How Has UK Pet Travel Changed Since Brexit?

Like it or not, Brexit impacted many aspects of life in the United Kingdom, and pet travel doesn’t escape. Since the end of the Brexit transition period at the end of 2020, pet travel between the UK and Europe has changed.

So, if you’re travelling from the UK to Europe (or even Northern Ireland) or from Europe to the UK with your dog or cat for the first time since Brexit, what do you need to prepare?

Pet travel after Brexit

Summary of Pet Travel Changes Since Brexit

Prior to Brexit, the United Kingdom was part of the European Union and pets from the UK that travelled abroad required an EU pet passport, in addition to a microchip and a valid rabies vaccination.

However, since the end of the Brexit transition period, Great Britain (England, Scotland, Wales, Channel Islands, Isle of Man) have become a Part 2 listed third country for the purposes of pet travel to the EU. While pets will not require a rabies titre test to travel to the EU, they will require an animal health certificate and possibly a worming treatment.

pet travel from the UK to the EU after Brexit
The process to travel with your pet from the UK to the EU has slightly changed

However, this only applies to Great Britain. For the purposes of pet travel, Northern Ireland still technically remains in the EU, due to its land border with the Republic of Ireland. This complicates pet travel between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, though the new checks are on hold indefinitely for now.

What Has Changed When Travelling to the European Union with a Pet?

When travelling to the European Union with your pet, your dog or cat will still require a microchip and a valid rabies vaccination (at least 21 days before the date of travel, unless a booster shot given prior to the previous vaccine expired).

However, instead of travelling with your old GB-issued EU pet passport, you will now need to visit the vet to get an EU animal health certificate completed. This will need to be done within 10 days before every trip to the EU and doesn’t come cheap.

Alternatively, if you have an EU pet passport issued in another country, including the new-style Northern Ireland pet passport, you can use this instead. Not surprisingly, many GB residents are now attempting to get an EU pet passport abroad for their pets.

France EU Pet Passport
To travel to the EU, you will require an animal health certificate or EU pet passport issued elsewhere

The second change is that if you are travelling to a country that requires a tapeworm treatment for dogs (Finland, Ireland, Malta, Northern Ireland, Norway), this treatment is now required for dogs travelling from Great Britain.

Previously, this was not required if you were travelling directly from the UK, but unfortunately this exemption no longer applies. This will now need to be done by a vet between 24 hours and 5 days of arriving in your destination.

What About Travelling to Northern Ireland with a Pet?

Since the end of the Brexit transition period, while Great Britain is no longer part of the EU for pet travel, Northern Ireland is still counted as being part of the EU.

This means that pets in Northern Ireland can still be issued EU pet passports, they don’t require an animal health certificate to travel into the EU (including across the land border to the Republic of Ireland) and they don’t require a tapeworm treatment to travel to selected EU countries (including the Republic of Ireland).

Dark Hedges
Northern Ireland is still counted as being part of the EU for pet travel

However, the complicating factor is that pets travelling to Northern Ireland from Great Britain, including on the ferries from England and Scotland, now technically need to prepare as if they are travelling to the EU, including a microchip, valid rabies vaccination, tapeworm treatment and animal health certificate.

During the early days after the end of the Brexit transition period, it was announced that checks at the border would be delayed. However, then in September 2021 it was announced that enforcement of the new requirements would be delayed indefinitely.

This means that no changes are required to travel with your pet to Northern Ireland, including the tapeworm treatment and animal health certificate before every trip.

It is not clear what will happen long term, though the UK is campaigning for their status to be changed so these steps are not required, ideally to a Part 1 listed third country.

What Has Changed When Travelling to Great Britain with a Pet?

Essentially no changes have occurred for travelling to Great Britain with a pet. Pets will still require a microchip, a valid rabies vaccination and a tapeworm treatment, unless they are directly travelling from Finland, Ireland, Malta or Norway, plus Northern Ireland. If a rabies titre test was previously required, it is still required.

pet travel from the EU to the UK after Brexit
The process to travel to GB with your pet is still essentially the same

However, there is a change to the accepted documents required for your pet. The following documents are now accepted:

  • An EU pet passport or pet passport issued by a “related” country (Part 1 listed country), including EU pet passports issued in Great Britain prior to 2021
  • An animal health certificate issued in Great Britain (such as for travel to the EU) – this is valid for return to GB up to 4 months after it was issued
  • A new GB pet health certificate

If you are returning to Great Britain using your EU animal health certificate issued in GB within the last 4 months, have it amended by the EU vet you visit to complete the tapeworm treatment, to certify that this has been completed.

For pets travelling from Northern Ireland to Great Britain, no pet passport or animal health certificate is required – there is no change to travelling from Northern Ireland to Great Britain compared to pre-Brexit.

What About Travelling to Great Britain through Europe?

Many people travelling to Great Britain with pets from outside of Europe, choose to travel through Continental Europe, so that their pets can travel in the cabin or as checked baggage, rather than as cargo. Then it’s a matter of travelling on to Great Britain with your pet through options including pet-friendly ferries or taxis through the Eurotunnel.

When the UK was part of the European Union, including during the Brexit transition period, pets only require a single animal health certificate for this route, the EU animal health certificate. However, since 2021, this is no longer the case. Your pet will require two certificates – the GB pet health certificate because it is your final destination and the EU animal health certificate for the transit of the EU.

Flying Vueling with a dog
Travelling to GB with your pet via Europe? It’s now more complicated…

The easiest solution is to be issued both pet health certificates in your export country. However, there are some countries and government departments that are reluctant to issue and endorse two pet health certificates, at least for now. (Try explaining that the EU certificate is just for transit – it is not your final destination.)

