Dog on holiday
What could be more fun than travelling with your dog? You could plan a road trip with your dog or even venture into international territory. But before you set out to do just that, you need to be sure you have done all the necessary prep work, otherwise your trip can turn into a nightmare. UK dog travel regulations are tight and now that Brexit has taken place, we need to be aware of the changes that have come in. Once you have a checklist and know what to do, you and your dog will be ready to enjoy a holiday to remember!
UK dog travel regulations
The UK Government has strict regulations governing which countries our pets can travel to and from and under which rules. The basic conditions for your dog holding a UK Pet Passport to re-enter the UK are:
- Pet Passport (containing all relevant vaccinations and blood tests)
- Rabies vaccination (it must be administered at least 21 days before travel and you might also need a blood test to confirm anti bodies)
- Tapeworm treatment upon return (recorded in pet passport and given to pet no less than 24 hours and no more than 120 hours (5 days) before you enter the UK)
To find out the rules of the country you are travelling to, you will need to check on their governmental website.
If you are living outside of the UK and you are planning to travel to the UK, and your dog holds a non UK passport, the rules may vary depending on whether your dog holds an EU, Listed country or unlisted country pet passport. Have a look here for further information: https://www.gov.uk/take-pet-abroad/listed-and-unlisted-countries
Your vet will also be able to talk you through the process of getting your dog travel ready and arrange all necessary vaccinations, documents and blood tests.
In order for your dog to travel abroad he or she needs a dog passport. The Pet Travel Scheme was designed to enable pets travelling between member states without needing to stay in quarantine when crossing borders, which usually is 4 months long. This means that with an up-to-date pet passport your pooch can travel with you and enter the country at the same time.
How do you get a Pet Passport?
To get a pet passport you will have to ask your vet if they are authorised to issue one. If not, your vet will refer you to the nearest clinic which does.
How much does a UK Pet Passport cost?
Pet passport cost in 2020 comes in at around £75 – £140. What are you paying for?
- Microchipping your dog
- Rabies vaccination
- Pet passport application
There are some possible additional costs to bear in mind which depend on your destination country:
- Rabies blood test (to prove anti bodies)
- Tapeworm treatment upon return
- Pet Insurance (if you haven’t already insured your dog for travels)
How long does it take to get a Pet Passport issued?
From the date of application for your dog’s passport it can take up to a week for it to be issued. However this is not the critical time part. Depending on where you are travelling to, different countries require the Rabies vaccination to be given at least 3 months (or more) prior to travel. Some countries may also ask for a Rabies Titer test which shows whether or not the vaccination was successful. If the blood values don’t indicate enough antibodies your dog might have to repeat the test at a later date. This can of course delay your trip. Some countries may also require other vaccinations that are not mandatory in the UK so it is vital you check the country’s regulations well in advance.
Flying with a dog
Airline regulations vary – some airlines have a strict no pet policy, while others are more than happy for you to travel with your pooch even in the cabin (if he or she meets weight requirements). The UK however has a strict law that requires all pets returning to the UK to be in the hold – they are not allowed to be in the cabin. Other European countries are much more dog friendly. In Germany, for example, you will see dogs on lead walking through the airport with their owners. Within mainland Europe it is much easier to fly to and fro with your best friend close to you.
Taking a dog on a plane
There are several airlines that allow dogs. Some airlines that allow dogs in cabin too. You will have to pay the airline a ticket fee for your dog to travel with you, whether it is in cabin or cargo.
The conditions to take a dog in the cabin with you are:
- Your dog must weigh under around 8kg (18lbs)
- Your dog must be in an airline approved pet carrier
- The airline rules accept cabin travel
- The minimum age of your dog airline regulation is met
Your dog’s microchip needs to be working – allowing it to be scanned at the airport. Dogs that do not meet the above requirements have to travel in the hold.
Dog friendly airlines
Some airlines allow you to fly with your dog in the hold but not in the cabin with you, no matter what their size is. Not all dogs would be able to handle flying in the hold without you – anxious or nervous dogs could find this quite traumatising and it will place a big strain on their nervous system. For me personally, I would find it impossible to let my little Chilli travel in the hold. Most other small dog owners will probably feel similarly. But the good news is that there are quite a few airlines who allow dogs to fly in the cabin with you. Please note there is an additional fee.
Make sure to contact the airline directly yourself before planning your trip, and ask about fees, the weight limit of a dog allowed in the cabin, and which dog carriers are accepted by the airline. Also ask your vet about food and drink intake before the trip, relaxation aids and any other concerns you may have.
These airlines allow you to fly with your pooch in cabin:
For a full list of carriers and their regulations visit the UK GOV website.
Brexit pet travel
“To make sure your pet is able to travel from the UK to the EU from 1 January 2021, you should contact your vet at least 4 months before travelling to get the latest advice.”
The UK Government has a thorough guide on the various regulations that could come into effect on the 1st January 2021, depending on what kind of relationship the UK will have with Europe. The EU classifies countries into three groups: unlisted, Part 1listed and Part 2 listed. Each set of countries have different requirements that they need to meet in order for a dog to enter a EU country from the country of origin. For example, you might need to abide by the 3 month waiting rule after a successful blood test proving the Rabies vaccination to have worked. Also some of the groups require an Animal Health Certificate to be issued alongside the passport and microchip. As we do not yet know which category the UK will fall into, all information about all three options is available online.
You will still need your dog’s pet passport after brexit – especially to re-enter the UK. However it will no longer be valid on its own. It will require additional documentation.
If you are looking for a licensed vet to issue such a certificate, have a look on the government’s website: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/find-a-professional-to-certify-export-health-certificates
Dog Travel Checklist
Before you do travel, it might be a useful idea to have a dog packing list! This should include everything you need while you are away. My list would look something like this:
- Extra collar, harness and lead. You never know if your dog decides to roll in the mud or it starts raining a lot, so it’s always best to have a spare set.
- Raincoat and weather appropriate clothing. If you are travelling during the cold winter months I’d pack a few fleece tops and a chic dog coat too.
- Treats. You never know when you need to get your dog’s attention or when he might need some guidance.
- Blanket and travel bag. Whether you travel by car or aeroplane your dog will already have a dog carrier bag. So place a soft blanket in it to make him or her feel cozy.
- Dog tooth brush & tooth paste & grooming brush. Sorry but holiday doesn’t mean we don’t brush those teeth! Don’t forget the fur too.
- Toys. Your dog will still want to play and so will you.
- Poo bags. Make sure you don’t run out the minute you arrive!
- Food. As Chilli mainly eats home-cooked food I wouldn’t bring much, maybe some gastrointestinal kibble. If your dog eats bought dog food bring enough for the first evening and morning until you can get some more.
- Pet passport and any documentation. Prepare this well in advance.
Just in case you were wondering, yes you might need a bigger suitcase!
Taking your dog to France from the UK
As the UK travel regulations stand in the present it is possible to fly out of the UK with your dog in the cabin but not allowed to bring them back this way. What many dog parents do is fly to Paris, then get a “pet taxi” to pick them up at Charles de Gaulle airport and drive them across the Eurotunnel back into the UK. It is quite pricey but worth it to dog owners who do not want their pooch to go in the hold. The Eurostar train does not allow pets on board – only guide dogs are allowed.