British citizens in the EU hoping to travel to the UK with their pets after Brexit on March 29th are being urged to visit their vets to ensure they comply with EU regulations or they risk having to leave their animals behind in the event of a no-deal divorce.
The UK government issued more advice for British pet owners on Tuesday to make sure they take the necessary steps in case Britain crashes out of the EU without a deal – an event still described as "unlikely" by London.
Owners of cats, dogs and ferrets in Britain are being urged to visit the vet before the end of November to make sure their pet is micro-chipped and vaccinated against rabies before it can travel.
Pet owners will have to have a blood sample taken from their dog or cat 30 days after the rabies vaccination in order to show the process was successful. They must wait three months before travelling, the government advice states.
The rules will come into place because a no-deal Brexit would mean the pet passports issued in the UK would no longer be valid for travel.
The advice is slightly different for British pet owners living in the EU.
The government's Brexit advice paper says: "If youre living in Europe and are planning to travel with your pet using a UK-issued pet passport, you should speak to your local vet.
"Theyll be able to help you understand the impact of Brexit and ensure youre compliant with EU Pet Travel Regulations."
However life will be a little simpler if dog and cat owners have a pet passport issued by the EU country where they live because Britain will accept it as a means of entry.
"If you have a pet passport issued by an EU member state, you can use it to bring your pet to the UK," says the government.
"To return your pet to an EU country from the UK, youll need to ensure it has a successful rabies antibody blood test.
"If your pet has a successful blood test before leaving the EU you will not need to wait the 3 months before travelling."
In 2017, 287,016 dogs and 26,480 cats entered the UK from the EU, according to the UKs Animal & Plant Health Agency (ALPHA), following a request by The Local under the Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) 2000. The agency does not store data on the number of pets travelling from the UK to the EU, nor was it able to provide information about how future guidelines might change.
In the event of a no-deal the British government is hoping to enter into discussions with Brussels to persuade the EU to treat it as a "listed" country from March 29th, meaning the pet passport scheme could still apply and the above advice may not be relevant.
However with everything up in the air and time running out pet owners would be wise to do their animal paperwork.