On January 1, 2021, the Brexit transition period came to an end. Great Britain is now considered a third country with respect to the EU Pet Travel Scheme. Let’s see what’s changed and how to travel with a pet now so everything goes smoothly.
New pet travel rules after January 1, 2021
From January 1, 2021, the UK has Part 2 listed status under the EU Pet Travel Scheme. People travelling from Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) to the EU and Northern Ireland with their pets and assistance dogs now need to follow new requirements. The main change is the use of an animal health certificate instead of a pet passport.
Is my pet’s passport still valid after Brexit?
Whether or not your pet’s passport is still valid for travel to the EU or NI depends on where it was issued.
- If the pet passport was issued in Great Britain
You can no longer use a pet passport issued in England, Scotland, or Wales to take your pet to a country in the EU or Northern Ireland. Instead, you’ll need to get an animal health certificate (AHC) for your dog, cat, or ferret.
- If the pet passport was issued in the EU or Northern Ireland
You can use this pet passport to bring your pet into the UK and to travel in the EU or to Northern Ireland. An EU or Northern Ireland pet passport is valid for life as long as your pet’s vaccinations and treatments are up to date.
How long will an animal health certificate (AHC) last?
After the date of issue, your pet’s animal health certificate will be valid for:
- 10 days for entry into the EU or Northern Ireland;
- 4 months for onward travel within the EU;
- 4 months for re-entry to Great Britain.
Your pet will need a new AHC for each trip to an EU country or Northern Ireland from Great Britain.
As a general rule, pet owners should follow these steps:
- make sure that your dog, cat or ferret is microchipped;
- ensure that your dog, cat or ferret is vaccinated against rabies. Pets must be at least 12 weeks old before they can be vaccinated;
- wait 21 days after the primary vaccination before travel;
- if travelling to a tapeworm-free country, make sure that your dog is treated against tapeworm 24-120 hours before landing. Travel can only take place between 24 hours and five days of the treatment. You also have to ensure the time is documented to the hour, and travel doesn’t occur before or after a well-defined timeframe;
- visit a vet to get an animal health certificate (AHC) for your pet, no more than ten days before travel to the EU. This is then valid for four months.
Pets and assistance dogs have to enter the EU through a travellers’ point of entry (TPE), which includes all the major French ports such as Calais, Caen, and Dunkirk.
There are no changes to the health preparations or documents for pets entering Great Britain from the EU or Northern Ireland.
Taking your pet dog, cat or ferret abroad
If you’re travelling abroad with your pet dog, cat, or ferret, what you have to do depends on where you’re going. There are different rules for travelling with your pet to an EU country or Northern Ireland and for bringing your pet to a non-EU country.
What documents will my pet need to travel to the EU or NI?
When travelling to an EU country or Northern Ireland, your pet or assistance dog needs:
- a microchip;
- a valid rabies vaccination;
- an animal health certificate, or a valid pet passport that’s accepted in the country you’re travelling to. You cannot use a pet passport issued in Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland);
- tapeworm treatment for dogs if you’re travelling directly to Finland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Norway, or Malta. The treatment must’ve been given no less than 24 hours and no more than 120 hours (five days) before you arrive.
Check the rules of the country you’re planning to visit for any additional requirements or supporting documents before you travel.
Travelling with pets from Great Britain to Northern Ireland
If you have a pet passport issued in Northern Ireland, read advice on the NIDirect website and contact your vet before travelling.
What documents will my pet need to travel to a non-EU country?
If you’re travelling with your pet to a non-EU country, you’ll need to get an export health certificate (EHC). You must nominate an official vet who will make sure that your pet has met all the health and identification requirements before you travel.
If you’re in England, Scotland, or Wales, you also must complete an export application form (EXA).
Find the export health certificate and the export application form for your destination and pet. These forms will tell you how to apply. Be sure to check the rules of the country you’re travelling to for any additional restrictions or before you go.
You can enter or return to Great Britain (England, Scotland, Wales) with your pet cat, dog, or ferret if it:
Dogs are also usually required to have a tapeworm treatment that must’ve been given no less than 24 hours and no more than 120 hours (five days) before you enter Great Britain.
If you don’t follow these rules, your pet may be put into quarantine for up to four months or refused entry if travelled by sea. You are responsible for any charges and fees.
Northern Ireland has its own rules for pet travel.
Can my pet travel from the UK and back in the cabin?
