If you’re anything like us, then the main reason that you travel in a motorhome or campervan is so that you can bring your dog along on your adventures with you, They’re a part of your family too, right?
But a common question that we get asked is what documentation do you need to get them to Europe?
This is where an EU pet passport becomes crucial. But you might ask, how to get an EU pet passport post Brexit? As everything has changed and it has become a little more complicated to get your hands on one. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Keep reading this post to find out exactly what you need to do to get your pet an EU pet passport.
Importance of EU Pet Passport
Travelling in a motorhome or campervan can be one of the best experiences ever, and having your beloved pet accompany you on your adventures makes it even better. Pets aren’t merely animals; they are our companions, members of our family. That’s why an EU Pet Passport holds such importance for pet owners.
An EU Pet Passport was designed to simplify the process of travelling with pets within the European Union. This small booklet served as an official record of your pet’s health status and vaccinations, particularly against rabies. It held all necessary information related to your pet – its identification details, medical history, and crucially, proof of the mandatory rabies vaccine.
Having an EU Pet Passport meant your pet could travel freely throughout the EU member states with you, without having to undergo any quarantine period. This was especially beneficial for frequent travellers or people living a nomadic lifestyle, like us in our campervans and motorhomes. We could explore the picturesque landscapes of Europe with our furry companions by our side, without any hassle or long periods of separation.
Moreover, the EU Pet Passport not only facilitated easy movement but also ensured the control of diseases. The strict requirement of vaccinations, primarily against rabies, made sure that this fatal disease was kept in check across borders.
In essence, an EU Pet Passport offered peace of mind. It was a passport to adventure for our pets, a gateway to creating unforgettable memories across the European continent. However, since Brexit, the rules have changed, but that doesn’t mean your pet has to be left behind.
Impact of Brexit on EU Pet Passport
Brexit, the term used to describe the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union, has had far-reaching implications on many aspects of life, and pet travel is no exception. As the UK left the EU, it also left the EU Pet Passport scheme, causing a significant impact on how pets can travel between the UK and EU countries.
Prior to Brexit, the EU Pet Passport scheme allowed seamless travel with pets within the EU. However, post-Brexit, the UK is considered a third country, making UK-issued EU Pet Passports no longer valid for travel to EU countries. This has introduced new challenges for pet owners wishing to take their pets on their European travels.
Instead of the previous pet passport scheme, the UK to EU pet travel now operates under a system of Animal Health Certificates (AHCs). This means for each trip to an EU country, pet owners must now obtain a new AHC for their pets. This certificate proves that the pet is microchipped, vaccinated against rabies, and fit to travel, replacing the previous role of the EU Pet Passport.
If you’d like to know more details about animal health certificates, read this post where we discuss it in more detail – Taking A Dog To France – A Complete Guide 2023
Another impact of Brexit on EU pet travel is the change in the categorisation of countries within the Pet Travel Scheme. The UK has been classified as a Part 2 listed country, which means additional regulations for travelling with pets. For example, dogs now need to be treated for tapeworm 24 to 120 hours before arriving in certain EU countries, which was not a requirement under the pet passport scheme.
The transition from EU Pet Passports to AHCs and the additional requirements have indeed added an extra layer of complexity to pet travel post-Brexit. It requires more planning, with the necessary vet appointments and paperwork needing to be completed ahead of each trip. But despite these changes, it remains perfectly possible for us to enjoy our European adventures with our beloved pets in tow, and it also still does remain possible to get a pet passport, just not in the UK. Let us explain more ..
Understanding EU Pet Passport
What is an EU Pet Passport?
An EU Pet Passport is a unique legal document that allows pets to travel freely within the European Union. It’s akin to a human passport, but for your pets! This small, blue booklet plays a crucial role in making travel with pets across European borders as smooth and straightforward as possible.
The passport contains essential information about your pet, including its identification details such as the species, breed, date of birth, colour, and unique microchip or tattoo number. This helps authorities to easily identify the pet and match it to its respective document.
But the EU Pet Passport is much more than a mere ID document. It also serves as an official health record for your pet. It logs vital health data such as a record of vaccinations (particularly rabies), treatments, blood tests, and clinical examinations. The vet who administers a treatment or vaccine signs and stamps the corresponding section of the passport.
Perhaps the most crucial entry in the passport is the proof of vaccination against rabies. The EU Pet Passport verifies that your pet is vaccinated and therefore poses no rabies risk, allowing it to avoid lengthy and stressful quarantine periods upon entering other countries.
