About Animal Health Certificates and rabies vaccines
Disclaimer: all details are correct at the time of writing. Owners are responsible for checking the most recent Government advice before attempting to travel with pets.
If you are a loving pet owner, you may be interested in looking for ways to take your pet on your travels to the European Union. However, to do so, you need to acquire an Animal Health Certificate. In this article, OrtonVets discusses exactly what an Animal Health Certificate is, and everything you need to know so that you can take your pet on holiday with you.
So, do I need an Animal Health Certificate? You need to acquire an Animal Health Certificate for your pet if you are travelling from Great Britain to the EU. An Animal Health Certificate is required by law to ensure that diseases such as rabies do not spread. For countries outside of the EU, you would need an Export Health Certificate.
Read on to learn more about Animal Health Certificates, including what you need to do prior to an Animal Health Certificate appointment, and how often you need to renew an Animal Health Certificate.
- What is an Animal Health Certificate?
- What is Required for an Animal Health Certificate?
- How Long is an Animal Health Certificate Valid For?
- How Long Does it Take to Get an AHC?
- Do Assistance Dogs Need an AHC?
- What To Do If You’re Not Travelling with Your Pet
- I Have a Pet Passport – Is It Still Valid?
- How Long Before Re-Entry into the UK is Tapeworm Treatment Required?
- Tips For Travelling to the EU With Pets
What is an Animal Health Certificate?
An Animal Health Certificate is a document that is required if you wish to take your dog, cat or ferret to a country within the EU or Northern Ireland. The Animal Health Certificate must be completed and certified by a veterinarian that has been approved by the APHA (Animal and Plant Health Agency), within 10 days of travel outside of Great Britain.
WHY IS AN ANIMAL HEALTH CERTIFICATE REQUIRED?
In 2021 the law was changed in Great Britain, detailing that Pet Passports issued in Great Britain are no longer valid documentation for taking your dog, cat, or ferret abroad. Instead, an Animal Health Certificate is required to prove your pet is appropriately vaccinated. The Animal Health Certificate is required when travelling to an EU country to ensure that diseases such as rabies are not spread.
DO I NEED AN AHC FOR TRAVEL TO ALL COUNTRIES?
An Animal Health Certificate is required for travel with your dog, cat, or ferret from Great Britain to an EU Country or Northern Ireland. However, for countries outside of the EU, the Animal Health Certificate is not valid and, instead, you will need to acquire an Export Health Certificate.
An Export Health Certificate is a form of documentation used to check whether your pet meets the specific health requirements of the country you are travelling to. It is important to note that each country outside the EU will have a different Export Health Certificate application process, and, as such, requires different information. To determine the relevant documentation for the country that you are travelling to click here.
IS AN AHC THE SAME AS A PET PASSPORT?
The Animal Health Certificate is not the same as the Pet Passport. The main difference between the two is the length of time that they remain valid for. Pet Passports are valid for as long as you keep them up to date with relevant vaccinations. However, an Animal Health Certificate is only valid for one trip to the EU, therefore you would need a new certificate each time you travel. Whilst the Animal Health Certificate is valid for travel inside of the EU for 4 months, a new AHC would be required if you exit the EU at any point during your trip.
What is Required for an Animal Health Certificate?
To qualify for an Animal Health Certificate, you need to meet a set of criteria otherwise you will not be able to travel with your dog, cat, or ferret to any country in the EU. Below OrtonVets have detailed these requirements to make it a little easier for you.
- MANDATORY REQUIREMENTS
- ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS
If you are travelling to countries such as Finland, Ireland, Malta, Northern Ireland, or Norway your vet must treat your dog for tapeworm and certify this in your Animal Health Certificate. The treatment needs to have been given no less than 24 hours, and no more than 120 hours before you travel.
The treatment must be both approved by the country that it is being given in and contain Praziquantel or an equivalent drug that has been proven to be effective against the Echinococcus Multilocularis Tapeworm.
What Do I Need to Provide Prior to the AHC Appointment?
The rabies vaccination record can be provided in either of the following ways:
- An existing GB or EU Pet Passport
- Rabies vaccination certificate/ vaccination card
- Previous veterinary clinical notes
The rabies vaccination certificate is acceptable if the details your pet’s microchip number and the details of their rabies vaccination history, including the manufacturer, date it was administered and batch number and is certified by a suitably qualified veterinarian.
What Do I Need to Bring to the AHC Appointment?
On the day of your Animal Health Certificate appointment, you need to remember to bring two things:
- YOUR PET
- THEIR PROOF OF RABIES DOCUMENT
How Long is an Animal Health Certificate Valid For?
Animal health certificates are valid for entry to the EU within 10 days of the date of issue and can be used for travel inside of the EU, as well as your return trip to the UK, for 4 months. As soon as you wish to cross back over the border, and out of the EU, the certificate will no longer be valid and you will be required to apply for a new Animal Health Certificate.
