How Will Brexit Affect The Rules For Travelling With Your Pet In Europe?

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In the past, it's pretty simple to travel to Europe with a pet. Yes, your cute and cuddly family member had to get an official passport, which is a bit of a faff, but, once that was secured, they were good to go back and forth for life. Until Brexit entered the fray. If the UK does leave the EU, going on holiday with pets in tow could prove to be an administrative, and costly, nightmare. Here's exactly how Brexit could affect pet travel to and from Europe.

According to government guidelines, it could take up to four months to prepare your cat, dog, or ferret (yes, you read that right) for European travel post-Brexit. Owners may have to shell out up to £150, per the Independent, and pay costs every time their pet travels. After speaking to pet owners who had prepared for the original October Brexit deadline, MoneySavingExpert said this cost could actually be in the region of over £200.

Currently, pets travelling from the UK to the EU must visit a vet at least 21 days before their departure date. Per the EU Pet Travel Scheme, they must have a rabies vaccination and have their microchip checked before being issued with an EU pet passport. This can be used for your pet's entire life. Passports alone cost £60 with rabies vaccinations adding an extra £32.60, states Money Supermarket. (A microchip — which is usually inserted when pets are young — costs £20.)

If Brexit happens, the UK will be categorised as either unlisted, Part 1 listed, or Part 2 listed in the EU Pet Travel Scheme. Each one has different repercussions for your pet's travel plans.

What happens if the UK is unlisted on the EU Pet Travel Scheme?

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This is the most likely scenario if a no-deal Brexit takes place, says the government. EU pet passports will be immediately invalid, replaced by animal health certificates (AHCs). Dogs, cats, and ferrets will still need to be microchipped and vaccinated against rabies, but will also need to have a blood test at least 30 days after their last rabies vaccination. If this sample is deemed successful, you will have to wait three months from the date of the blood test before travelling.

Your vet must enter this information into a signed AHC, which you will need to take with you when travelling along with proof of your pet's vaccination history, microchip date, and successful blood test result. (And if you're travelling to Finland, Malta, or the Republic of Ireland, your pet will also need tapeworm treatment one to five days before arrival.) You have to pick up an AHC more than 10 days before your departure date.

If the blood sample is unsuccessful, your pet will have to have another vaccination and, at least 30 days afterwards, another blood test. Then the three-month wait begins again. In other words, you need to visit a vet at least four months before travelling to avoid any unnecessary delays.

AHCs are only valid for a certain amount of time: 10 days after issue date for entry into the EU, four months after issue date for onward travel within the EU, and four months after issue date for re-entry into the UK. When you enter the EU, you'll need to do so via a traveller's point of entry (TPE).

What happens if the UK is Part 1 listed on the EU Pet Travel Scheme?

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Again, your pet will need to be vaccinated against rabies and microchipped at least 21 days before you travel. You'll also have to apply for a UK pet passport which, as long as rabies vaccinations are up to date, can be used for your pet's entire life.

What happens if the UK is Part 2 listed on the EU Pet Travel Scheme?

The same microchip and rabies vaccination rules apply. Make sure the vaccination is done at least 21 days before your departure date. But you will also need to get a signed AHC from a vet no more than 10 days before travel.

Is there anything else I need to know?

Yes, actually. You'll need a new AHC every single time your pet travels to the EU, which may rack up costs pretty quickly. However, your pet won't need a blood test every time — as long as they've had a successful result in the past and have up-to-date rabies vaccinations.

If the UK agrees a Brexit deal with the EU, there is likely to be a transition period during which current rules will apply. The trouble is no one can predict whether that will happen. So if you have any holidays planned with your pet after Jan. 31, 2020, it's best to visit a vet as soon as possible. Slightly different rules, detailed here, apply to Northern Ireland.

If you're completely confused by the whole thing or need specific advice, contact the government's pet travel helpline by phone or email. For now, it's best to be organised.