Due to government regulations, UK airlines don’t allow pets in passenger cabins. The only animals that are permitted to fly in the cabin are registered assistance dogs. Some other carriers, such as Air France, KLM or Lufthansa, allow small pets in aircraft cabins on flights out of the UK. When animals come back to the United Kingdom, however, they have to fly as cargo. And that’s a deal-breaker for many pet owners. Fortunately, there are plenty of alternatives to flying back to the UK with your pet.
What is the best option to get back to the UK with my pet?
When returning to the United Kingdom with your pet, almost the same transportation options are available, as included in this list of approved routes. The only difference is that pet dogs, cats, and ferrets can’t be flown as checked baggage or in the cabin on the way back to the UK, only as cargo.
This means that if you’re flying out of the UK with a pet in the cabin, you’ll have to find another way back. Luckily, there are a few of them. Instead of flying directly to the UK with your pet, consider flying to another airport within Europe and then travelling by another option across the Channel.
There are two popular European airports to fly to with your pet: Paris Charles de Gaulle and Amsterdam Schiphol. Besides being busy airports with lots of flights arriving from all over the world, both of these allow you to bring your pet with you in the cabin or as checked baggage.
After landing, you’ll have multiple options for crossing the English Channel and getting to the UK.
How to get back to the UK with your pet by ferry
From Paris, walk-on passengers with pets are only permitted on the DFDS Seaways ferry from Dieppe to Newhaven on the southern coast of England. The animals on this route must stay in a kennel on the car deck, and visits may be limited. With the 4-hour ferry crossing and the rail journey (pets are allowed on local trains, for a small fee), you’re looking at a full-day trip from Paris to London. There aren’t any other ferries between France and England that let foot passengers bring pets onboard, but you and your pet can still go by ferry in your car.
Jen Kaarlo, Writer, Editor and Commentator on Travel, Dating & Relationships, and Women’s Safety:
“I’ve done this route with my dog Céline a handful of times throughout the year. From Paris to London it’s about a 17-hour trip door-to-door and here are my tried and tested tips for the journey.
Once you have an idea on your dates it’s best to call and reserve a kennel with DFDS well in advance, as kennel spaces (there are typically four per voyage) book up quickly on weekends, as well as during the Christmas holidays and the summer months.
During the summer months there are a few voyages a day, but during the winter there are typically only two trips a day (approximately 6:30 am and 6 pm). While it’s less than ideal, I highly recommend a buffer of 2.5 hours between your train and ferry departure. I’ve had two separate trips from Saint-Lazare where the station was temporarily closed due to a suspicious package or there was a delay on the first leg (from Paris to Rouen-Rive-Droite) and then we missed the connection from Rouen-Rive-Droite to Dieppe. Luckily, we were able to grab a shuttle, but it was a close call.
Once in Dieppe there are no car riding services such as Uber, Bolt or Lyft and it’s best to call one of the local taxi companies in advance (and, don’t forget cash). Also, if you’re getting to Dieppe the night before your ferry journey make sure to book a taxi for the morning at least 10-12 hours prior, as the local companies stop taking reservations at 9 pm.”
If you fly into Amsterdam Schiphol, you have more options in a short train ride from the airport to a ferry terminal.
How to enter the UK with a pet by car
Unfortunately, the Eurostar trains are not dog- or cat-friendly. However, the Eurotunnel Le Shuttle service will easily zip you and your pet to the UK in 35 minutes while sitting in your own car.
Both Folkestone and Calais offer 24-hour pet check-in facilities. Dogs, cats and ferrets can travel for just £22 per pet each way. Pet rabbits, along with rodents, birds, invertebrates, amphibians, and reptiles are also welcome onboard provided your vet has completed a veterinary certificate. All pets must have DEFRA pet travel documentation.
Registered guide and assistance dogs travel via Eurotunnel for free.
How to return to the UK by pet taxi
There are also a lot of pet taxis and pet chauffeurs that let you and your pet travel through the tunnel together. EasyPetTaxi, for instance, offers door-to-door service from France to England or England to France with rates starting at €800, while PetMoves provides CDG to London all Inclusive service for up to five passengers (pets & humans) for about €2,235.
“The easiest of these routes is the Eurotunnel, as you and your pets can stay in your vehicle. Typically, the pet check-in takes about 20 minutes, but can sometimes take up to an hour based on the queue and the time of year. I often get asked why we don’t take the Eurostar, but they don’t allow dogs or cats except for service animals with a detailed training programme registered with an official organisation.”
Jen Kaarlo, Writer, Editor and Commentator on Travel, Dating & Relationships, and Women’s Safety
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