Is It Easy To Travel With Pets After Brexit?
Travelling with a pet can add an extra element of excitement to your adventure abroad. Of course, domestic pets come in all shapes and sizes – but whether you have a four-legged friend, a furry playmate, a winged chum, or a scaly sidekick, nothing should stop you from bringing them along on your journey.
Plus, thanks to the national lockdowns, there are now more of us with cute companions. In fact, new research suggests that one in four people in the UK admit to having bought a puppy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
So, once lockdown restrictions start to lift, what exactly are the rules when travelling with a pet to the EU from the UK post-Brexit? Are some European Union (EU) nations stricter than others when it comes to travelling with pets? And how many documents and forms should you expect to fill out in the run-up to your big trip abroad?
We’ll cover everything in this article on travelling with your pet abroad post-Brexit.
Want to gaze at glorious views with your furry friend like this these happy chums?
Can Brits still travel to the EU with a pet after Brexit?
Let’s start with the good news. Yes, you’re still able to travel with your pet from England, Scotland, and Wales to all EU nations now that the Brexit transition period is over. The bad news, however, is that you’ll need to follow a different, less straight-forward procedure than before. There are also different rules for Northern Ireland (we’ll get into that later).
When the UK was part of the EU, pet owners were able to take domestic animals from the UK to the EU – and back again – without the animal having to go into quarantine (provided that certain conditions were met).
Now that the UK has left the EU, there are a few extra documents you’ll need to gather, which will allow your pet to cross the border with you.
What documents will you need?
The EU has agreed that the UK should be given a “part two listed” status, which basically means that your pet will be able to cross EU borders if you obtain an animal health certificate (AHC).
This certificate should be issued by your vet, and confirms that your pet has been microchipped and vaccinated against rabies.
In the past, travelling with a domestic animal was made simpler for Brits with the introduction of pet passports. Now, however, you’ll need to be a little more organised, obtaining a new certificate each time you travel with your pet (within 10 days of the date that you travel).
Thankfully, the certificate will be valid for four months for a single trip into the EU, further travel within EU borders, and for re-entry to Great Britain.
You’ll need evidence that your pet has had various health checks, including:
- Being microchipped
- Having a rabies vaccination
- Receiving tapeworm treatment for dogs (if you’re travelling directly to Finland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Norway, or Malta)
Your vet must give your pet its rabies vaccination after it has been microchipped, not before. If your pet is vaccinated beforehand, it doesn't count and will have to be redone.
According to the UK government website, these rules also apply to guide dogs too.
What about travelling to Northern Ireland?
If you want to take your pet from England, Scotland, or Wales to Northern Ireland, the same rules apply. You basically have to act as if you’re going to the EU.
The UK government website says: “The UK government recognises that pet owners and assistance dog users will need time to adjust to these changes. It's working with the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) on an enforcement approach that takes these challenges into account.”
What if you live in the EU?
If you were a resident in an EU country before the Brexit deadline (31 December 2020), and have an EU-issued pet passport, you will be able to use it to bring your pet to the UK.
You’ll also be able to return to the EU with the passport, rather than having to obtain an AHC.
If you happen to fall under this category, the UK government advises that you speak to your local vet, who will help you to ensure you are compliant with EU rules.
Thankfully, you can still bring man's best friend along on holidays post-Brexit
Do the same rules apply to different animals?
Pets come in all shapes and sizes – but when it comes to the government, a pet is only classed as such if it falls under one of the following categories:
- Invertebrates (except bees and crustaceans)
- Rodents and domestic rabbits
- Ornamental fish
- All species of birds (except poultry)
Birds, in particular, are very tricky to travel with. To avoid any bird flu outbreaks, there are strict rules for importing pet birds into the European Union. So if you want to take your feathery friend abroad, you’ll have to take a few extra precautions, including:
- Making sure that the bird is in perfect health before travelling
- Putting it in isolation for 30 days before departure or on arrival
- Vaccinating it against the H5 avian influenza virus
Some countries may have a few extra precautions for other animals, so it’s worth contacting the embassy of your chosen country before you leave.
Are some EU countries stricter than others?
The post-Brexit laws put in place for travelling with pets act as a blanket rule – they cover all EU nations. This means, when it comes to the rules and required documents, you shouldn’t find any varying differences from country to country.
Some countries, however, are more particular about the type of animals they let into the country.
France, for example, is one of the strictest EU nations when it comes to letting various breeds of dogs enter the country. Currently, there is a ban on importing certain breeds into France, including Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier (pit bull), Mastiff (Boerboel), and Tosa. Plus, for health and safety reasons, the French government strictly prohibits bringing in ‘domestic carnivores’ that are less than three months old.
Spain tends not to be as strict when it comes to breeds of dogs. Although not banned, any Pit Bull Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire terriers, Rottweilers, Dogo Argentinos, Fila Brasileiros, Tosa Inus, and Akita Inus must be registered within three months of entering the country, and must wear a muzzle to pass security in Spain.
Some countries are also more stringent when it comes to certain breeds of reptiles or other exotic animals, so it’s best to check with the embassy or consulate in your home country before taking them across borders.
If the authorities suspect that your animal falls under the protected or endangered species categories, it’s likely that you’ll end up making a U-turn and heading back home.
On a more positive note, unlike some other countries around the world – such as Iceland or New Zealand – EU nations don’t typically require pets to be quarantined for 10 days after arrival.
Travelling with your pet to the EU is still very much possible, even now that the UK has officially gone its own way. Once you’ve filled out the relevant forms and made sure your pet is in tip-top shape, you’ll be ready to explore golden sandy beaches, cute (pet-friendly) cafes, and picturesque European nature reserves.
Need some more advice on moving your pet abroad? Head over to our page on The Best Pet Couriers and A Guide to Pet Relocation Costs to make sure you swerve any pesky pet problems during your move abroad.