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.

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Brexit: Brits in EU feel European and don’t want to return home

The majority of Britons who live in the EU, Norway, Iceland or Switzerland and are protected under the Brexit agreement feel European and intend to remain in Europe permanently, but many have concerns about travel problems, a new survey reveals.

Brexit: Brits in EU feel European and don't want to return home

The research also shows that problems exist and “travel is where most issues relating to the new status currently occur”. For instance, border officials are still stamping passports of UK citizens with residence rights under the EU UK withdrawal agreement, even though they shouldn’t.

“There is constant confusion around passport stamping. I was ‘stamped in’ to France on a short trip… but could not find anyway to be ‘stamped out’ again. I think I can only spend 90 days in other EU countries, but have no idea how anyone can check or enforce that – until someone decides to try. It’s a mess,” was one of the answers left in an open question.

“Every time I go through a Schengen border control, I need to provide both my passport and Aufenthaltstitel card [resident permit in Germany] and watch to check that they don’t stamp my passport. As I am currently travelling a lot that’s been 20-odd times this year…” another respondent said.

The survey was carried out by Professor Tanja Bueltmann, historian of migration and diaspora at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, between October and November 2022. About 1,139 UK citizens replied.

Of these, 80 per cent found acquiring their new status easy or very easy, 60.7 per cent feel their rights are secure, while 39.3 per cent have concerns about their status going forward.

Staying permanently

More than three quarters (76.6 per cent) of respondents said they plan to live permanently in the EU or the other countries of the European Economic Area and Switzerland. In fact, 65.7 per cent said that Brexit has increased the likelihood of this choice.

For some, the decision is linked to the difficulty to bring non-British family members to the UK under new, stricter immigration rules.

“My German wife and I decided we no longer wanted to live in UK post Brexit referendum. In particular, we were affected by the impact of immigration law […] We cannot now return to UK on retirement as I cannot sponsor her on my pension. We knew it was a one-way journey. Fortunately, I could revive an application for German citizenship,” was a testimony.

“My husband is a US citizen and getting him a visa for the UK was near impossible due to my low income as a freelance journalist. We realized under EU law, moving to an EU country was easier. We settled on Austria as we had both lived there before… we could speak some German, and we like the mountains,” said another respondent.

Professor Bueltmann noted that the loss of free movement rights in the EU could be a factor too in the decision of many to stay where they are.

Citizenship and representation

Among those who decided to stay, 38.2 per cent are either applying or planning to apply for a citizenship and 28.6 per cent are thinking about it.

A key finding of the research, Bueltmann said, is that the vast majority of British citizens do not feel politically represented. Some 60 per cent of respondents said they feel unrepresented and another 30 per cent not well represented.

Another issue is that less than half (47.5 per cent) trust the government of their country of residence, while a larger proportion (62 per cent) trust the European Union. Almost all (95.6 per cent) said they do not trust the UK government.

Feeling European

The survey highlights the Brexit impacts on people’s identity too. 82.6 per cent of respondents said they see themselves as European, a higher proportion than those identifying as British (68.9 per cent).

“Brexit has really left me unsure of what my identity is. I don’t feel British, and I certainly don’t identify with the mindset of a lot of British people who live there. Yet, I am not Danish either. So, I don’t really know anymore!” said one of the participants in the survey.

Professor Bueltmann said the survey “demonstrates that Brexit impacts continue to evolve: this didn’t just stop because the transition period was over or a deadline for an application had been reached. Consequently, Brexit continues to shape the lives and experiences of British citizens in the EU/EEA and Switzerland in substantial, sometimes life-altering, ways.”

Considering the results of the study, Professor Bueltmann recommends policy makers in the EU and the UK to address the issue of lack of representation, for instance creating a joint UK-EU citizens’ stakeholder forum.

The report also recommends the UK government to rebuild trust with British citizens in the EU introducing voting rights for life and changing immigration rules to allow British-European families to return more easily. 

This article was prepared in cooperation with Europe Street News.