There is no arguing that Brexit will have a substantial effect on many aspects of British trade and relations with the European Union (EU). Since the inception of the EU in 1993, the United Kingdom (UK) has enjoyed a congenial relationship with the EU in terms of trade and commerce. This includes regulations for pet import and export which are currently set by EU legislation. The UK has left the EU and is currently in the process of negotiations which will cease at the end of 2020. During these negotiations, regulations regarding pet import and export have remained the same as they were before the split. What will happen to Brexit and pet travel once 2021 arrives?
What are the current regulations?
Current regulations regarding the import of live animals between the UK and the EU will preside until the end of 2020. The EU will honor UK Pet Passports issued to UK-resident pets (and visa versa). Pets traveling between the EU and UK will be required to have an EU or UK pet passport. The passport must reflect proof of microchip and current rabies vaccination. For those pets bound for the UK, they must also have a tapeworm test administered by a licensed veterinarian. More details on importing a pet to the United Kingdom.
Things are going to change soon. As the largest animal welfare charity in the UK, the RSPCA, warns, a no-deal scenario (see option 3 below) will cause significant issues when it comes to Brexit and pet travel.
Update (December 2020)
The EU Commission has classified the United Kingdom as a Part 2 Listed Third Country. Option 2 below will apply. No titer test will be required to enter the European Union from the United Kingdom.
What are the possibilities?
Basically, one of three things can happen that will affect pet transport regulations between the UK and EU differently:
- The UK will reach a ratified deal with the EU which classifies them as a “Part 1 listed country.” If this is the case, the regulations will remain basically the same to import your pet to the EU from the UK. The UK Pet Passport will remain recognized as an authorized document in the EU. The bad news is that indications are not favorable for this option at the moment.
- The UK will reach a ratified deal with the EU which classifies them as a “Part 2 listed country” or “Third country.“ This classification is similar to other rabies-controlled countries outside of the EU such as the United States or Canada. Pets entering the EU from the UK will require a microchip, rabies vaccination, an EU health certificate. The certificate must be issued by a licensed veterinarian. It must also be endorsed by a government veterinarian in the originating country within 10 days of import. The certificate will be valid to enter any EU Member State for 4 months or until your pet’s rabies vaccination expires, whichever comes first*. This option appears likely as negotiations proceed.
*Note that several EU Member States have additional tapeworm requirements. (UK, Ireland, Norway, Finland and Malta)
- The UK withdraws from the EU with no ratified deal. In this case, the UK becomes a “non-listed country.” This is definitely a worst-case scenario for pet owners. All dogs, cats and ferrets entering the EU from the UK will require a rabies titer test (FAVN). The test must be administered more than 30 days after the rabies vaccination. You pet can enter the EU more than 3 months after the blood is drawn for the test. It will take 4 months to prepare if your pet is not currently chipped or vaccinated for rabies.
One bright bit of good news for EU-resident pets wanting to visit the UK and return to the EU. The 3 month wait will not apply if the FAVN test is done before leaving the EU. Results must be recorded in your pet’s EU Pet Passport.
Here is another bit if good news. The EU will consider the FAVN test valid for the life of your pet if 3 rules are followed:
- The test is done according to EU regulations.
- The blood sample is proessed in an EU-approved laboratory.
- No rabies vaccinations expire prior to boosters shots being received.
What about importing a pet to the UK?
Regardless of which option occurs, the UK has indicated few changes to their import regulations. The UK will still honor EU Pet Passports. If your pet is entering the UK from outside of the EU, then a GB Health Certificate will be required.
The UK will continue to require FAVN tests for pets entering from high-rabies countries.
Ferry and train travel between the UK and the EU will continue to be an approved method of entering the UK.
How Brexit and pet travel will evolve is anyone’s guess. The only thing that is we know is that changes are coming. As a responsible pet owner, you should be prepared for these changes if your pet will be traveling after December 31, 2020.