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Pet travel post-Brexit

Since the UK left the European Union, new rules have come into force surrounding the travel of pets. This article outlines the current position on bringing cats, dogs and ferrets into England, Scotland and Wales.

Prior to Brexit, UK pet owners could travel freely with their cats and dogs between EU countries, provided their pet was microchipped and also had a pet passport. Following the UK’s departure from the EU, the rules surrounding pet travel have changed and are now more complex. This article focuses on the rules for bringing cats, dogs and ferrets into Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales). Different rules apply to other types of pets, pets travelling to Northern Ireland and species that are non-native to the UK.

When can you bring a pet cat, dog or ferret to Great Britain?

You cannot bring more than 5 pets into Great Britain unless you are travelling due to a competition, show or sporting event. You can enter or return to Great Britain with your pet cat, dog or ferret if it has:

  • been microchipped by a vet, vet nurse or another approved individual before, or at the same time as, its rabies vaccination;
  • either a pet passport or a Great Britain health certificate (this will depend on which country you are travelling from – see below); and
  • been vaccinated against rabies – if you are travelling from a country that is not considered to be a ‘listed’ country then your pet will also be required to have a blood test.

Dogs must also usually have tapeworm treatment no less than 24 hours and no more than 120 hours before they enter Great Britain - tapeworm treatment is not required if you are travelling directly to Great Britain from Finland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Malta or Norway. Your pet should arrive in Great Britain no more than 5 days before or after you, otherwise you must follow different rules. Additional rules should be followed if the animal will be sold or re-homed whilst in Great Britain.

Failure to follow the rules may result in your pet being placed into quarantine for up to four months and, if you travelled by sea, then your pet may also be refused entry. You would then be responsible for any charges or fees incurred as a result.

Where have you travelled from?

The specific requirements for your pet will depend on whether you have travelled from a ‘Part 1’ listed country (which includes EU countries), a ‘Part 2’ listed country or a country that is ‘not listed’. 

  • Part 1 listed countries - If you have travelled from a Part 1 listed country then a ‘pet passport’ or a ‘Great Britain pet health certificate’ will be accepted for your pet’s entry. 
  • Part 2 listed countries – If you have travelled from a Part 2 listed country then pet passports are not accepted and your pet will require a Great Britain pet health certificate.
  • Unlisted countries - If you have travelled from an unlisted country then your pet will require a Great Britain pet health certificate. Additional rules on rabies, vaccinations, and blood tests will also apply. 

Photocopies of documents will not be sufficient and original documents must be provided upon entry. Documentation is not required for pets entering Great Britain from Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. Be aware that there are additional rules for cats travelling from Australia and cats or dogs travelling from Malaysia. It should also be noted that only certain approved travel routes and companies can be used for pets to enter Great Britain and these should be checked before you travel. More routes are open to those who are travelling with guide and assistance dogs.

What happens when you arrive in Great Britain?

Your pet’s microchip and documentation will be checked on arrival and may be checked before you board your transportation. If your pet is coming from outside of the European Union, it will need to be taken through customs before it can be collected. Agents, travel companies or airlines will usually be able to take your pet through customs for a fee.

Can somebody else travel with your pet?

Another person can bring your pet into the country with them, provided you have authorised this in writing and passed on all of the correct documentation for your pet prior to its travel. International pet transportation services may also be able to make arrangements to transport your pet without you.

Covid-19 and quarantine

If you are travelling to Great Britain from a ‘red list’ country, you should not bring your pet with you unless you have to. If you are required to stay in a managed quarantine hotel then your pet will not be able to stay with you (with the exception of assistance dogs). Arrangements will need to be put in place for the care of your pet whilst you are in quarantine. Ferrets from outside of the UK, Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, should be kept away from other ferrets and people from other households for 21 days due to the risk that they might catch and spread new variants of coronavirus.

Disclaimer

This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. © Shoosmiths LLP 2022.

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