One big bonus of being in the EU, for animal lovers at least, is that we can take our pets all over the bloc with us. As an EU national, you can freely travel with your pet if it has a European pet passport
EU laws allow the “non-commercial movement of pet animals”, when that animal accompanies its owner and is under their direct responsibility.
This means – subject to certain restrictions – you have the legal certainty that you will be able to take your cat to a sunny beach in the Algarve or your dog to enjoy the snow in the Alps with ease.
Before your furry friend can travel from the UK to another EU country it has to be taken to an official vet to be microchipped and vaccinated against rabies. After this your pet will get its own passport, which continues to be valid for their lifetime.
The UK will bring the EU’s regulation on travelling with pets into UK law via the EU Withdrawal Act 2018, which means pets coming from the continent will be able to rely on this as a matter of domestic legislation.
But there’s no guarantee the EU will do the same, because the Brexit vision Theresa May is pursuing would make us a third country as a matter of EU law. Crashing out of the EU without a deal would be even more problematic. However, we could apply to be put on an EU list of countries who can use a pet passport, so long as we can demonstrate the application of EU rules.
There are two options here. If the UK applies to be listed as a “Part 1 Country” under the relevant EU regulation, there would not be a massive change.
But if the UK applies to be listed under “Part 2” of the regulation, pet owners would still need to get a health certificate – however, it would be different. After getting the passport, owners would have 10 days to bring their pets into the EU. Once inside the bloc, the passport would be valid for four months. But a new certificate would have to be re-issued for each new trip to the EU. That’s nowhere near as good as the lifetime passport our pets get now.
Pet owners – even those who love taking their animals on holiday with them – probably won’t have been thinking about pet passports when they voted in 2016. They might be now, as the realities of Brexit become clear. There were certainly plenty of pet owners on the recent People’s Vote March. That’s why we need a People’s Vote now that more of the facts about Brexit have come to light.
With thanks to Eric and his dog Greta, who enjoyed the sun on the People’s Vote March.