Heathside Veterinary Surgery Blog

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Brexit - Pet Travel Update

I’m sure we’ve all been hearing the headlines recently about a “no-deal Brexit”. However, this week the government has released a new update about what this will mean for pet owners - if, of course, it happens. In this blog, we’re going to summarise the key points!

What is a “no-deal Brexit”?

Since the 2016 Referendum, the UK government has been working towards leaving the EU, in accordance with the outcome of that vote. At the moment, the key negotiation is over the so-called “Withdrawal Agreement”, which needs to be signed before 29th March 2019. This will pencil-in the broad outline of the UK’s future relationship with the rest of the EU countries. However, there is a great deal of tension, with both sides having positions they feel they cannot compromise over, and there is a chance that no agreement will be reached. If no agreement can be signed, on 29th March next year, the UK will immediately cease to be part of the EU, and many of the treaty relationships governing trade and movement will stop operating. This is known as a “No-Deal Brexit”.

What will happen to pet travel in a “no-deal” situation?

At the moment, travelling with pets between the UK and other EU countries is almost seamless - the only requirements are a Pet Passport, microchip, rabies vaccine, and tapeworm treatment before coming home. These regulations are primarily to protect the UK from the risk of importing rabies or the dangerous tapeworm Echinococcus multilocularisfrom mainland Europe (as neither of these infections are present in the UK or Ireland).

However, the treaties controlling Pet Passports will also end in a “no-deal”, meaning that this simple travel procedure will no longer be legal. At this point, until a new pet travel agreement is signed (and it would probably be a fairly low priority compared to air travel, medicines, etc), the UK would become an unlisted third country. This means that (bizarrely) we would have to abide by the regulations intended to prevent movement of rabid animals into the EU - and this means much stricter regulations on the movement of dogs, cats and ferrets from the UK to the EU.

 What are these requirements?

Pets will still need to be vaccinated against rabies; however, at least a month (30 days) after vaccination, they will need a blood test, sent off to an official lab (there are 2 in the UK at the moment - they should still be accredited after a no-deal Brexit, but this isn’t certain). This is to check that they have actually responded to the vaccine - some studies suggest that 10% of animals don’t, so it’s actually not a bad idea! Once a successful blood test has been recorded in the passport by an Official Vet (don’t worry, several of our vets have this certification!), there’s a 3 month waiting period, and then they can enter the EU.

However, in the 10 days before they travel, they will need a Health Certificate - again, this needs to be issued by one of our Official Vets - to declare that they are healthy enough to travel. Those of our clients who have transported pets to the US, Australia, or other non-EU countries will probably recognise this - it’s standard for most international animal transport.

Will the quarantine laws be applied again?

No - the requirements for coming back into the UK aren’t expected to change.

Will my pet need a fresh blood test every time they travel?

No - once they have proved that they are immune, as long as their vaccination doesn’t lapse they shouldn’t need another one.

What happens if they fail the blood test?

Then they need to be revaccinated, and retested another 30 days later, and so on, until they do pass the test.

If I’m travelling next spring, what do I need to do?

Make an appointment to see us as soon as possible - and definitely by the end of the month! This process will take a minimum of 4 months from revaccination, so make sure you’re prepared. If your pet is already vaccinated, they will need a blood test taken by the end of December - but the earlier you get the test, the more time you’ve got for an extra booster if your pet doesn’t pass the test.

You can read the entire the APHA Guidance here, or give us a ring for more details!