Brexit and animal transport

  • Owners planning to travel with pets between the UK and Spain in April are advised to see a vet before the end of this month, just in case

Since the start of the Pet Travel Scheme some eighteen years ago, thousands of owners of dogs and cats have enjoyed the freedom of taking their pets with them when travelling between the UK and countries in the EU without the stressful and expensive quarantine, with only certain minor considerations when necessary. A pet passport was the main requirement. The system worked well despite prophets of doom.

Spain was a major participant not only because of the weather but because the country has a range of highly-qualified vets, many of whom speak English. Wise owners will make contact with a vet on arrival as you never can tell when an emergency will happen and it is good to have established contact.

We live in changing times and the question I am frequently asked is, "What will happen to travel arrangements with pets after the end of March 2019 when Britain is scheduled to leave the EU?"

The advice I give to owners who travel with pets is twofold. Keep an eye on the DEFRA website and stick rigorously to the regulations. View the information regularly as things change. Also ignore so-called experts who will tell you of an easy way around the regulations. The result is an expensive one which is stressful for the pet and owner.

If the deal over the Brexit negotiations is successful, little should change from the existing PTS. There may be minor changes and these will be shown on the DEFRA website.

However, prudent owners should still be prepared for a "no deal" scenario - a case of being prepared for the worst. Owners will be particularly vulnerable should Britain be classified as an "unlisted" country. This means that owners intending to travel with their pets on or after the end of March 2019 would need to discuss requirements with an official veterinarian at least four months before the date of travel. That is, if you plan to travel in April then the time for discussion is now, the end of November.

An official veterinarian will ensure the rabies vaccination is up to date and the pet has a blood titre test.

The lifespan of the rabies vaccination will depend on the brand of vaccine used. The majority last for three years. Providing a pet's vaccination is kept up to date and once the blood test has established a satisfactory titre level, the blood test does not need to be taken again.

Keeping rabies away from all countries concerned is the objective and the regulations must be observed by all owners.