EU Exit: Update for OVs on Pet Travel

15 March 2019

The government is continuing to make preparations for the UK’s departure from the EU. Given negotiations are ongoing between the UK and the EU the outcome of which is unknown, the UK is also preparing for a ‘no-deal’ scenario in the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal. BSAVA continues to engage with Defra and APHA to obtain the latest updates from government which may have an impact on vets in private practice, in particular those who may be involved in OV work. The following are some of the most recent key points which BSAVA have been made aware of and are intended to provide advice on rabies vaccination, Animal Health Certificates and reassurances that resources are being made available to support the increased needs of OVs in practice.

  • APHA is taking on an extra 283 staff in preparation for EU exit. The majority of these are already in post and the remainder will start in the next few weeks.


  • The Centre for International Trade (mostly at Carlisle but some roles are undertaken from other APHA sites) has appointed an additional 133 staff.


  • APHA Weybridge has appointed 35 extra staff to cover rabies and other export testing.  Stocks of reagents for tests have been significantly increased to mitigate against potential supply problems and at least 6 months stock is now held of all reagents other than those that have very short shelf lives.


  • The number of rabies samples being processed at Weybridge has increased from 100 a week to over 400 a week, so there is good evidence that pet owners are working with their vets in making preparations for any potential changes to pet travel. APHA Weybridge have noted approximately 10% failure rate for rabies serology samples therefore it would be sensible that vets in practice manage pet owners’ expectations and make them aware that a re-test/vaccine boost may be required. APHA advises that on rare occasions, some pets may fail to reach the 0.5IU/ml cut-off despite booster vaccinations. In such cases, APHA advise vets to consider a different rabies vaccine for the booster as this may increase the chance of reaching the required 0.5 IU/ml cut-off. The response to a vaccine can vary due to many factors (e.g. animal size, age, breed, sampling interval and vaccine used). Whilst booster vaccination results in most animals maintaining neutralising antibody levels >0.5IU/ml, this is not guaranteed (for the reasons above). Sampling interval is key because neutralising antibodies can wane rapidly after both primary and booster vaccinations (this will differ for different vaccines and different animals). There is comprehensive guidance on rabies testing including the answers to FAQs on the Vet Gateway 


  • If the UK becomes an unlisted or Part II listed country after it leaves the EU, OVs will need to issue EU AHCs (Animal Health Certificates) instead of pet passports for pet dogs, cats and ferrets travelling to the EU. AHCs are now available and to facilitate access to AHCs, APHA has sent an e-mail to all CA and SX qualified OVs which contains a link to the AHC order form and a link to Notes for Guidance (NFGs) on how to complete and use AHCs.  OVs will be able to hold a stock of AHCs in the same way that they do now for pet passports.  AHCs are available as dual language certificates written in both English and the official language of each EU member state. Overall, 21 different language versions are available. AHCs need to be issued in an official language of the EU member state of intended entry. AHCs will be free of charge.


Please see previous BSAVA News articles on advice for OVs in the event of a no-deal scenario.

March 8th 2019 

March 12th 2019

BSAVA will continue to liaise with government departments to obtain updates and share relevant information with BSAVA members as soon as it is available.