The EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier has said "the ability... of dogs and cats to cross the Channel" will be affected if the UK leaves the EU without a deal - a scenario both sides say they are keen to avoid.
Bought By Many conducted a survey of 250 cat and dog owners on the impact Brexit might have for pet owners travelling to Europe with their pets. We found 57% did not feel they had enough information about how Brexit could affect their travel plans. Here’s what you need to know.
Or check our guide to the best pet insurance for dogs.
If there’s a no-deal Brexit, will it be harder to travel to Europe with my pet?
Yes. Under the current rules of the EU Pet Travel Scheme, UK pet owners of dogs and cats can travel with their animals to and from EU countries without the need for a quarantine period, provided they are microchipped and hold a valid EU pet passport.
When we leave the EU, pets can still travel from the UK to the EU, but the need for documents and health checks will change depending on what category of ‘third country’ the UK becomes on the day we leave.
If we leave without a deal the UK will be classed as an unlisted third country which means UK pets travelling to Europe will need certain vaccinations and there will be waiting period after those vaccinations before they can travel.
What is a third country in the EU Pet Travel Scheme?
Within the Pet Travel Scheme, countries outside the EU are divided into three categories of ‘third country’. This is based on each country’s animal health status and the administrative systems they have in place to report, control and manage diseases such as rabies.
The three categories include:
- Listed: Part 1 (This includes countries considered EU equivalents such as Switzerland, Norway, and Iceland)
- Listed: Part 2 (This includes, the USA, Russia, Australia and Canada. The EU considers that they do not present a higher risk of spreading disease compared to EU and Part 1 listed countries)
- Unlisted (Unlisted countries have either not applied for listing or their administrative standards are considered to be below the standards of Part 1 & 2 listed countries. These countries include: China, India and Sri Lanka)
Third countries can apply to the European Commission to be listed under Part 1 or Part 2.
Part 1 listed countries can operate under the same EU Pet Travel Scheme rules as EU member states. If the UK was a Part 1 country there would be some minor changes needed to documentation for travel and no changes for pet owners from what they currently need to do in terms of health preparations.
Most countries are Part 2 listed. It means some additional documents and conditions are needed. Pet owners would need to visit their vet to discuss health preparations at least four months before they intend to travel with their pet and they would still need to ensure rabies vaccinations are kept up to date.
Before travelling from the UK to an EU country with their pet for the first time, it would need to be taken to an Official Veterinarian (OV) at least 21 days in advance. The OV would ensure the animal has a microchip and rabies vaccination.
Will my local vet be an Official Veterinarian?
You should speak with your local veterinary practice to find out whether it holds Official Veterinary status. An OV will be a fully qualified vet and member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, but they will hold additional qualifications known as OCO(V)s.
This will allow them to complete the required documents and certification needed for you to travel with your pet under the Pet Travel Scheme.
What happens to pet travel if there is a no-deal Brexit?
If the UK leaves the EU in March 2019 with no deal, and we have not been accepted as a Part 1 or Part 2 listed country we would become an unlisted third country for the purposes of the EU Pet Travel Scheme.
This means that pet owners must take some specific actions several months before they wish to travel.
What should I do if I’m travelling to Europe with my pet in 2019?
To plan ahead in case there is a no-deal Brexit, you may want to speak to a certified Official Veterinarian at least four months in advance of travelling.
You will need to demonstrate that your pets are free of rabies, this could involve a vaccination followed by at least a 30-day wait before a subsequent blood test, which itself is then followed by a three-month waiting period before travel.
Our survey of pet owners found that 36.4% of people would take fewer trips to Europe with their pet if Brexit creates more admin around taking an animal abroad.
34% said they will leave their pet at home more often when they travel to Europe.
Does my pet insurance policy cover my pet abroad?
Many pet insurance companies will offer cover for your pet while you are abroad, although it is often an optional extra that costs more.
At Bought By Many we offer travel insurance that provides cover for your pet as part of our Complete policy. You can add it to many more of our policies.
What’s happening now?
The government is seeking to become a ‘listed’ third country when the UK leaves the EU in March 2019 and this will help minimise any disruption. With time rapidly running out, the government has already begun issuing warnings and contingency plans for members of the public and different business sectors on the potential impact of a no-deal Brexit.
Is a no-deal Brexit still unlikely?
Yes. Despite some of the media news coverage you may have seen or heard, a no-deal Brexit remains unlikely given that it’s in the best interests of both the UK and the EU to negotiate a Brexit outcome. However, in the event of a no-deal Brexit, it’s important to remember this will have a significant impact on the medical requirements and documents needed to visit any EU country with your pet.
To learn more about how a no-deal Brexit may affect your pet travel arrangements you can visit the government’s website at The Department for Environment, Food, & Rural Affairs.
With less than 6 months to go before the UK leaves the EU, how Brexit will affect pet owners visiting EU countries with their pets remains an unresolved issue.
If you’re planning on visiting an EU country after Brexit, your future travel arrangements could significantly be affected, and you may need to begin making preparations now. The impact of any new arrangements introduced will depend upon the UK’s current negotiations with the EU and the terms of the final Brexit deal.