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Pet passports

All you need to know about pet passports

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Written by  Lauren Chong
8 min read
Updated: 12 Feb 2024

Brexit has affected what documents you’ll need when travelling with your pet. Our guide explains the changes to pet passports and what to do when travelling with your dog, cat or ferret…

Understanding pet passports and animal health certificates

Travelling with pets has always been a bit of a puzzle for pet owners. With the introduction of pet passports, the process was streamlined, allowing furry friends to accompany their owners across borders with relative ease. However, the landscape of pet travel has undergone significant changes, especially in the wake of Brexit. Let's unravel the complexities of pet passports and their current status, and explore the necessary steps to ensure your pet can travel with you hassle-free.

Family on beach with their dog

What are pet passports?

Originally, pet passports were akin to human passports - legal documents that facilitated the international travel of pets. They contained essential information about the pet, such as its date of birth, microchip number, and a detailed description. Most importantly, they included a record of vaccinations, with a particular emphasis on rabies, to prove the pet was fit to travel. Additionally, pet passports detailed information about the owner, which could help authorities if the pet goes missing.

The post-Brexit shift: Animal health certificates

After Brexit, the rules for pet travel changed. Pet passports issued in Great Britain are no longer valid for entry into EU countries or Northern Ireland and have been replaced by animal health certificates. Pet passports are no longer issued in Great Britain for travel to an EU country or Northern Ireland.

How to obtain an animal health certificate

To secure an animal health certificate, pet owners should visit a licensed veterinarian authorised to issue them. If your local vet doesn't provide this service, the Animal and Plant Health Agency is your next point of contact. The certificate must be obtained no more than 10 days before travel and is necessary for each trip to the EU or Northern Ireland. The process of obtaining a pet passport from a licensed veterinarian in the UK or contacting the Animal and Plant Health Agency if your vet does not issue them is similar.

While official pet passports are no longer valid for travel outside of the UK, you will still need documentation to take your pet abroad. An animal health certificate is likely to cost upwards of £100, and you will need one for your pet each time they travel from Great Britain to the EU or Northern Ireland. Once in Europe, they are valid for four months for onward travel within the EU and return to the UK. Other pet passport costs include microchipping (£0-£20), rabies vaccination (£15-£60), and tapeworm treatment (£20-£30). Each country has its own requirements, so you might also need additional vaccinations, a rabies blood test, and pet insurance.

Microchipping: A crucial step

A microchip is a fundamental requirement for pet travel. Your pet must be microchipped before or at the same time as their rabies vaccine. Ensure the microchip number is correctly listed on your pet’s animal health certificate to avoid any travel disruptions.

Rabies vaccination: Non-negotiable

For your pet (dog, cat, or ferret) to join you on holiday, you'll need to provide proof of rabies vaccination. Pets must be at least 12 weeks old before they're vaccinated against rabies. A yearly booster is also required to keep the vaccination valid for travel.

Traveling to and from Great Britain

Pets entering Great Britain from the EU can still use their EU-issued pet passports. However, for pets traveling from Great Britain to the EU or Northern Ireland, an animal health certificate is mandatory. When returning, make sure your pet's documentation is in order, as the certificate is valid for return within four months.

Insurance: Preparing for the unexpected

Traveling with pets can bring unexpected vet bills, and it's wise to check if your pet insurance policy covers international travel. You may need to pay an additional premium or secure a new policy to ensure your pet is covered abroad. MoneySuperMarket is an excellent resource to compare pet insurance quotes and find the best deal for your needs.

Traveling with pets post-Brexit requires extra planning and understanding of the new regulations. By staying informed and preparing the necessary documentation, you can ensure a smooth journey for you and your pet. Remember, the joy of exploring new destinations with your furry friend by your side is worth the extra steps. Safe travels!

To get an export health certificate, you will need to apply online for a certificate and then get your vet to sign it. They’ll then check that your pet meets the health and identification requirements to be fit for travel outside of the EU. You’ll need an EHC for each type of animal or animal product you’re exporting from Great Britain.

Other rules apply if you plan to transfer ownership of your pet, if your pet is arriving more than 5 days after you, or if you're bringing more than five animals. For more information about bringing pets into Great Britain, you can read the Gov.uk guidelines.

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