Here's what will change for pet passports when the UK leaves the EU

Once the UK withdraws from the EU on 31 January 2020, holidays and travel plans to Europe will remain initially unaffected, as the UK is still in the transition period.

So if you're worried about taking your four-legged friends with you on your travels post-"Brexit Day", you needn't be.

According to ABTA, "everything will remain the same" with regards to pet travel, "and you can continue to travel as you do now until at least the end of December 2020."

It's only if Britain faces the prospect of a no-deal Brexit at the end of the transition period that you might have to start thinking about your pet's travel plans.

Bearing in mind that the deadline of the transition period has the potential to be extended until 2023, those changes might be a few years off yet.

Here's everything you need to know about what could change:

What's the situation now?

Currently, all pet dogs enjoy free movement across the bloc, along with the UK’s estimated 11 million pet cats - and their owners, of course - under the EU Pet Travel Scheme (Pets).

As it stands, UK dog, cat and ferret owners can travel with their pets to and from other EU member states with minimal hassle.

A no-deal Brexit could set the cat among the pigeons, and UK holidaymakers who hope to take their pets away after the transition periof will likely be urged to start preparations early, or risk their animals being denied entry.

Pets will still be able to travel, but the requirements for the documents and health checks needed may differ, and could take months longer than they previously did to obtain.

How do pet passports currently work?

For the purposes of the EU pet movements system, countries are divided into three categories.

Pets from member states or equivalents, which include European Economic Area countries such as Switzerland and Norway, must hold a valid EU pet passport.

Listed third countries are nations which the EU does not consider to present a higher risk of disease incursion, or where there is convincing evidence that they have effective systems in place to report, control and manage rabies, such as the US.

Unlisted third countries are those that have not been accepted for “listed” status because of less robust veterinary or administrative systems, higher rabies incidence, or because they have never applied.

What might change?

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) warned in 2018 that if the UK leaves the EU with no deal, it will become an unlisted third country where pet travel is concerned.

“If the UK leaves with an unlisted third country status, pet owners will... need to take additional steps and start preparations at least four months ahead of their planned departure date," said Daniella Dos Santos, junior vice president of BVA.

It is “highly likely” that owners will face long waits and additional costs before getting the green light for their pet to leave the UK, Dos Santos added.

If the prospect of extended waiting periods and extra hoops to jump through aren’t enough to send owners barking mad, the additional expenditure that could otherwise be allocated to sunblock, sangria and squeaky toys might be.

The BVA estimates pet owners will be forced to pay up to £150 more than they currently do to bring their four-legged friends away with them.

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