The passport stays with the pet throughout its life, providing a comprehensive health and travel history. For pet owners, an EU Pet Passport used to be the golden ticket that unlocked hassle-free European adventures with their four-legged companions. However, post-Brexit, UK pet owners must navigate a new set of rules and procedures.
Why Do You Need an EU Pet Passport?
The reasons why you needed an EU Pet Passport when travelling with pets are numerous, revolving mainly around convenience, legal requirements, and disease control.
Firstly, the EU Pet Passport simplified the process of travelling with pets within the EU. Once your pet had its own passport, it could travel freely across borders within the EU, just like a human traveller. This was particularly beneficial for individuals who frequently travelled or lived a nomadic lifestyle, such as campervan or motorhome owners. It meant you could take your pet with you on your European adventures without any unnecessary red tape.
Secondly, having an EU Pet Passport was a legal requirement for pets travelling within the European Union. This ensured that all pets crossing borders were correctly identified, vaccinated and in good health, protecting the welfare of the pets themselves and the general public.
Thirdly, one of the primary motivations behind the EU Pet Passport scheme was to keep diseases, particularly rabies, under control. By requiring all pets to be vaccinated against rabies and having this recorded in the passport, the risk of the disease spreading across borders was significantly reduced.
Finally, an EU Pet Passport helped to avoid the stress and discomfort of quarantine periods for your pet. As the passport verified your pet’s health status and vaccinations, it meant your pet could enter another country without having to undergo quarantine, making travel much less stressful for both you and your furry friend.
Getting an EU Pet Passport Post-Brexit
Changes in Pet Travel Rules
Brexit has brought significant changes to the rules for pet travel from the UK to the EU. Pet owners used to the convenience of the EU Pet Passport system have had to adapt to a new system and additional regulations. Here’s a rundown of the key changes in pet travel rules post-Brexit:
1. Replacement of EU Pet Passport with Animal Health Certificates (AHCs):
Post-Brexit, UK-issued EU Pet Passports are no longer valid for travel to the EU. Instead, pet owners must now obtain an Animal Health Certificate (AHC) from their vet for each trip they take with their pet to an EU country. The AHC, like the previous EU Pet Passport, confirms that your pet is microchipped and vaccinated against rabies.
2. Frequency of Obtaining AHCs:
One major change is that unlike the EU Pet Passport, which was a lifelong document, a new AHC is required for each trip to the EU. The AHC is only valid for a single trip, for a maximum of 4 months. Therefore, pet owners who travel frequently to the EU will need to go through this process multiple times a year, which can become expensive.
3. Tapeworm Treatment for Dogs:
Under the new regulations, if you’re travelling with your dog to certain countries (Finland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Norway, and Malta), you need to ensure they are treated for tapeworm by a vet 1-5 days before arriving. This is a new requirement that was not part of the EU Pet Passport scheme.
4. Entry Points:
Pets travelling with an AHC must enter the EU through designated Travellers’ points of entry (TPEs), where their documents and microchip will be checked.
5. Returning to the UK:
Pets returning to the UK are also subject to new rules. While no quarantine is required, your pet needs to be microchipped, vaccinated against rabies, and have an AHC or a valid EU Pet Passport issued in an EU country or Northern Ireland.
These changes have made the process of travelling with pets more complex and time-consuming. But with proper planning and understanding of the new rules, you can ensure a smooth journey with your pets across the UK and EU borders.
How to Apply for an EU Pet Passport?
Despite Brexit changes, you can still apply for an EU Pet Passport for your pet. You are going to firstly need an Animal Health Certificate to get yourselves out of the UK and into Europe, but once there, it is still possible to get a pet passport issued by a vet in an EU country, and it is still a valid document. This is what we did for our dog, we got one from a vet in Germany.
It seems that the post Brexit rules are still up in the air, and not completely understood by everyone.
Here’s the step-by-step process:
(If your pet is already microchipped and has a rabies vaccination, you do not need to worry about steps 1 and 2)
Before anything else, your pet needs to be microchipped. This is a small device placed under your pet’s skin that stores a unique identification number. This number is used to match your pet with their passport, ensuring all health records are correctly linked to them. Your pet will need one of these for both the animal health certificate and the pet passport.
2. Rabies Vaccination:
Once the microchip is in place, your pet must be vaccinated against rabies. Note that the vaccination must be administered after the microchipping. It’s essential to keep in mind that kittens and puppies cannot be vaccinated until they are 12 weeks old, and they must wait an additional 21 days after their primary vaccination before they can travel.
