Pet owners face paying hundreds of pounds when they travel with their dogs and cats to holiday homes abroad because of post-Brexit red tape.
The European Union no longer accepts the entry of dogs, cats or ferrets with “pet passports” issued in Britain, even if they were issued before Brexit.
British pet owners must instead now pay as much as £180 for an “Animal Healthcare Certificate” from a vet. The exact price depends on the surgery. The certificates are valid only for four months, so all but the most frequent trippers are likely to have to pay each time they travel.
Because of technical problems yet to be ironed out at Irish borders, pet owners who travel to Northern Ireland from the British mainland also need to obtain the certificates.
The rules came into effect in January last year but went broadly unnoticed as coronavirus restrictions made it virtually impossible to leave the country for anything other than the most urgent travel. Only now, as restrictions around the world are lifted, have the new rules started to bite.
The red tape is only on the EU side, however, as the Government has said “pet passports” issued in EU countries are valid for travel into Britain. Travellers can obtain EU pet passports in France or other EU state from as little as €20 (£16.60), according to Pets That Travel, a consultancy.
These passports have the bonus of also being accepted in other countries, including Norway, Switzerland and America.
Members of the British Veterinary Association were until recently advising pet owners to avoid the higher post-Brexit costs by obtaining de facto EU citizenship for their animals in this way.
However, the trade body is no longer actively doing so after the French ministry of agriculture appeared to close the “loophole” by saying it would issue passports only to pets on its national database – meaning that owners of pets registered at home in Britain face their applications being turned down.
It is understood however that other EU countries are still approving EU passports for British pets. Whether pets are approved is down to the individual vet in the EU country concerned, the British Government has said.
The Government is currently lobbying to cut the red tape so British pet passports can once again be accepted by EU nations.