The alternative is to visit a vet in the EU, before continuing onto Great Britain. There you can request an EU pet passport for your pet or ask to be issued the new GB pet health certificate. This is easiest if you spend at least a day or two in Europe before continuing onwards. At the same time, the worming treatment for the UK can be completed.

One complicating factor – since Brexit, French vets have started to restrict issuing EU pet passports to only pets that are registered in France.

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Pet Travel After Brexit

14 thoughts on “How Has UK Pet Travel Changed Since Brexit?”

  1. Thanks very informative just one question in January if I was to travel from Scotland to Northern Ireland do I need pet passport rabies vaccine

    Reply
    • Currently the pet passport isn’t required for travel to Northern Ireland. I have double checked the government website about rules from 1st January, and it says “There will be no significant changes to pet movements between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. They should continue in a very similar way to as they do now. Further guidance will be provided in due course on pet travel to Northern Ireland.”

      Based on this, I expect a pet passport is not required. I saw a report on a newspaper website that said that passports would be required, but this is not stated on any government website. I recommend calling the pet travel helpline on 0370 241 1710 (Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 5pm) for further confirmation.

      Reply
  2. Hi

    While your article equipped me with a lot of information, none of it gave me the light of hope I was looking for. My 12 yr old dog developed IMHA, an auto immune condition that prevents him for receiving a rabies shot. I have relocated to Munich and I left him behind in Canada. I havent seen him in 5 months and I feel like life is running out of me with every day that goes by. Are you aware of any loopholes or exceptions that will allow us to be reunited? In any of the countries on the European continent or the UK?

    L

    Reply
  3. Good evening, do you know if I can drive an unvaccinated puppy (8-12) weeks from the uk, through France, to Switzerland? I know uk and Switzerland are ok – France is the one I cannot see if there is an exemption just passing through
    Thanx

    Reply
  4. Hi, I’m so glad I came across your post. I am planning to come to the UK and I’ve read several articles about traveling with your pet into Europe and have surmised that I can not travel in cabin with my small dog she is not a guide/assistance dog which would allow me to do so. I hate the idea of putting her in cargo since it would be 7 hrs just the plane ride from NY so I have decided to detour and go to Paris instead. Now the only place where I am not finding any solid answer is if I am allowed to bring my dog on an Inca in flight, again she is a small cockapoo no more than 10lbs/4.5 kg into the UK/ Heathrow from Paris? If you could help me with this I would greatly appreciate it

    Reply
    • Sorry Katherene, I’m not sure what you mean by an Inca in flight? If this is a standard flight, dogs are also not allowed. It’s best to take a ferry or take a pet taxi on the Eurotunnel to get to London – I’ve covered this in other posts.

      Reply
  5. Hi! We are travelling from the UK to southern Spain in February 2022 with our small dog and caravan. Your article was very reassuring and helpful given the changes following Brexit but I’m concerned about our route from France into Spain because we have to pass through a designated Travellers Point of Entry. As far as I could see from the list online, none of the entry points seemed to be on the border! This is the first time we’ve ever done anything like this so feeling really anxious about having a route lined up that’s going to get us, our dog and our caravan to the Costa Blanca without any unforeseen stress or delay. Are you able to give us any advice please?

    Reply
    • Once you’re within the EU, you can cross the borders between EU countries at any point, no need for Travellers Point of Entries. You’re technically meant to always have your dog’s paperwork, but it is never checked, the same as human passports. Enjoy your trip next year!

      Reply
  6. I’m originally from Europe (the Czech Republic) but have been living in the US for a long while. Myself and my wife were considering moving back to Europe next year when she retires, but reading your site, and reading between the lines, I’m aghast and how people unfriendly the EU is. It seems like a rules nightmare! Dog passports? You must be kidding me? What a bureaucratic headache the place is.

    We live in North Carolina and have found that the state is. generally very dog unfriendly. But several states we have visited, Texas in particular are wonderfully dog friendly. It’s a shame it is so hit and miss here. Twenty years ago when we were in Paris, I was struck how great the city was with pets. There were peple who’s job it was to walk the parks to clean any dog poop and restaurants welcomed dogs. Is that still the case, do you know?

    We could retire to several place, both stateside as well as the EU, and dog friendliness is high on top of our list, so hearing the details is both inspiring as well as offputting for the reasons describe above.

    Thanks for you blog posts – keep it up. It’s great information.

    Reply
    • I actually find the pet passport system a very good system. It’s actually just a glorified booklet to record your pet’s rabies vaccines, along with the worming treatments required by some countries, and there’s virtually no charge to receive one, unlike human passports, nor an expiration date. They are rarely checked when crossing borders, just like human passports aren’t usually checked within the Schengen zone.

      When travelling overseas with a pet from the USA, you usually need to visit a vet to get a pet health certificate and then pay to have it endorsed by the USDA APHIS Veterinary Services. And repeat this every time you travel overseas.

      I’m not sure if there are still people in Paris to pick up dog poop, I believe most dog owners are better at cleaning up after their dogs these days. Dogs are still allowed in most restaurants in Paris. I recommend you read my post: https://www.travelnuity.com/most-dog-friendly-countries-europe/, although sometimes individual experiences can vary.

      Reply
  7. HI – this is super helpful – thanks veryu much. i am seeing conflicting information re pet travel in the cabin. travel from France to the UK on Airfrance, the ariline allows the pet – however some postings online saying the method itself (i.e. dog in the cabin) is prohibited. any thoughts on this points are greatly appreciated.
    best
    yousr

    Reply
    • As far as I’m aware, dogs aren’t allowed to travel in the cabin of any airline into the UK. However, some airlines offer the option of cargo, which is probably the case with Airfrance.

      Reply

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