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Pet passports

All you need to know about pet passports

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Written by  Tim Heming
5 min read
Updated: 23 Feb 2023

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…

What are pet passports?

A pet passport is a legal document that enables pets to enter (or re-enter) the UK and details important information about your pet, including date of birth and microchip number. It also includes information about the owner and description of the animal. This information will 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. They have now been replaced by animal healthcare certificates.

Family on beach with their dog

How do you get a pet passport?  

You can get a pet passport from a licensed veterinarian in the UK that is authorised to issue them. If your vet does not issue pet passports, you can contact the Animal and Plant Health Agency.  

How much do pet passports cost?

While official pet passports are no longer valid for travel outside of the UK, you will still need documentation to take your pet abroad.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 healthcare 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.

Pet travel to Europe 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 details about the owner of the pet, 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 licenced veterinarian and should cost you around £100.  

How long does it take to get a passport for EU travel? 

Pet passports (Animal Healthcare Certificates) can be issued within 24 hours if applied between Monday to Friday. An animal health certificate can only be issued ten days prior to travel. However, if your pet has received their rabies vaccination, you must wait 21 days before you can travel anywhere.  

Are UK issued pet passports still valid? 

You can no longer use a pet passport issued in Great Britain for travel to an EU country or Northern Ireland. You can still use a pet passport issued in an EU country or Northern Ireland. You can get a pet passport from a vet in the UK who is authorised to issue them.  

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 any travel  

  • A microchip 
    Your pet must be microchipped before or at the same time as their rabies vaccine. Make sure the microchip number is correctly 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 than24 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 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. 

Does my pet need a blood test?

Your pet won’t need a blood test if you are taking it to the EU, although rules can differ for non-EU countries, so it is always safest to check before you travel.

In addition, pets are also no longer required to have a blood test when travelling between EU countries nor when returning to the UK, but it may be a requirement for pets entering the UK from unlisted non-EU countries.

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

If 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 your 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) 

  • Tapeworm treatment:  
    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 

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 guidelines.

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.

Do I need a passport for my dog?

If you are planning to take your dog outside of Great Britain, even to Northern Ireland, then you will need an animal healthcare certificate, which has replaced the pet passport post Brexit.

Make sure you have the paperwork in order before you travel. If you fail to get the necessary documentation, you may find your dog is denied entry to the country or will face months in quarantine.

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