Pet Passports Post Brexit

If you have been reading the news lately you may well have heard about Brexit! There have been a few articles lately about the ‘no-deal’ scenario and what effect this might have on pet passports and taking your pets abroad.

As no deal has yet been confirmed there are a number of options that ‘might’ happen. If we stay in the EU for a while, then there will be no change to pet passports. However, if we do leave at the end of March 2019 then there will be some changes no matter what deal is done.

These changes are for people travelling with pets (dogs, cats and ferrets) as these are covered by the pet passports.

 

Before 29 March 2019

Under the EU Pet Travel Scheme, owners of dogs, cats and ferrets can travel with their animals to and from EU countries provided they hold a valid EU pet passport.

Before a pet can travel from the UK to an EU country for the first time, it must be taken to an Official Veterinarian (OV) at least 21 days before travel. The OV will ensure the animal has a microchip and rabies vaccination, before issuing an EU pet passport, which remains valid for travel for the pet’s lifetime or until all of the treatment spaces are filled.

On its return to the UK, the pet has its microchip scanned (to confirm its identity) and passport checked (to ensure it corresponds with the microchip and treatment requirements are met). Dogs returning to the UK from countries that are not free from Echinococcus multilocularis (a type of tapeworm) must have an approved tapeworm treatment administered by a vet between one and five days before entering the UK.

After March 2019 if there’s no deal

If the UK leaves the EU in March 2019 with no deal, it would become a third country for the purposes of the EU Pet Travel Scheme.

Pets would continue to be able to travel from the UK to the EU, but the requirements for documents and health checks would differ depending on what category of third country the UK becomes on the day we leave the EU. Within the Pet Travel Scheme, there are three categorisations of ‘third country’, linked to a country’s animal health status:

‘listed: Part 1’

‘listed: Part 2’

or ‘unlisted’.

Third countries apply to the European Commission to be listed under Part 1 or Part 2 of Annex II to EU Pet Travel Regulations. A small number of countries and territories are Part 1 listed, which means they operate under the same EU Pet Travel Scheme rules as EU member states. The majority of countries are Part 2 listed, which means additional conditions, such as the use of temporary health certificates. If a country has not applied or been accepted as a Part 1 or Part 2 listed country, it is an unlisted third country, and owners must take some specific actions several months before they wish to travel.

If the UK is a listed: Part 1 country

There would be no change from the current system although there would likely be changes to the current passport wording. I would expect the current passports to still be valid for travel as before.

If the UK is a listed: Part 2 country

There would be little change from the current system other than a health scertificate would be required for travel to the EU which would be valid for 10 days to enter the EU and for 4 months travel within the EU.

 

If the UK is an unlisted third country

Should the UK become an unlisted third country, pet owners intending to travel with their pet from the UK to EU countries would need to discuss preparations for their pet’s travel with an Official Veterinarian (OV) at least four months in advance of the date they wish to travel. This means pet owners intending to travel to the EU on 30 March 2019 would need to discuss requirements with their vet before the end of November 2018.

Rabies vaccinations

Pet owners would need to prove animals are effectively vaccinated against rabies before they could travel with their pet to EU countries. This would require a blood titre test to demonstrate sufficient levels of rabies antibody, which would need to be carried out a minimum of 30 days after any initial rabies vaccination.

  • Pets that have previously had a blood titre test, and whose rabies vaccinations are up to date, would not be required to repeat the blood test before travel.
  • Pets that have not previously had a blood titre test, but whose rabies vaccinations are up to date, would be required to have the blood test carried out prior to travel. If the result shows sufficient levels of antibody, a three-month waiting period before travel would still be required from the date the blood was drawn to ensure no rabies symptoms develop. If the result shows insufficient levels of antibody the pet will be treated as if the rabies vaccination were not up to date as describe
    d below.
  • Pets that have not previously had a blood titre test, and have never had a rabies vaccination, or the vaccination is not up to date, would be required to have a rabies vaccination before the blood titre test. There must then be a 30 day waiting period before the blood sample is drawn for the titre test, to allow time for sufficient rabies antibodies to develop. Once a blood titre test shows sufficient levels of antibody, there must be a three-month waiting period between the date the blood is drawn and the date of travel.

In both the second and third cases, pet owners would need to visit their vet to discuss health preparations at least four months before they intend to travel with their pet.

The lifespan of the vaccination will depend on the brand of vaccination used. The majority last for around 3 years. Provided a pet’s rabies vaccinations are kept up to date once a test has shown a satisfactory blood titre, the blood test does not need to be taken again.

Pet owners travelling from the EU to the UK would need to ensure their pets had a satisfactory rabies antibody blood titre test to re-enter the EU. This would need to be administered prior to leaving the EU but there is no requirement for a three month wait period before travel.

Health certificates to travel to the EU

Once the rabies vaccination and (if required) blood titre test shows sufficient levels of antibody, pets would need to be taken back to an OV, who would then issue a health certificate confirming the pet was appropriately identified and vaccinated against rabies. This document would be different from the current EU pet passport. It would be valid for ten days after the date of issue for entry into the EU, and for four months of onward travel within the EU.

Health certificates would have to be issued for each trip to the EU. For repeat journeys, where proof of vaccination history and a satisfactory blood titre test were available, the pet owner would only have to visit an OV and obtain a new health certificate at some point within ten days before travel.

Arriving in the EU

On arrival in the EU, pet owners travelling with their pets would be required to report to a designated Travellers’ Point of Entry (TPE). At the TPE, the pet owner would be asked to present proof of microchip, vaccination and the blood test result alongside their pet’s health certificate.

Further information

More information on the documents that would be required to enter or re-enter the UK if the UK leaves the EU without a deal will be made available for pet owners and their vets in due course. The documents required to enter or re-enter the UK would be the same in both an unlisted or Part 2 listed country scenario.

Further information and instructions would be shared with OVs authorised to deal with pet travel, pet carriers and the industry in advance of the November preparation deadline.

The situation in Northern Ireland is also complicated and at present are outside the scope of this blog. Further information will hopefully be available in advance of November when the 4 month deadline approaches.

Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein are party to the Agreement on the European Economic Area and participate in other EU arrangements. As such, in many areas, these countries adopt EU rules. Where this is the case, these technical notices may also apply to them, and EEA businesses and citizens should consider whether they need to take any steps to prepare for a ‘no deal’ scenario.

Personally, I would expect the UK to become Part 1 listed as we have no notifiable diseases in this country that are not present in the EU especially with respect to Rabies. However, I cannot predict the outcome of negotiations and as with all things political common sense tends to go out of the window for political point scoring. I will update this entry when further information becomes available but if you are planning to travel after 29thMarch 2019 and it is imperative you take your pet then you need to think at least 4 months in advance now.