Travelling overseas with your pet used to be an absolute nightmare. With more red tape than a ribbon factory just before Valentine’s Day, the extended and expensive quarantine stays would more often than not end up with your furry friend sulking and you feeling guilty for putting the poor thing through the whole rigmarole in the first place.
Nowadays the process is significantly simpler, but there are still a few important boxes that need to be ticked before you head off to sunnier climes with your pet in tow. In order that your pet can enjoy your luxury villa break as much as you do, here’s a handy guide to everything you need to do get your pet their very own passport – along with a few handy hints on travelling with pets!
How To Get A Pet Passport
It’s important to remember that the only pets eligible to apply for a pet passport under current regulations are dogs, cats and ferrets, and we’re concentrating here on EU travel to and from the UK. Other animals (including rodents, birds and some fish native to the UK) don’t have as many restrictions on travel, but will require an enforced quarantine. It goes without saying that other countries will have their own procedures that need to be adhered to, so researching the procedures and limitations of pet travel into or out of your destination country is vital!
And having got all that out of the way, here’s what you’ll need to do…
Most responsible pet owners will already have their pet microchipped, but if you haven’t it’s the first thing you’ll need to do in order to get a pet passport. This also needs to be done at least one month before your date of travel, or you won’t have enough time to complete the other steps. Microchip scanners can vary throughout countries, but there’s a standardised chip that can be used that’s compatible with almost all makes – make sure your vet uses one of these to avoid problems down the line.
The next thing you’ll need is a valid rabies vaccination certificate. We checked up on rabies while we were researching this article, and trust us, it’s not something you want to risk. Your pet’s microchip number is recorded on the vaccination certificate, which is why you need to microchip first – you’ll need to get a new injection if your pet hasn’t been vaccinated since it was microchipped, or a booster if the current vaccination is set to run out while you’re away. This is another step that needs to be done early – you’ll have to wait 21 days after the injection before you can travel, so make sure this is done with plenty of time to spare.
3. Get Your Passport!
Now you can actually apply for your pet’s passport! This is a pretty simple procedure that your vet can guide you through, and if you’ve gone through steps 1 and 2 recently you’ll have plenty of opportunity to quiz them about it!
4. Let’s Talk Tapeworm
Not exactly a topic for polite conversation, but once you’ve got your microchip, vaccination certificate and pet passport sorted you’ll need to have your dog wormed. Cat and ferret owners can breathe easy for a moment – this only applies to dogs, and dogs entering and exiting the UK at that (so you’re fine and dandy if, say, you’re crossing the border from Italy to France). Principally to help stop the spread of a rather nasty endoparasite called Echinococcus multilocularis, time is a factor in this step too. To be able to go on holiday, your dog must receive the worming treatment from a vet (you can’t do it yourself) between 24 and 120 hours before your time of travel – that’s between one and five days. Once that’s done, you’re good to go!
But it’s not just the pet passport that’ll help you cross borders with your pet – there’s a few other considerations to bear in mind.
Carriers: Even though you’ve gone through numerous steps to get your hands on a pet passport, that doesn’t mean you can rock up at the airport and hop on the next plane with your pet. It’s vital to do some research and plan ahead, as each airline or ferry company has different rules regarding the cost and conditions of transporting a pet – some may charge more for larger breeds, and some won’t accept pets for travel at all. Generally speaking, it’s easier on a ferry than it is on a plane, but careful research will ensure you’re travelling with the best company for both you and your pet.
On the day: So, you’ve got your pet passport sorted, found a company that’s happy to take you and your pet and you’ve bought your tickets. But there’s still a few things you can do to ensure a stress-free trip for your furry friend.
- Make sure your pet is comfortable in their crate. Most airlines have restrictions on the construction and size of the crate, so you may have to buy a new one – if you do, having your pet sleep in it a few times before departure can acclimatise them and ensure an easier trip. Food and water bowls should be firmly attached to the crate. Also, don’t forget to get belly bands for your dog to help them with peeing problems on the flight.
- Speaking of crates, it’s a good idea to put a t-shirt with your scent on it inside with your pet so they feel more at ease.
- Always include information on your pet’s name and your contact details on the outside of the crate, and if it’s for a longer flight, you might want to include information on the best times to feed them.
- If you’re worried your pet might get overly stressed during their journey, sedating them is not recommended. Altitude can effect the sedatives in your pet’s system, and some airlines won’t even allow a sedated pet to fly.
- To avoid travel sickness, avoid feeding your pet between two and four hours before travelling.
You can get in touch with the UK Government’s Pet Travel Helpline if you have any further questions, and DEFRA also has a lot of handy information. And if your pet’s passport is all sorted, why not check out our gorgeous range of dog friendly cottages in UK or our pet friendly villas in France to find the perfect place for you and your pet to enjoy?