Last Updated 23rd June 2021 with printable checklists added.
Since the Brexit transition period ended on 1st of January 2021, taking your pets abroad from the UK involve much more red tape.
On 9th December 2020, The European Union announced that from 1st January 2021, Britain, except Northern Ireland, will have ‘Part 2’ listed status for pets (dogs, cats and ferrets) travelling to the EU.
What this Means
- Your Current UK-issued EU Pet Passport is No Longer Valid – from 1st January 2021, existing Pet Passports issued in England, Wales and Scotland (pictured) are no longer valid for travel to the EU. (If you are already in the EU, the UK passport remains valid for the duration of your trip.)
- Except Northern Ireland – where EU pet passport rules will still apply. “Pet passports issued in an EU country or Northern Ireland can still be used for exports from GB to the EU, as long as the rabies vaccination is still valid.” (ref OV Instructions for Small Animal Exports)
- You Will Need an Animal Health Certificate – any pet travelling to the EU or Northern Ireland (NI) from England, Wales and Scotland after 23:00 GMT on 31st December 2020,will need an ‘Animal Health Certificate’ (AHC) issued by an Official Vet (OV) approved by the APHA (Animal and Plant Health Agency). Part of Defra, this is the government department which oversees the safety of animal imports and exports.
- Tapeworm Treatment (Dogs Only) – in addition, treatment against Echinococcus multilocularis will become a requirement for entry into Northern Ireland, Eire, Finland and Malta in the EU. This remains a requirement for entry into the UK and Norway. It must be administered by a vet between 24-hours and 5 days before travel and certified on the AHC. At present, AHCs are not available for Norway, which is in Schengen but not the EU.
- Will UK Pet Passports Ever be Issued Again? – The Government has applied for Part 1 listed status which would allow GB to issue passports again. Watch this space!
What You Need to Know About Animal Health Certificates (AHCs)
Note that Validity is always counted from Date of Issue – not Date of Travel or Date of Arrival.
- You Must Travel Within 10 Days of Issue – the AHC is valid for entry into the EU & NI for only 10 days from the date of issue.
- You Can’t Change the Country of Entry Once Issued – the AHC is a bilingual document; you can only enter the EU if you hold the correct document for the country where you first arrive in the EU. If you wish to change your country of entry, you need a new AHC. A list of countries for which AHCs are available is available here on the Gov Website.
- They are valid for 4 months from date of issue OR until expiry of the rabies vaccine, whichever is earlier:
- For onward travel in the EU
- For re-entry into the UK
- Valid for One Trip Only – AHCs cover only a single entry to the EU or NI. They are valid for onward travel in EU countries, but cannot be reused for a second or subsequent entry from GB into the EU.
- One AHC Can Cover up to Five Pets of the same species in normal cirucmstances; more in specific circumstances, such as participating in a competition.
- You must Enter the EU via a designated TPE (Travellers Point of Entry).
- Microchip Before Rabies Jab: the microchip implantation or reading date MUST be on or before the date of the rabies jab.
- A Declaration Must be Attached – signed and completed by the pet owner, confirming the non-commercial nature of the movement.
Where/When Can I Get An AHC?
- From an Official Vet – AHCs can only be completed by a certified Official Veterinary Surgeon, so check that the practice has one when you make your appointment. The APHA lists OVs by region here, although it is not a comprehensive list.
- 21 Days AFTER Initial Rabies Vaccination – AHCs cannot be issued until at least 21 days after the initial rabies vaccination. You will also need evidence that the rabies boosters have been kept up to date.
- 10 Days Prior to EU Arrival – the date of issue cannot be more than 10 days before the date of arrival in the EU.
- Prices quoted for the issue of AHCs have varied widely; from £70 to £231. Up to 5 pets of the same species can travel on one AHC, but charges to include extra pets vary. In the north of England and North Wales, the not-for-profit Animal Health Trust quoted £109 for the AHC and £50 for each additional pet at the time of writing. A petition is being launched to standardise or cap charges.
