Updated Pet Travel Advice
Can your pet come on holiday with you? Our pets are a big part of our families and many of us want to include them in our holiday plans too. More and more hotels, cottages and camp sites are becoming dog friendly and many tourist towns cater brilliantly for our four-legged friends. In 2001 things became even easier, with the introduction of a Pet Travel Scheme that allowed pets to obtain passports which allowed them to avoid needing to quarantine on returning to the UK. Thousands of UK pets used the scheme for short-breaks, holidays, dual-residencies and temporary emigrations. However, when the UK voted to leave the European Union that system needed to be replaced. And the replacement is much, much more complicated….
The first point to note is that the rules are different for travel to different countries. And different for different species of pet. And different depending on the purpose of travel. And different depending on who the pet is travelling with. And, it would seem, different depending on who is interpreting the rules! Pet travel is, frankly, currently a bit of a minefield! Before you plan to travel with your pet we would always advise you check the up-to-date guidance from the UK government (gov.uk or apha.gov.uk), any travel companies you will be using and the rules of the country you are travelling to, so you can confirm the exact requirements for your specific situation. Some common scenarios are discussed below:
Travelling from the UK to Northern Ireland or an EU country (no change in ownership)
- Passports issued in Great Britain are NOT valid any longer
- Passports issued in EU countries, Northern Ireland, Switzerland and some other listed countries are accepted for travel to and from the UK.
- Pets must be microchipped
- Pets must be vaccinated against Rabies. The first vaccination must be at least 3 weeks before travel
- Pets without a valid passport from another country will need to be issued an Animal Heath Certificate (see below)
- Dogs must be treated for tapeworm by a Veterinary Surgeon 1-5 days before arrival in Finland, Ireland, Malta, Northern Ireland or Norway
Travelling from the UK with a change in ownership (selling or rehoming)
- If the pet is travelling in order to take up residency with a new owner an Animal Health Certificate would be unable to be issued and instead an Export Health Certificate would be required. These need to be completed very quickly once received by the Veterinary Practice and so it is very important to plan ahead.
Travelling to non-EU countries
- Export Heath Certificates are also required for travel to non-EU countries. The form is individualised for each country to reflect their different requirements.
Animal Health Certificates
Animal Heath Certificates are lengthy and complex documents, often multilingual and with complicated rules on how to complete them. They must be completed in the ten day period before travel, although they can then be used for onward travel within Europe or to return to the UK for four months. A new Animal Health Certificate is also required for every trip, even if they fall within a small time frame.
Only Veterinary Surgeons who have received specialised training to become ‘Official Veterinarians’ (OVs) are allowed to complete Animal Health Certificates. Not all Veterinary Practices have an OV so please make sure you have checked in good time to allow another practice to be utilised if necessary. Some Veterinary practices have opted not to complete the certificates as they are so time consuming (can take upwards of an hour to complete even the simplest ones) and all Veterinary practices are likely to need significant notice to ensure they can fit you in so please plan as far in advance as possible. Some Veterinary Practices near ports and travel hubs now specialise in the Health Certificates so your practice may be able to refer you to one of those centres if necessary.
Veterinary Surgeons are reporting that the guidance on how to complete the forms is unclear, with sometimes verbal guidance from government bodies conflicting with the written guidance and those checking the forms at customs seeming just as confused! This unfortunately has led to many forms being rejected at the point of travel, leading to last minute rushes and delays or cancelled plans. It is definitely not a procedure to be left as the last thing on your to-do list!
As can be expected, a thorough complicated job also doesn’t come cheap with the paperwork alone generally costing between £200-£300, which also needs to be factored into the cost of the holiday.
If you aren’t rethinking your plans and looking up cottages in Cornwall after reading this, staff at Towcester Vets will always be happy to discuss your travel requirements with you and have several Official Veterinarians able to complete the necessary paperwork. So please do contact us if we can help.