Here are the new rules for taking your pet from Great Britain to the EU in 2021

These days it seems like we are all in need of a long vacation, including our four-legged friends.

With the arrival of a few vaccines, it feels like next year could finally see travel open up again across UK and Europe and perhaps a long-awaited vacation to Europe with our furry friends.

However, for those pet owners who live in Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales, including the Channel Islands and Isle of Man), traveling to the EU will be a bit different than before.

That is because the steps for taking your pet to the EU from Great Britain will change from 1 January 2021 when the Brexit transition period ends.

Now, the UK government has finally updated its guidance on traveling with pets from Great Britain to the EU.

If you have been wondering which category the UK would fall under in the EU’s Pet Travel Scheme, the government announced that it would now fall under ‘ Part 2 listed’.

This means that pet travel will not be much more complicated than it is now. Rather, it will mean just taking a couple of extra steps before you travel to the EU from the UK.

Being a Part 2 Listed country also means that the UK avoided the dreaded ‘Unlisted status’ which would have required a four-month wait and blood test for pets to travel to the EU. This Unlisted status is what most traveling pet parents in Great Britain feared as it would make traveling with pets much more complicated, however this has now been averted.

There are also some key changes for those pet owners who travel between Northern Ireland and Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales, including the Channel Islands and Isle of Man).

So what does that mean for Brits with pet passports?

If you happen to have an EU pet passport that was issued in Great Britain, it will no longer be valid for travel to the EU or even Northern Ireland (NI) from 1 January 2021, per new guidance. However, those with a Northern Ireland-issued pet passport will still be able to use theirs (more on that later).

The new updated guidance, which reflects the new Part 2 Listed status, means that instead of using the old EU/GB pet passport to travel to the EU, you will now need an animal health certificate issued by a veterinarian.

A bull terrier with a pet passport (image:

What are the new steps for taking your dog to the EU from Great Britain?

Before your dog, cat or ferret can travel to the EU or Northern Ireland for the first time after the Brexit transition period ends on 1 January 2021, you will need to take the following steps. These steps are similar to the current process for taking your pet to the EU, but the big difference here is that you will need an animal health certificate (AHC) instead of a pet passport.

  1. You must have your dog, cat or ferret microchipped.
  2. Vaccinate your dog, cat or ferret against rabies – your pet must be at least 12 weeks old before it can be vaccinated.
  3. Wait 21 days after the primary vaccination before travel.
  4. Visit your vet to get an AHC for your pet, no more than 10 days before travel to the EU.

For those who have traveled with their pets from the UK to the EU before, the first three steps are exactly the same as the current UK/EU pet passport steps. As mentioned before, the fourth step is the main difference between the current steps for pet travel and the updated steps for pet travel.

Furthermore, as long as you keep your pet’s rabies vaccinations up to date, you will not need to get repeat vaccinations for repeat trips to the EU or NI.

How and where to get an animal health certificate

Obtaining an animal health certificate will require that you take your pet to the vet (an official vet) no more than 10 days before travel to the EU.

The certificate then needs to be signed by the vet. Check with your vet that they can issue animal health certificates for pets.

In order to receive a certificate you must take proof of:

  • your pet’s microchipping date
  • your pet’s vaccination history

Your pet’s animal health certificate will then be valid for:

  • 10 days after the date of issue for entry into the EU or NI
  • onward travel within the EU or NI for 4 months after the date of issue
  • re-entry to GB for 4 months after the date of issue

Your pet will also need a new animal health certificate for each trip to the EU or NI.

Previously, after having been issued a pet passport, pet owners could take their pets to the EU without the need for a trip to the vet prior to taking off. However, these new rules mean that a trip to the vet will be necessary for you to obtain this new health certificate.

Instead of the health certificate lasting for the life of the pet as the passport used to, it will be valid 10 days after the date of issue for entry into the EU or NI, then onward travel within the EU or NI for 4 months after the date of issue.

The current UK pet passport will no longer be accepted for travel into the EU. An animal health certificate will be needed instead

Arriving into the EU or NI

Upon arrival in the EU or NI, pet owners traveling with pets will need to enter through a designated travelers’ point of entry (TPE).