How Long Will It Take to Get an AHC?
- The AHC is a substantial, 10-page document that will require a considerable time to complete and not every vet is authorised to issue them, so book your appointment early with an Official Vet.
- The AHPC confirmed that any pet travelling with a UK pet passport to the EU from the UK before 31/12/2020, but returning to the UK after 01/01/2021, will be able to return. Any pet movement after that will require the AHC.
What Info Do I Need to Give The Vet?
You will need the following information and documentation for your appointment. Note that the AHC must be issued within 10 days of arrival in the EU.
- Dates: Dates of GB Departure and EU Arrival, plus Duration of your Visit.
- Method of Transport to Destination. (Some export certificates require a further part of the certificate to be completed by an OV before embarkation, usually at an airport. This process may include sealing the transport crate.)
- How Your Pet will Travel: Accompanied or Unaccompanied?
- Country of Arrival in the EU: the AHC is a bilingual document specific to your country of arrival.
- Port or Place of Arrival: you must enter through a designated TPE.
- Confirmation of Non-Commercial Transport: declaration that the animal is not being transported for re-homing or sale.
- Confirmation of Ownership: if you do not own the animal, the owner must provide written authority for you to apply for an AHC.
- Rabies Vaccination Certificate: the ORIGINAL copy of the pet’s rabies vaccination certificate (usually found in the previous pet passport.) The vet needs to attach a certified copy to the AHC.
- Microchip Certificate: proof of the date of microchip implantation and microchip number. If you have the microchip certificate, provide this as well as the previous pet passport. The vet needs to attach a certified copy to the AHC.
- Your Details: full name, UK address and telephone number.
- Pet Details: your pet’s name, breed (ensure not a banned breed), colour, gender and date of birth.
- Pets Imported from Other Countries: if your pet has come from another country before arriving in GB and cannot travel on that documentation, provide the original pet passport or importation documentation.
To download a printable checklist of the above points, please click the button below.
Animal Health Certificate Checklist
Since OVs are human and the AHC is a new requirement, the OVs do sometimes make mistakes filling it out! Since this could affect your ability to travel, it is worth checking that the AHC is correctly filled in. This is a checklist used by a port PET Travel Co-ordinator.
- Are all pages of the certificate and accompanying documentation individually marked with the certificate reference number, stamped & signed and numbered in the format ‘Page x of y’?
- Is the certificate in a dual language, completed by the vet in block capitals with a different colour ink official veterinarian (OV) stamp? Here is the list of countries for which AHCs are available.
- Part 1 – I.1 Are all the required current owner details completed?
- Part 1 – I.3 Has the box been completed with DEFRA?
- Part 1 – I.4 Has the box been completed with APHA?
- Part 1 – I.5 Does this box indicate the same name as box I.1 and the country of first destination in the EU?
- Part 1 – I.18 Has the box been completed with Pet dogs, Pet cat and/or Pet ferret?
- Part 1 – I.20 Has the correct quantity been entered?
- Part 1 – I.25 Has the ‘Pets’ box been ticked?
- Part 1 – I.28 Is the description of animal completed?
- Part 1 – II Is the name of the territory or third country completed?
- Part 1 – II.1, II.2 and II.3 Are irrelevant statements crossed out?
- Part 1 – II.3 Can microchip (or tattoo before 03.07.2011) be read in the pet and does it match the number on the certificate?
- Part 1 – II.3 Is microchip date in format dd/mm/yy?
- Part 1 – II.3 Are rabies vaccination dates, on same day or after microchip date, name and manufacturer of vaccine and batch number completed?
- Part 1 – II.4 Where applicable, are all the required details completed?
- Part 1 – page 5 Is the name, address, telephone number, date, stamp, qualification and title and signature of the issuing vet completed? Does the date prove the AHC is valid?
