If you are considering travelling abroad with your pet, then there are rules and regulations to follow so your pet can enter the country, and re-enter our country, avoiding quarantine. These rules vary between countries, so it is important to plan your journey in advance so that the correct paperwork can be completed, ensuring your pet is safe to travel.
Travelling to the EU
Before travelling to the EU, your pet will need to visit Selina or Phillipa, one of our Official Veterinarians, to enable all paperwork to be completed. Official Veterinarians have additional qualifications, so they can legally sign the relevant documents, preventing unnecessary delays when entering an EU country. Please note that as British vets we are not able to enter a rabies vaccination into an EU passport, so for the passport to remain valid the vaccination will need to be done by a EU vet.
Animal Health Certificate
An Animal Health Certificate is required for travelling into an EU country, which an Official Veterinarian must complete within the 10 days before travelling. Up to 5 pets can be added to each certificate unless travelling with greater numbers for training, a competition, or a sporting event. All pets must enter the EU through an official traveller’s point of entry.
Unlike the old-style pet passport, a new Animal Health Certificate is needed each time your pet travels into the EU, as each certificate is only valid for entry into the EU for 10 days. It is valid for 4 months for travel within the EU and re-entry into the UK.
Several requirements need to be met when filling in an Animal Health Certificate,
- Microchip details
- Proof of a valid rabies vaccination
- Tapeworm treatment if travelling to certain countries that are free of specific species of tapeworm
All dogs, cats and ferrets need to have a working microchip. Our vets will check that the microchip can be read before recording the number on your pet’s Animal Health Certificate. If your pet is not currently microchipped, then they can be microchipped at this stage.
Rabies is a lethal zoonotic (can spread from animals to humans) disease, and there are no treatments for pets or people who contract this virus. Due to the severity of this disease, most countries make rabies vaccination a mandatory requirement for all pets entering.
Pets must be at least 12 weeks old and microchipped before receiving a rabies vaccination. It must also be given at least 21 days before your pet is due to travel. If your pet already has a valid rabies vaccination, then they will not need another, but our vets will need to record evidence of the vaccination on their Animal Health Certificate.
If a pet is travelling to a country free from the tapeworm Echinococcus multilocularis, they will be required to be given a tapeworm treatment between 24 to 120 hours (5 days) before entering. This needs to be given and recorded by a vet.
Currently, countries free from this tapeworm include Finland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Malta, and the UK. This means that pets must also have a tapeworm treatment before they can re-enter the UK.
Travelling outside of the EU
If you are travelling to a non-EU country, then the documentation required to travel will be different. Instead of an Animal Health Certificate, pets need an Export Health Certificate to ensure that they meet the health requirements of the country they travel to. This documentation will also need to be completed by one of our Official Veterinarians. It is also important to check whether the country has any additional travel requirements.
Can I still use a pet passport?
When the UK left the EU on the 1st of January 2021, it also left the EU pet travel scheme and became a Part 2 listed country, changing the required documentation for international travel. This means pet passports issued in the UK are no longer valid for travel abroad.
If your pet has a valid pet passport issued in an EU country, then this may be able to be used. Other supporting documentation may be required for travel with an EU passport, so check with the country you are travelling to.
Considerations when travelling long distances
Whether travelling long distances within the UK or when taking your pet abroad, several considerations can help make your pet’s trip safer and more comfortable.
- Make sure your pet’s microchip details are up to date – Keep contact details up to date in case your pet goes missing on your trip. This will make it more likely for you to be reunited with your pet.
- Plan pet-friendly stops – Plan your route before travelling, ensuring breaks are in pet-friendly locations. Find areas where it is safe to walk your dog but ensure that you do not let cats escape from carriers, as they will be unfamiliar with the area.
- When travelling, do not leave your pet unattended in the car – During warmer months, the inside of your car can quickly heat up to unbearable levels, even with a window open.
- Research local vet practices before travelling – Know where your local vets are before starting your trip in case your pet becomes unwell while away.
- Take your pet’s medication with you – If your pet is on long-term medication, make sure you have enough for the entire length of your trip and allow a bit extra for any delays.
Considerations when travelling abroad with your pet
When travelling abroad with your pet, remember that the conditions your pet will have to cope with may be very different to what they are used to.
- Heat – will they be exposed to high temperatures? If so, precautions may be needed to prevent heat stroke.
- Tick treatment – Many countries have species of ticks not commonly found in the UK that can transmit serious diseases. To keep your pet safe, keep your pet’s tick treatment up to date while abroad and check your pet daily for ticks.
- Exposure to exotic diseases – Some countries may have diseases circulating that are not routinely seen in the UK. For example, some countries see Leishmania cases as the result of pets being bitten by sandflies. Speak to one of our vets for advice on protecting your pet from illness while away.
- Exotic animals – Will your pet be exposed to any wildlife, such as snakes, that could potentially harm their health? It might be safer to keep your pet on a lead when exploring new places to prevent any injuries.
Our advice for travelling dogs
- Once monthly treatment with Milpro to prevent heartworm (start 1 month before leaving the UK)
- Simparica tick and flea control tablet give about 5 days before travel and repeated every month.
- Allow your dog to sleep upstairs at night if possible
- Don’t walk them at dusk or dawn and preferably not on the beach in Southern Europe.
- Don’t let your dog associate with any stray dogs or sick looking animals.
Taking your pet abroad, whether for a holiday or relocation, can seem complex. The correct paperwork must be completed, and all requirements need to be followed to prevent your pet from needing to go into quarantine. However, our Official Veterinarians, Selina and Phillipa, are happy to answer any questions you may have to make the process simpler. They are both experienced at completing Animal Health Certificates, ensuring your travel plans are not delayed.
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