Pet owners have been urged to make their dogs and cats French by giving them an EU pet passport, after backlogs and bureaucracy caused delays for vets in the UK.
Since Brexit, owners who want to take their pets to the EU must pay a vet to fill out a complex nine-page form.
Vets have reported that the document takes up to an hour to complete, and are charging owners as much as £200 for the service.
The passport must be renewed every time dogs, cats or ferrets go to the EU, and filled out within ten days of travel.
But a loophole in the system means animals that are assessed by a vet inside the EU can receive a passport from the bloc, allowing them to travel repeatedly without extra cost.
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Vets have been advising owners they should secure EU citizenship for their pets on holiday in France or the Republic of Ireland this year, making the process easier on future visits.
There is no requirement for the pets to live in the EU permanently, making the UK version of the system redundant.
“You don’t even have to have an address or anything, in that country,” said one industry source.
“It kind of makes a bit of a mockery of the whole thing.”
The British Veterinary Association has warned that the bureaucracy in the UK, which is mandated by the EU, has caused chaos in surgeries that have already been put under strain by the 'pingdemic' and a surge of pet ownership during the Covid lockdown.
Many have turned owners away when asked to fill out the passport form, and some who completed it in haste and forgot to sign every page have caused owners to be turned away at the border when travelling.
'Vet practices are already under a huge pressure'
The BVA’s senior Vice President, Daniella Dos Santos, said: “The new post-Brexit travel certificates and requirements are a significant change from the older pet passport system and so they will take longer to complete and cost more.
“BVA has lobbied the government to simplify the paperwork, but the rules are set by the EU so there’s very little we can do to make the process less cumbersome.
“Vet practices are already under a huge workload pressure and routine appointments are booked up well in advance.
“Unfortunately, this means that some practices have taken the difficult decision to stop offering pet travel certification appointments in order to prioritise animal health and welfare cases.”
Nick Freeman, who made his name as a celebrity lawyer as “Mr Loophole”, defending footballers up for driving offences, has previously warned vets and pet owners had been hit by EU red tape.
The Government is pressuring the EU to move Britain into a different risk category, so owners can reuse their pet passports from year to year.
A spokeswoman from the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said the UK has “one of the most rigorous pet checking regimes in Europe and amongst the highest standards of biosecurity in the world”.
“Our advice for pet owners and users of assistance dogs travelling now is that they should contact their vet at least one month in advance to ensure their pet has the correct vaccinations and paperwork to travel abroad,” the spokeswoman.
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