Everything you need to know about travelling with your dog from and to the UK!
Since the UK is no longer part of the EU, taking your dog on holiday has new rules.
The biggest change: You will NO LONGER be able to use your dog’s UK Pet Passport to travel to the EU – instead you need an Animal Health Certificate (AHC)
What your dog needs to travel from the UK to any EU country:
- a microchip
- a valid rabies vaccination (21 days prior to applying for the certificate)
- an animal health certificate unless you have a pet passport issued in an EU country or Northern Ireland 10 days before you travel
- tapeworm treatment for dogs if you’re travelling directly to Finland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Norway or Malta
It is also advisable that you check a country’s requirements and restrictions before you travel with your dog. All the new rules apply to assistant dogs as well.
What is an Animal Health Certificate?
An animal health certificate is a document signed by an official vet to confirm the following information about your dog:
- Pet owner’s details
- Your pet’s description
- Rabies vaccination details (your animal will need to have been vaccinated at least three weeks prior to the AHC appointment and have had a UK Rabies vaccine within the past three years)
- Rabies blood test (as required)
- Canine tapeworm treatment (as required)
- Intended country of entry into the EU. (The AHC has to be issued in the language of the country in which you are entering the EU and NOT your country of destination)
Please note: the animal health certificate cannot be issued if any vaccination has been given within 21 days prior to travel. You need to wait for those 21 days before you request an AHC.
How to get an animal health certificate (AHC)
You will get an AHC from your vet. Make sure your vet is an “Official Veterinarian” to be able to sign the AHC.
The animal health certificate needs to be issued no more than 10 days before you travel
Bring proof of your dog’s microchipping date and vaccination history
How long will your dog’s animal health certificate be valid for?
After the AHC issue date it will be valid for:
- 10 days for entry into the EU or Northern Ireland
- 4 months for onward travel within the EU
- 4 months for re-entry to Great Britain
Please note: for every trip to an EU country or Northern Ireland from Great Britain your dog needs a new animal health certificate.
How do I enter an EU country with my dog?
What do you do when you arrive in an EU country or Northern Ireland? You will need to go through a travellers’ point of entry. For country specific information please click here!
At the entry point you will need proof of:
Your dog’s animal health certificate
Proof of their microchip
Rabies vaccination details
Tapeworm treatment (if needed in that country)
Travelling with your dog to a non-EU country
If you will be travelling to a non-EU country with your beloved dog you will need 2 documents:
A country specific export health certificate (EHC) It makes sure your dog meets the health requirements of any given country
Export Application Form (EXA) if you reside in England, Scotland or Wales
To find a country’s export health certificate and what you need to apply, have a look on the UK government website here: https://www.gov.uk/export-health-certificates?commodity_type%5B%5D=pets
You will then nominate an official vet who will receive the export health certificate to check that your dog is meeting all of the health and identification requirements before you travel with your dog.
Always double check with each country’s regulations if any further information or certification is required.
What do I need to travel with my dog to the UK?
Before you go on holiday with your dog make sure you have everything you need ready before coming back to the UK!
Here are the requirements for your dog to enter the UK:
- has been microchipped
- has a pet passport or health certificate
- has been vaccinated against rabies – it will also need a blood test if you’re travelling from an country that is not ‘listed’
- a tapeworm treatment
My advice is to check with your vet before travelling: give him or her your full destination information and then hopefully there won’t be any unwanted surprises on the way back.
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.
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!
Does my dog still need a UK Pet Passport?
If your dog has not had a UK Pet Passport before 1 January 2021 then my answer is no! A UK Pet Passport is no longer accepted by any EU or non EU country as identification of your dog. To return to England, Scotland or Wales an animal health certificate replaces the Pet Passport.
But because it’s so cute here’s a pic of Chilli’s old passport!
Will my dog have to quarantine?
If your dog meets all of a country’s entry requirements then the answer is no, your dog will not have to quarantine. However if you fail to provide any documents or meet any regulations of a given country then the authorities have the right to quarantine your dog for 4 months. They may also refuse entry to your dog and send him back. I would not take this risk, it could be very traumatic for your dog so please be fully prepared.
Does my dog need the rabies vaccination to travel?
Yes. Every country requires proof of your dog having the rabies vaccination. Some countries also require additional blood tests to show proof of rabies antibodies.