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Government updates rules for travel to Europe with pets in 2021

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The UK government has set out guidelines on taking pets to Europe in 2021 after the transition period has ended.

From January 1, 2021, Great Britain will become a third country. The UK government has applied to the European Commission to be listed.

In the EU Pet Travel Scheme, there are three categorisations of a third country: unlisted, Part 1 listed and Part 2 listed. Pet travel requirements will change depending on what category Great Britain becomes on January 1, 2021.

If the UK is an unlisted country, any current EU pets passports will not be valid, so before your dog, cat or ferret can travel to the EU for the first time after January 1, 2021, the following steps need to be taken: 

  • You must have your dog, cat or ferret microchipped
  • Vaccinate your dog, cat or ferret against rabies — your pet must be at least 12 weeks old before it can be vaccinated
  • Your pet must have a blood sample taken at least 30 days after its primary rabies vaccination (from a current series of vaccinations). Your vet may recommend a booster rabies vaccination before this test. Your pet’s blood sample will be sent to an EU-approved blood testing laboratory
  • Wait three months from the date the successful blood sample was taken before you can travel. The vet must give you a copy of the test results and enter the day the blood sample was taken in an animal health certificate (AHC). If the blood test result is not successful, you’ll need a repeat vaccination and another blood test taken at least 30 days after the repeat vaccination.

You will not be able to travel with your pet if you have not completed these steps.

You must also take your pet to your vet no more than 10 days before travel to get an AHC. (The AHC needs to be signed by an official vet. Check with your vet that they can issue AHCs for pets.)

If you're going directly to Finland, Republic of Ireland, Norway or Malta with your dog, it needs to be treated against tapeworm one to five days before arriving in one of these countries. The vet also needs to put the full details of this on the AHC.

You will need a new AHC for each trip, but you should not need a repeat blood test as long as there is a prior successful blood test and there is an up-to-date subsequent rabies vaccination history.

To make sure your pet is able to travel from Great Britain to the EU from January 1, 2021, you should contact your vet at least four months before travelling to get the latest advice.

On arrival in a European country, you may need to show your pet's AHC with proof of microchip, rabies vaccination, successful blood test results and tapeworm treatment if required.

Returning to the UK, the process will be roughly similar to the current one. You need an EU pet passport issued before January 1, 2021, the AHC that was drawn up by the UK vet prior to your trip (this is valid for up to four months after date of issue) and a UK pet health certificate (for travel into the UK only).

There will be no significant changes to pet movement between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, but keep checking the government website for more information on this.

If the UK does receive Part 1 or 2 listed status, some of these requirements will no longer apply and this guidance will be updated. Check the website for the latest details

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