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Brexit: can I still take my pet abroad when travelling to Europe?

Brexit: can I still take my pet abroad when travelling to Europe?
Image source: Getty Images


If you want to travel with your pet, you’re probably wondering how Brexit affects your holiday plans. Well, things are a little different, and it’s a little more expensive than before. Here’s a rundown of the changes. 

Can I travel with my pet to the EU?

Yes, but Brexit spells the end for pet passports. Let’s break down the new rules:

  • The UK is now a ‘part two listed’ country, which means pets can travel to the EU if they have an animal health certificate (AHC). 
  • If you already have a valid pet passport issued in the EU or NI, it’s still valid. The changes only apply to new applications going forward. 
  • You’ll also need to make sure your pet has a microchip, rabies vaccination and, in some cases, a tapeworm treatment. 

But what is an animal health certificate, and when should you get one? Let’s take a look. 

How do I get an animal health certificate? 

Although pet travel is more expensive now, it’s not any more complicated. Here’s how the AHC process works:

  • Contact your vet and book an AHC appointment for your cat, dog or ferret. Be sure to take your pet’s vaccination history along with you.
  • Once the vet prepares the AHC, you have 10 days to travel before it lapses. So, don’t book your appointment too far in advance of your holiday or you’ll need to pay for another one.  
  • You have four months to travel within the EU and return to the UK before the AHC ends. However, if your pet’s rabies vaccination expires within this four-month period, you need another certificate. 
  • Once you’ve returned to the UK, you’re no longer in the EU. So, if you want to travel with your pet again, you’ll need a new AHC – even if it’s within the four-month limit. 

To summarise, you have 10 days to travel once you get your AHC, but it’s valid for four months unless the rabies vaccine expires or you return home to the UK. 

What about pet travel to and from Northern Ireland?

The pet travel rules are very much the same. You need an AHC if you travel to NI from Wales, Scotland or England. However, if you’re travelling from NI to mainland UK, you don’t need an AHC. Here are some other differences to bear in mind:

  • One to five days before arrival in NI, your pet needs a tapeworm treatment. Your vet can tell you more about this.
  • You don’t need a tapeworm treatment if you’re travelling from NI to mainland UK. 
  • Unless it’s for a competition or event, you can’t take more than five pets to NI.    

So, if you’re heading to NI, think of it like visiting the EU for pet travel purposes. 

How much will pet travel cost now?

Now that you can’t rely on a pet passport, travel is a little more expensive. Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect to pay: 

  • Animal health certificate: around £106.50, which includes the cost of the consultation and preparing the certificate. 
  • Rabies vaccine: roughly £50.40, repeated every three years.
  • Tapeworm treatment: around £20 to £30.
  • Microchip: a one-time cost of £16.28. If your pet’s already microchipped, they don’t need another one. 

Remember, though, that costs vary between clinics, so check the exact cost before you book. 

Takeaway

Pet travel from the UK to the EU is still fine – just make sure you’ve got your pet’s AHC, microchip and rabies vaccination in place. Bear in mind that your pet must be at least 12 weeks old before it can be vaccinated and that you need to wait at least 21 days from the vaccination date before travelling.

Always check the rules before you travel if you’re unsure, or ask your vet for advice. And don’t forget to take out pet insurance before setting off!

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