- Part 1 – page 5 Where applicable, is the name, address, telephone number, date, stamp, qualification and title and signature of the official vet completed? Does the date prove the AHC is valid? (Not required if the issuing vet is an official vet)
- Part 1 – page 5 Where applicable, has the certificate been endorsed with all required details at the travellers’ first point of entry into the EU?
- Part 3 – Is the declaration completed as required by the owner or authorised person? Does the authorised person have an additional written declaration from the owner to allow travel and has the owner travelled +/- 5 days from today?
- Is the certificate stapled to and accompanied by OV certified copies of the ID and vaccination details? Each copy must be marked as ‘certified copy’ in the top right corner with certificate number and initialled (signed, stamped and dated is also ok).
Parasite Protection & Other Considerations
The AHC is not a cover-all for international travel with pets. Other things to consider are as follows:
- Tapeworm (Echinococcus) Treatments Outbound – if you are travelling to Ireland, Finland and Malta, your dog will require tapeworm treatment and certification administered between 24 and 120 hours before arrival.
- Tapeworm (Echinococcus) Treatments Inbound – returning to GB, your dog will require tapeworm treatment and certification administered between 24 and 120 hours before arrival.
- Local Disease Protection – check with your vet that your pet is fully vaccinated for other doggie diseases and is appropriately protected for local risks, such as parasite- and disease-carrying mosquitos, ticks and sandflies, since these are not covered by the AHC. See my post on Travelling from the UK to Europe & Back with Dogs.
Since you are officially exporting your dog to the EU for the duration of your holiday, you must comply with the guidelines set out by the APHA. It is YOUR responsibility to ensure that an AHC is appropriate for the countries you wish to visit and that any additional local requirements are met.
Pet Travel.com lists the entry requirements for over 240 countries. Look out for things like countries who do not recognise the 3-year rabies jab and require annual boosters, or countries which require a rabies titer test in addition to the jab. Since requirements change frequently, do double check with the official website of the countries that you will be visiting.
You May NOT Be Able To Take Pet Food Into The EU
- With a few exceptions, you will NOT be permitted to take pet food into the EU, unless required for medical reasons.
- You CAN take NO MORE than 2kg of pet food if required for medical reasons ONLY. The food must be:
- Intended for the pet accompanying the passenger.
- Shelf stable, ie not requiring refrigeration.
- Packaged, proprietory brand products for direct sale to the final consumer.
- In unbroken packaging.
- See Personal Imports and the section on Taking Food and Drink Into EU Countries.
- Animals aged 12 weeks or younger can no longer be exported.
- Travel is not permitted until 21 days after the rabies vaccination.
Pets on EU Passports
- The APHA confirmed when asked that pets with EU passports, other than UK passports, will be able to continue to travel freely to and from the UK in the future.The GOV website was updated on 21st December 2020 to confirm this, “If you have a pet passport issued by an EU member state, you can use it to bring your pet to GB.”
- An AHC or rabies titer test is not required in addition to an EU passport in order to enter the EU from the UK as a Part 2 listed country. This EU document suggests a valid EU passport will be sufficient on its own, subject to additional requirements such as tapeworm treatment in those countries where it is a requirement.
- “Regarding the rabies antibody titration test: The test is not required for pet animals (dogs, cats or ferrets) moved into an EU country from a territory or a third country listed in Annex II to Regulation (EU) No 577/2013”
- “Regarding the animal health certificate – The movement into an EU country from a territory or a third country of a pet animal (dog, cat or ferret) accompanied by a passport shall be authorised.if issued in one of the territory or third country listed in Part 1 of Annex II to Regulation (EU) No 577/2013 if completed and issued by an authorised veterinarian before leaving the Union.”
- How to Get an EU Pet Passport – This post from Australian Dog Travel Blog Travelnuity explains the process.
