The Adventures of Django and Arya

GB to EU Travel Rules after Brexit

Following Brexit on 31 December 2021, pet travel rules changed between countries in the United Kingdom – Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and EU member states. The EU Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) requires different documentation for pet travel to mainland Europe after Brexit. Note that the United Kingdom (UK) and Great Britain (GB) don’t include the same countries as they’re different political agreements. To take cats, dogs and ferrets after Brexit from GB to continental Europe, pet travel scheme rules are different for the three GB countries, and Northern Ireland, therefore the UK is split under the EU Pet Travel Scheme. Read on to find out what you need to do to travel with your pet to the countries that form the UK from EU member states.

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Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Travelling from the United Kingdom (UK) to the EU

Following the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December 2021, new rules were introduced for pet travel between Great Britain (GB) and the EU & Northern Ireland (NI).

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, as 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 part of the EU, this posed a few problems when agreeing pet movement rules under the BREXIT agreement. Remember, BREXIT applied to the UK, not GB, so while NI has left the EU along with the rest of the UK, 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.

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. Therefore, as NI doesn’t share a land border with the UK, they have some autonomy in their pet travel rules.

Post Brexit Pet Travel from Great Britain (Scotland, Wales & England) to the EU and Northern Ireland

Under the EU Pet Travel Scheme, after Brexit on 31 December 2021, Great Britain (GB) became a Part 2 Listed Third Country for pet travel to continental Europe. Immediately after Brexit, if you had an EU Pet Passport issued in the UK it could no longer be used to travel with a pet to the EU or Northern Ireland.

However, on 15 September 2021, the NI Department of Agriculture, Environment & Rural Affairs (DAERA) announced that checks on all pet dogs, cats and ferrets travelling from GB to NI would be suspended indefinitely while negotiations between the UK government and EU continue. You can read more about this announcement on the DAERA website.

Therefore, at present, you can take your pet to Northern Ireland from the other UK countries without any documentation.

But, you do still have to obtain a document to replace the EU Pet Passport to travel from Scotland, England or Wales to the EU with your dog, cat or ferret.

Also be aware that on 6 September 2021, the GB Department for Environment, Forestry and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) announced that no checks would be imposed on pets arriving in the three other UK countries from Northern Ireland.

The EU Pet Travel Scheme has three categories of third country:

  • Unlisted
  • Part 1 listed
  • Part 2 listed

A small number of countries and territories are Part 1 listed. They operate under the same EU Pet Travel Scheme rules as EU member states but with a different type of pet passport. Like Great Britain, most countries are Part 2 listed, which means there are different requirements for travelling with your pet.

While a UK issued Pet Passport can no longer be used for pet travel continental Europe from Great Britain after Brexit, the other requirements remain similar. In order to travel from Scotland, England and Wales to EU countries, your cat, dog or ferret must be:

  1. Microchipped
  2. Vaccinated against Rabies – your pet must be at least 12 weeks old before they can be vaccinated.
  3. Wait 21 days after the primary vaccination before travel.
  4. Visit your vet to obtain an Animal Health Certificate (AHC) for your pet, no more than 10 days before travel to the EU or Northern Ireland.
  5. Arrange a Tapeworm Treatment if you’re travelling with your dog directly to Finland, Ireland, Norway or Malta. Your dog will need to receive treatment 1 to 5 days before arriving in any of these countries, and your vet must enter full details on the AHC following treatment.

As long as you keep your pet’s rabies vaccinations up to date with a booster every three years administered in Great Britain, you will be covered for steps 2 and 3 for future trips to the EU and NI.

So, in a nutshell, it’s really not as bad as it could have been! Once your pet is microchipped, and has their initial rabies vaccination followed by boosters every three years, all you really have to do is visit your vet to obtain the Animal Health Certificate no more than 10 days prior to your travel to the EU and NI.

Animal Health Certificate for Dogs, Cats and Ferrets post Brexit

To obtain an Animal Health Certificate (AHC), you must take your pet to a vet no more than 10 days before travel. The AHC needs to be signed by an official vet. Check with your vet that they can issue AHCs for pets.

You must take proof of your pet’s:

  • microchipping date
  • vaccination history

Your pet’s AHC will be valid for:

  • 10 days after the date of issue for entry into the EU or NI
  • onward travel within the EU or NI for 4 months after the date of issue
  • re-entry to GB for 4 months after the date of issue

You must obtain a new AHC for repeat trips from GB to the EU and Northern Ireland.

Pet Travel Arrivals in the EU and NI after Brexit

Upon arrival in the EU, when travelling with a cat, dog or ferret, you must pass through a designated Travellers’ Point of Entry (TPE).

At the TPE, you may need to present your pet’s original AHC along with proof of:

  • your pet’s microchip
  • rabies vaccination
  • tapeworm treatment (if required)

Check the rules of the country you’re travelling to for any additional restrictions or requirements before you travel.

Travelling with More than Five Pets

You cannot take more than five pets to an EU country or NI unless you’re attending or training for a:

  • competition
  • show
  • sporting event

You’ll need written evidence of registration for the event when you travel.

All your pets must:

  • be attending the event or training
  • be over 6 months old
  • meet the pet travel rules

You can also find out about the requirements for returning to Great Britain with your pet from the EU, and find out about pet travel schemes across the globe.

Always remember to protect your pet from vector-borne diseases when travelling to warm climates, and leave a review to let other pet travellers hear all about your latest adventure!

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