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Professor Christianne Glossop, who is responsible for animal health and welfare policy in Wales, emphasises the need for animal owners to follow all required legal checks when taking their pets and livestock abroad:

“If you choose to send or take an animal abroad, then you’ve got to consider the potential risks and practicalities, and, most importantly, the legal requirements of moving it.

“Laws are there to protect the health status of a country an animal is arriving into, and you’ve also got to think about protecting the health status of the home country if it returns.”

Pet travel

Still an EU member state, the UK currently employs the Pet Travel Scheme, allowing its citizens to take their dogs, cats, and ferrets into the EU (and certain non-EU countries) and return them to the UK without the need for quarantine.

Christianne says:

“If we found ourselves in a “no deal” Brexit, then the day after we leave the EU, an EU Pet Passport, which validates the health and vaccination status of the animal, will no longer be valid for entry into the EU.

“To then prepare a pet, in terms of vaccination and all the paperwork processes necessary to travel with it to, say, France or Germany, would take you at least 4 months.”

Christianne highlights that pet owners need to consider this deadline when planning to move their pets out of the UK and back over the coming months:

“If you’ve got a holiday planned just before we leave the EU, you can travel with your pet to countries in the EU quite legally under the Pet Travel Scheme.

“If you’re out of the country when the UK leaves the EU, then a Pet Passport issued in the EU or the UK before Brexit will still be valid for entry to the UK.

“All companion animal vets will have all the information that’s required, and they will be able to guide you as they take your animal through that process.”

The latest information on Pet travel to Europe after Brexit on GOV.UK

Transporting livestock

Whilst there will be no changes to health status nor food standards in the UK immediately following Brexit, businesses trading livestock and products of animal origin with the EU will experience significant changes to the exporting process. 

“The health status of the UK’s livestock population isn’t going to change overnight”, says Christianne, “So it’s reasonable that on Day One we’ll have an equivalent health status.

“But the level of veterinary checks and export certification necessary for animals to move is expected to be much stricter, much tighter.”

The most important change to business will be to the current Export Health Certificate (EHC), which a vet must issue before livestock can enter the EU.

“The Export Health Certificate will now be for every consignment. So if you’re sending lambs to 3 different destinations, then you would then need 3 sets of certificates. If you were sending from different farms, you would again need separate certificates.

“We’ve made sure that an extra 87 vets within Wales are being trained to produce the certificates for the export of animal products, because we’re anticipating quite a significant increase.”

Useful information

The Welsh Government’s Preparing Wales website has information for those wishing to transport their pets into the EU following Brexit, as well as for industries trading in livestock and products of animal origin.

In both situations, Christianne advises keeping up-to-date with information from the Welsh Government, and the UK government’s Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA), as it is published.

“Don’t talk to your neighbour. Go to the source of advice, and keep an eye on things, because they’re changing.”

Preparing Wales is regularly updated, and includes relevant resources like the Brexit Toolkit, which measures business readiness for Brexit.

The Welsh Government publishes further updates on how businesses can prepare for Brexit, including the Gwlad and Fisheries and Brexit bulletins, as well as the Farming Connect and Business Wales newsletters.

Christianne acknowledges that following these new steps bring challenges, but that they are vital to maintaining business continuity, and to transporting pets:

“Firstly, people need to consider what they might need. If they are currently exporting or trading with the EU, then that should be a warning flag in their mind that they need to be making a plan now. 

“If they’re planning to go abroad with their animals, they need to consider that now.

“People also need to be talking to their own private veterinary surgeons – I think that’s the safest thing to say.”

Find out more about what you, as a business or pet owner, will need to do by going to these web pages:

For more information on exporting livestock, you may also find our article on the farming sector useful.