AQW 13308/17-22 – Travel Document Requirements for Assistance Dog Owners

Mr Patsy McGlone (Mid Ulster): To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs how his Department plans to enforce the new requirements for documents for assistance dog owners to travel between Northern Ireland and Britain.

Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs: The EU Pet Travel Regulation (Regulation (EU) 576/2013) details the documentary, health and compliance check requirements for the travel of pet dogs (including assistance dogs), cats and ferrets between or into EU Member States (MS) which are needed to avoid the quarantining of animals. The Regulation continues to apply in Northern Ireland (NI) following the end of the transition phase.

As Great Britain (GB), has been identified as a “Part II” listed country by the EU, for the purposes of pet travel, these requirements will now need to be adhered to for pet travel from GB to NI.

However, after engaging with my officials to find potential flexibilities, and considering pet owners have not had time to familiarise themselves with the new rules, I can now confirm that my Department will delay the introduction of any compliance checks on these requirements for pet travel (including that of assistance dogs) from GB to NI until 1 July 2021. There will be no routine checks until then.

I am however acutely aware of the impact of what I consider to be completely unnecessary measures, on those travelling with pets within the United Kingdom (UK), and I am particularly concerned at the impact these will have on those travelling with assistance pets.

I will therefore continue discussions to urgently seek derogations from these unnecessary medical interventions. In addition, I have written to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, George Eustice MP, and to the European Commission, highlighting these issues, and particularly the entirely unjustified requirements for rabies vaccination and tapeworm treatment given that both the UK and the Republic of Ireland (RoI) are considered free from both diseases. I have also requested that urgent consideration be given to the introduction of a ‘Common Travel Area’ for pets travelling between GB, NI and RoI.

Officials will continue to discuss with counterparts to progress this matter further and, as highlighted, there will be no routine checks until July 2021, which will permit time for this engagement to be progressed. In order to keep you and the wider public updated, any progress made or flexibilities agreed in respect of the additional requirements, will be published on the DAERA website and on the DAERA Frequently Asked Questions document