Well, the UK has now left the EU. Depending on your perspective, “congratulations” or “commiserations”… but what next? And how does it affect us travelling abroad with our pets? What are the current rules? A lot of people have been in touch to say that they aren’t sure what’s going on… so here’s an update to our Pet Travel blog from (scarily long ago) November 2018.
What were the concerns then?
Way back in 2018, the biggest worry was that the UK would leave the EU with no formal agreement whatsoever. This would have meant that the UK was automatically – and immediately – excluded from almost all the travel agreements, including the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS). As a result, we’d have needed to go through the same regulations when entering an EU state as any unlisted third country – hence blood tests, waiting periods, etc. Failure to provide a “passing” blood test would potentially prevent your pet from entering the EU at all.
So what’s happened in the meantime?
Two things. Firstly, a new Prime Minister and a new Withdrawal Agreement (a treaty negotiated with the EU detailing how the UK leaves). Secondly, a General Election and a new parliament in Westminster. The result of this is that the (new) withdrawal agreement has been approved by the UK parliament (so it is now law), and signed by the UK Prime Minister and the EU Commission. Once the EU Parliament passed it this week, the threat of a complete No Deal disappeared (although see below…).
Enough politics… what’s the situation now with Pet Passports?
Right now, the UK is not a member of the EU. However, we are now in the 11 month Transition Period, during which time, the UK agrees to abide by and be bound by EU regulations, while a long-term trade agreement is negotiated. So essentially, the rules today are identical to what they were yesterday.
So will my pet’s Passport still be accepted to go to the EU?
Absolutely. The Pet Travel Scheme is still operating, just as it has done before.
And what about coming back?
Again, no problem – although to be fair, even in a No Deal, the UK government was planning to honour Pet Passports.
So do I need rabies blood tests?
Not right now, no. That said, with some studies suggesting that 11-12% of dogs don’t actually mount an immune response to a single dose of rabies vaccine, a blood test isn’t necessarily a bad idea if you want to protect your pet!
What’s the next deadline we need to be aware of?
Well, it all depends what happens in the trade negotiations. Essentially, there are 4 options…
Firstly, a comprehensive trade deal is done. Many people say this is unlikely to happen in so short a time – but then, they said the same about a new withdrawal agreement, so we’ll see what happens. If there is a comprehensive deal, then I expect the UK will become a List 1 country, and pet movement will be relatively straightforward and very similar to it is now – although you will have to apply for a new UK Pet Passport to replace the existing EU Pet Passports. Alternatively, the UK may become a List 2 country, which will probably mean that the rabies vaccine will be accepted, possibly without a blood test, but that as well as a UK Pet Passport, you will need to apply for a Health Certificate before travelling to the EU. You can read more about these details here.
Secondly, a partial deal is signed. This is probably the most likely outcome – but what the effects on pet travel are will depend on whether that is a priority in the negotiations – so watch this space!
Thirdly, both sides agree to extend the transition period… so things stay as they are until they’ve completed.
Finally, the negotiations break down and no agreements are signed. In that case, the UK becomes an Unlisted country, and we’re back to blood tests etc… so watch this space!
If you have any concerns about travelling abroad with your animals, talk to your vet, or contact the Animal and Plant Health Agency’s Pet Travel department directly.