Dog and owner lying down on rug

What to consider when travelling inside and outside the EU with your pet

If you are planning to take your pet on your next holiday, then there is quite a lot to prepare and keep track of beforehand. Please bear in mind that preparations can take several months and be aware that the rules differ depending on whether you are entering or exiting the EU. When organising your trip, you’ll need a good understanding of what is required in terms of vaccinations and documentation, as this differs from country to country. As a pet owner, you are responsible for ensuring that your pet meets the area’s specific requirements.

This article was written by a FirstVet vet

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For travel within the EU

You can travel with your pet within the EU, as long as they abide by the Pet Travel Scheme. This means that your pet must be microchipped, have a valid vaccination against rabies, and own an EU passport for pets. If you’re travelling with your pet for the first time, you will need to get a passport. You should start this process at least four months ahead of your planned trip.

Note that this applies only to dogs, cats, and ferrets. Guidelines on exporting other animals from the UK to other EU countries are similar but might vary slightly. Check the Pet Travel Scheme page on the official government website, for more details.

Your vet can help you to arrange a passport, microchip, and the required vaccinations. To work out the vaccinations and treatment required for the particular country you are going to travel to, contact the embassy or visit the local government website. In addition, you will need to speak to your vet.

For travel outside of the EU

For travel outside of the EU, your pet must have a passport and animal health certificate that has been issued by a vet. Always make sure to call the local veterinary authorities or the embassy to find out what applies specifically to the country you are travelling to. Also, keep in mind that your pet must meet the requirements even in the countries that you may only be passing through to reach your destination.

Returning to the UK

If you are returning from a country within the EU, you can bring your dog, cat, or ferret, as well as any other pet rodents, rabbits, birds, invertebrates, amphibians, and reptiles back to the UK without them needing to quarantine.

If you travelled outside the EU, your pet will need to be in quarantine for four months and will need a rabies import license. Your pet might also need to meet other national requirements but these will differ depending on what country you are coming from, so be sure to check with the local government.

If you are planning on returning with a non-native animal, you will require a license to import, release or keep said pet. The rules will vary depending on the country of origin of the animal. Contact the Centre for International Trade for more information.

In addition to the requirements and documents needed to travel in and out of the country with your pet, it is also worth checking what diseases are common in the country you’re travelling to, as it might be recommended to vaccinate against, for example, leptospirosis, depending on where you are travelling to.

Dogs returning to the UK from countries that are not free from tapeworm must have an approved tapeworm treatment administered by a vet between one to five days before re-entering the UK. This treatment must be recorded in their pet passport, or via a third-country official veterinary certificate. If the country you are travelling to does have the presence of tapeworm, ensure the necessary treatment is administered to your pet before returning to the UK. To find out if the country you’re travelling to has tapeworm, check the local government website. If you’re still unsure, speak to your vet.

It is your own responsibility to know the rules that apply when travelling with your animal, and the rules can sometimes change. If you often travel in and out of the country with your pet, ensure that you regularly check the government’s latest policies. To ensure that you keep up to date with what applies, check their website regularly. In addition, you must always remember to report your pet to customs.

Finally, it’s good to have useful numbers on hand and be sure to download our FirstVet app so that you always have veterinary advice close to hand, in case your pet becomes ill whilst you are away.

Still have questions?

The term Official Veterinarian (OV) is used to describe private practice veterinarians who perform work on behalf of the UK Government. Vets must be certified as OVs to provide the necessary vaccinations and documentation for pets to travel. Book a video appointment to have a chat with one of our OVs, Dr Jillian Hall, Dr Mark Conboy or Dr Jill Mellink-Davidson, who can answer all your questions.

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