At the TPE, you may need to present your pet’s original AHC along with proof of:

  • your pet’s microchip
  • rabies vaccination
  • tapeworm treatment (if required)

The guidance recommends checking the rules of the country you’re traveling to for any additional restrictions or requirements before travel. The UK government also recommends reading its travel advice: coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance before traveling overseas.

Traveling with a dog by car (and ferry or channel tunnel) is a quick way to travel from GB to EU (Photo by Tim Gouw from Pexels)

Repeat trips to the EU or NI

As mentioned before, your pet will need a new animal health certificate for each trip to the EU or NI.

For the new certificate, you must take your pet to an official vet no more than 10 days before you travel. You must show proof of your pet’s microchipping date and rabies vaccination history.

If your pet has an up-to-date subsequent rabies vaccination history, they will not need a repeat rabies vaccination before traveling again.

Paris, a short-road trip away from the UK

Tapeworm treatment

For travel to Finland, Republic of Ireland, NI, Norway or Malta with your dog, your dog will need tapeworm treatment prior to traveling to these countries.

Your dog will need to receive tapeworm treatment 1 to 5 days before arriving in any of these countries. Your vet must enter full details on the animal health certificate following treatment.

When returning  directly to the UK with your pet from Finland, Republic of Ireland, NI, Norway or Malta, you will not need to treat them for tapeworm.

However, tapeworm treatment will be needed if you are returning to the UK from countries not free from tapeworm. This part of travel will be similar to travel with the EU/UK pet passport.

This requirement will not change after 1 January 2021.

You will 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 the UK. This requirement will not change after 1 January 2021.

The treatment must:

  • be approved for use in the country where the treatment is applied
  • contain praziquantel or an equivalent proven to be effective against tapeworm (Echinococcus multilocularis)

Traveling to and from Northern Ireland

While Northern Ireland is a part of the UK, pet owners will need to follow the same rules as when they’re entering the EU.

On travel to Northern Ireland, the UK government states that it recognizes that pet owners and assistance dog users will need time to adjust to these changes.

The government added that it is working with the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) on an enforcement approach that takes these challenges into account. For further information read the pet travel guidance from DAERA.

“This approach will be implemented in a way that supports pet owners and assistance dog users while the government seeks a permanent solution,” the government stated.

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland-based pets and assistance dogs returning to Northern Ireland from Great Britain can use a Northern Ireland issued EU Pet Passport to re-enter NI and will not need an animal health certificate.

You should contact DAERA or your vet for further information on entrance requirements for returning to NI.

Returning to Great Britain

There will be no change to the current health preparations for pets entering Great Britain from the EU from 1 January 2021.

For those unsure of what the rules are for entering Great Britain from the EU, the following documents are required to enter:

  • an EU pet passport (issued in the EU, or in Great Britain before 1 January 2021), or a pet passport from a Part 1 listed third country
  • the animal health certificate issued in Great Britain used to travel to the EU, which you can use up to 4 months after it was issued
  • a Great Britain pet health certificate (for travel into Great Britain only)

Your pet will not need this documentation if they are entering Great Britain from Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands, or the Isle of Man.

You must still travel using approved routes. Your pet’s documents and microchip will be checked when entering Great Britain.

Traveling on a train with a bull terrier

Owners of assistance dogs returning from the EU do not have to travel on approved routes. Those with assistance dogs must notify the point of entry in advance that they are traveling with an assistance dog to ensure the appropriate checks are done.

You do not have to travel on an approved route if you travel to Great Britain from:

  • other UK countries
  • the Channel Islands
  • the Isle of Man
  • the Republic of Ireland

Talk to your vet about what preparations you need to make before you travel from these places.

UK nationals living in the EU

If you are living in the EU and plan to travel with your pet using a UK-issued pet passport, you should speak to your official vet. They will help to ensure you’re compliant with EU Pet Travel Regulations.

If you have a pet passport issued by an EU member state, you can use it to bring your pet to Great Britain.

Traveling with more than 5 pets

Per government rules, you cannot take more than 5 pets to an EU country or Northern Ireland unless you are attending or training for a:

  • competition
  • show
  • sporting event

You will need written evidence of registration for the event when you travel.

All your pets must:

  • be attending the event or training
  • be over 6 months old
  • meet the pet travel rules

For those who need information on how to import or export pets for commercial purposes, the Border Operating Model (BOM) guide is available.

For more help on pet travel from Great Britain to the EU, contact


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