Pet Travel to the EU – A Brave New World?

There are many questions regarding pet travel to Europe following the 1st of January 2021. Dr Peter Higgins is Official Veterinary Surgeon with the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) and the Department of Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs.  This means he can register, and issue, pet passports as well as animal health certificates.

What happens following the transition period of Brexit, which currently finishes on the 31st of December 2020, is quite murky.

The requirements for pets travelling in the EU will be contingent on whether the United Kingdom becomes an Unlisted Country with the EU, a Part One Listed Country, or a Part Two Listed Country.

Looking at the best-case scenario first; if we are a Part One Listed Country the requirements for transport, and therefore pet passports, will not change to what they are currently. Without going into the detail, in summary, a current rabies vaccine is required as well as an identifiable microchip. A registered UK Pet Passport will need to be provided by an Official Veterinary Surgeon.

If, however, we become a Part Two Listed country then in addition to the above requirements an Official Veterinary Surgeon will also need to examine the animal and provide an Animal Health Certificate stating that the animal is in a healthy and acceptable state for travel. Once receiving an Animal Health Certificate travel must occur within 10 days of the physical examination.

The worst-case scenario is that we become an unlisted Country with the EU. If that is the case then not only do we have to meet all the requirements of the above, including the Animal Health Certificate, but also a blood test for rabies titre levels will need to be done to prove that the animal is vaccinated and free of rabies. These tests are done by only a few laboratories and as well as being very expensive the pet has to wait three months from the day of the blood sample before they can travel. In addition, the blood sample has to be taken a minimum of 30 days after the last rabies vaccine was given. In other words, you may have to allow four months before your pet can travel to the EU.

At the moment, no one can give you an indication of what will happen post 1 January 2021. A decision on whether we become an unlisted country, Part One Listed Country, or a Part Two Listed Country will be partly political and partly bureaucratic. 

It will depend on the UK government and also the European Union itself. The worst-case scenario is that we become an Unlisted Country which effectively means that if you want to travel in January 2021 then you will need to have your pet’s travel documents started by September 2020. If we become a Listed Country, then there is no time pressure except that an Animal Health Certificate is only valid for 10 days after it has been issued.

Dr Higgins receives daily updates from the Animal and Plant Health Agency, and the Department of Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs.  As soon as there is more clarity, we will do another article to update you.

Dr Peter Higgins, BVSc MRCVS FAICD

Lead Veterinary Surgeon | Bushy Park Veterinary Surgery 

Official Veterinarian  OCQ (V) Animal & Plant Health Agency 

Tel: 0208 977 3452


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