary pet travel requirements.

Government advice on pet travel is here

What you need to do if you are travelling to the EU with a dog, cat or ferret

The following is a brief summary of the process:

  • Step 1
  • Step 2
  • Step 3
  • Step 4
  • Travel to Northern Ireland
  • If you have a PETS passport that was issued in an EU country, i.e., not in the UK
  • UK nationals with an EU residential address
  • What you need to do if you are entering or re-entering the UK from outside of the EU
  • Pet travel to the EU post-Brexit - pets other than dogs & cats

Step 1

If you have not already done so, have your pet microchipped: Before any of the other procedures for pet travel are carried out, your pet must be fitted with a microchip so it can be uniquely identified.

Step 2

Have your pet vaccinated against rabies.

After the microchip has been fitted your pet must be vaccinated against rabies. There is no exemption to this requirement, even if your pet has a current rabies vaccination. This must to be done at least three weeks prior to travel. 

UK rabies vaccinations are valid for three years after vaccination, but be aware that some vaccinations given in other countries may be valid for only one year. If your pet's last rabies vaccine is out of date, you must have a booster vaccine at least three weeks before you travel.

Step 3

For animals travelling to or from an EU country, including Southern Ireland, you must get an AHC.  You will also need an AHC to travel to Northern Ireland. 

You will need to call us well in advance of the date of travel to arrange this.  We will need to know which animals are travelling, their microchip numbers, and by which country you will be entering the EU (we need to know the country you will enter the EU by, not the country of your final destination, if that is different). 

Then you will need to visit the vet within 10 days of your date of travel, to get a health check for your pet, after which the vet can sign and issue the AHC, provided your pet shows no sign of certain infectious diseases or any other health-related reason why they cannot travel. 

That AHC will be valid for only one entry to the EU, and will be valid for entry to the EU for only 10 days.  However, it will continue to be valid for four months for onward travel within the EU, and for re-entry to Great Britain. 

To be clear - every time you take your pet to the EU, you will need to apply for an AHC and take your pet to the vet within 10 days of your date of travel.

Step 4

Tapeworm treatment

For dogs only, before entering or re-entering the UK, all dogs must be treated by a vet for tapeworm, not less than 24 hours and not more than 120 hours (1-5 days) before the scheduled arrival time back in the UK.

No tapeworm treatment is required for dogs coming from:

  • Ireland
  • Finland
  • Norway
  • Malta  

However, tapeworm treatment is required for dogs leaving:

  • England
  • Wales
  • Scotland

To travel to:

  • Northern Ireland
  • Southern Ireland
  • Finland
  • Norway
  • Malta

Travel to Northern Ireland

Under the 'Northern Ireland Protocol', Northern Ireland is treated as if it is part of the EU for export purposes - even for travelling pets! 

If you plan to travel to Northern or Southern Ireland with a dog or cat, you will need an AHC, and dogs (but not cats) will also have to be wormed at the vets against the tapeworm Echinococcus multilocularis within 1-5 days prior to travel. 

Pets do not need any paperwork to come into Great Britain from Northern Ireland.  However, they do need an AHC to come into Great Britain from Southern Ireland.

If you have a PETS passport that was issued in an EU country, i.e., not in the UK

If you have an EU-issued PETS passport, with a valid rabies vaccination entered in it, you can use that to enter the UK and return to the EU, exactly as was the case prior to Brexit.

However, UK vets are no longer allowed to enter a rabies vaccination into an EU PETS passport.  So if the rabies vaccination in your EU PETS passport expires while you are in the UK, we can give your pet a rabies vaccination, but we cannot enter that into your EU PETS passport. 

So, if the rabies vaccination in your EU PETS passport expires while you are in the UK, you will need an Animal Health Certificate to return to the EU, and you will not be able to travel with your pet until three weeks after the date of that rabies vaccination.

UK nationals with an EU residential address

If you have an EU residential address, e.g., a second home, and plan to travel to the EU with your pet multiple times, you should be able to get an EU PETS passport issued by an EU vet next time you are in the EU. 

That will allow you to travel back and forth between the UK and EU as often as you like, with no other documentation, provided the rabies vaccination is kept up to date and, if you travel with a dog, that dog is wormed 1-5 days before entering the UK (in other words, exactly the same conditions as the PETS passports that we could provide before Brexit). 

