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Assistance Animals: Travel

Question for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UIN 156506, tabled on 22 February 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he plans to take to ensure that people in Great Britain who use assistance dogs do not face hardship as a result of new administrative requirements when they travel to Northern Ireland.

Answered on

2 March 2021

The health and documentary requirements for pet travel to the EU are set out under the EU Pet Travel Regulations. Under the Northern Ireland Protocol, EU rules also apply to the non-commercial movements of pets into Northern Ireland from Great Britain. There are no derogations for assistance dogs under the legal framework of the EU Pet Travel Regulations.

We will continue to press the European Commission in relation to securing Part 1 listed status, recognising that achieving this would alleviate some of the new requirements for pet owners and assistance dog users travelling to the EU and to Northern Ireland. We are clear that we meet all the animal health requirements for this, and we have one of the most rigorous pet checking regimes in Europe to protect our biosecurity.

The Government is engaging with the Northern Ireland Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) to explore means to streamline pet travel between Great Britain and Northern Ireland recognising the high standards of animal health that we share. The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster has also written to the European Vice-President seeking to ensure that an agreement can be made to address the barriers imposed on pet travel between Great Britain, Northern Ireland and Ireland.

In the meantime, the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) in Northern Ireland has recently published guidance on a pragmatic enforcement approach to pets entering from Great Britain. Northern Ireland-based pets and assistance dogs returning to Northern Ireland from Great Britain can continue to use a Northern Ireland-issued EU Pet Passport to re-enter Northern Ireland and will not need an animal health certificate. Pets and assistance dogs entering from Great Britain will not be subject to routine checks until July 2021. Current guidance on pet travel to Northern Ireland is available on DAERA's NIDirect website.

We are proactively engaging with the assistance dog community and relevant stakeholders on the impacts on dog movements from Great Britain to the EU and to Northern Ireland. We will continue to work closely with assistance dog organisations to share the latest advice and guidance (in accessible formats) with their members on pet travel requirements