New rules for pet travel from 1 January 2021

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Pet owners are being encouraged to check the latest government advice about travelling from Great Britain to Northern Ireland or the European Union with their pets at the end of the transition period.

The government has worked alongside the European Commission to ensure pet travel can continue between Great Britain and the EU and Northern Ireland at the end of the transition period.

From 1 January 2021 onwards, the UK will have Part 2 listed status under the EU Pet Travel Scheme, meaning that people travelling from GB with their pets and assistance dogs will need to follow new requirements in order to travel to the EU and Northern Ireland.

Before taking their dog, cat or ferret to the EU for the first time after 1 January 2021, pet owners must complete the following steps. The only new requirement for travel to the EU is the use of a certificate, rather than a pet passport:

  • Ensure their dog, cat or ferret is microchipped.
  • Ensure that their dog, cat or ferret is vaccinated against rabies – pets must be at least 12 weeks old before they can be vaccinated.
  • Wait 21 days after the primary vaccination before travel
  • Dogs must be treated against tapeworm 24-120 hours before landing, if they are travelling to a tapeworm free country.
  • Visit their vet to get an animal health certificate (AHC) for their pet, no more than 10 days before travel to the EU.
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Pets and assistance dogs will also need to enter the EU through a travellers’ point of entry (TPE), which includes all the major French ports such as Calais, Caen and Dunkirk.

All of these requirements will also apply for movements of pets and assistance dogs from Great Britain to Northern Ireland. However recognising that these changes will take time to adjust to, the UK Government is working with the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) in Northern Ireland on an enforcement approach that takes this challenge into account. This approach will be implemented in a way which supports pet owners and assistance dog users while the Government pursues a permanent solution.

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There will be no change to the current health preparations or documents for pets entering Great Britain from the EU or Northern Ireland from 1 January 2021.

Christine Middlemiss, UK Chief Veterinary Officer, said:

We have been granted ‘Part 2’ listed third country status by the EU which will ensure that travelling with your pet continues from 1 January onwards.

Your vet will be able to advise what you need to do in order to obtain the correct documentation to travel and you can find the latest pet travel advice on gov.uk or by searching ‘pet travel’.

Updated guidance on pet travel has been available since November 2018, ensuring that owners will be ready for any future scenario, so many pet owners will already be familiar with that they need to do.

The UK government is continuing to press the European Commission to secure Part 1 listed status. The UK has one of the most rigorous pet checking regimes in Europe and currently meets all the requirements for Part 1 listed status under the EU Pet Travel Scheme.

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The latest advice for pet owners seeking to travel to the EU after 1 January 2021 can be found here.

Further information

  • Passengers should always check the rules of the country they are travelling to for any additional restrictions or requirements before they travel.
  • For information on commercial imports and exports of dogs, cats and ferrets to the EU – please refer to the Border Operating Model
  • There will be no changes or new requirements on movements from Northern Ireland to Great Britain.
  • There will be no changes to the current health preparations or documents for pets entering Great Britain from the EU in the immediate term, as the disease risks remains unchanged.
  • There are no restrictions on bringing pet rodents, rabbits, birds, invertebrates, amphibians and reptiles to the UK from EU countries.
  • Contact the Centre for International Trade (Carlisle) for more information on the rules for travelling with other species of pet.

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