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The Movement of Dogs from Northern Ireland to Great Britain

Guidance Note: The Movement of Dogs from

Northern Ireland to Great Britain

In January 2012, new harmonised EU rules were introduced impacting on the movement of pet animals between Member States.  These new rules, transposed into domestic legislation in the Non-Commercial Movement of Pet Animals Order (NI) 2011, require that dogs entering Northern Ireland from another Member State must be microchipped, vaccinated for rabies and have a pet passport. DEFRA has introduced similar legislation in order to meet EU requirements, as has the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) in the Republic of Ireland.

In the commercial trade of dogs between Member States (or where more than 5 dogs are travelling in a consignment), not only do the rules of the EU Pet Travel Scheme apply, but the requirements of EU Trade Directive 92/65 (the ‘Balai’ Directive) must also be met. These include the need for the animal(s) to be accompanied by a certificate confirming that a clinical examination was carried out by a vet within 24 hours of travel, ensuring the animal(s) are healthy and fit for travel. Commercial trade includes any transfer of ownership and therefore also relates to dogs travelling for the purpose of re-homing.

Historically, in recognition of the negligible risk of rabies associated with the movement of dogs between the jurisdictions, there have been no systematic border checks on animals moving between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, or between the Republic and Great Britain.  However, Trading Standards in Great Britain (which has responsibility for enforcing the rules of the EU Pet Travel Scheme there) has the powers to detain and seize pet animals, imported from any other EU Member State, found not to comply with the requirements of the Pet Travel Scheme.

In recent months, DARD has received a number of requests for clarification of the rules that apply regarding the movement of dogs from Northern Ireland to Great Britain through ports in the Republic.  We have liaised with our counterparts in Defra and DAFM, and taken legal advice from our Solicitors on this matter. We have been advised that dogs moving from Northern Ireland, transiting through the Republic and travelling on to Britain, are required to meet the rules of the EU Pet Travel Scheme and of the Balai Directive when this movement involves commercial trade, as the animals are moving between EU Member States.

DARD’s advice to pet owners, commercial breeders and re-homing charities regarding the movement of dogs is therefore as follows:

  • Direct Movement of Dogs between Northern Ireland and Great Britain As this is considered movement within a Member State, the requirements of the EU Pet Travel Scheme do not apply.
  • Movement of Dogs from Northern Ireland to Great Britain via the Republic of Ireland This movement falls under the EU rules for pet travel requiring that all dogs moving from NI, through the Republic of Ireland, to Britain (and vice versa) be:
    • microchipped;
    • vaccinated for Rabies (administered at least 21 days before the date of travel); and
    • have a pet passport (with correct microchip & up-to-date vaccination details)

For commercial trade (or where more than 5 dogs are travelling in a consignment), in addition to the above the animals will also have to be accompanied by a veterinary health certificate issued in accordance with the ‘Balai’ Directive.

Before undertaking any journey from Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland to Britain, it is advised that you contact the transport operator (e.g. ferry company) in advance of the journey to clarify any requirements that they may have in relation to pet travel.

The EU has introduced a new Pets Regulation (Regulation (EU) No 576/2013), which will apply from 29 December 2014.  This will result in some changes to the EU Pet Travel Scheme.  DARD will issue guidance on these changes later in the year. 

Further information on the rules regarding pet movement between Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and Great Britain may be obtained as follows:

DARD at http://www.dardni.gov.uk/travelling-with-pets-overview.htm

Defra at https://www.gov.uk/take-pet-abroad

DAFM at http://www.agriculture.gov.ie/pets/

Pet passports are available from:

Trade Section (Veterinary Service)

Dundonald House
Upper Newtownards Road
Belfast BT4 3SB

Tel: 028 9052 4622

E-mail: [email protected]