Pet vacations are the latest casualty of Brexit

Of the myriad things that threaten to be upturned in post-Brexit Britain, the latest is a truly innocent bystander: British pets.

According to a position paper released by the UK government today (Nov. 6), the free movement of furry companions will not be the same post-March 29, the day Brexit is scheduled to occur, if no deal is reached with the European Union.

While the government is furiously working on a deal, the sticking points—chief among them, the Irish border—are aplenty. They do, however, pale in comparison to the number of things that would have to be worked out simultaneously in the event of no deal. Pets are just one of them.

Currently, cats, dogs, and ferrets with a European pet passport—an EU-sanctioned document which ensures they are vaccinated against rabies—and an associated microchip can travel in the EU quite freely, much like their owners. Roughly 300,000 British pets travel to continental Europe each year under this framework. But after Brexit, if no-deal is reached and thus the UK is considered an “unlisted third country,” those pet passports will no longer be valid, and things get a lot more complicated. Per the position paper:

…Your pet must have a blood sample taken at least 30 days after the rabies vaccination. You’ll need to talk to your vet about whether you need a rabies vaccination or booster before this test.

Your vet must send the blood sample to an EU-approved blood testing laboratory.

The results of the blood test must show that the vaccination was successful (Your pet must have a rabies antibody level of at least 0.5 IU/ml).

You must wait 3 months from the date the successful blood sample was taken before you travel.

You must take your pet to a Official Veterinarian (OV), no more than 10 days before travel to get a health certificate.

This process could cost as much as £200 ($261) up front, as well as £55 for a new health certificate for every visit to the EU during the three-year period that vaccination is valid, according to The Telegraph (paywall). The British Veterinary Association said it also anticipates struggling to keep up with the workload of issuing these certificates.

Beyond the cost, it also means that pet owners have to put in some serious forward planning if they want to take Winston to the Algarve for next year’s holiday—never mind if they’d like to move to another European country with a pet. As the government guidance said: “To make sure your pet is able to travel from the UK to the EU after 29 March 2019 in any scenario, you should contact your vet at least 4 months before traveling to get the latest advice.”

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