Post-Brexit pet travel guide for owners
This guidance applies to people travelling to and from Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) with their pet cats, ferrets or dogs, including assistance dogs. This guidance is only for travel for non-commercial reasons.
You need to follow these guidelines to travel between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, as well as between Great Britain and the EU. Travel to other non-EU countries is not covered in these guidelines.
CERTIFICATION REQUIREMENTS ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE AND WE ADVISE THAT THIS GUIDE IS READ IN ADDITION TO CHECKING THE GOVERNMENT WEBSITE PRIOR TO TRAVEL.
Travelling into an EU country or Northern Ireland from Great Britain
You can no longer use a pet passport issued in Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland) for travel to an EU country or Northern Ireland (NI). You can still use a pet passport issued in an EU country or issued in NI after 31st December 2020 (for NI see additional guidance below).
When travelling to an EU country or Northern Ireland, your pet needs:
- a microchip placed or read before any rabies vaccination
- a valid rabies vaccination at least 21 days before certification; the pet must be at least 12 weeks of age before it can be vaccinated
- an Animal Health Certificate issued no more than 10 days before travel
- a pet passport issued in an EU country or Northern Ireland after 31st December 2020
- tapeworm treatment for dogs if you’re travelling directly to Finland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, or Malta
You will need to go through a travellers’ point of entry when you arrive in an EU country or Northern Ireland.
Always check the rules of the country you are travelling to or through for any additional restrictions or requirements before you travel – it is your responsibility to check the current rules for travel and arrange the appropriate documents.
Repeat trips to an EU country or Northern Ireland
Your pet will need a new Animal Health Certificate for each trip to an EU country or Northern Ireland.
Your pet’s rabies vaccination must be up to date.
Obtaining an Animal Health Certificate
You must book an appointment with one of our Official Veterinarians to get an Animal Health Certificate. The certificate will be specific to the country via which you are entering the EU but can then be used for onwards travel through other EU countries. The certificate must be issued no more than 10 days before you travel. Please give us as much notice as possible when booking the appointment. Only Official Veterinarians with the relevant qualification can undertake these appointments; this, along with the time required to complete the certification process, means we cannot guarantee a last-minute appointment for an Animal Health Certificate.
We will request you send us information about your pet and the travel in advance of your appointment. When booking the appointment, please tell us your planned country of entry to the EU.
When you come to your appointment for the Animal Health Certificate, you must bring proof of your pet’s:
Your pet’s Animal Health Certificate will be valid after the date of issue for:
- 10 days for entry into the EU or Northern Ireland
- 4 months for onward travel within the EU or until the date of expiry of the validity of the rabies vaccination whichever is sooner
- 4 months for re-entry to Great Britain provided the rabies vaccination is kept up to date
If you are planning a trip which extends beyond the expiry date of validity of your pet’s rabies vaccination, we recommend a booster vaccination prior to completing the AHC. We also advise taking evidence of your pet’s full rabies vaccination history with you on the trip.
Your pet will need a new Animal Health Certificate for each trip to an EU country or Northern Ireland from Great Britain.
Please contact us for estimates of costs for Animal Health Certificates.
Travelling into Great Britain with your pet
An EU pet passport issued in a member state is still valid to enter GB.
Before they enter GB, and in order to be issued with an EU Pet Passport, all pets must be:
- vaccinated against rabies (must be at least 12 weeks old before vaccinated)
If this is the first rabies vaccination for the pet, travellers from the EU must wait 21 days after the vaccination before travel into GB. This 21-day wait is not necessary if the rabies vaccination was a booster given before the date of expiry of the validity of the previous rabies vaccination.
Travel from countries not free from tapeworm (Echinococcus multilocularis)
Unless entering GB directly from Finland, Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, or Malta, you’ll need to take your dog to a vet for an approved tapeworm treatment. You must do this no less than 24 hours and no more than 120 hours (5 days) before entering GB. The vet will certify this treatment on the relevant documentation e.g. AHC or passport.
Pet travel documents
Your pet must have one of the following documents when entering or returning to GB:
- an EU pet passport issued in the EU (or in GB if issued before 1 January 2021), or a pet passport from another Part 1 listed third country
- the Animal Health Certificate (AHC) issued in GB used to travel to the EU – which you can use to re-enter GB for up to 4 months after it was issued
- a GB pet health certificate (for travel into GB only)
Check routes and travel companies
You must travel using approved routes. Check the routes before you travel – they can change or may only operate at certain times of the year. Your pet’s documents and microchip will be checked when entering GB.
Owners of assistance dogs returning to GB do not have to travel on approved routes. You must notify the point of entry in advance that you’re travelling with an assistance dog to ensure the appropriate checks are done.
EU residents travelling to and from the UK
If your pet has an EU passport and their rabies booster is due close to the period of travel we advise you to have the rabies vaccination done in your EU country of residence before travel, as vets in GB are no longer allowed to update EU pet passports.
Additional guidance for people travelling to and from Northern Ireland with their pet cats, ferrets or dogs, including assistance dogs.
Between Northern Ireland and the EU
From 1 January 2021, EU pet travel rules will continue to apply to Northern Ireland. This includes the need to have a pet passport** and a rabies vaccination. There will be no change to the requirements governing pet travel between NI and the EU including the Republic of Ireland (ROI).
From Great Britain to Northern Ireland
It has been confirmed that from 1 January 2021, Great Britain (GB) will be treated as a Part II listed country. This means that pet travel from GB to NI, including where a traveller is returning to NI from GB, will require:
- an EU pet passport** or an Animal Health Certificate
- rabies vaccination with a 21 day wait from the successful rabies vaccination
- tapeworm treatment
- entry to NI via a Travellers Point of Entry (TPE) at Belfast Port; Larne Port, Belfast International, Belfast City or City of Derry Airports.
Northern Ireland residents already in GB needing to travel back
It was expected that on 1 January 2021 a number of pet owners would be unable to comply with the EU Pet Travel Regulation, for movement of pets between GB and NI. For example, pet owners who had already travelled from NI to GB and intended to return following the Christmas period. Pets travelling from GB to NI will therefore not be subject to routine compliance checks until 1 February 2021.
**Current EU pet passports issued in NI and GB up to 31 December 2020, will not be valid for travel to the EU (including NI) after the 31 December 2020. Interim measures have been put in place. If you are travelling in early 2021, you should contact your vet in Northern Ireland who will arrange to update your pet passport appropriately to allow travel. A new style UK (NI) branded EU Pet Passport will be available shortly and these will be distributed to veterinary practices in Northern Ireland in due course.
Help and support
You can contact the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) if you’ve got questions or need more information.
If you’re travelling to the EU or Northern Ireland
Contact the Pet Travel Scheme helpline if you need more information about pet travel.
If you’re travelling to a non-EU country
Contact APHA if you need more information about pet travel to a non-EU country.
If you have questions specific to Northern Ireland
Veterinary Service Animal Health Group
111 Ballykelly Road
Tel: 028 77 442141