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Passports for pets. But will their travelling days be over soon?

Mary Talbot-Rosevear

As members of the European Union (EU), UK dogs, cats and ferrets, armed with their own passports have been channel hopping for years aided by the EU initiative known as ‘Passports for Pets’.

Passports for Pets

Currently, pet owners can take their dogs, cats and even ferrets to any EU country provided they have a valid passport, are micro-chipped and vaccinated against rabies. Pet owners outside the EU jurisdiction face more stringent regulations, including quarantine in some cases.

Basically, the rules governing animal movement depend on whether a country is in the EU (a listed country) or outside the EU (an unlisted country).

Post Brexit, Britain will be able to create its own rules about admitting pets to the UK; but it will be up to the EU to define the rules for British pets accompanying their owners on holiday to member states.

Currently (January 2019), we are in a hiatus as we do not know whether the UK will be leaving the EU on 29th March this year with or without a deal. If the UK leaves without a deal with the EU and is treated as an unlisted country, the Government will have to apply to the EU Commission to become considered a listed country. A listed country is one in this context where a country outside the EU is exempt from the tougher conditions for pet travel. Secondly, as the Law currently stands, only vets inside the EU can enter information into a pet passport. Without renegotiation, the UK would be unable to issue pet passports.

So, to allow effective contingency planning in the worst case of the UK not being granted listed or third country status, the following is recommended to ensure pets can travel with their owners after 29th March 2019:

  1. Dogs, cats or ferrets must be microchipped and vaccinated against rabies before they can travel. A blood sample must be taken 30mdays after the rabies vaccination and the blood sample sent to an EU-approved blood testing laboratory.
  2. The results of the blood test must prove that the vaccination was successful (the pet must have a rabies antibody level of at least 0.5 IU/ml).
  3. The pet must wait three months from the date the successful blood sample was taken before it is permitted to travel.
  4. Pets must visit their vet (Official Veterinarian [OV]) no more than 10 days before travel to get a health certificate. 

If there’s NO DEAL, pet passports issued in the UK will NOT be valid for travel to the EU.

A word of caution: People wishing to travel to any EU country should contact their vet at least 4 months before travelling.

Government Guidance


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