What are the implications of a no-deal Brexit for travel abroad with your pet?

This article clearly explains the timescale and what you need to do when taking dogs abroad in a post-March 29th, 2019 world.

Oh Happy Days…the Pet Travel Scheme

Pre-March 29 2019 the Pet Travel Scheme meant the whole family (two and four-legged) can enjoy the family holiday. But post-March 29, things get complicated. In the event of a no-deal Brexit, your blue Pet Passport instantly loses some of its power.

Can you still travel abroad with a pet? Yes! But there are several hoops to jump through.

What next for travel after your EU Pet Passport is no longer valid

It takes an average of three vet visits:

1st visit: Implant an id chip (if your dog doesn’t already have one), and vaccinate against rabies. Good news if you’re a current Pet Passport holder. The pet’s existing rabies vaccine (given as part of the pet passport) means you can skip this step.

2nd visit: At least 30 days later, a blood test to check the pet’s immune system has responded to the rabies vaccine

3rd visit: A health check less than 10 days before your trip to have the Export Health Certificate (more of this shortly) signed and stamped by an Official Veterinarian.

Let’s look in more detail about the practicalities of taking dogs abroad.

Taking dogs abroad makes for great family fun

Plan 4 Months in Advance

Taking dogs abroad now means planning ahead. If all goes well, form start to finish the MINIMUM time you need is four months.

Why four months?

This is because of how long it takes to validate that the rabies vaccine has been effective. But we’re jumping ahead. Let’s proceed in an orderly manner to step 1.


#1: The Rabies Vaccination Visit

If your dog already has an EU Pet Passport, then they already have a current rabies vaccine. Congratulations. Skip to #2. If however you don’t have a pet passport, then the vet needs to scan the pet’s microchip (to confirm their ID) and then give a single dose of a rabies vaccine.

The vet can then set the ball rolling to issue you with a Pet Passport. This is done in-house but is time-consuming. Most clinics ask you to wait around a week to get the paperwork done. Then you simply pop the pet in to have their ID chip checked and issue you with their shiny new passport.

QUESTION: Why do I need a pet passport is they’re no longer valid in Europe?

#2: The Blood Titre Test

There must be a gap of 30 days, then the vet takes a blood test. The sample is sent to an outside, government approved lab. They measure how many antibodies were produced in response to the vaccine, and that your pet is properly protected.

If the pet passes, move onto #3. But if the pet fails the blood test, start again at #1

#3: The 3-Month Wait

Unfortunately, the other thing that can produce high rabies antibodies is an active rabies infection. This is where the 3-month wait comes in. If the pet is still well after three months, then it’s unlikely they have rabies. This proves the positive titre is down to the vaccination, rather than infection, and they are safe to travel. Ho hum.

#4: The Export Health Certificate

To enter another country the pet needs a valid Export Health Certificate (EHC). The physical certificate is issued by the APHA (part of DEFRA) with information at Gov.uk  and sent to your vet.

An EHC is valid for 10 days and allows you to enter the destination country. Therefore apply about 7- 10 days before your intended journey, so that you’re covered during your entry.

However, the EHC needs to be signed by a vet after the checking the pet is fit to travel and free from infectious disease. Your local vet can do this as long as they are an OV (or Official Veterinarian – who holds the CA export panel qualification). To find this out, simply ask ahead of the appointment if the vet you’re seeing is an OV and able to sign the certificate.

That’s it! Simple as…

Taking dogs abroad is well worth the effort

Frequently Asked Questions

Does the pet need a blood test before each trip abroad?

  • No, whilst rabies boosters are kept up to date, no further blood test

When should I apply for an EHC?

  • Each EHC is valid for 10 days from the date of issue. When to apply is a balancing act; 2 weeks is too early and 2 days is too late. Leave 3 – 5 days for APHA to issue the certificate and have it arrive in the post. Don’t apply too early as if your travel plans get pushed back (ferry strikes or airport disruption) your EHC might expire.

How Do I get My Pet Back into the UK?

  • This is what your pet passport is for; it allows re-entry without quarantine provided all the stipulations are met. For example, if you are emigrating and it’s a one-way trip – heck, you don’t need a pet passport, unless you plan to return to visit friends and family.

Useful Links

Government advice about travel with pets in the event of  a no deal Brexit

Importing a Pet into the UK

BVA policy on Pet Travel

A dog passport and an export heath certificate unlock the world.