Travelling abroad with your pet after Brexit

After months of negotiations, an agreement has been made between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the European Union. This means that the rules for travelling to EU countries with your pet have changed.

According to DFDS, the world’s leading Ferry Operator, they would normally take around 80,000 dogs a year across the Channel while Eurostar has carried three million happy pets since 2001. Following the Government’s hinting at easing on international travel and lockdown restrictions later on in the year, holiday firms and airlines have reported a surge in bookings. TUI, the world’s largest travel company, said bookings for foreign trips jumped 500% overnight.

With so many animal lovers looking at potentially travelling with their pets, it’s important to understand the new guidance in place so that they don’t get left behind.

What did pets need to travel before 1 january 2021?

Previously, pet dogs and cats had free movement between EU countries, meaning they didn’t need to be quarantined if the proper conditions were met.

When travelling within the EU there were a few rules to meet under the scheme before you could set off. These were:

  • A valid EU pet passport
  • Your dog or cat needed to be microchipped
  • Your pet must have been vaccinated against rabies
  • Dogs must have been treated against tapeworm before their return to the UK

Dog with a travelling suitcase

Pet travel after 1 January 2021

There is now a different procedure to follow before taking your pet from England, Scotland and Wales to the EU. The UK has been given Part 2 listed status, which means there are some extra requirements for travelling with pets.

If you’re travelling to an EU country or Northern Ireland, your pet now needs to:

  • Be microchipped
  • Have a valid rabies vaccination
  • Treated for tapeworm, if they’re a dog and you’re travelling directly to Finland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Norway or Malta
  • Have an Animal Health Certificate unless you have a pet passport issued in an EU country or Northern Ireland

The Animal Health Certificate will be valid for:

  • 10 days after the date of issue for entry into the EU or NI
  • onward travel within the EU for four months after the date of issue
  • re-entry to Great Britain for four months after the date of issue

You would need to enter the EU through a Travellers’ Point of Entry, and may need to provide proof of all the above.

Things to bear in mind

  • Pets need to be at least 12 weeks old before they receive a rabies vaccine
  • The rabies vaccine cannot be given within two weeks of another vaccine
  • You cannot travel until 21 days after your pet has received the rabies vaccine
  • Blood tests are no longer required
  • You will need proof of a rabies vaccine before your vet provides the Animal Health Certificate
  • You will need to see your vet 10 days prior to travelling for the Certificate to be valid
  • Let your vet know where you will be entering the EU so that the certificate can be in dual language and readable at your point of entry
  • Ask your vet how much this will cost so that you can plan ahead

Travelling safely with your pet

Before you book to go abroad with your pet, there are a few things you need to consider before taking them with you. Planning before you book will ensure that they are happy and comfortable whether you decide to holiday with your pet or leave them in the care of a responsible person.

How comfortable will your pet be?

Not all pets are completely suited to travel so it’s important to consider your pet’s comfort while you travel and when you arrive at your destination. If your pet doesn’t like travelling it might be worth leaving them at home or make sure that you are able to help them cope as well as possible with the journey ahead of them.

How pet-friendly is your destination?

When travelling with your pet you will need to conduct extra checks while booking accommodation, looking at local eateries and planning days out to ensure that they allow pets. Doing the research before you travel will help avoid any disappointment upon your arrival and potentially save you some money if you have to make alternative bookings.

Have you looked for the nearest vet?

Unfortunately, accidents can still happen while you’re on holiday and the sudden change in environment may affect your pet’s health. Make a note of the nearest vet, their address and contact information and keep it with you while you travel so that you’re able to access them quickly if they’re needed while you travel.

Have you considered the weather?

From soaring temperatures to snowy landscapes, always consider the local weather and whether they could pose a health risk to your pet.

If you are travelling to the EU with your cat or dog, you should discuss your travel requirements with your vet as soon as possible. There are plenty of articles and blogs on the new arrangement and it can be quite confusing at times, so for the most up-to-date information please visit the DEFRA website.

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