- A UK Vet CANNOT Update an EU-Issued Passport – The APHA confirmed that an up to date EU passport can be used for travel into EU and return to GB. However, after 1/1/21 UK vets can only update the tapeworm and clinical examination sections, NOT the rabies vaccine. If they do, the passport becomes invalid. If the rabies vaccine expires while the pet is in GB, an AHC must be issued. (ref OV Instructions for Small Animal Exports)
In Summary – AHC Main Points
- 4 Months Before Travel – Check Travel Requirements for your Destination: Pet Travel.com lists the entry requirements for over 240 countries. Look out for things like countries who do not recognise the 3-year rabies jab and require annual boosters, or countries which require a rabies titer test (which takes 4 months or longer if your test fails!) in addition to the jab.
- 1 Month Before Travel – Rabies Vaccinations:
- Not Vaccinated – if your pet is not vaccinated, get the initial rabies vaccine at least 21 days before your AHC appointment.
- Vaccinated – check that their rabies boosters are all up to date. If they have lapsed, you will have to wait 21 days after vaccination before the AHC can be issued.
- 10 Days Before EU Arrival Date – Vet Appointment: book early and ask for an AHC appointment with an Official Vet for no more than 10 days prior to your date of arrival in the EU.
- AHC Vet Appointment:
- Take With You: your pet, travel details and all vaccine, microchip & ownership documentation.
- Tapeworm (Echinococcus) Treatment: is this a requirement for the country you’re visiting? (Must be administered between 24 hours and 5 days prior to departure.)
- Other Treatments: in addition to the AHC, ensure that your pet is fully vaccinated against other diseases and is protected for any local hazards at your destination, such as parasites, mosquitos and sandfly.
- CHECK the AHC is Filled in Correctly: it is a new requirement and anecdotally, I have heard of mistakes being made. An incorrectly completed AHC may bar you from travel, so use the checklist above.
- AHC Validity from Date of Issue:
- 10 Days for Entry Into EU via Specified Country: Your AHC is valid to enter the EU only via the country you specified for 10 days from the date it is issued.
- 4 Months for Onward Travel & Return to GB: Your AHC covers four months from the date of issue for onward travel to other EU countries and your return to GB.
- Single Entry into EU: The AHC can’t be used to enter the EU a second time; you will need another AHC, but while valid, it covers onward travel to other EU countries.
- Return to GB – Between 1 & 5 Days Before Arrival: Tapeworm (Echinococcus) treatment must be administered to your dog by a vet between 24 and 120 hours before arrival and certified on the AHC.
- Consider Getting an EU Pet Passport While Abroad!: It is easier in some countries than others, but could be useful for future trips! Rabies jabs etc can only be updated by EU vets, however.
- HAVE A GREAT TRIP!
For More Information – The Pet Travel Helpline
- Email: email@example.com
- Telephone: 0370 241 1710 Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 5pm (closed on bank holidays)
- GOV Website: Pet Travel to Europe from 1st January 2021
- I will keep this blog updated as new information comes available. Please follow my blog to keep updated automatically; click ‘follow’ or enter your email address in the box below.
I have taken the information from primary sources, but while every effort has been made to ensure that it is correct at the time of writing, I urge you to check the most up-to-date requirements before you travel. Please see my Disclaimer for more details.
- GOV Website: Pet Travel to Europe from 1st January 2021 notice of update received 21st December 2020.
- EU document – non commercial movement from non EU countries.
- Here is a link to the Animal and Plant Health Agency briefing note 39/20 to Official Veterinarians, which is the original source of information. The briefing states that detailed guidance for travellers will be published on GOV.UK in due course.
- Official Veterinarian Instructions for Small Animal Exports the information published on the Government Website
- APHC/DEFRA document on pet passports. The final paragraph of Section 1 confirms that a residential address is not required, just a correspondence address, which need not be in the country of issue.
- APHA/DEFRA Guidance on AHCs for non-commercial animal movements to the EU, issued 18th December 2020.
- EU declaration of ‘Part 2’ listed status.
- European Liaison site on Pet Passports.