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Changes to Pet Travel in the event of a ‘No-Deal’ Brexit

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has advised that should the UK leave the EU next year without a deal, there would be important implications for pet owners wishing to travel overseas with their animals from 30 March 2019.

Both owners and veterinary professionals need to be aware of and potentially act upon these implications by 28 November 2018.

Defra has therefore launched a communications campaign today to advise pet owners what they need to do in a no-deal scenario, and has asked us to alert all UK-practising veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses to the key facts.

This email sets out an overview of what pet owners need to know, which we would ask you please to consider posting on your practice website and social media channels, and/or in your waiting room.

It also lists Defra’s key messages for veterinary professionals, and provides links to further information on the Government and Animal and Plant Health Agency websites.

Defra has also produced a range of digital communication resources, including a short video, social media graphics and some display posters, which are available to download from their website.

 An overview for pet owners

Pet owners will still be able to travel to Europe with their pet after the UK leaves the EU, whatever the outcome of the Brexit negotiations. However, in the event of no deal, they may need to take some additional steps to be able to travel with their pet to the EU.

If pet owners are planning to travel after 29 March 2019 the Government will recommend they contact their vet at least four months in advance to check what they need to do. Those wishing to travel to the EU on 30 March 2019, for example, should discuss requirements with their vet as soon as possible and by 28 November 2018 at the latest.

The requirements for travel would include making sure that pets are effectively vaccinated against rabies before they travel. This involves having an up-to-date rabies vaccination and a blood test to demonstrate sufficient levels of rabies antibody.

The blood test would need to be carried out a minimum of 30 days after any initial rabies vaccination and a minimum of three months before their travel date. This means that pet owners will need to talk to their vet about health requirements in good time to make sure they are able to travel with their pet.

The Government has published further guidance for pet owners on its website.

Key messages for veterinary professionals

To travel with their pet from a third country to the EU, owners need to prove their animals are effectively vaccinated against rabies, with a blood titre test required to demonstrate sufficient levels of rabies antibody. This needs to be carried out a minimum of 30 days after any initial rabies vaccination. A period of three months must then be allowed to pass before pets can travel to the EU.

This means owners who want to be sure they are able to travel with their pet whatever the outcome of Brexit negotiations need to visit the vet at least four months before the date they wish to travel. For example, pet owners who wish to travel on 30 March 2019 would need to visit a vet no later than 28 November 2018.

Whilst Defra states it is confident that the UK will secure a deal with the EU, if there is no deal, it anticipates that, based on the UK’s current health status, it would be able to secure listed status to allow easier movement of pets between the UK and EU.

However, there is chance it will not have secured this status on the day the UK leaves the EU (29 March 2019), meaning a gap of several months when pet owners will need to follow the additional steps listed above to travel.

Defra has also sent a briefing note to Official Veterinarians outlining the pet travel arrangements in a no-deal scenario. This is available to view on the APHA Vet Gateway.

Further information is also available in the Government’s Technical Notice about pet travel if there is no Brexit deal.

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