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Local pet owners who travel with their pets to England, Scotland or Wales should urgently prepare for changes to pet travel. The changes will be enforced from Great Britain for pets traveling here  at the end of the transition period following the UK leaving the EU.

Changes to the rules will take effect from 1 January 2021, however, Northern Ireland’s Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO), Dr. Robert Huey, has confirmed that the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) will phase in the new requirements until 1 February, allowing travellers enough time to make the necessary preparations. 

Pet owners should prepare for changes when traveling with their pets from GB next year. Photograph: Menno Groenmen from FreeImages

DAERA is working with the UK Government to explore flexibilities and find a more permanent solution.

Owners of dogs, cats or ferrets who are travelling from GB to Northern Ireland (NI) after 1 January 2021, must ensure:

  • They have microchipped their pet;
  • Their dog, cat or ferret is vaccinated against rabies;
  • They must wait 21 days after the primary vaccination before travel;
  • Visit their vet to get a valid EU pet passport if they live in NI or an EU animal health certificate if they live in GB confirming microchip and vaccinations;
  • That dogs are treated against tapeworm 1-5 days before travel from GB to NI; and
  • Enter NI through a travellers point of entry

Dr Huey commented: “As of 1 January, the rules for owners of dogs, cats and ferrets travelling from GB to NI will change. Pet owners hoping to travel in the New Year, need to take urgent action to ensure their dog, cat or ferret complies with the new regulations.

“In recognition of the short window to complete the necessary steps, I will phase in the enforcement approach, giving pet owners a period of time until 1 February, to make sure that they have the appropriate vaccines and documents including a pet passport if appropriate.

“Pet owners should discuss, with their vet, at the earliest opportunity what they need to do in order to obtain the correct documentation to travel with their pet. Further information is also available at WWW.DAERA-NI.GOV.UK

There will be no changes to the current rules for NI pet owners travelling to the Republic of Ireland or the rest of the EU, however, when travelling to both of these destinations, NI pet owners will still need to have a valid EU pet passport.

While current EU pet passports issued in both GB and NI will no longer be valid from 1 January 2021, as an interim measure, NI pet owners can contact their private vet who will update their pet passport to allow for continued travel.

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