Brexit – How will it affect pet travel between the United Kingdom and the European Union

English Bulldog and Brexit
Courtesy of Alian Audet, Pixabay

There is no arguing that Brexit will have a substantial effect on many aspects of British trade and relations with the European Union (EU). Since the inception of the EU in 1993, the United Kingdom (UK) has enjoyed a congenial relationship with the EU in terms of trade and commerce. This includes regulations for pet import and export which are currently set by EU legislation. This relationship will come to an end unless another extension is agreed to by the EU Commission and UK Parliament or the UK votes a change in Article 50 Brexit process to remain in the EU.

Currently, the UK has been granted an extension to exercise Article 50 until October 31, 2019. Until that time, as long Article 50 is not exercised sooner, current regulations regarding the import of live animals between the UK and the EU will preside. UK Pet Passports issued to UK-resident pets will be honored in the EU (and visa versa). Proof of a current rabies vaccination administered after a microchip is implanted and more than 21 days before travel is basically all that is required to enter the EU from the UK.

Things are going to change soon. As the largest animal welfare charity in the UK, the RSPCA, warns, a no-deal scenario (see option 3 below) will cause significant issues when it comes to pet travel.

Basically, one of three things can happen that will affect pet transport regulations between the UK and EU differently:

  1. The UK will reach a ratified deal with the EU which classifies them as a “Part 1 listed country.” If this is the case, the regulations will remain basically the same to import your pet to the EU from the UK. The UK Pet Passport will remain recognized as an authorized document in the EU. The bad news is that indications are not favorable for this option at the moment.
  2. The UK will reach a ratified deal with the EU which classifies them as a “Part 2 listed country” or “Third country” similar to other rabies-controlled countries outside of the EU like the United States or Canada. If this is the case, pets entering the EU from the UK will require, in addition to a microchip and rabies vaccination, an EU health certificate issued by a licensed veterinarian in the UK and endorsed by a government veterinarian within 10 days of import. The form will be valid to enter any EU Member State for 4 months or until your pet’s rabies vaccination expires, whichever comes first*. This option is likely if a ratified deal is met.

    *Note that several EU Member States have additional tapeworm requirements. (UK, Ireland, Norway, Finland and Malta)
  3. The UK withdraws from the EU with no ratified deal. In this case, the UK becomes a “non-listed country.” This is definitely a worst-case scenario for pet owners because it will require that all dogs, cats and ferrets entering the EU from the UK will require a rabies titer test (FAVN) done no sooner than 30 days after microchip and rabies vaccination and no less than 3 months prior to entering the EU. If your pet is not currently chipped or vaccinated for rabies, it will take 4 months to prepare!

    One bright bit of good news for EU-resident pets wanting to visit the UK and return to the EU. If you get the FAVN test done before leaving the EU and have the results recorded in your pet’s EU Pet Passport, then the 3 month wait will not apply.

    Another bit if good news: the FAVN test is valid for the life of your pet as long as done according to EU regulations, the sample is processed in an EU-approved laboratory and rabies vaccinations do not expire before booster vaccinations are administered.

Regardless of which option occurs, the UK has indicated few changes to their import regulations. EU Pet Passports will still be honored in the UK. For pets entering the UK from outside of the EU, a UK health certificate will be required which, to date, has not yet been published.

It appears that most ferry and train travel between the UK and the EU will continue to be an approved method of entering the UK.

How Brexit will evolve is anyone’s guess. The only thing that is we know is that changes are coming and, as a responsible pet owner, you should be prepared for these changes, especially if your travel is after October, 2019.

Pet import regulations to enter the UK and over 200 countries worldwide can be found at www.pettravel.com.


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