Pet travel


This week we have received an important update from the government on changes to Pet Travel effective from 23:00 GMT on 31st December 2020. Please read on for the key changes and how you can prepare for the new normal when travelling with your pet.


The current UK Pet Passport will cease to be valid for travel from the 1st January 2021. Instead you will need to get an ‘Animal Health Certificate’ or AHC issued for your dog, cat or ferret to permit entry into the EU and Northern Ireland (NI) from Great Britain.

Importantly an AHC is only valid for:

  • Entry into the EU for 10 days after issue
  • A single trip to the EU
  • Onward travel within the EU for 4 months after the date of issue
  • Re-entry into Great Britain for 4 months after the date of issue


An AHC can only be issued by an Official Veterinarian and they won’t become available until the 22nd December 2020. These are large, 10 page documents that will take considerable time to complete. Not all vets are able to complete these documents, they can only be issued by an Official Veterinarian or OV. Thankfully we have a couple of OV’s at the clinic who are able to issue AHCs. As the AHC is only valid for 10 days it is important that owners are organised and book these appointments well in advance to ensure the clinic can accommodate completion of the documents within the required timeframe. This is particularly vital during school holidays as this is a peak time for pet travel.

The AHC documents are bilingual and must be issued in the language of the country of entry into the EU. So, for example, if your final destination is Portugal via arrival in France then you need to have the AHC issued in French. It is important to remember this as once you have the AHC issued you cannot change the point of entry, otherwise a new AHC would need to be completed. The AHCs are only valid for a single trip to the EU meaning they cannot be reused for multiple return journeys within the 4 month time frame.


Prior to travel, in order for us to issue your pet with an AHC:

  • Your pet must be microchipped
  • Your Pet must be vaccinated against rabies from the age of 12 weeks of age or older
  • 21 days must have lapsed from the date of the initial rabies vaccination before travel is permitted
  • Rabies vaccinations must be kept up to date
  • You, the owner, will need to provide proof of rabies vaccination (vaccination card/previous pet passport) and microchipping  date for the OV to copy, stamp and certify every time you need an AHC issued.
  • You, the owner, will also need to sign a declaration stating the non commercial nature of the travel
  • If travelling to Ireland, Malta or Finland with a dog, a tapeworm treatment must be administered 24 to 120 hours before arrival


Arrival into the EU or NI

  • You will need to enter the EU or NI through a ‘Travellers Point of Entry’ or TPE
  • You will need to present your pet’s original AHC
  • You will also need proof of your pet’s microchip, rabies vaccination and tapeworm treatment (if applicable)


For re-entry into Great Britain using an AHC:

  • You must return within 4 months of the date of issue of the AHC
  • Your dog will need a tapeworm treatment to be administered by a veterinary surgeon 24 to 120 hours before re-entry into Great Britain. Animals entering Great Britain from Ireland, Malta and Finland are exempt from this rule. Please note it is advisable to repeat the tapeworm treatment 28 days after your return to Great Britain.


Tick treatment isn’t a requirement of the pet travel scheme, but we strongly recommend you use tick prevention treatment if you’re visiting a region where tick-borne diseases are common. It matters because some of these diseases are fatal to pets. If you need advice about tick control, ask us. We’ll be delighted to help.

For full information about pets and travel, visit the Pet Travel Scheme website or call their helpline on 0370 241 1710.

Finally, we appreciate these changes will make all our lives a little more difficult when travelling with pets.  We ask you to please bear in mind that none of the team at our clinic had say in the decisions the government have made on this and we are as frustrated with these changes as you might be.