May 10, 2019

Your dog is sitting by the front door with their suitcase packed. They’ve got their favourite YuMOVE Chewies, their special rug and their travel water bowl at the ready. But have they got the right passport? Here’s our guide to EU travel with your four-pawed friend, before and after Brexit.

Travelling to the EU with your dog?

Whether you’re going to your favourite gite in France, soaking up the heat in the south of Spain or travelling along the coast of Croatia, your dog is the perfect companion. There’s nothing like taking your dog on holiday for encouraging you to get out and explore. You’ve always got a great reason to chat to the people you meet along the way and dogs are brilliant at sniffing out the most interesting stalls at local food markets.

But how about Brexit? How’s it going to affect your travels to EU countries? And is there anything you should do before you travel this summer? We’ve been looking into it and here’s what we’ve discovered.

EU and UK Flag

How things stand now: the bright blue pet passport

If you’re used to travelling with your dog around Europe, you’ll be familiar with the bright blue pet passport that contains details of you, your dog, its microchip, vaccinations and health tests. The picture of your dog is optional. But do you know anyone who passes up an opportunity to include an adorable photograph of their pet? Of course not.

Right now, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) issues pet passports for dogs, cats and ferrets. These are the animals most susceptible to rabies, which is why EU countries want to be sure they’re free of the virus. (By the way, if any of you do have a pet passport for your ferret, please get in touch. We’d love to hear more.)

Business as usual… for now

While we’re still in the EU, your trusty blue pet passport will still be valid. It allows your pet to travel to and from the EU and between different EU countries. It’s valid for life, as long as your dog’s rabies vaccinations are up to date.

Pet passport and stethoscope

The gov.uk site on pet travel to Europe after Brexit says that if a deal is agreed and an implementation period is confirmed, you’ll be able to travel with your pet to the EU under the current pet travel rules using your current EU pet passport.

However, this only applies to the implementation period. Things will change once we leave the EU.

When will Brexit happen?

The million dollar question. As you’ll be well aware, things seem to change daily with Brexit. Here’s what’s happening at the moment.

  • The EU has backed a six-month extension so the UK can leave the EU on 31 October 2019.
  • However, if the EU and the UK ratify an agreement before then, the UK would leave on the first day of the following month.

If the EU and UK settle their agreement in May, we’d leave on the 1 June, and so on. This means that possible leaving dates between now and the end of October (if we reach an early agreement) are 1 June, 1 July, 1 August, 1 September and 1 October.

All these possible leaving dates are slap bang in the middle of our most popular summer holiday months, which makes it even trickier to work out how to take your pooch away with you.

Government advice on EU travel with your pet

Women and dog on the beach

“To make sure your pet is able to travel from the UK to the EU after EU exit in any scenario, you should contact your vet at least 4 months before travelling to get the latest advice.”

Government advice

This is what the gov.uk website says about travelling to Europe with your pet after Brexit. This advice is only halfway helpful, particularly if you’re going away in July and it’s already May.

What could happen after Brexit

There are three potential scenarios for travelling with your doggy in the EU after Brexit. When the UK leaves the EU, the EU Pet Travel Scheme will view us as either a ‘Part 1 listed country’, a ‘Part 2 listed country’ or an ‘unlisted country’.

If we leave the EU without a deal, we are likely to become an ‘unlisted country’ in the eyes of the EU Pet Travel Scheme, which will be the trickiest scenario for dog owners

The third scenario, where we become an unlisted country in the eyes of the EU Pet Travel Scheme, is the trickiest as it involves much more medical palaver (we believe that’s the correct technical term). If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, according to gov.uk, the UK is likely to be treated as an unlisted country.

  1. Part 1 listed country – only applies to a few countries, provides a lifetime passport

A few countries and territories are Part 1 listed. In this case, you’d need to have your dog microchipped and vaccinated against rabies before travel, and for them to have tapeworm treatment if necessary. You’d need to apply for a new UK pet passport which your dog would be able to use to travel for the EU throughout their lifetime (provided their rabies vaccinations are up to date). Details here.

  1. Part 2 listed country – applies to more countries, requires a new animal health certificate for each visit

There are more Part 2 listed countries than Part 1 listed countries, so this is a more likely outcome than the one above. As before, your dog will need to be microchipped and vaccinated against rabies before travel, vaccinations must be up to date and tapeworm treatment must be carried out where necessary.

You’ll need to get an animal health certificate from an official vet no more than 10 days before travel to certify that your dog is microchipped and vaccinated against rabies. Your dog will also need a new animal health certificate for each trip to the EU.

You must enter the EU country through a designated Travellers’ Point of Entry. These include airports, sea ports and land borders. Details here.

Traveller point of entry

  1. Unlisted – likely if we leave the EU without a deal, requires a 3-4 month rabies vaccination process and animal health certificate

We’re likely to become an unlisted country if we leave the EU without a deal. In this scenario, your current EU pet passport will no longer be valid for travel to the EU. You’ll need to have your dog microchipped and vaccinated against rabies. Your vet will need to take a blood sample within 30 days of the rabies vaccination and send it to an approved EU lab for testing. You’ll then need to wait 3 months from the date of the successful blood sample before travelling.

This is an abbreviated version of the information on the gov.uk website. There are more steps involved in the vaccination process. For full details, please see this page.

You’ll also need to get an animal health certificate no more than 10 days before travel showing your dog’s vaccination history, microchipping date, successful rabies antibody test result and tapeworm treatment if travelling to Finland, Ireland or Malta.

As with the Part 2 listed country option, you’d need to arrive in the EU through a designated Travellers’ Point of Entry.

What action should you take?

There have been reports of some people having rabies serology tests done now, to avoid a possible 3 month delay later, while others prefer to wait and see and avoid any extra expense that might turn out to be unnecessary.

For now, with everything so up in the air, we suggest keeping an eye on the news and the pet travel section of the gov.uk website. And, as always, ask your vet for advice.

Good luck and wishing you tail-wagging adventures this summer, whatever happens with Brexit!