Can I Take My Dog Abroad?

If you share your life with a dog, you'll be familiar with the dilemma that arises come holiday time: what do you do with your pet?

With more and more holiday homes and hotels now welcoming dogs, the modern dog owner no longer has to leave their beloved pooch at home when they go on holiday. And after all, dogs are part of the family, so why shouldn't they join in on the family getaway?

Or maybe you are planning to relocate permanently for work or retire to sunnier climes. In which case, taking your dog overseas may be a necessity. If you do wish to take your dog abroad, there are some things you need to be aware of before you go.

Taking your dog abroad

If you chose to take your dog overseas, you need to decide how you are going to travel. Driving may be the most pet-friendly way to travel as this should cause the least amount of stress for your dog. You then have the option to take your pet on a car ferry or Eurotunnel to your holiday destination.

You should bear in mind that some ferries insist your dog stay in the car for the duration of the crossing and they aren't allowed up on deck, which may be an issue if your dog doesn't like to be left alone. Contact your ferry company in advance of your journey so you can prepare accordingly. If your dog is not allowed out of the car, ensure they have access to plenty of water and keep the car ventilated to avoid overheating.

Before booking your holiday accommodation, ensure your hotel will accept dogs and if they do, check if there is a charge per dog.

Can I fly with my dog?

A select number of airlines will allow dogs on board, but unless they are assistance dogs most airlines insist they fly in the hold. This can be extremely stressful for your pooch as well as a potential health risk for some dogs.

If you have no choice but to fly with your dog, you will need to buy a suitable flight carrier to make sure they are secure and comfortable during the flight and remember to pack plenty of snacks and water.

Before you go

Getting a pet passport

Just like humans, dogs need a passport to go abroad. Pet passports are compulsory for taking your dog in and out of the UK and should include details such as:

  • The dog's ownership
  • A description of the dog
  • Microchipping
  • Proof of vaccination against rabies
  • Rabies blood test (if required)
  • Canine tapeworm treatment (if required)
  • Details of the vet issuing the passport
A dog getting ready for holidays
"Driving may be the most pet-friendly way to travel as this should cause the least amount of stress for your dog."
Another dog getting ready for a holiday

Pet passports can be obtained from certain vet practices. If your vet does not issue pet passports, ask them for the nearest practice that does. Alternatively, you can get in touch with the Animal and Plant Health Agency, who should be able to help.

With a pet passport, your pup can travel freely to all EU and EEC countries, as well as several other countries including the USA, many Caribbean countries and the United Arab Emirates. You can check if your holiday destination accepts the pet passport here.

Consider your dog's needs

The thought of leaving your precious pooch at home while you go on holiday may seem unbearable for you, but it could be the best thing for your dog. If you have an older dog with health problems or anxiety, leaving them at home where they're most comfortable may be the kindest thing for them. Afterall, holidays are supposed to be enjoyable for everyone.

If you really need to take your dog abroad there are a few things you can do to make the trip more comfortable for them like bring a familiar blanket or toy to help put your dog at ease.

Prepare in advance

Getting organised is the key to a stress-free trip. The more preparation you do before you head off, the less chance you have of encountering any mishaps along the way.

Preparing your pup for your getaway should start months before you're due to depart. Start taking your dog on car journeys to get them used to spending long periods of time in the car. Do some research on your holiday destination to find out where the local vets are and have a look for dog-friendly restaurants and bars, so your dog isn't left alone for too long during the holiday.

Top tips for travelling with your dog

  • Plan regular stops to exercise your dog
  • Make sure there's a plentiful supply of water
  • Take familiar toys to keep them calm and occupied
  • Ensure your dog is wearing a collar with an identity tag
  • Buy a suitable crate or safety harness to secure your dog in the car
  • Take poo bags - for obvious reasons!

Whether you are taking your dog on holiday or relocating abroad, you will need to ensure you have appropriate insurance in place.

For your dog, you will need a pet insurance policy with cover for overseas travel. If you already have a pet insurance policy check to see if overseas travel is covered as standard. If not, contact your insurer to see if they can add it to your policy.

For you, you will need a good travel insurance policy to cover you for any unforeseen circumstances while you're away such as cancelled flights or ferry as well as potential medical costs and lost luggage.

How Brexit could affect travelling with a pet

The UK left the European Union on 31 January 2020. The transition period that was in place ended on 31 December 2020. The rules governing the new relationship between the EU and UK took effect on 1 January 2021.

On 3 December 2020, the EU voted in favour of giving Great Britain 'Part 2 listed status' for the purposes of non-commercial pet travel.

Under Part 2 listed status, EU pet passports issued in the UK will no longer be valid to travel to Europe.

To visit Europe with your pet after 1 January 2021, you will need to obtain an animal health certificate (AHC), issued and signed by an official vet. You must take your pet to your vet no more than 10 days before travel to get this.

An AHC is valid for:

  • 10 days after the date of issue for entry into the EU or NI
  • onward travel within the EU or NI for 4 months after the date of issue
  • re-entry to the UK for 4 months after the date of issue

These changes will affect any travellers with pets arriving in an EU Member State after 23:00 GMT on the 31 December 2020.

The government has published online a range of guidance and notes for travelling with your pet post-Brexit.


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