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Pet owners planning trips to Europe forced to pay £100+ vet fees due to Brexit uncertainty

Travellers planning to take their pet to Europe as far away as late June are having to shell out more than £100 in extra vet fees because of the current uncertainty over Brexit and what rules will apply after the UK leaves the European Union. 

If there's a 'no-deal' Brexit, pets could be subject to more stringent checks and tests before they're taken abroad, including a rabies blood test, which would mean they would have to be taken to a vet at least four months before travel.

Given it's currently unknown whether or not the UK will leave the EU with a deal, pet owners are therefore having to get these extra checks done as a precaution now even if they're not planning to travel until the summer.

But if the UK does leave the EU with a deal, these extra tests won't be necessary – and even if we leave without a deal it's possible a separate agreement on pet travel could be reached, which means the tests won't be needed.

See our 25 Brexit need-to-knows for full info on how Brexit could affect house prices, visas, flights, consumer rights & more.

'I paid £170 on the off-chance it's a requirement'

We've spoken to a number of pet owners who've had to pay extra vet fees in case the UK exits the EU without a deal.

  • Chanin Lloyd, from Basingstoke, Hampshire, said: "I just had to pay £170 for a doggy blood test for rabies on the off-chance that is a requirement to enter France with him in June if the pet passport is scrapped. 

    "I spoke to my vet last month and asked for advice. They recommended I get his bloods done as soon as possible. It's unnecessary expenditure when we had such an efficient, easy system before."

  • Dan Lockwood, from Brighton, Sussex, said: "My vet wants £130 for the blood test on a dog already chipped and vaccinated against rabies. She has a pet passport and has used it.

    "Even then the dog can't travel for three months, so we'll need to pay kennel fees for Easter, but we'll at least be able to take her with us in July."

  • David Cooper, from Hitchin, Hertfordshire, said: "I had a chat with the vet about taking our dog on holiday. Unfortunately it's not a case in which we can wait and see what happens as the turnaround for the rabies blood test is three months and we have to wait 30 days after the vaccination before we can have the blood test, so for a dog not yet vaccinated it's a four-month turnaround.

    "We have made the decision to get the test done as soon as possible in of case a no-deal situation. If a deal is struck it could be money we didn't need to spend, but the uncertainty at the moment means it's a risk we are going to have to take."

What are the extra tests and how much will they cost?

The cost of taking a pet abroad could change when the UK leaves the EU.

  • At the moment, under the EU Pet Travel Scheme it can cost £110+. Owners of dogs, cats and ferrets can currently travel with their animals to and from EU countries provided they hold a valid EU pet passport, which costs £60.

    To get a pet passport, pets must be taken to a vet before travel, microchipped and vaccinated against rabies – which together costs around £50, or sometimes more. Full info on this can be found on the Government website.

    If the UK leaves the EU with a deal, it's likely these arrangements will continue for the time being at least. The EU Pet Travel Scheme will continue until at least 2020, while we have what's known as a 'transition period'.
  • If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, it could cost £210+. Even if there's no deal, it's possible separate agreement could be reached on pet travel. The UK is in discussions over becoming what's known as a 'listed third country' on the day we leave the EU, which would mean less stringent requirements than if we become an 'unlisted country'. 

    But if we do become an 'unlisted country', travelling with your pet's likely to get more complicated – and more expensive. After getting your pet microchipped and vaccinated (as you have to already), your pet would then have to have a blood sample taken at least 30 days AFTER the rabies vaccination.

    Your vet must then send the blood sample to an EU-approved blood testing laboratory to prove the vaccination was successful. Vets have told us this can cost £100+. You would have to wait three months from the date the successful blood sample was taken before you travel. You would also have to take your pet to a vet no more than 10 days before travel to get a health certificate, which could cost £60.

    In the event of no deal, the blood test will only be needed the first time you take your pet to the EU. The health certificate would be valid for entry into the EU within 10 days of it being issued, and for re-entry into the UK up to four months after it was issued.

'They may be going through procedures which are costly for no good reason'

UK vets have told that many pet owners are frustrated at having to shell out cash for potentially unnecessary tests – and some have even postponed their holidays because of the uncertainty.

Andrew Monchar, a vet at the Two By Two Veterinary Centre in London, told MoneySavingExpert: "I've done more rabies blood testing in the last six weeks than I have in the past six years. It's hurting clients' wallets a bit. I'm saying to them, if we have a deal it's a wasted £100 or so, but if we don't get one, they could be left stuck – a kennel is a lot more expensive and that's the alternative."

Sheldon Middleton, a board member at the British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) and practising vet, said: "I have had clients who have had to postpone their holidays as they may not be able to travel in time without the rabies antibody titre test should we leave the EU with no deal. Most clients are having the blood test done on a 'just in case' basis. All clients I have seen have expressed frustration, not directed at the vet, at the uncertainty and added costs that this involves."

Carl Gorman, another BSAVA board member, added: "They may be going through procedures which are costly for no good reason – for example, their dogs may be having blood samples taken for no good reason."

What does the Government say?

A spokesperson for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: "We are seeking discussions with the European Commission to ensure the UK becomes a listed third country when we leave the EU, making it easier for people to take their pets abroad.

"To make sure your pet is able to travel from the UK to the EU after 29 March 2019 in any scenario, you should contact your vet at least four months before travelling to get the latest advice."

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