Despite all the focus on the Coronavirus pandemic, it’s worth bearing in mind that there is other news… Including the (apparently) never-ending Brexit saga! And while negotiations between the UK and the EU over a future trading relationship are still in progress, there is absolutely no guarantee that a trade deal will be agreed. However, the UK has already left the EU (this January), and we are now in the Transition Period. When this ends on 31st of December 2020, the UK will no longer be part of the EU’s Pet Passport Scheme. If you’re planning to take pets to the EU – this is really important!

What will happen on 1st January 2021?

Whether you think Brexit is a national liberation or a slow-motion disaster, the deadline for extending the Transition Period has ended. As a result, from 1st January the UK will become what is legally termed a “third country” (don’t try and work out what the second country is…). This means that pets from the UK will have to abide by the same regulations when entering the EU as pets from America, Australia, or India (for example). So that means no more Pet Passport Scheme – but what might replace it?

Option 1 – the UK becomes a Listed Third Country

Right now, this seems the most likely outcome – the EU approved the UK for Listing back in 2019 when a no-deal seemed likely. While that application has lapsed (because the UK didn’t leave in April 2019), there seems no reason why a new application would be rejected.

However, it gets more complicated, because the UK might be entered on either List 1 or List 2.

Option 1a – Post-Brexit List 1

In this situation, travel rules stay almost as they are now. The biggest difference is that you will need to apply for a UK Pet Passport instead of an EU Pet Passport.

Option 1b – Post-Brexit List 2

List 2 is more demanding, but still not that different to what we have now. The main difference is that your pet will need an Animal Health Certificate, signed by a UK “Official Veterinarian” (any vet who can sign a Pet Passport now is an OV), issued within 10 days of travelling. And you will only be able to enter the EU through an authorised Traveller’s Point of Entry. However, like now, there’s only a 21 day waiting period after rabies vaccination before you can travel, and if you keep the vaccines in date, there aren’t any other additional barriers.

Option 2 – the UK becomes an Unlisted Third Country

While the UK met all of the EU’s requirements in 2019 for Listed status, there is always the risk that either politics or events get in the way. If, for whatever reason, the EU decides that the UK no longer meets their requirements, then we’re back to the 4 month countdown before you can enter the EU. Fortunately, returning to the UK won’t be very different, but to get into the EU you will have to prove that your pet isn’t rabid, and that’s a really prolonged process. We wrote about this back in 2018 – and it looks like this is back on the cards again! Check out our detailed No-Deal blog here.

What do I need to do now?

If you’re planning to travel with your pet in January 2021 – then you need to see your vet in August at the latest to make sure all the paperwork and vaccinations are complete and up to date. The BVA President Daniella dos Santos warned pet owners earlier today that you might struggle to get an appointment if you leave it too late.  Most UK vets are still working restricted slots as part of our profession’s efforts to restrict the spread of Coronavirus, so they have fewer routine appointments available than there normally would be. 

So we strongly advise you to get in touch with your vet ASAP if you are intending to travel with your pet into the EU early in 2020!