Taking your dog abroad post-Brexit

Even though we’re not in position to travel at the moment, once we can, what’s changed with taking our dogs away?

Pet passports were introduced in 2000 and since then many people have become very used to taking their dogs on holiday or to dog shows within the European Union. The pet passport scheme used to allow dogs to travel between the UK and the EU without the need for quarantine. But since 1 January 2021, pet passports are no longer valid, even if they are still in date.

The great news is that once restrictions allow, you can still travel with your dog. New regulations have led to the creation of the Animal Health Certificate (AHC), which is a formal document to prove that your dog has been microchipped and has an up-to-date rabies vaccination. This means that dogs from England, Scotland and Wales can still travel to the EU.

Dog shows

If you compete with your dog in dog shows or similar events within the EU, you can take more than the usual five dogs with you, as long as every dog is taking part in the event. As with the travel information given above, you will need an AHC for each dog. You’ll also need to have written confirmation of the event you are attending, and all dogs travelling for dog shows in the EU must be at least 6 months old.

Animal Health Certificate key facts

  • An AHC can only be issued by a vet.
  • Assistance dogs also need an AHC
  • The AHC must be obtained 10 days or less prior to your travel date
  • It’s valid for up to 4 months for a single trip into the EU, travel within the EU, and your return to the UK
  • You can travel with up to five dogs, (unless you are competing in an event) each needing their own AHC
  • On arrival to the EU, there will be a designated travellers’ point of entry to check compliance with all regulations

How to get an Animal Health Certificate

  • Your dog must be microchipped with the details up-to-date
  • All vaccinations must be up-to-date, as well as a current rabies vaccination
  • Tapeworm treatment is required (for travel to Northern Ireland, Finland, Malta and Norway)
  • Other EU states may have their own requirements, such as certain blood tests or treatments – your vet will be able to advise you
  • Puppies can’t have a rabies vaccination until they are at least 12 weeks old, and then a further three weeks need to pass before the vet can issue the AHC

Robin Hargreaves, vet of over 30 years and former President of the British Veterinary Association, advises,

“The best way that owners can prepare for taking their dog away is to speak to their vet as soon as possible, to make sure that they are able to do the paperwork and complete the appointment in time.

“Planning ahead will now be even more important. As before, if a pet has never been away before then the minimum time required before travel is 21 days from the date of the rabies vaccination - plus now the appointment time required for issue of the Animal Health Certificate.”

Northern Ireland

If you live in England, Scotland or Wales and want to travel to Northern Ireland with your dog, you will need an AHC, just as if you were travelling to the EU.

In addition, to enter Northern Ireland, your dog will need to have been treated for tapeworm five days or less before your arrival.

For travel from Northern Ireland into the Republic of Ireland, pet passports issued in either country are still valid.

For dogs travelling from Northern Ireland to the EU, you can still use the pet passport scheme as long as it is valid, and all your dog’s vaccinations are up-to-date.

Travelling from the EU to the UK

If you live in the EU and want to travel with your dog to the UK, you can still use a valid pet passport issued by an EU member state to travel to the UK and return home. However, if you live in the EU but your pet passport was issued in the UK, you should consult your vet before you travel to make sure it is compliant with regulations. Alternatively, your vet can issue you with a GB pet health certificate, which is similar to an AHC.

If you plan to travel with your dog, speak to your vet as soon as possible. For further information on the latest government regulations, please click here: https://www.gov.uk/taking-your-pet-abroad/travelling-to-an-eu-country-or-northern-ireland