Pet travel and companion animal Official Vets (OVs)

6 November 2018

Defra and APHA are making pet owners aware that if they have plans to travel abroad at the end of March 2019 or thereafter, they will need to take certain actions by the end of November 2018 to allow for a ‘no-deal’ scenario. Owners are being advised to liaise with their vet to obtain advice.

BSAVA has liaised with Defra and APHA and there are some key points to be aware of if companion animal OVs are approached by their clients during November 2018. Please note that this is the situation and potential requirements at the moment. This is a rapidly evolving situation potentially subject to changes which will need to be conveyed by government as and when developments occur and the outcomes of EU negotiations are known.

Philip L’hermette, BSAVA President said: “As a vet in practice with many clients who regularly travel abroad with their pet, Brexit brings much uncertainty. In the event of a ‘no-deal’ scenario for the UK, pet owners are being encouraged to plan at least 4 months in advance to ensure they minimise jeopardising any potential travel plans following Brexit. The current situation may change depending on the EU negotiations however, it is sensible that owners discuss travel plans with their vet now so as to agree the most suitable options that will potentially meet their individual needs.”


Defra & APHA information

In the event of a ‘no-deal’ scenario (or whilst the outcome of the application for listed status is unknown), the UK would become an unlisted third country. A Briefing Note was sent from APHA to all companion animal OVs on Monday 29th October covering the most up-to-date information and advice on what preparations would be needed under each of the potential scenarios and is available to view on the APHA Vet Gateway in the section on ‘Briefing Notes’ and which can also be accessed here.  Information was also made available in a Technical Note issued at the end of September 2018 technical notice.

Rabies vaccination

In the event of a ‘no-deal’ scenario, rabies vaccination would be needed for UK pets travelling abroad. OVs would have to carry out a blood titre test to prove that pets are effectively vaccinated against rabies before they could travel to the EU. Depending on a pets’ history and the result of the test, the process could take up to four months.

The primary course of vaccination should be done on or after the same date as microchipping. Blood would have to be collected from the pet for a rabies antibody titre test at least 30 days after the date of the vaccination. The results of the Rabies Antibody Titration Test must show a level of neutralising antibody to rabies virus in serum equal or greater than 0.5 IU/ml. The test must be carried out by an EU-approved laboratory. Waiting times for results are dependent on the individual lab used and are likely to increase due to increased submissions. Please check direct with the laboratory for updates.

Following demonstration of an adequate antibody titre, pets would have to wait at least 3 months from the date of blood collection to the date of travel. In certain cases animals may fail the antibody blood test and require a revaccination and repeat blood test, therefore allowing sufficient time for this within travel plans is advisable. Given the vaccination regime, pet owners wishing to travel immediately after 28th March 2019 are recommended to start preparations no later than 28th November 2018.


Passports and documentation

Provided pets have undergone the necessary health checks, OVs should continue to issue EU pet passports for pets travelling up until 29th March 2019.

For travel immediately after 28th March you should issue any new documentation as advised by Defra and APHA. If the UK becomes an unlisted third country (or whilst the outcome of the application for listed status is unknown) blank Model Health Certificates and accompanying Notes for Guidance will be produced by APHA and issued to OVs from March 2019. Dummy versions of these certificates can be viewed by clicking the link on the OV briefing note (paragraph 5) alongside information relating to upcoming training requirements.

More information on the documents required to enter or re-enter the UK will be made available on GOV.UK as well as Improve International and the Vet Gateway as it becomes available. Separately, additional information will be sent to vets directly, outlining the scope of changes in areas such as revalidation modules and contingency plans.



Pet owners must ensure their pet is microchipped. The primary course of rabies vaccination should be done on or after the same date as microchipping.


Further information

If you need further information please refer to the Pet Travel Scheme website or call Pet Travel Scheme Helpline 0370 241 1710 (available Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm UK time (closed Bank Holidays))

Information is available to the public on Defra’s website.


BSAVA Survey

As you will be aware, the BSAVA survey to our OV members closed last week. We had an excellent response from members and would like to thank you for your participation. The above information from Defra/APHA answers some of the concerns raised by members. Full analysis is intended to provide Defra/APHA with information which can be used to issue further guidance to support companion animal OVs and their clients as required.