3. Apply for the Passport:
Once the rabies vaccination is complete, you can apply for the animal health certificate through your vet. Your vet will fill out all of the relevant information and record it on the animal health certificate.
4. Get to Europe and visit a vet in an EU country
Once you’ve managed to get yourself to Europe with your animal health certificate, you are free to visit a vet in an EU country to try to obtain a pet passport. We did ours in Germany, as we had heard that vets in France were cracking down on distributing passports to UK citizens. I think this is because they had so many people asking, due to France being the first country that most people enter. We had no issues in Germany at all, the vet checked the details on the animal health certificate, checked our dogs microchip, gave her a general health check and that was all, we were issued with the pet passport!
The only thing you do need to think about is the fact that once you have a pet passport, a UK vet MUST NOT record anything in this passport, otherwise it makes it invalid. This means that, if checked by anybody, the rabies vaccine that you had in the UK may not be considered valid. We didn’t want to take any risks, so we also got a new rabies vaccine administered in Germany, so that this could be recorded in the pet passport by a German vet.
4. Regular Vaccinations:
Your pet’s passport needs to stay up to date, which means regular boosters for the rabies vaccination. Your vet will record these in the passport as they occur.
The rabies vaccine lasts 3 years, and we were reassured by vets that it is not considered dangerous for your dog to have another rabies vaccine before their initial one expires. Also, it means that every 3 years you will have to get the dogs rabies vaccine updated by an EU vet in order for the passport to remain valid, NOT in the UK.
5. Additional Treatments:
Depending on your travel destination, your pet may need additional treatments such as tapeworm treatment for dogs. Always check the specific requirements of the country you are planning to visit.
Common Mistakes to Avoid
When it comes to pet travel, avoiding common mistakes can save you from unnecessary stress and inconvenience. Here are some common mistakes to avoid when navigating the new pet travel rules or applying for an EU Pet Passport:
1. Not Microchipping First:
Many pet owners make the mistake of vaccinating their pets against rabies before getting them microchipped. The microchip must be implanted before the rabies vaccination for it to be valid for travel.
2. Ignoring the Waiting Period:
There is a waiting period of 21 days after the primary rabies vaccination before your pet can travel. Failing to observe this waiting period can lead to travel delays or issues at the border.
3. Missing Booster Vaccinations:
Keep up with your pet’s regular rabies boosters. If your pet’s booster is overdue, they may not be allowed to travel.
4. Not Checking Country-Specific Requirements:
Every country has its own specific pet travel requirements. For example, some countries require dogs to be treated for tapeworms. Failing to adhere to these country-specific regulations could lead to your pet being denied entry and hefty fines.
5. Leaving Things to the Last Minute:
Organising pet travel can be a lengthy process, especially with the new rules post-Brexit. Leaving it to the last minute could result in missed trips or quarantine for your pet. Start the process well in advance of your travel dates.
6. Not Having the Right Documentation:
Whether it’s an EU Pet Passport or an Animal Health Certificate (AHC), having the right documentation for your pet is crucial.
7. Overlooking Updates in Regulations:
Regulations regarding pet travel can change, particularly in these post-Brexit times. Keep an eye on updates from official sources to stay informed about any changes that may affect your travel plans.
Remember, while the process may seem complex, with careful planning and awareness, you can avoid these common mistakes and ensure a smooth and hassle-free journey for you and your pet.
So, while Brexit has indeed changed the rules about travelling with your pet between the UK and the EU, it doesn’t mean that your furry friend has to miss out on your European adventures. With some planning and preparation, and by ensuring you have the correct documentation, you can still take your pet with you wherever you go. Safe travels!
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I love everything about travel, from seeing new places, learning about new cultures and trying new foods! I believe that travel is one of the best forms of education you can get, I have learnt so much about myself and about the world from travelling all over. Travel is something I feel so passionately about, and I love the fact that we are now lucky enough to have this opportunity to do what we love as much as we can, it’s a dream come true.
Before we started travelling, I worked in local government in administration. I had been in this job for several years and had reached a complete brick wall where I was so fed up, but didn’t know what else to do. The only thing I knew that I wanted to do was to travel, and had wanted to do that for many years.
There were hundreds and hundreds of places on my wishlist that I wanted to go to, and I knew that going on a weeks holiday maybe twice a year if we were lucky wasn’t going to cut it.
After being in lockdown due to the Covid pandemic, and working from home staring at the same 4 walls every day, 2021 seemed like the perfect time for us to take the risk to finally do what we had dreamed of for so long.
It was a hard decision to completely change our lives, but so far it has been the best decision we have ever made!