From 1 January 2021 onwards, travelling to the EU with your pet has changed. If your pet passport was issued in the EU or Northern Ireland, then rest assured – you can still use yours to holiday with your four-legged pals. But if your pet passport was issued in Great Britain, sadly that means it’s invalid. 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 to get your pet or assistance dog on the holiday they deserve – along with a few handy hints on travelling with pets!
What will you need?
When travelling from GB to the EU with your pet, the to do list is fourfold. In order to meet the requirements to receive the stamped, bilingual document, you will need:
- A microchip
- A valid rabies vaccination – your pet must be at least 12 weeks old before they can be vaccinated
- Tapeworm treatment (if needed)
- An animal health certificate (AHC) – issued within 10 days of the date you are set to travel
You will need to travel approved routes only (unless you have an assistance dog). Check them here.
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 make them eligible. 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 primary injection before you can travel, so make sure this is done with plenty of time to spare.
3. Let’s Talk Tapeworm
Not exactly a topic for polite conversation, but once you’ve got your microchip and vaccination certificate 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. If you are travelling with your dog directly to Finland, Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Norway or Malta you will need to get your dog treated for tapeworm before travel. If you’re unsure, always check the Government website.
To be able to get back home, your dog must receive the worming treatment from an EU vet (you can’t do it yourself) between 1 and 5 days before you travel home. Once that’s done, you’re good to go!
4. Get Your AHC
Now you can actually apply for your pet’s AHC (animal health certificate)! This will need to be issued within 10 days of your travel date and can only be issued by an Official Veterinarian. This must provide proof of the previous three steps , including an approved tapeworm treatment from an EU vet before returning to the UK. One certificate covers travel for up to five animals but is only valid for one trip. Yep – that means you’ll need to do this for each holiday…
5. Travelling Regularly? Consider Dual Nationality
If you’re looking for a frankly easier and cheaper option, how about dual nationality? If you have a holiday home in the EU, you can take your pet and proof of address to your local vet. They will check the microchip and complete a provisionary identification certificate and upload it to the French government. This will then generate an ID card for the pet that can be used to issue a pet passport. In order to be eligible, your pet will need to be a resident for three months to qualify and British travellers are limited to 90-day stays.
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 an AHC, 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 AHC 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.
If you need further help, visit the government website or read this handy BBC article. And if your pet’s AHC 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?