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Pet owners warned of four-month wait for travel between Spain and UK after Brexit

Pet owners wanting to travel between Spain and Britain after Brexit are being warned of a possible four-month registration process before pets are allowed to travel.

Pet owners warned of four-month wait for travel between Spain and UK after Brexit
This dog may be packed and ready to travel, but what will happen with a No-Deal Brexit? Photo: Fiona Govan.

The British government has warned that in the case of a no-deal Brexit, travelling between Britain and the EU with a pet will get a lot more complicated.

It is currently warning pet owners: “To make sure your pet is able to travel from the UK to the EU after Brexit, you should contact your vet at least four months before travelling to get the latest advice.”

So anyone planning a trip at Christmas time, for example, needs to start now.

Under the current Pet Passport scheme, travel with an animal is relatively simple, but because this is an EU scheme it will cease to apply to Britain after Brexit.

The British government is currently stating that it will allow Pet Passports to be used to bring animals from the EU into the UK, but they will not be accepted going from the UK into the EU.

And if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, as is looking increasingly likely, it will become an 'unlisted' country in terms of pet travel – and that means a whole raft of new requirements for people wanting to travel with a cat, dog or ferret.


The Pet Passport is an EU scheme. Photo: AFP

Going from the UK to the EU

1. Firstly if your pet is not already, it needs to be microchipped.

2. Your pet then needs to have a blood sample taken at least 30 days after its most recent rabies vaccination (whether that is a vaccination or a booster).

3. Your vet then needs to send the blood sample to an EU approved blood testing laboratory (of which there are only two in the UK) which will check that your pet has the correct level of rabies antibodies in its blood. If the level is not high enough, then your pet will need a booster vaccine.

4. You cannot travel until three months after a successful rabies test.

5. When you get to within 10 days of your travel date, you then need to get an animal health certificate from your vet. To get the certificate you will need to provide; proof that your pet is microchipped, its vaccination history and the successful rabies antibody test result. The certificate will only be accepted at the border if it has been issued within 10 days of your date of travel.

6. You do not need a new blood test every time you travel, but you will need a new animal health certificate for each trip.


The restrictions apply to cats, dogs and ferrets. Photo: AFP

Going from the EU to the UK

Going the other way is easier, because the UK  has stated that for the moment it will continue to accept Pet Passports. Your Pet Passport and microchip information will be checked at the border.

Tapeworm requirements for dogs will not change from the current system.

Going from the UK to the EU if you live in the EU

Good news for people who are resident in Spain, as their waiting time for travel after the rabies test is slightly shorter – instead of waiting three months after a successful test they only need to wait 30 days, as long as the test is carried out in Spain (or another EU country).

If you don't have the correct paperwork your pet could be put into quarantine for up to four months or they might be refused entry if you travelled by sea, and you will be held responsible for any fees or charges.

The above rules apply for all unlisted countries, which the UK is likely to become in the case of a no-deal Brexit. After that it would be a question of the UK government negotiating to gain listed status, under which restrictions are lighter and the waiting times after rabies tests are generally shorter.

Thousands of travellers transport their pets between the UK and Spain each year catching ferries between the Spanish ports of Bilbao and Santander to UK ports. 

Around 80,000 animals use the pet service between Spanish and French ports on Brittany Ferries each year, travelling either in 'pet friendly' cabins or using the kennel service.

There are full details on the UK government site here, or there is a helpline on 0370 241 1710 which is open Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 5pm (UK time) except on bank holidays.

 

 

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BRITS IN EUROPE

Brits in Europe won right to vote for life in UK but questions remain

After years of campaigns and promises British citizens living abroad finally won the lifelong right to vote in UK general elections in April 2022. But campaigners say more needs to be done to allow all those Britons abroad to be able cast their votes easily.

Brits in Europe won right to vote for life in UK but questions remain

What’s in the law?

The Elections Act 2022 introduced several changes to the current legislation on electoral participation. Among these, it removed the rule by which British citizens lose their voting rights in the UK if they have lived abroad for more than 15 years

The new rules also abolished the requirement to have been previously registered in the UK electoral roll to become an overseas voter. In addition, the registration in the electoral roll will now last up to three years instead of only one year.

It is estimated that these changes could increase the number of overseas voter registrations by some 3 million. But the way new measures will be applied in practice is still to be defined.

READ ALSO: ‘Mixed feelings’ – British citizens in Europe finally get right to vote for life

Defining the practicalities

Under the new law, Britons living abroad will have to register to vote in the last place they were registered in the UK. This means that people who have never lived in the UK will be ineligible to vote, regardless of how long they have been overseas, while those who left when they were children will be able to use a parent or guardian’s address.

But given that the UK does not require residents to register with local councils, how to prove previous UK residence? “Typical documents accepted as a proof of residence are Council tax or utilities bills, but not everyone will have them or will have kept them in an international move,” says Fiona Godfrey, co-founder of the British in Europe coalition.

Ballot papers are pictured in stacks in a count centre as part of the 2019 UK general election. (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN / AFP)

Other questions concern how people will effectively cast their ballot. UK citizens overseas will be able to vote by post or by proxy or in person at their polling station if they are in the UK at the time of the election. However, few people are likely to travel to the UK for an election and in the past there have problems and delays with postal voting.

The Electoral Commission has recommended that overseas electors appoint a proxy to vote on their behalf. But who could that be for people who have been away from their constituency for a long time?

New secondary legislation will have to answer these questions, defining how to be included in the electoral roll and how to exercise the voting right in practice.

According to British in Europe, the government should present draft legislation in the first half of the year so that the parliament can adopt it before summer and registrations of overseas voters can start in the autumn.

British in Europe survey

British in Europe are currently running a survey to understand the difficulties UK citizens abroad may face in the registration and voting process, as well as their intention to participate in elections.

The survey asks for instance which documents people can access to prove their previous residence in the UK, what problems they had voting in the past, and if and how they plan to vote in the future.

“We need to get an up-to-date picture of British citizens living around the world and have information to make recommendations to the government, as it prepares secondary legislation,” Godfrey said. “If millions of people will exercise their voting rights, there will be consequences for council registration offices, post office and authorities that will manage the process, among other things” she argued.

The right to vote concerns only UK parliamentary elections and national referendums, not elections in the devolved administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, or at local level.

The survey is open to UK citizens living anywhere in the world and is available at this link.

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