Following Brexit on 31 December 2020, pet travel rules changed between countries in the United Kingdom – Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and EU member states. If you’re wondering what you need to do to take your pet to the United Kingdom (UK) from the EU after Brexit, we have all the information right here! Note that the United Kingdom (UK) and Great Britain (GB) don’t include the same countries as they’re different political agreements. For travelling with cats, dogs and ferrets after Brexit, pet travel scheme rules are different for the three GB countries, and Northern Ireland. Read on to find out what you need to do to travel with your pet to the countries that form GB from EU member states and Northern Ireland.
Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
Table of contents
Difference between EU Pet Travel for GB & UK
Following the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December 2020, new rules were introduced for pet travel between Great Britain (GB) and the EU & Northern Ireland (NI). Therefore, after Brexit came into effect on 1 January 2021, EU regulations changed for taking a pet cat, dog or ferret to the UK from continental Europe.
If you’re not from this part of the world, no doubt, you’ll find all this confusing. So, here’s a little history lesson to clarify the differences between the terms United Kingdom and Great Britain!
- Great Britain (GB) consists of the countries Scotland, England & Wales
- The United Kingdom (UK) is Scotland, England, Wales & Northern Ireland
An easy way to remember is in the term United as all four countries are part of the United Kingdom. Whereas Northern Ireland isn’t part of Great Britain. As well as history, there’s a geographical aspect too, since Northern Ireland (NI) doesn’t share any land borders with Scotland, England or Wales.
However, NI does share a land border with Ireland, and since Ireland is an EU member state, this posed a few problems when agreeing pet movement rules under the BREXIT agreement for taking pets to the UK from the EU. Remember, BREXIT applied to the UK as a whole, not just the three GB countries, so while NI has left the EU along with the rest of the UK, the Republic of Ireland is an independent country and still an EU member.
Thus, to avoid a hard border after BREXIT between NI and Ireland, NI is subject to the same PETS scheme rules as EU member states. Therefore pet travel rules for Northern Ireland remain unchanged. You can use take your cat, dog or ferret to GB from NI without any documentation. To enter the EU from Northern Ireland, as a preliminary measure, your veterinarian can endorse your UK issued Pet Passport to be valid for EU travel.
Pet Travel Authorities in the UK
In the United Kingdom (Scotland, England, Wales & Northern Ireland), the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has an overarching responsibility for pet travel scheme rules. DEFRA is a ministerial department, with responsibility for 32 agencies and public bodies. DEFRA works in England, but the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish governments have devolved responsibility for certain aspects of animal welfare and pet travel.
The agencies operating in each country are:
Northern Ireland has a ministerial department, rather than an agency, which is the Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA). Note that as Northern Ireland (NI) isn’t part of GB, the DAERA is only responsible to DEFRA for any issues relating to pet travel that affect the UK as a whole. Therefore, as NI doesn’t share a land border with the UK, they have some autonomy in their pet travel rules.
Requirements for Pet Travel to Great Britain from the EU after Brexit
Your pet must have one of the following documents when entering GB from the EU after Brexit:
- EU Pet Passport
issued in an EU member state, or in GB before 1 January 2021, or a Pet Passport from a Part 1 Listed third country OR
- Animal Health Certificate (AHC)
issued in GB and used to travel to the EU, valid for up to 4 months after it was issued OR
- Pet Health Certificate issued in Great Britain
for return travel into GB only
Your pet doesn’t need this documentation if you’re entering GB from:
- Northern Ireland
- The Channel Islands
- The Isle of Man
DEFRA Approved Pet Travel Routes
You must travel using a Department for Rural Affairs and Agriculture (DEFRA) approved route when entering GB, and your pet’s documents and microchip will be checked on arrival.
Owners of assistance dogs returning from the EU do not have to travel on approved routes. You must notify the point of entry in advance that you’re travelling with an assistance dog to ensure the appropriate checks are done.
You don’t have to travel on an approved route if you’re travelling to GB from:
- other UK countries
- the Channel Islands
- the Isle of Man
- the Republic of Ireland
Talk to your vet about what preparations you need to make before you travel from these places.
Tapeworm Treatment for Dogs entering the UK from the EU after Brexit
You’ll need to take your dog to a vet for an approved Tapeworm Treatment. You must do this no less than 24 hours and no more than 120 hours (5 days) before entering GB. This requirement was already in place prior to Brexit, so it’s nothing new for pet travel from the EU to the UK. This rule is in place to protect other animals from the risk of tapeworm that’s transmitted by fleas when taking your dog from mainland Europe to the UK.
The Tapeworm Treatment must:
- be approved for use in the country where the treatment is applied
- contain praziquantel or an equivalent proven to be effective against tapeworm (Echinococcus Multilocularis)
You do not need to treat your dog for tapeworm if you’re travelling directly to GB from:
Find out about flying to the UK with a cat or dog, and remember to read our Ultimate Pet Travel Checklist for everything to remember when taking a pet vacation. You can also check out pet travel scheme rules for global pet friendly destinations.