On Thursday evening 10 December, the Animal and Plant Health Agency, who are responsible for facilitating the transport of animals overseas finally contacted the veterinary profession to disclose the rules from 1 January 2021, now that we have left the EU.

While the announcement of the change to the regulations is very welcome, it doesn’t give us long to prepare for the changes which begin on 22 December.

No More Pet Passports

The Pet Passport was introduced in the late 1990s, and revolutionised travel pet travel. Before then, it was basically impossible to bring pets to and from the UK because of our strict quarantine laws.

The new rules say that from 22 December, Pet Passports are no longer to be issued. However, a Pet Passport doesn’t become valid until 3 weeks after a rabies vaccination has been administered. So the reality is that, from today, Friday 11 December, there is no value in having a new Pet Passport.

The New Rules

The EU has agreed that the UK will be given Part 2 Listed Status. We are still waiting for detailed guidance from the government on this. This should mean that travel into the EU with a pet dog, cat or ferret, for strictly non-commercial reasons, is allowed subject to the following conditions

  • The animal has had a rabies vaccination after the age of 12 weeks.
  • At least 3 weeks have elapsed since the vaccination was administered.
  • Travel is within the duration of immunity of the vaccination.

Within 10 days of travel, the animal must receive an Animal Health Certificate issued by an Official Veterinarian. Vetrica has two Official Veterinarians certified for this type of work. This certificate is valid for onward travel within the EU, and return to the UK for up to 4 months, providing the rabies vaccination is within its duration of immunity.

For dogs, travelling to most EU countries, and returning to the UK will require a tapeworm treatment 1-5 days before travel.

The New Procedure to Travel

So practically the procedure is now:

  1. Vaccinate against rabies.
  2. Get an Animal Health Certificate from an Official Veterinarian within 10 days of travel.
  3. Have a tapeworm treatment by a vet at least 24 hours and no more than 120 hours of travel (dogs only).
  4. Steps 2 and 3 can be combined into the same visit.
  5. Travel to the EU.
  6. Have a tapeworm treatment by a vet at least 24 hours and no more than 120 hours of travel when returning to the UK (dogs only).

A new Animal Health Certificate is required for each period of travel. Also it would be prudent to ensure that your pet’s rabies vaccination is valid until your date of return. While you could have your pet vaccinated against rabies in your destination country, it would reduce the complexity of the process to have a booster early if you anticipate being away when the vaccination expires. This is especially the case if you plan onward travel within the EU during your stay there.

Unfortunately, the new regulations will be more costly to comply with. The Animal Health Certificate is quite a long, complicated form, and the requirement to have a new one for every journey rather than the current passport system where it’s basically one visit per three years is regrettable.

Hopefully, one day, cooler heads will prevail and we can return to the much simpler and more efficient Pet Passport system.

You can read the official government briefing note here.