Animal Movements

As and from the date of Brexit, the movement of live animals between the UK and the rest of the EU including Ireland will be subject to new controls by reason of the fact that the UK will be deemed a third country for EU animal health purposes.

If the United Kingdom is listed by the EU Commission for certain specific animal health system purposes, movements are possible subject to controls and conditions. Animals imported into the EU must be notified through the EU’s TRACES system. Health certificates are required, and veterinary checks are carried out on entry into the EU through a border inspection post.

There are mandatory border checks including physical and documentary checks at the first point of entry into the EU. Live animals may enter only through an approved border inspection post which is approved for the type of animals concerned. Each consignment must be accompanied by a health certificate in compliance with EU animal health legislation.

Live animals may only enter the EU with the common veterinary entry document attesting that the border checks were carried out in compliance with the animal and public health rules. Prospectively each consignment may undergo documentary, identity and physical checks.

Imports to the UK

The UK has indicated that it would continue to recognise transporters authorisations, certificates of competence, vehicle approval certificates and journey logs issued by EU member states for an interim period.

Importers into the UK will need to use the import notification system under a new UK TRACES system in the event of a hard Brexit. The UK government has indicated in its notes that EU imports would not need to be notified on TRACES at least for a period in order to allow a smooth transition.

In order to maintain high levels of food safety, the UK would require importers of high-risk food and feed to pre-notify the Food Standards Agency of imports from the EU. It is contemplated that pre-notification may be made electronically in respect of high-risk imports of food into the EU. The process would be managed by the Food Safety Agency. The Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs and the Food Standards Agency are working on the requirements that would apply.

EU Transit

The UK has indicated that the requirements for live animal imports from third countries which moved through the EU before arrival in the UK is being reviewed and will take account of the fact that they would be subject to checks at the point of entry into the EU.

The UK government has indicated that there will be an increase in the number of consignments requiring import control at border inspection posts as a result of the need to carry out the checks on transit documents which are currently carried out elsewhere in the EU.

The UK indicates that it will seek to notify details of the new import system and will seek to ensure that users are trained to minimise the impact of the border, in order to reduce the chance of delays.

Exports from the UK

In the event of a hard Brexit, exports of animal products and live animals from the UK to the EU will be subject in principle to the standard requirements for imports from a third country set out above. At present under common EU laws, exporters require an export health certificate signed by a veterinarian or an authorised signatory specific to the animal or food concerned.

At present in intra-EU trade, an animal health certificate is required in respect of live animals in relation to some specific animal products only. It is not required for most animal products.

The export health certificate and intra-trade animal health certificate will be issued by the Animal and Plant Health Agency in England and Wales and the Department of Agriculture Environment and Rural Affairs in Northern Ireland.

UK Transit

In the case of transit through the United Kingdom live animals must be accompanied by an intra-EU trade certificate and pass through a border inspection post where they may be subject to inspection by the competent authorities.

After Brexit, the entry of live animals from the EU to the United Kingdom through another EU state will be required to be undertaken under EU customs supervision up to the point of exit from the EU. Each consignment must be accompanied by the documents and veterinary certificates meeting the relevant requirements.

A message must be addressed to TRACES at the border inspection post of exit and the authorities, to the competent authorities of the place of destination and the member state of transit.

Food Businesses

The transport of animals exiting the EU to the UK must comply with animal welfare in transit legislation. There are subject to verification and checks at the final point of destination in this regard.

Business operators and persons must hold transporters authorisations, certificates of approval of means of transport and certificates of competence for drivers and attendants in relation to the transit of animals. Transporters whose have been granted by the UK must obtain new authorisations from another EU state.

Business operators undertaking slaughterhouse operations in the UK authorised under EU law by way of a certificate of competence will longer be recognised in other EU states.

Breeders of bovine, bovine, porcine, caprine and equine species including breeding societies and breeding organisations which are listed and approved for EU animal health purposes, may need to register or the animals may need to be certified in the books of breeders established in other EU states.


The EU pet travel scheme allows for owners of dogs cats ferrets to travel with the animals to and from other EU countries with a valid EU pet passport. The pet must be certified by an official veterinarian at least 21 days prior to travel. It must have a microchip and rabies vaccination before an EU pet passport is issued

On its return, the pet must have its microchip scanned, and passport checked to confirm it corresponds. Those returning from certain countries must have approved tapeworm treatment.

After Brexit, the UK will be the third country for the purpose of the scheme. The European Union Commission may list the UK one or more annexes to the legislation. The listing will determine what if any additional conditions, such as temporary health certificates, may be required.

If a part I listing is given, minimal additional requirements will apply. If a part II listing is given, some new requirements will apply but will not be as burdensome as the case of an unlisted country. If the UK is unlisted, there is no clear right to travel, and the matter must be discussed with the official veterinarian at least four months in advance.

Pet owners must prove that their pets are vaccinated against rabies before travelling to other EU states. With the requisite vaccinations, a health certificate may be issued. Pets must be taken to the designated point of entry in the relevant EU state.

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