That is far cheaper and far less hassle than getting an Animal Health Certificate each time you travel.  Most vets in EU countries will provide you with an EU PETS passport, but we have heard numerous reports of French vets who refuse to do so - some of them claiming it is not legal to do so (as far as we can tell, they are incorrect).  If you encounter such a vet, we advise you to go to another vet.

If you have been in the UK since Brexit, you will still need an Animal Health Certificate to get to the EU the first time you travel post-Brexit. Hopefully, EU vets will accept a UK Animal Health Certificate as adequate proof of rabies vaccination that they can enter into your EU PETS passport, however, some EU vets do insist on giving another rabies vaccination. 

Once you have an EU-issued PETS passport, you will need to ensure the rabies vaccine in the PETS passport does not expire when you are in the UK because UK vets are no longer allowed to enter a rabies vaccination in an EU PETS passport, so if the rabies vaccination expires while you are in the UK you will need another Animal Health Certificate to get back to the EU.

What you need to do if you are entering or re-entering the UK from outside of the EU

These requirements have not changed with Brexit:

The requirements in this situation are more complex and more rigorous. For the purposes of entering the UK, your dog, cat or ferret will still require a microchip and rabies vaccination, but will also require a blood test (about 3-4 weeks after rabies vaccination) to ensure that the rabies vaccination has generated sufficient antibodies, and then a three month wait after the date of a successful rabies vaccination before your pet can enter the UK. There may well be other requirements depending on the country you are coming from.

For purposes of entering non-listed countries from the UK, your pet will need an Export Health Certificate issued by DEFRA. Your pet will need to meet certain requirements before the certificate will be issued, which vary greatly depending on the destination country, and for some countries are quite complex requiring a number of treatments and/or blood tests at specified times prior to the date of travel.

Pet travel to the EU post-Brexit - pets other than dogs & cats

In theory, animals other than dogs, cats and ferrets require an Export Health Certificate (EHC) for travel to EU countries.  Requirements for obtaining an EHC vary greatly across species, and for some species and countries require preparations several weeks or even several months in advance of travel.  The cost of EHCs varies greatly with species and country of destination.

Post-Brexit, the situation regarding taking pet species other than dogs and cats to EU countries is often uncertain, complicated, and changes over time.  For some species, travel to some EU countries is relatively straightforward.  However, as yet, the Governments of the UK and many of the EU countries have not made the necessary arrangements for the Export Health Certificates required to take pets of some species to those EU countries.  Indeed, our experience is that it has not been possible to obtain Export Health Certificates for certain journeys to be undertaken with some species of pet.  Further, other journeys with some species of pet, particularly journeys involving taking groups of birds to the EU and then returning with them to the UK, have turned out to be impractical due to the expense of the required testing and/or animal-quarantine requirements.

Please contact us well in advance if you need to take pets other than dogs and cats to an EU country, as it may take us some time to determine what needs to be done.

AHCs involve time-consuming paperwork for your vet, so please contact your vet a week or two in advance of travel to arrange an AHC. You will need to take your pet to the vets for a health check within 10 days of the date of travel, at which time the AHC will be issued.   

AHCs are difficult to complete. PETS passports were difficult enough and, as a result, pre-Brexit, were by some margin the single largest cause of financial claims against pet vets due to pet owners experiencing unexpected inconvenience and cost when travelling. 

AHCs are far more complex and it is a post-Brexit fact of life that with this system, errors will be made and so a small proportion of clients will experience unexpected cost, inconvenience and stress when travelling with their pet. It could happen to you - and that is something you have to factor into your decision to take your pet abroad.

You can contact the Government's Pet travel helpline on pettravel@apha.gov.uk or on 0370 241 1710.

 

Please give careful consideration to whether taking your pet abroad is the right thing for your pet, particularly if the travel time is long and if it will be very hot at your destination.

 

Finally, do bear in mind that there are diseases of pets abroad, including in France and the rest of Europe, that are not present in the UK. Some of these diseases can be fatal - our practice has seen dogs die of diseases picked up in Europe during a holiday. These diseases are not necessarily a reason not to take your pet on holiday with you, but you should talk to your vet about preventative measures before you go.

Contact us with any queries