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Travel between EU and UK: Pet owners warned about four-month waiting period

Pet owners wanting to travel between EU countries and the UK from January are being warned of a four-month waiting period to register dogs, cats and ferrets to travel.

Travel between EU and UK: Pet owners warned about four-month waiting period
Make sure your beloved pet doesn't get left behind. Photo: AFP

At present we are still in the Brexit transition period during which most travel rules – for both humans and animals – stay the same.

But when the transition period ends on December 31st that will change, and the British government is now warning pet owners that they should begin preparations for travel at least four months in advance.

So if if you want to make a trip in January, you need to begin preparations in September.

At present the EU Pet Passport scheme allows for fairly frictionless travel for four-legged companions but that will no longer apply to the UK once the transition period ends.

From January, the UK needs to become a listed country in order to keep restrictions on pet travel light.

But with just five months to go this has not been agreed, and the UK still needs to thrash out a raft of other agreements with the EU, as well as the small matter of a trade deal.

The UK government's Brexit web page is therefore now telling pet owners: “To make sure your pet is able to travel from the UK to the EU from 1 January 2021, you should contact your vet at least 4 months before travelling to get the latest advice.”

The latest British government advice. Find more information on the UK government page here.

If the UK does not become listed before January 1st 2021, this is what will happen.

Going from the UK to the EU

1. Firstly if your dog, cat or ferret 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.

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 an EU country, 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 an 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 will become automatically if an arrangement it not reached before December 31st. If the UK does gain listed status, the restrictions are lighter and the waiting times after rabies tests are generally shorter.

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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TRAVEL

TRAVEL: Tourists in Spain will also be eligible for free train tickets

In welcome news for tourists and travellers in Spain, holidaymakers will be eligible to take advantage of Spain's 100% discounts on train travel later in the year.

TRAVEL: Tourists in Spain will also be eligible for free train tickets

Tourists will be eligible for Spain’s free train ticket scheme that will be phased in later on this year, as confirmed to the Spanish press by sources in Spain’s Ministry of Transport this week.

“If a foreign tourist is a frequent user of the [train] network, he can make use of this subscription. If they want to complete the trips, they will not be asked for any type of card,” the source said.

Additionally, in further news of particular interest for British and American travellers, no differentiation will be made between tourists nor between EU and non-EU nationals for the discounts. Free train travel will be available to all tourists, regardless of where they’re from.

It is hoped that the free train travel will entice more visitors to Spain and continue the sector’s post-pandemic recovery, which for the first six months of the year exceeded pre-pandemic (2019) levels by 1.1 percent, according to figures from the association of Spanish tourism companies, Exceltur.

Tourism experts expect Spain to surpass the number of foreign visitors in the last four months of 2019 – over 20 million tourists – despite upwards inflationary pressures on the cost of flights and accommodation.

But like everything in life, there are terms and conditions. You won’t be able to waltz on any train in Spain for free, and it isn’t year-round.

When?

This eye-catching travel discount will be available from September 1st to December 31st 2022, during which multi-journey train tickets on the trains outlined below will be free.

Free train travel

The 100 percent discount scheme, which will cost public coffers a reported €200 million, will only be valid on certain lines and comes amid a series of measures put in place by the government to try and ease the pain of rising inflation and prices, but also to lower pressures on fuel following the Russian invasion of Ukraine and ensuing energy crisis. 

READ ALSO: How much can you save on public transport in Spain with the new state discount?

“The government will subsidise 100 percent of the public service of commuter trains operated by Renfe. We hope that the autonomous communities can complement this enormous effort made by the Spanish government,” Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said when announcing the scheme in the Spanish Congress.

But which trains will be free, when, and how can you take advantage of them?

Which trains are free?

Unfortunately, the Spanish government has not given everyone in Spain free train travel on every route and on every type of train.

There are rules.

Simply put, local and commuter trains will be free. Cercanías, Rodalies (Catalonia), and Media Distance (local and medium-distance journeys) will be 100 percent free of charge.

The policy is aimed at encouraging the use of trains as opposed to other fossil fuel intensive forms of transport, and it’s valid for journeys up to 300km.

That in mind, trips on long-distance or high-speed trains, such as AVE and Alvia, are not included in the plan.

Neither will the routes in Avlo, the low-cost AVE option established in 2021, nor the medium and high-speed Avants.

Avlo and Avants will instead have a 50 percent discount on the original price, as outlined by the government in June.

READ ALSO: Spain to offer free train trips: when, where and how?

The Spanish government are yet to announce in detail how exactly the discounts will work, or how to apply for them.

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