How Often Do I Need to Get an AHC?
You are required to acquire a new Animal Health Certificate each time you plan to travel to the EU from Great Britain. Animal Health Certificates are valid for one trip across the EU boundary, and for your return to Great Britain. However, if you exit the EU during your trip, a new AHC would be required to return to the EU.
FIND OUT MORE
How Long Before Travelling Do I Need to Obtain an AHC?
You should book your Animal Health Certificate appointment within 10 days of travel. Please factor in additional time to complete the online form and for your pet’s paperwork to be processed. This way, you will leave enough time to ensure that any issues can be rectified before you are due to travel. Please ensure that you have the correct dates and information before booking your appointment.
How Old Must a Pet Be to Get an AHC?
To qualify for an Animal Health Certificate and travel to the EU from Great Britain, your pet is required to be a minimum of 12 weeks old. This is because 12 weeks is the earliest that your pet can be vaccinated against rabies, a compulsory requirement of the Animal Health Certificate. You will also be required to wait at least 21 days after your pet has been vaccinated for rabies before you can book an Animal Health Certificate appointment. Please bear this in mind before you book your appointment.
Do Assistance Dogs Need an AHC?
Assistance dogs are still required to obtain an Animal Health Certificate when travelling outside of Great Britain into an EU country. The paperwork may be slightly more complex for an assistance dog, but if you book your Animal Health Certificate appointment within good time of travelling, there should be no issues with obtaining the certificate in time.
What To Do If You’re Not Travelling with Your Pet
In some cases, you may not be the person travelling with your pet and, instead, they may be travelling with friends or family, or with a hired pet transport company. Here’s what to do in such circumstances:
- PET IS TRAVELLING ALONE
- PET IS TRAVELLING WITH FRIENDS/FAMILY
I Have a Pet Passport – Is It Still Valid?
As of January 1st 2021, Pet Passports are no longer valid documentation for travelling with your pet to the EU unless it was issued within an EU country. On very rare occasions, Pet Passports can still be used for travel, but only if the specific country you are travelling to still accepts them. However, if not, your Pet Passport doesn’t completely go to waste because it can be used as evidence to show that your pet has been vaccinated for rabies. This is a compulsory requirement when applying for an Animal Health Certificate.
How Long Before Re-Entry into the UK is Tapeworm Treatment Required?
Tapeworm rules typically only apply to dogs, but it is still important to be aware of the information to ensure that your pet can re-enter the UK as and when you plan to do so. Each time you return to the UK after travelling to the EU, you must ensure that tapeworm treatment is administered, within 24-120 hours of the time you plan to re-enter the UK, by an official veterinary surgeon. The veterinary surgeon must record the tapeworm treatment in section 2 of your Animal Health Certificate to grant your pet travel access back to the UK. This does not apply if you are planning to travel back directly from Northern Ireland, Ireland, Malta, Finland or Norway.
Tips For Travelling to the EU With Pets
Travelling abroad can be a stressful task at the best of times, never mind when you must organize travel for your pet too. OrtonVets have detailed our best tips for travelling to the EU with your pets to make your experience as smooth as possible.
BOOK YOUR ANIMAL HEALTH CERTIFICATE IN ADVANCE
Booking your Animal Health Certificate in advance is imperative to having a smooth journey to the EU with your pet. Due to paperwork processing times, it is important to leave enough time between your Animal Health Certificate appointment and the day you plan to travel, just to ensure you have time to fix any amendments you may accidentally make in your paperwork. We recommend to allow some flexibility in your schedule, ensuring to factor in travel delays when leaving/returning to Great Britain.
CHECK THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE COUNTRY YOU ARE TRAVELLING TO
Some countries may have additional requirements for travelling with pets that are not a standard requirement across the board. You can check for this additional information by clicking here.
For example, The Faroe Islands only allows pets if you intend to stay for longer than 3 months, whilst Iceland requires a complicated 30 day quarantine period.
MAKE SURE YOUR PET HAS BEEN VACCINATED FOR RABIES
At the very least, you need to make sure that your pet has been vaccinated for rabies at least 21 days before your Animal Health Certificate appointment. Without relevant vaccinations, your pet will not be allowed to travel to the EU, and it will cause a serious delay to your Animal Health Certificate process.
CHECK IF THE COUNTRY IS PET-FRIENDLY
If you are travelling for a holiday, opposed to visiting family or friends, it would be worthwhile researching which countries are the most pet friendly.
VACCINATION SERVICES WITH ORTONVETS
Animal Health Certificates at OrtonVets
At OrtonVets, we provide Animal Health Certificates for travel to the EU, and Export Health Certificates for travel outside of the EU. Appointments cost £200.
OrtonVets offers vaccination services for your cats, dogs and rabbits which can contribute to your Animal Health Certificate Application.
For more information please contact us.