Planning To Travel With Your Pet After Brexit?

Trent Webb

When the UK leaves the European Union on the 29th March, this may (or may not) have a significant impact on the tests and paperwork required to travel with your pet abroad. So if you plan to take your pet overseas shortly after the March 29th 2019 Brexit deadline – you’ll need to think ahead.

Pet Travel After Brexit: Stick or twist?

The conundrum is that while the exact requirements for travel may not become clear until very near the March deadline, some tests conducted and forms may have to be filled out in the next few months – if you want to be sure you can travel with your pet in April or May 2019. Yet when the legislation takes shape, it may turn out that some of these tests and forms were unnecessary!

At the moment there are three possible scenarios for pet travel overseas post-Brexit: the UK becomes a Part 1 Listed country, a Part 2 listed country or an Unlisted country. The implications for each of these are:

Planning to take the dog to the beach next year? Be aware the Pet Passport rules may well change

Scenario #1 (Soft Brexit) the UK becomes a Part 1 listed country

If this is the case then there will be little effective change in what you need to do prior to travel. You’ll still need to get the same (or at least essentially) similar Pet Passport documentation and rabies vaccinations.

So the passport document itself may change but the process will remain the same, as would the time frames.

Scenario #2 (Mid-range Brexit) the UK becomes a Part 2 listed country

In this scenario all the current passport rules would still apply but there would be additional requirements too. Key would be the issuing of a Model Health Certificate prior to travel. These would be issued at least 21 days after a suitable rabies vaccination and within 10 days of departure. The Model Health Certificate would allow 4 months of travel within the European Union and must be issued by an OV (which simply stands for Official Veterinarians) but this may not mean all vets.

In this scenario you’ll need to plan for getting a Model Health Certificate. This will involve checking that your vet can issue a certificate – and if not finding the nearest local vet who can issue one – as you’ll need to get it relatively close to your departure date. And you don’t want to be dashing around on the day you leave trying to find a suitable vet.

Scenario #3 – (Hard Brexit) the UK becomes an Unlisted country

This option would see the most changes to the current system. The following criteria would need to be met before travel and apply the greatest additional time constraints.

#1 A blood sample would need to be taken 30 days after the rabies vaccination

#2 Your pet would only be allowed to travel when it had a certificate with a required antibody titre (essentially a measure of whether the vaccine has worked or not). This would have to be issued by an approved laboratory, and 3 months must have elapsed since the date the test sample was taken.

#3 Your pet would need a Model Health Certificate

#4 Your pet would need to enter the European Union via a designated points – Travellers’ Point Of Entry or TPE. On arrival in the EU, UK owners travelling with their pets would be required to report and present their documentation. These are nominated country by country and have yet to be confirmed, although the TPE’s for current Unlisted countries are listed here.

In this instance Robert Louis Stevenson was wrong, it is NOT better to travel hopefully than to arrive. Don’t leave any part of your pet’s travel plans to chance

Check the date

In this situation, you’ll need to do some serious planning, particularly if your departure date is shortly after the 29th March. The antibody blood test can only be done 30 days after the rabies vaccination and travel is not permitted until 3 months after the sample was taken (and don’t forget to add in the time for the lab to conduct the test). Which means the process will take over 4 months to complete. So for example, to travel on the 1st April 2019 you’d need to have started the process by the 1st of November 2018!

And of course the kicker is if the UK ends up being designated a Part 1 or Part 2 listed country, the effort and expense of blood samples and testing will be wasted – but it would at least ensure your pet can travel with you, whatever classification is agreed.

Also in this Unlisted scenario, you may also have to adapt your travel plans when the designated points of entry are nominated. Even if you have the correct paperwork, entry via non-designated points would probably land your cat or dog a spell in quarantine.

The current rules will not be relaxed, more they will become the very minimum required for travel

Give it time

So if you must travel with your pet shortly after the Brexit deadline of 29th March, start planning your pets travel a minimum of 4 months in advance. This just allows enough time to meet the most demanding travel criteria. And don’t put it off as a job for tomorrow, if you started on March 29th 2019 and got everything done as soon as possible, your pet would be ready to travel on 29th July!

We’ll update this post, as and when more information becomes available and you can check the Government’s advice via their web site. Their current advice is here.

As per usual keep talking to your vet. Find out if they can issue the necessary certificates, give the vaccinations and organise the blood tests as far ahead of your travel date as possible. Also have a look around for some tips on de-stressing your pet for a journey and some general pet travel tips too!

This post is an opinion and should only be used as a guide. If you are planning to travel with your pet, consult your vet as soon your plans are confirmed and monitor the Government website for their latest advice.

If in doubt contact your veterinary practice

And always keep your vet's phone number handy - just in case!