Whilst a trip to Europe might not be on the cards right now, it’s important to be prepared for when we are allowed to travel internationally again.
Post Brexit, the rules on taking your pet abroad have changed – here’s everything you need to know
Remember – it’s important to speak with an official veterinarian (OV) and check the government website before you travel.
Before you travel
Be sure to check your route before you travel – you must travel using approved routes – find out more
Your pet passport may no longer be valid
Any pet passports issued in Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales), including the Channel Islands and Isle of Man, are now invalid for travel to an EU country or Northern Ireland.
You can still use your pet passport if it was issued in an EU country or Northern Ireland and are travelling to another EU country.
What you need to travel with your pet to and from Great Britain
When travelling to and from Great Britain (GB) to the EU with your pet or assistance dog, they will need:
- a microchip
- a valid rabies vaccination – your pet must be at least 12 weeks old before they can be vaccinated
- tapeworm treatment (required in certain countries)
- an animal health certificate (AHC) – this needs to be issued within 10 days of the date you are set to travel by an official veterinarian (OV) – find out more.
If you have an assistance dog and are returning from the EU, you do not have to travel on approved routes. You will just need to tell the authorities that you’re travelling with an assistance dog to make sure the appropriate checks are carried out.
You also don’t need to travel on an approved route if you are travelling into GB from other UK countries, Channel Islands, Isle of Man or the Republic of Ireland.
When your pet needs to have the rabies vaccination
Your pet needs to be at least 12 weeks old before they can have the rabies vaccination. You’ll then need to wait 21 days after your pet’s first vaccination before you can travel.
Travelling to Finland, Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Norway or Malta
In addition to the above, if you’re travelling with your dog directly to Finland, Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Norway or Malta you will need to get your dog treated for tapeworm.
Your pet will need to receive treatment one to five days before arriving in any of these countries and your vet must also enter the full details on their AHC following treatment.
Travelling in the EU
What to do when you arrive in the EU
When you arrive in the EU, you will have to visit a Travellers’ Point of Entry and show official proof of your pet’s AHC, microchip, vaccinations and tapeworm treatment (if required) before being allowed to travel further.
How long you’re allowed to travel for
Your pet’s AHC will be valid for four months of travelling within the EU. You will need to travel back to Great Britain within that period or your AHC will expire.
Repeat trips to the EU or NI
Your pet will need a new AHC for each trip to the EU or NI.
If your pet has an up-to-date rabies vaccination history following your first AHC, they will not need a repeat rabies vaccination before travelling to the EU or NI.
However, if you are travelling direct to Finland, Republic of Ireland, NI, Norway or Malta, they will need to have a new tapeworm treatment for each trip.
How old your pet needs to be before they can travel
In GB your pet cannot travel into or from England, Scotland or Wales until they are over 15 weeks of age. This includes the 12 weeks it takes to be old enough to get their vaccinations and a 21 day wait afterwards to allow the vaccines to take effect.
How many pets you can travel with
You can travel with up to five pets to and from GB. The only exceptions to this rule are if you’re taking part or training:
- in a competition
- in a show
- in a sporting event
You must bring written evidence of your participation in the event with you to the Travellers’ Point of Entry.
Your pet will need to be over six months old, be actively taking part in the event or training and must meet all the other requirements needed to enter that country.
Research additional requirements
Before you travel you must check if there are any diseases or parasites to be aware of or laws in a country that are different to those here in the UK. For example, there are diseases in the southern Mediterranean and other areas which it’s advisable to protect your pet against.
Make sure you ask your vet about any health risks and for advice about protection against ticks, mosquitos and sandflies, which can spread diseases. There may also be other hazards, such as blisters to the feet from hot surfaces or poisonous snakes which you and your pet are not familiar with.
Laws on dog ownership vary between countries; in Italy, for instance (as well as aboard some ferries), all dog owners can be asked to muzzle their pet in public, so you will need to purchase one and ensure your dog is trained to wear one, and keep it with you at all times.
Call the government’s pet travel helpline on 0370 241 1710 Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 5pm (closed on bank holidays)
Email the government’s pet travel helpline at email@example.com