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DAERA Minister Edwin Poots, today announced a delay to the introduction of pet travel checks at NI points of entry until at least 1 October 2021.

As a result of the Northern Ireland (NI) Protocol, pet travellers moving from Great Britain (GB) to NI are now required to adhere to the pet travel rules for third countries. This includes the requirements for additional documentation, rabies vaccination and a tapeworm treatment.

In conjunction with the Chief Veterinary Officer, Minister Poots said: “In order to provide much needed clarity, I have taken the decision to delay routine pet travel checks for citizens travelling from GB to NI with their pets until at least 1 October. This is to allow a further period for the ongoing UKG/EU discussions, where pet travel is under consideration, to provide direction on both the requirements necessary and any potential flexibilities.

“Pet owners have had little time to prepare to meet the new conditions for pet travel which have come as a result of the agreement reached between the UK and EU. This delay will also allow time for my Department to further scope the potential requirements for the introduction of checks and to educate the public further.

“Whilst the Department will not be conducting routine checks during this period it is important to note that my officials reserve the right to carry out checks if they suspect illegal activity or have welfare concerns.

“I have written to the EU on behalf of the people of Northern Ireland, highlighting that these requirements for pet travel are not necessary. Given that the last case of rabies on these islands was in 1922, these are unnecessary medical interventions. This issue is yet another example of why the Northern Ireland Protocol is not fit for purpose.”

Discussions are currently ongoing between the UK Government and the European Commission with regards to the implications for pet travel between GB and NI and urgent consideration is being given to the potential for a Common Travel Area between GB, NI and ROI. A joint working group has met on a number of occasions to consider where flexibilities can be achieved.

DAERA is carrying out additional work to develop systems and processes that will minimise the impact and delay for those travelling with pets from GB to NI at points of entry. Further clarity is required before any new processes can be implemented.

Any progress made or flexibilities agreed in respect of the additional requirements and any changes to the current enforcement of checks will be reflected in the Department’s Compliance Protocol, available here. They will also be published on the DAERA website here, on the DAERA Frequently Asked Questions document here and communicated widely through the usual Departmental media channels.