EU presses ahead with plan to ease pet travel between Northern Ireland and Great Britain

The European Union is pressing on with its plans to put the Windsor Framework in place, which was politically agreed between the Commission and the UK government on 27 February 2023 to address, in a definitive manner, the challenges concerning Northern Ireland following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

The agreement aims to make crossing the Irish Sea easier for pet owners as well as travellers with assistance dogs.

Since 2021, Northern Ireland has stopped pet border checks with Great Britain but the new agreement removes any uncertainty surrounding pet travel rules between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.

Travelling with pets from Great Britain (including England, Scotland, and Wales) to Northern Ireland will become possible with a simple pet travel document, a microchip, and a declaration by the owner that the pet will not travel to the EU.

This travel document will be issued for the lifetime of a pet, available online and electronically in a matter of minutes; or an equally seamless process built into the booking process for a flight or ferry. This means that if a pet owner travels to Northern Ireland from England, Wales or Scotland, then they do not need to show the same documents that they would if they were traveling to the EU.

However, the document would include a declaration of a commitment by the owner or authorised person that the pet animals entering Northern Ireland from other parts of the UK will not be moved subsequently to a member state (this includes the Republic of Ireland).

The new rules provide clarity and simplicity for travel between Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Image: Connor Danylenko/Pexels)

The European Council yesterday adopted three regulations aimed at implementing the joint solutions agreed with the UK regarding public, animal and plant health issues, medicines and certain steel products.

According to the Council these new rules will make it considerably easier to move a range of goods from Great Britain into Northern Ireland if they are destined for final consumption there. At the same time, safeguards will be put in place to prevent such goods from entering the EU’s single market and to ensure the protection of public, animal and plant health, as well as consumer interests in the EU.

The three regulations were agreed between the Council and the European Parliament through a fast-track procedure.

“The EU is delivering on its promise to swiftly implement the agreed joint solutions, which respond to the everyday needs of people and businesses in Northern Ireland, for which the EU has always had understanding. It is important to continue work to make them fully operational, as well as to ensure the EU single market is protected,” Jessika Roswall, Minister for EU Affairs of Sweden said.

In practice, the new rules regarding sanitary and phytosanitary measures, which protect animal, public and plant health, will make it possible to move agri-food retail products from Great Britain to Northern Ireland for end consumption there with minimal certification requirements and controls, once the agreed safeguards have been put in place.

Another set of new rules will ensure that all medicines, including novel medicines, will be available in Northern Ireland at the same time as in the rest of the UK. The third new piece of legislation will make it possible to transfer certain categories of steel from Great Britain to Northern Ireland under the EU’s tariff rate quotas.

These three regulations will enter into force after their publication in the Official Journal. They will be complemented by a set of implementing acts to be adopted by the Commission.

In regards to sanitary and phytosanitary measures and medicines, the new arrangements will start to apply gradually once the EU has received appropriate written guarantees from the UK about the implementation of the agreed safeguards.

Meanwhile, pet owners who wish to travel to Northern Ireland should know that the ferry remains the primary option for traveling with a pet to and from Great Britain. One of the ferries that travel there is the Stena Line.

The video below shows what it’s like to take the ferry to Northern Ireland.


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