Pet owners wishing to take their dogs, cats or ferrets abroad with them this year should consult a vet well in advance to get all the necessary paperwork in order, the British Veterinary Association (BVA) has said. The warning follows concerns over pent-up demand for overseas pet travel at a time when the veterinary profession is facing a workforce shortage and there is an increased demand on other veterinary services.

Under post-Brexit rules, pet owners must obtain an Animal Health Certificate (AHC) from a vet trained to issue them no more than ten days before travel from Great Britain to the European Union. Unlike the older and much simpler pet passports, AHCs are 9-12 pages long, which translates into a much more complex, time consuming and costly paperwork process. A pet travel consult at the vets is now taking around 45 minutes to an hour and even longer where there are multiple animals.

The rules for the new paperwork are set by the EU and cannot be changed by the UK government, but BVA is asking the government to help vets complete the certificates, for example, by issuing a simplified checklist to help speed up the process and avoid any common mistakes.

BVA is hearing from its members that some pet owners are leaving it too late to book an appointment and is asking owners to plan well in advance of any overseas trips by making sure they:

BVA Senior Vice President Daniella Dos Santos said: 

“The veterinary profession is very concerned about the pent-up demand for overseas travel with pets at a time when the workforce is stretched and there are capacity shortfalls in small animal practice.

“The new post-Brexit travel certificates and requirements are a significant change from the older pet passport system and so they will take longer to complete and cost more. BVA has lobbied the government to simplify the paperwork, but the rules are set by the EU so there’s very little we can do to make the process less cumbersome.

“Vet practices are already under a huge workload pressure and routine appointments are booked up well in advance. Unfortunately, this means that some practices have taken the difficult decision to stop offering pet travel certification appointments in order to prioritise animal health and welfare cases.

“With lockdown restrictions easing and more people planning trips abroad in the months to come, it’s crucial that the system can operate as smoothly and stress-free as possible both for the veterinary profession and pet owners. That is why we are advising that you contact your vet as early as you can ahead of travel to the EU to make sure there’s time to complete the necessary health checks and paperwork.”