You must adhere to certain regulations to transport your pet abroad and carry the proper documentation. Determine what you must do before travelling with your companion.

Pets are similar to humans in more ways than you might imagine; they, too, require travel documents when leaving the country.

Before Brexit, British travellers may have used pet passports to enter EU countries with their animals. However, Brexit has altered this. This guide explains the adjustments and lists the documents required for international travel with a cat, dog, or ferret.

What exactly is a pet passport?

A pet passport is a legal document containing vital information about your animal companion. The pet passport includes the animal’s date of birth, microchip number, information about you, and a description of the animal to aid authorities in identifying the animal.

Before you can transport your pet abroad or into the UK, it must undergo a series of medical exams and vaccinations. All of these are enumerated in the passport, including proof of rabies vaccination, a rabies blood test result, and proof of certain treatments, such as tapeworm treatment for dogs. In addition, it will detail all the remedies your pet has received.

Effective 1 January 2021, British pet passports are no longer acceptable for travel to EU countries or Northern Ireland. However, if your pet’s passport was issued in an EU member state or Northern Ireland, you may still use it.

Travelling to Europe after Brexit

You can still travel to the EU with your companion after Brexit. However, you cannot use a companion passport issued in the UK (England, Wales, and Scotland).

Instead, beginning 1 January 2021, you must obtain an animal health certificate before departure. This document verifies that your companion is microchipped and rabies-vaccinated.

How to obtain a health certificate for animals

Travelling from the UK to an EU country or Northern Ireland requires an animal health certificate (AHC) for your dog, cat, or ferret. To obtain an AHC, you must:

  • Transport your pet to the veterinarian. This must be completed ten days before departure.
  • You must bring proof that your companion has been microchipped, along with its vaccination record. Ask your veterinarian if they have these details on file.
  • Once you obtain your AHC, it will be valid for ten days, giving you ten days to access the European Union. 
  • Additionally, it will be eligible for four months of travel within the EU and re-entry into the UK. Each journey will necessitate the purchase of a new AHC.

Travelling with a pet to a non-EU country

When travelling from the UK to a country outside the European Union, slightly different rules apply. You must:

  • First, obtain an export health certificate (EHC). This verifies that your pet satisfies the health requirements of the destination country.
  • Each country has its own EHC requirements; therefore, you should search for the country you are travelling to determine its specific EHC requirements. 
  • In addition to an EHC, an export application form must be completed.
  • Before you leave, your veterinarian will review and approve the EHC and ensure you have the proper travel documents.

Travelling with a dog on airplanes and transports

Bringing your dog on a flight is a challenging endeavour that requires cautious planning. The International Air Transport Association Live Animal Regulations stipulate that airlines offering to transport animals must ensure that the conditions suit animals.

However, for some canines, the unfamiliar environment and sensations of air travel can be stressful. Other than registered assistance canines, all animals must travel in the cargo hold, which may be closed for an extended period in case of a flight delay.

Ensure the travelling container is large enough for your companion to lie down and turn around comfortably. Put a familiar blanket or toy in there to soothe the child. Check your airline’s pet travel policy and ensure they are on the government’s approved list of airlines for pet travel.

Similar regulations apply to ferries; your dog will likely have to remain in the car or a designated container area. Again, you should verify your ferry company’s pet policy for specifics and confirm that they are an approved operator for travelling with pets via the government’s list of approved sea and rail routes.

Returning with a pet to the UK

When you arrive in the UK at an airport, ferry port or the Channel Tunnel, an official will examine, sign and stamp your pet’s travel documents.

If your companion is denied entry to the UK, it will be quarantined until any necessary treatment is completed. In extreme cases, the animal may be deported to the country from which the traveller originated or put to sleep.

You must obtain more detailed documentation if you wish to bring more than five pets into the UK simultaneously. Before you travel with your companion, you should:

  • Consider whether bringing your companion along is in their best interest. Numerous pets can become anxious during travel and struggle to acclimatise to a new routine and environment. Would it be preferable to leave them with a responsible adult at home?
  • If you bring your companion along, ensure your vacation destination has the necessary amenities. Check if you can get your pet’s customary food while you’re away, and if not, plan to bring plenty with you.
  • Find out if the company you’re travelling with allows pets and what documentation you must bring to prove your pet’s fitness for travel. It may take some time to obtain this documentation, so plan to ensure that you meet all applicable deadlines.
  • Consult a veterinarian if you have doubts about how your dog will handle a vacation; they can recommend the best options for you and your companion.

Do I need to vaccinate my pet against rabies?

Yes, it must have been vaccinated against rabies to travel. Remember that your pet is required to be 12 weeks old at least before being vaccinated against rabies. It must also be microchipped before or at the same time as the vaccination; otherwise, it will need to be vaccinated again.

You must schedule regular rabies booster vaccinations for your companion to protect them. Your veterinarian should maintain an up-to-date vaccination record for your companion, but you should verify this.

Does my dog require treatment for tapeworms?

Even if you’ve been on vacation for a week, you must treat your dog for tapeworms before returning to the UK. Ensure you receive treatment at least 24 hours before entering the UK and within five days.

With evidence of treatment, your companion will be allowed entry into the country. The most common reason canines are denied entry is because they arrive too late.

Do not overlook pet insurance.

Pet insurance is essential when transporting a companion abroad or into the UK. Many insurers offer coverage for canines travelling abroad, but you should verify that this is included in your policy before departure.

While your pet may be covered for overseas expenses, your insurer may have a list of countries where your pet is not covered, and you may be required to pay a substantial deductible. If you travel frequently with your pet, it is in your best interest to select a policy that covers you for various unexpected additional costs.

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