Brexit: what it means for pet owners

Danielle Petch

As of 31 December 2020, the United Kingdom officially left the EU on a new trade deal, bringing in a new set of rules for pet owners looking to travel abroad with their pets or assistance dogs. 

Now that the Brexit transition period is over, there are new rules in place that pet owners travelling to or from Great Britain with their pets should be aware of. 

As a pet owner, we know you may have some questions about what this means for you, which is why we’ve collated a summary of the changes and how this may affect you below. 

Trusted tip: make sure to check the UK government website for the latest and most up-to-date guidance before you travel:

Travelling with your pet from GB to the EU or Northern Ireland after 1 January 2021

The UK is now a ‘Part 2 listed’ country, which means pets need to meet specific criteria before being allowed to travel. Pet owners looking to travel abroad to the EU with a dog, cat or ferret will now need to ensure the following before travelling:

  • Microchipping: your pet must be microchipped, and your details up-to-date. 
  • Rabies vaccination: your pet will need to receive a rabies vaccination in order to travel, and this must be kept up-to-date. If this is the first time your pet is receiving a rabies vaccine, you’ll need to do this at least 21 days before you travel. It’s also worth keeping in mind that dogs, cats and ferrets need to be at least 12 weeks old before they can receive this vaccine.
  • Tapeworm treatment: dogs will need to be treated against tapeworm at least 24-120 hours (5 days) before you land if travelling to a tapeworm-free country. The list of tapeworm-free countries currently only includes Ireland, Northern Ireland, Malta, Finland and Norway. 
  • Animal Health Certificate (AHC): you’ll now need an Animal Health Certificate for your pet if you’re travelling from GB to an EU country or to Northern Ireland (unless you have a pet passport issued in an EU country or Northern Ireland already). You can get this certificate from an official veterinarian, but you’ll need to do this no more than 10 days before you travel. You’ll also need to obtain a new certificate every time you wish to travel to an EU country or Northern Ireland.

It’s important to make sure you follow these steps, as otherwise pets may be refused entry or put into quarantine.

Travelling with your pet from the EU to GB after 1 January 2021

If you and your pet are travelling into Great Britain (England, Scotland or Wales) and you already have an EU pet passport issued in a member state (or a GB pet passport issued before 1 January 2021), the good news is that for now, these documents are still valid and can be used to travel into GB.

If you and your pet do not have a valid pet passport, you’ll either need the Animal Health Certificate (AHC) issued in GB that you used to travel to the EU with (which are valid for up to four months after they are issued for your return journey), or a GB pet health certificate (which are valid for travel into Great Britain only).

You won’t need any of the above if you are entering from Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man. 

Pets travelling into GB will also need to be:

  • Microchipped
  • Vaccinated against rabies

You’ll need to treat your dog for tapeworm no less than 24 hours and no more than 5 days before entering GB, too, unless you are travelling directly from a tapeworm-free country (currently this only includes Ireland, Northern Ireland, Malta, Finland and Norway).

For now, there are no restrictions when bringing in pet rodents, rabbits, birds, invertebrates, amphibians or reptiles to the UK from the EU.

Travelling with more than five pets to GB

If you are travelling to GB with more than five pets, you’ll only be allowed to enter the country if you’re attending or training for a competition, show, or sporting event — you’ll also need evidence of this when you travel. 

In addition, all pets must be over six months old, meet the pet travel rules above, and must be attending the event/training in question. 

Where to go for more advice on travelling to the EU or Northern Ireland post-Brexit

All the information sourced here has come from the UK's official government website, and is correct as of the date of publishing. For more information, we recommend visiting the UK government guidance on pet travel to and from the UK here: 

You can also contact the government’s pet travel helpline on or by calling 0370 241 1710 (Monday — Friday, 8:30 am to 5 pm GMT). 

If you’re considering leaving your pets at home when you next travel, the good news is there’s a pet sitter nearby who’ll be happy to help. Check out our blog post on everything you need to about pet sitting

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Travelling after Brexit: everything you need to know

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