How Brexit and U.S. Government Actions Affect Pet Travel
In 2016, the United Kingdom shocked the world by voting to withdraw from the European Union. As with the dissolution of most unions, the transition to full sovereignty has not been easy. The European Union has noted that the “Agreement,” the terms under which the United Kingdom will withdraw, should set a withdrawal date of March 30, 2019 at the latest. While we won’t go into it, know that Prime Minister Theresa May has had a difficult time satisfying all parties. One U.K./E.U. perk that may be caught in the crossfire? Inter-country pet travel.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), which dictates the United Kingdom’s pet travel rules and initiatives, has advised pet owners planning to travel to Northern Ireland or the European Union after Brexit to visit the vet now.
Traveling to Northern Ireland
Currently, there are no checks on pets travelling between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. However, Brexit negotiations are likely to impose a hard border between the nations, meaning all pets traveling between should have passports. Depending on the deal struck by P.M. May and E.U. officials, the specifics of this border crossing are likely to change, possibly instituting stronger, E.U.-imposed sanctions. For now, though, get ahead by securing your pet passport immediately.
Traveling to the European Union
To bring a pet from the United Kingdom to the European Union, pet parents must obtain pet passports that show up-to-date rabies shots. Additionally, there must be a three-week waiting period before Fido or Fluffy is cleared to travel. Currently, U.K. pets do not require microchips to travel to the E.U. Unsurprisingly, this is likely to change.
In a no-deal Brexit, U.K. pets would be treated the same as those coming from an “unlisted country” into the European Union. This means animals must be microchipped, have a rabies vaccination, and have a blood test to check the efficacy of the vaccination within three months before travel. Only after these steps can a veterinarian sign a veterinary health certificate, which has a 10-day lifespan. There is also the possibility that animals are subject to quarantine once arriving at the destination.
UK Chief Veterinary Officer Christine Middlemiss told the BBC that all pet owners who wish to travel immediately after Brexit “consult with their vet as soon as they can.” This is the best way to ensure pets have the correct health protection documented and in place for all possible Brexit scenarios.
U.S. Government Shutdowns: What You Need to Know
United State government shutdowns are a common occurrence in the 21st century, with three in just the past year. In November of 2018, the Democratic party regained majority in the House of Representatives, meaning elected officials will need to make a greater push toward bipartisan legislation to get congressional approval when necessary. Without bipartisan initiatives, we predict squabbles over government funding will continue to temporarily shut down the government. Unfortunately, this will affect those traveling with pets.
In the most recent shutdown (December 2018 to January 2019), TSA workers continued to work through the temporary closure. Air-traffic controllers are considered to be essential, and airlines are privately run, which means, on the surface, nothing will change for passengers. Unsurprisingly, what should happen in theory doesn’t necessarily translate to practice.
In a government shutdown, TSA agents continue to work without pay. In most cases, when the government is re-opened, Congress votes to pay government agents for the time they spent working during the shutdown. However, this is not always a guarantee. Plus, for most Americans, going without one paycheck can mean the difference between financial comfort and catastrophe. This anger and frustration, understandably, often leak into workplace conduct for TSA agents.
In a government shutdown, expect longer lines, longer waiting times, and a bit less efficiency. Though you’ll still be able to bring Fido and/or Fluffy aboard the plane, adjust your travel time table. Rather than arriving two hours before your flight, show up even earlier to ensure you get through security. And before heading out, stake out all possible secured animal relief areas to ensure you have a place for your pet to relax before the flight.