Travelling abroad with pets

Taking a pet on holiday often requires as much planning as sorting out the holiday itself. As well as ensuring your pet’s passport is up to date you’ll need to check if it will be allowed into the country you want to visit, what vaccinations it will require and if you can arrange appropriate transport. You’ll also need to book suitable accommodation, take any special equipment you might need and pack anything else your pet might require.

Taking your cat or dog on holiday

Under the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) you can freely travel throughout the EU and return to the UK with a pet cat, dog or ferret as long as it has:

  • a European pet passport
  • been microchipped
  • been vaccinated against rabies.

Dogs must also usually have a tapeworm treatment.

If you don’t follow these rules your pet may be put into quarantine for up to 4 months.

If you’re travelling outside the EU there will be extra rules to follow. You’ll need to find out what vaccinations your pet must have before entering the country and what checks are needed for when you return to the UK.

You can usually get this information from the travel firm you’re travelling with or the Gov.uk website.

Pet passports and other documents

You should be able to get a pet passport from your vet. You’ll need to take your pet, its identity and vaccination records and any rabies blood test results (if you have them) to the vet to get the passport. And if you’re taking a dog abroad it may also need a tapeworm treatment.

Your pet must be micro-chipped before it can get a rabies vaccination. Your vet can microchip your pet and this number must be on your pet’s passport.

Other animals

There is a similar scheme to PETS for horses.

If you are travelling in the EU with a pet rodent, rabbit, bird, invertebrate, amphibian or reptile there are no restrictions on bringing these pets back into the UK. You will of course need to check that the countries you plan to travel to will allow you in with these pets.

If you take your pet rabbit or any other rodent outside the EU, when you return to the UK the animal will need to spend 4 months in quarantine.

Things to consider before you go

Before you decide to take your pet on holiday with you, it’s worth checking if this will be possible. For example, will they be allowed into the country you want to visit and if you plan to go with a travel company will they let you take your pet with you?

A number of airlines will let certain pets fly in the hold. If you’re taking a ship you will need to check with the company and of course you’ll also need to find out if you can have a pet with you where you’re staying.

How comfortable will your pet be?

You also need to consider how comfortable your pet will be in transit and when you arrive at your destination. The Pets at Home website has lots of information on travelling with your dog on various modes of transport include planes and ferries and how to treat dog travel sickness.

Many animals find a change in routine, their environment and travelling stressful, says the RSPCA. It suggests you think carefully before taking a pet on holiday and if you decide to go ahead it has factsheets on transporting your pet safely and other things to think about.

Your pet’s health

It’s always a good idea to take your pet to the vet at least three weeks before you travel to make sure its vaccinations and passport are all up to date and if there are any preventative medicines your pet should take before you set off on your trip.

Depending on where you’re going there may be specific health risks your pet may be exposed to. You may also need to talk to your vet about any preventative treatment needed to protect your pet against ticks, sandflies, heartworm and tapeworm whilst abroad.

The Animal Welfare Foundation has published a leaflet with details of the more common diseases your pet may encounter abroad and how to avoid or treat these.

Travel insurance

And don’t forget to check your pet insurance covers your pet while you’re abroad. You may need to upgrade your policy or buy additional cover to protect them.