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Pet passports

All you need to know about pet passports

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…

By Lucy Hancock

Published: 25 January 2021

Family on beach with their dog

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What are pet passports?

A pet passport is a legal document detailing important information about your pet, including date of birth and microchip number. It also includes information about the owner and a description of the animal, to help authorities should the pet go missing. Pet passports include a record of any vaccinations your pet has had, as proof that your pet is fit to travel.

After Brexit, pet passports are no longer issued in Great Britain for travel to an EU country or Northern Ireland.

How do pet passports work after Brexit?

As of 2021, following the UK’s exit from the European Union, pet passports that were issued in Great Britain can no longer be used for travel to an EU country or Northern Ireland. If your pet passport was issued in an EU country or Northern Ireland, they can still be used for travel.

If your pet passport was issued in Great Britain you’ll need to get an animal healthcare certificate instead.

What is an animal healthcare certificate?

From 1 January 2021, new rules have been put in place around how you can travel to an EU country with your pet if you live in England, Scotland or Wales. For travel to an EU country (and Northern Ireland) from Great Britain, you’ll need to obtain an animal healthcare certificate.

An animal healthcare certificate will include things like the owner’s details, proof of your pet’s rabies vaccination and the country you’re travelling to. You’ll need to get an animal healthcare certificate for your pet’s travel no more than 10 days before you set off on holiday.

An animal healthcare certificate isn’t a one-time thing either – you’ll need to get a new one for each trip to an EU country or Northern Ireland, from Great Britain. You’ll need to get an animal healthcare certificate (AHC) from a licensed veterinarian and should cost you around £100.

What do I need to travel to the EU with my pet?

For travel to the EU or Northern Ireland, your pet will need:

  • A valid rabies vaccine: Be sure to check with the vet if a booster vaccination is due. You must wait 21 days after the vaccination before going on holiday
  • A microchip: Your pet must be microchipped before or at the same time as their rabies vaccine. Make sure the microchip number is listed on your pet’s animal healthcare certificate
  • An animal healthcare certificate: Needed if you have a pet passport that was issued in an EU country or Northern Ireland. You’ll need to get this no more than 10 days before you travel
  • Tapeworm treatment: For dogs, if you’re going to Finland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Norway or Malta. This treatment must be given no less than 24 hours and no more than 5 days before you arrive at your destination

What do I need for travel outside of the EU with my pet?

For travel outside the EU with your pet, you’ll need to get an export health certificate (EHC). This is an official document to confirm that your export (animal, in this case!) meets the health and safety requirements of the country you’re going to.

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.

Make sure to check the rules or local quarantines in the country you’re travelling to.

Does my pet need a rabies vaccine for travel?

For your pet (dog, cat or ferret) to come on holiday with you you’ll need to prove that it’s been vaccinated against rabies. Pets must be at least 12 weeks old before they’re vaccinated against rabies.

Your pet will need a booster rabies vaccine every year, and if it has expired you won’t be able to travel with your them.

You can get a rabies vaccination for your dog, cat or ferret from your vet. If your pet isn’t microchipped before they get their rabies vaccination, they will need to have the vaccination again, once they’ve been microchipped.

Will my pet insurance cover my pet outside of the UK?

It you are taking your pet out of the UK, check whether your pet insurance policy is valid overseas. Either check your documents or give your insurer a call to ask them whether overseas cover is included.

If your pet isn’t covered for travelling abroad, you might be able to extend the cover by paying an additional premium – or in the worst-case scenario, you might have to buy another policy.

It’s important that you evaluate the cover that your insurance provides you and your pet when abroad.

It’s also worth looking at what vet cover your policy affords you and what the maximum cover is – vets bills can vary from country to country, so be prepared to pay substantial amounts if you pet falls ill.

Travelling to Great Britain with your pet

If you have an EU pet passport which was issued in a member state, it will still be valid to enter Great Britain from abroad.

Before your pet enters Great Britain, it must be:

  • Microchipped
  • Vaccinated against rabies (remember that travellers from the EU with pets must wait 21 days after the primary vaccination before travelling to Great Britain)

You will need to get your dog to a vet for approved tapeworm treatment if the country you’re travelling from isn’t free from tapeworm (Echinococcus multilocularis.) Make sure you get your dog treated no less than 24 hours (and no more than 5 days) before arriving in Great Britain.

The tapeworm treatment must be approved for use in Great Britain and contain praziquantel, or an equivalent that’s an effective treatment against tapeworm.

What documents will my pet need for travel to Great Britain?

When entering or returning to Great Britain from abroad, your pet must have one of the following:

  • A pet passport issued in the EU or from another listed third country (check the government’s website for details)
  • An animal health certificate (AHC) which was issued in Great Britain, for travel to the EU. The same AHC can be used to return to Great Britain up to four months after it was issued
  • A GB pet health certificate, for travel into Great Britain only

If you’re travelling from Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man, you won’t need the above documentation to enter Great Britain with your pet.

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