March 28, 2024 | General

A guide to travel requirements for pets

If you are going on holiday, be it to the UK or abroad, the temptation to take your pet with you is higher than ever. During the Coronavirus pandemic, we spent more time with our pets than ever before, be it from spending more time at home due to furlough, or because our work lives were shifted from our work office to our home office.

In March 2021, the BBC (2021) conducted a study that said over 3.2 million pets were purchased during COVID lockdowns, so it is easy to understand why some people will be so attached to their new furry friends that they will look to take them on holiday with them. Unfortunately, it is not as easy as boarding the plane with your pooch in your hand luggage, there are stringent guidelines that must be followed when travelling with your pets. This can be a minefield, and many people will feel that they are simply misinformed about what they need to provide, which can lead to dogs, cats, or any other kind of pet being held in quarantine, or simply not allowed to enter a country. In this article, we will attempt to provide you with all of the information you need in order to travel with your pet. We will look at what you need to know when travelling within the UK, as well as guidelines for EU and non-EU countries. 

A dog at an airport lounger with a plane ticket in it's mouth and a travel bag next to it

What are the travel requirements for pets travelling within the UK?

If you are a UK resident who is taking a break but staying on home soil, you are taking a staycation. Staycations are an increasingly popular form of holiday travel, with more and more of us taking the opportunity to explore the incredible scenery around us. Be it going to Cornwall for a beach getaway or the Peak District for a country walking escape, there has never been a better time to pack up the car and get on the motorway. 

Staycations are also ideal for travelling with your pets. There are no travel requirements that you need to adhere to in order to take your pets to any part of England, Scotland, or Wales. If you are travelling to Northern Ireland however you will need to meet the same requirements as if you were travelling to other EU member states, but we’ll get to that later. The important thing to remember is that if you are travelling to England, Scotland, or Wales, you will not need to provide any documentation, and your pet will not need any jabs in order to travel. 

What are the travel requirements for pets travelling to countries in the EU?

Following Great Britain’s exit from the European Union as a result of the Brexit vote in 2016, the rules around taking your pet abroad have changed. You will now need to provide certain documents and proof of vaccinations before, and after travelling. Some of the UK’s favourite holiday destinations are EU member states including:

  • Spain

  • Portugal

  • Italy

  • France

  • Greece

If you are travelling to any of these countries, or any other EU country (including Northern Ireland), and you wish for your pet to accompany you, there are certain things that you will need to do. 

You will need to ensure that your pet has been microchipped by a vet and that the microchip is scannable. If the microchip cannot be read then you will need to get your pet microchipped again, as well as revaccinated.

Your pet will need to have had a rabies vaccination at least 21 days prior to travelling, as well as an animal health certificate or pet passport that is valid in the country you are visiting. Your animal health certificate will include information regarding pet microchip status, as well as pet vaccination status. You may be required to have a booster vaccination for rabies, and all of this information can be found on your animal health certificate. Animal health certificates can be acquired from a vet and should be attained no more than 10 days prior to travel. 

In some countries, your pet dog will also be required to have further treatment against tapeworms. The countries that monitor this include Northern Ireland, Ireland, Norway, Malta, and Finland. The treatment should be administered no less than 24 hours and no more than five days prior to arrival. This treatment will also be logged in your animal health certificate.

What are the travel requirements for pets travelling to countries outside of the EU?

If you are travelling to a country outside of the EU and you are wanting to take your pet with you, there are also things that you will need to do prior to travelling. Again, some countries outside of the EU are known as being incredibly popular tourist destinations. Countries such as the United States, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and Mexico are all among the countries that are commonly visited by residents of the UK.

Tourists are also very likely to visit these countries with their pets. For example, many people have family members who live in countries outside of the EU. Around 1.2 million people in Australia for example were born in the UK. When visiting family, you may wish to bring along every family member, even pets. When travelling outside of the EU, here is what you need to do. 

In order to travel, you will need an export health certificate. This is an official document that confirms your ‘export’ meets the health requirements needed to enter the destination country. If you are travelling through an EU country, you will also need a transit export health certificate. In order to complete an EHC application, you will need to nominate a vet who is able to fill in all the important information regarding your pet. 

What are the travel requirements when travelling with a guide dog?

Whilst you may think that travelling with a guide dog will be easier, the simple answer is not. Guide and service dogs will need to undertake exactly the same procedure as any other animal. In the UK there are around 6,500 active service dogs, with thousands also bred every year to take care of people with needs. 

What are the travel requirements when travelling to the UK with pets?

If you are travelling to the UK with your pets, there are also rules and regulations that must be adhered to in order to bring your pet into the country (GOV.UK, 2024). Your pet can enter the United Kingdom if it has been microchipped, has a health certificate or pet passport, has had rabies vaccinations, and you may also need to provide a blood test if you are travelling from an unlisted country. If you are travelling with a ferret, you will need to keep it away from other ferrets for up to 21 days as they can carry different COVID-19 variants. 

You can also only travel into the UK by using preapproved routes and companies, these can by found on the website. If you do not follow the rules when travelling to the UK your pet can be held in quarantine for up to four months, or can even be refused entry if you are travelling by boat. For refugees, such as those travelling from Ukraine, you will need to contact [email protected] in order to find out what you need to do.

Dr Rachel Louise Keane BVSc BSc MRCVS of PocketVet believes that organisation is key when travelling with pets:

“If you are planning on travelling abroad with your pet, getting organised is essential as certain injections, treatments, and even blood tests may be required well in advance of the date of initial travel depending upon which countries you are travelling to - including those you pass through, en-route. Thorough research is essential to prevent any nasty surprises of changes to your travel plans, should your pet not have the required history, or paperwork, required by the countries you are entering.”

No matter where you are travelling or what pet you are looking to travel with, a vet will always be needed. Never compromise on your veterinary service, register with PocketVet today. 

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