Pet passports - everything you need to know

·6-min read

If you’d like to take your pet dog, cat or ferret abroad, there are certain requirements you’ll need to meet and documentation to consider.

From pet passports to animal health certificates, here’s a look at the paperwork required to take your pet overseas, plus an update on how the rules have changed since Brexit.

What is a pet passport?

Pet passports are documents that allow animals to travel to certain countries. They list details such as the treatments and vaccinations that your pet has had, information about you (the pet’s owner) plus a description of the animal concerned.

Since the start of 2021, as a result of the UK leaving the European Union, you can no longer use a pet passport issued in Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland) for travel to an EU country or Northern Ireland. Instead you’ll need an animal health certificate.

What is an animal health certificate?

If you’re travelling with your dog, cat or ferret from Great Britain to an EU country or Northern Ireland, you’ll need a document called an animal health certificate (AHC). The exception to this is if you have a pet passport that was issued in an EU country or Northern Ireland.

The AHC will include details such as:

  • Information about you (the owner).

  • A description of your pet.

  • Details, if required, about your pet’s rabies vaccinations and tapeworm treatments.

  • Your intended country of travel in the EU.

How do I get an AHC and how much does it cost?

To get an AHC, you’ll have to take your pet to your vet no more than 10 days before you travel. The document needs to be signed by an ‘official veterinarian’. If your vet can’t officially issue an animal health certificate, ask them to recommend one who can.

To be successful in your application, you’ll need to take proof of your pet’s microchipping date to your appointment, plus his/her vaccination history. If the appointment is with your own vet, they might have these details on file already, so check.

Your pet will need to have had its rabies vaccination at least three weeks before this appointment. To have a rabies vaccination, your pet must be at least 12 weeks old and already be microchipped. You’ll need to wait for 21 days after your pet’s first vaccination before you can travel.

You should also check the rules of the country you’re travelling to for any additional requirements.

An AHC should cost between £100 and £150. This price excludes the cost of vaccinations and/or microchipping.

How long is an AHC valid for?

Following its date of issue, your pet’s animal health certificate will be valid for 10 days for entry into the EU or Northern Ireland, four months for onward travel within the EU, and four months for re-entry to Great Britain.

You’ll need a new certificate for each trip to an EU country or Northern Ireland.

What does my pet need to travel to an EU country?

When travelling to an EU country or Northern Ireland from Great Britain, your dog, cat, or ferret will need:

  • a microchip

  • a valid rabies vaccination

  • an animal health certificate.

If you are travelling directly to Finland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Norway or Malta, dogs will also require tapeworm treatment. This is required for each trip to these countries.

What will my pet need to travel outside of the EU?

If you are travelling with your pet to a country outside of the EU, your pet will need an export health certificate (EHC). This documentation confirms that your pet meets the health requirements of the country to which you’re travelling.

You’ll need to apply online and nominate an official vet who will be sent the EHC and will check that your pet has met the health and identification requirements needed to travel. You can see the requirements for the country you are travelling to when you apply online.

You’ll also need to complete an export application form (EXA) if you’re in England, Scotland or Wales.

How many pets can I travel with?

You can only travel with up to five pets to an EU country or Northern Ireland unless you’re attending or training for a competition, show, or sporting event. If this is the case, you’ll need written evidence of registration for the event and will need to meet the other requirements for pet travel to your destination.

What are the requirements for bringing a pet to Great Britain?

If you are bringing your pet dog, cat or ferret to Great Britain, the rules are different depending on which country you’re coming from. The UK government splits the countries into ‘Part 1’ listed, ‘Part 2’ listed and countries that aren’t listed - as outlined here. In essence, you’ll need:

  • a pet passport if you’re travelling from a ‘Part 1’ listed country (these include EU countries)

  • an AHC that was issued in Great Britain (these are valid for up to four months after the issue date)

  • a Great Britain pet health certificate – this applies if you are travelling from a ‘Part 2’ or ‘not listed’ country, or a ‘Part 1’ country that doesn’t issue pet passports.

If your pet is entering Great Britain from Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man, it won’t need this documentation.

To enter Great Britain, your pet will need to have been microchipped, vaccinated against rabies (it will also need a blood test if you’re travelling from a country that is not listed) and have one of the documents listed above.

Every time you bring your dog to Great Britain, you must have it treated by a vet for tapeworm and this must be recorded in its pet passport or animal health certificate. The treatment must have been given no less than 24 hours and no more than five days (120 hours) before you enter Great Britain. If you don’t follow this rule, your dog can be refused entry or put into quarantine.

However, if you are travelling directly from Finland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Malta or Norway, this doesn’t apply. Find out more about bringing dogs to Great Britain here.

Is there anything else I should think about when travelling with my pet?

Before you travel, it’s worth doing some research around the country you are travelling to concerning diseases, parasites or other dangers that could impact your animal. You should also consider whether the accommodation you are travelling to is pet friendly, whether your pet will be comfortable with the local weather, and what your pet will do while you’re out and about.

Look at differences in local laws around travel with pets too.

If you have a pet insurance policy, find out whether this will cover your pet for travel to your destination and, if not, you could talk to your insurer about adding on extra cover for peace of mind.