UK pet passports are no longer valid for holidays in the EU – how to still travel

May 18, 2022

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With all the hysteria about human passports of late, we almost forgot about pet passports. 

After Brexit, U.K. pet passports stopped being valid for travel into the EU from 1 January 2021. But because of the pandemic, not many people noticed. 

And now, with travel back on, it has left thousands of British animal lovers in a bind over what to do with their beloved cats, dogs and ferrets when they go away this summer. 

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But worry not, Biggles the puggle can still join you in Provence. Only, you might have to jump through some hoops to get him there. And it will cost you more than £180 each time you go.

Here is everything you need to know about boarding a plane to Europe with your furry friend. 

Why can’t I use my U.K. pet passport this summer?

Unbeknownst to many, U.K. pet passports are another great casualty of the Brexit age. Photo by Richard Atrero de Guzman/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

After Brexit was triggered, pet passports issued in England, Wales and Scotland ceased to be valid for travel to the European Union from 1 January 2021. 

Now, pet owners who wish to take their pets on holiday have to apply for an array of alternative documentation in order to satisfy Europe’s animal gatekeepers.

Read on to fully prepare yourself before boarding a plane with your pet.

Related: Should pets flying in the passenger cabin be the norm?

What exactly does my pet need to travel to Europe?

According to the British government’s website, when travelling to an EU country or Northern Ireland, your pet needs:

These requirements also apply to assistance dogs.

What is an animal health certificate?

An animal health certificate (AHC) allows a pet to travel to EU countries without having to sit through lengthy quarantine providing it meets the requirements of the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS). 

The primary purpose of an AHC is to prevent the carriage of rabies, and other foreign diseases such as those transmitted by parasites, between countries. 

You’ll need a new one each time your pet travels to the EU. 

Related: Will you get compensation if you’re stopped from boarding with a valid passport? It’s complicated

Where can I get an AHC?

Don’t worry, your dog can still join you in France. Only, it’ll be you who has to jump through hoops to get him there.

It can only be issued by an Official Veterinarian, for which you will need to make an appointment through your veterinary practice no more than 10 days before you travel.

“When you apply for an animal health certificate, you will need to take your pet, along with their vaccination and medical records including proof of rabies vaccination, to the issuing vet,” says the Royal Veterinary College website. “When you book an appointment, we will send you a form to complete prior to your hospital visit. This will contain vital information that you need to supply before the AHC can be issued. In some cases, we may need to contact a laboratory to confirm blood results.”

Related: Passengers must be compensated when an EU flight leaves early, court rules

An AHC contains the following information:

  • Pet owner’s details
  • Your pet’s description
  • Rabies vaccination details (your animal will need to have been vaccinated at least three weeks prior to the AHC appointment and have had a UK Rabies vaccine within the past three years)
  • Rabies blood test (as required)
  • Canine tapeworm treatment (as required)
  • Intended country of entry into the EU. (The AHC has to be issued in the language of the country in which you are entering the EU and NOT your country of destination)

How much does an animal health certificate cost?

According to the Royal Veterinary College, an AHC costs £180. This includes the consultation and includes reviewing & finalising all your documents. Any extra vaccinations or medications required will incur additional charges.

Related: Cats on a plane!

A microchip is £16.28 and will only need to be implanted once.

A Rabies vaccination costs £50.40 – this will need to be repeated every three years to allow continual travel under the Pet Travel Scheme.

On the other hand, pet passports issued across the EU Member States are valid for entry to the United Kingdom and can be obtained for €20 (£16.60).

What is an EU Pet Passport?

The primary purpose of an AHC is to prevent the carriage of rabies, and other foreign diseases such as those transmitted by parasites, between countries (Photo by Jodi Jacobson/Getty Images)

Like a human passport, an EU Pet Passport allows an animal to travel in and out of the EU as many times as you like without having to reapply for an animal health certificate each time. You just have to keep up with its rabies injections.

However, they can only be issued by an authorized EU veterinarian, so you can’t get one in the U.K. Luckily, most veterinarians in European Union countries are authorized and able to issue pet passports. 

You can only get them in any of the following countries: 

  • an EU country
  • Andorra
  • Faroe Islands
  • Gibraltar
  • Greenland
  • Iceland
  • Liechtenstein
  • Monaco
  • Northern Ireland
  • Norway
  • San Marino
  • Switzerland
  • Vatican City State

So if your pet has a particular lust for travel, you might want to get them one the next time they’re on the continent.

What happens when I arrive in the EU?

Some cats are more ready to travel than others. (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)

You’ll need to go through a traveller’s point of entry when you arrive in an EU country or Northern Ireland.

You may need to show your pet’s animal health certificate or a valid pet passport, along with proof of their:

  • microchip
  • rabies vaccination
  • tapeworm treatment (if required)

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

I’m in the cat pageant game. Can I bring my entire clowder of cats?

As a rule, you cannot take more than 5 pets to an EU country or Northern Ireland unless you’re attending or training for a:

  • competition
  • show
  • sporting event

You’ll need written evidence of registration for the event when you travel.

In addition, all your pets must:

  • be attending the event or training
  • be over 6 months old
  • meet all the other requirements for pet travel to that country

Do all airlines carry pets?

Sadly not. It is vital that you check with your airline before booking any tickets. Ryanair and easyJet, for example, do not carry pets unless they are service animals. And Emirates won’t allow pets in the cabin either, although it will make certain exceptions for guide dogs and, believe it or not, falcons.

TUI allows animals weighing under 6kg to fly with you in the cabin, while heavier animals must go in the hold. And British Airways allows pets to be flown in the hold, but not in the cabin, unless they are assistance dogs. Emotional support animals are considered pets, and will also have to travel in the hold.

Related: Should pets flying in the passenger cabin be the norm?

You can find a full list of airlines that accept pets on board on the PetAir website, a British Airways partner that’s run by vets and has been flying pets around the world since 2004.

Featured image by Richard Atrero de Guzman/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

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