Pet travel after Brexit: Brits living in EU urged to visit vets

British citizens in the EU hoping to travel to the UK with their pets after Brexit on March 29th are being urged to visit their vets to ensure they comply with EU regulations or they risk having to leave their animals behind in the event of a no-deal divorce.

Pet travel after Brexit: Brits living in EU urged to visit vets
Photo: AFP

The UK government issued more advice for British pet owners on Tuesday to make sure they take the necessary steps in case Britain crashes out of the EU without a deal – an event still described as “unlikely” by London.

Owners of cats, dogs and ferrets in Britain are being urged to visit the vet before the end of November to make sure their pet is micro-chipped and vaccinated against rabies before it can travel.

Pet owners will have to have a blood sample taken from their dog or cat 30 days after the rabies vaccination in order to show the process was successful. They must wait three months before travelling, the government advice states.

The rules will come into place because a no-deal Brexit would mean the pet passports issued in the UK would no longer be valid for travel.

The advice is slightly different for British pet owners living in the EU.

The government's Brexit advice paper says: “If you’re living in Europe and are planning to travel with your pet using a UK-issued pet passport, you should speak to your local vet.

“They’ll be able to help you understand the impact of Brexit and ensure you’re compliant with EU Pet Travel Regulations.

However life will be a little simpler if dog and cat owners have a pet passport issued by the EU country where they live because Britain will accept it as a means of entry.

“If you have a pet passport issued by an EU member state, you can use it to bring your pet to the UK,” says the government.

“To return your pet to an EU country from the UK, you’ll need to ensure it has a successful rabies antibody blood test.

“If your pet has a successful blood test before leaving the EU you will not need to wait the 3 months before travelling.”

In 2017, 287,016 dogs and 26,480 cats entered the UK from the EU, according to the UK’s Animal & Plant Health Agency (ALPHA), following a request by The Local under the Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) 2000. The agency does not store data on the number of pets travelling from the UK to the EU, nor was it able to provide information about how future guidelines might change. 

In the event of a no-deal the British government is hoping to enter into discussions with Brussels to persuade the EU to treat it as a “listed” country from March 29th, meaning the pet passport scheme could still apply and the above advice may not be relevant.

However with everything up in the air and time running out pet owners would be wise to do their animal paperwork.

Member comments

  1. Could you think about using less emotive language – perhaps “leaves” the EU, rather than “crashes” out? Some people, even here in France, are pro-Brexit, believe it or not.

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Brits in Europe won right to vote for life in UK but questions remain

After years of campaigns and promises British citizens living abroad finally won the lifelong right to vote in UK general elections in April 2022. But campaigners say more needs to be done to allow all those Britons abroad to be able cast their votes easily.

Brits in Europe won right to vote for life in UK but questions remain

What’s in the law?

The Elections Act 2022 introduced several changes to the current legislation on electoral participation. Among these, it removed the rule by which British citizens lose their voting rights in the UK if they have lived abroad for more than 15 years

The new rules also abolished the requirement to have been previously registered in the UK electoral roll to become an overseas voter. In addition, the registration in the electoral roll will now last up to three years instead of only one year.

It is estimated that these changes could increase the number of overseas voter registrations by some 3 million. But the way new measures will be applied in practice is still to be defined.

READ ALSO: ‘Mixed feelings’ – British citizens in Europe finally get right to vote for life

Defining the practicalities

Under the new law, Britons living abroad will have to register to vote in the last place they were registered in the UK. This means that people who have never lived in the UK will be ineligible to vote, regardless of how long they have been overseas, while those who left when they were children will be able to use a parent or guardian’s address.

But given that the UK does not require residents to register with local councils, how to prove previous UK residence? “Typical documents accepted as a proof of residence are Council tax or utilities bills, but not everyone will have them or will have kept them in an international move,” says Fiona Godfrey, co-founder of the British in Europe coalition.

Ballot papers are pictured in stacks in a count centre as part of the 2019 UK general election. (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN / AFP)

Other questions concern how people will effectively cast their ballot. UK citizens overseas will be able to vote by post or by proxy or in person at their polling station if they are in the UK at the time of the election. However, few people are likely to travel to the UK for an election and in the past there have problems and delays with postal voting.

The Electoral Commission has recommended that overseas electors appoint a proxy to vote on their behalf. But who could that be for people who have been away from their constituency for a long time?

New secondary legislation will have to answer these questions, defining how to be included in the electoral roll and how to exercise the voting right in practice.

According to British in Europe, the government should present draft legislation in the first half of the year so that the parliament can adopt it before summer and registrations of overseas voters can start in the autumn.

British in Europe survey

British in Europe are currently running a survey to understand the difficulties UK citizens abroad may face in the registration and voting process, as well as their intention to participate in elections.

The survey asks for instance which documents people can access to prove their previous residence in the UK, what problems they had voting in the past, and if and how they plan to vote in the future.

“We need to get an up-to-date picture of British citizens living around the world and have information to make recommendations to the government, as it prepares secondary legislation,” Godfrey said. “If millions of people will exercise their voting rights, there will be consequences for council registration offices, post office and authorities that will manage the process, among other things” she argued.

The right to vote concerns only UK parliamentary elections and national referendums, not elections in the devolved administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, or at local level.

The survey is open to UK citizens living anywhere in the world and is available at this link.