Overseas travel

Following both Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic, there are important considerations for dog owners and those involved in canine activities overseas to think about before heading to Europe and beyond with their dog. Alongside the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, we have pulled together a list of things you will need to remember to ensure your trips are as stress-free as possible and in line with any new requirements.

Complying with travel rules

For dog owners based in Great Britain, new pet travel rules came into force in January 2021, meaning that going from Great Britain to Europe with your dog will now look a little different. These rules also apply to travel from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, though an education phase will be in place until 1 October 2021 and, until then, no enforcement checks will be taking place at the Northern Irish border.

You will need to visit your vet at least one month before travelling to ensure that your dog is microchipped and has a valid rabies vaccination. You will also need to obtain an Animal Health Certificate.  

Animal Health Certificates (AHC)

Animal Health Certificates can only be issued by an official veterinarian, so you will need to find a practice that offers this service and book your appointment in advance in case they are busy. An Animal Health Certificate is valid for up to ten days after the date of issue for entry into Northern Ireland or the EU. It is also only valid for one return trip, meaning that you will need to obtain a new certificate each time you leave Great Britain to enter Northern Ireland or the EU. An Animal Health Certificate is only valid for re-entry to Great Britain for four months after the date of issue.

If travelling onwards within the EU, the Animal Health Certificate will be valid for four months after the date of issue.

Certificates typically cost between £100 and £200 each. 

Prices may vary according to veterinary practice, so shopping around may be an option. 

Tapeworm

When travelling to Finland, Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland (from 1 October 2021), Norway or Malta with your dog, they will need tapeworm treatment in advance.

Tapeworm treatment is required between 24 hours and 120 hours before arriving in Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Finland, Norway or Malta. This must be administered by a vet before every journey. Your vet must record the name and manufacturer of the product used to treat your dog, the date and time they treated your dog, and their stamp and signature in your dog’s Animal Health Certificate.

With the exception of re-entry directly from Republic of Ireland, Finland, Norway or Malta, these tapeworm treatment requirements also apply to re-entry into Great Britain from the EU.

What happens if I don’t have the correct paperwork?

Arriving at the border without the correct paperwork could mean that you are turned away to return to Great Britain, or your dog is placed into quarantine. You will be required to burden the costs of quarantine if your dog does not meet the entry requirements and will be required to book the quarantine premises. Your dog will be eligible for release from quarantine when it meets the entry requirements.

We advise that you ensure you have the correct paperwork well in advance of your trip to enable you to travel onwards with ease.

Travelling with more than five dogs to an event

As was the case previously, there is a limit of five animals (dogs, cats and ferrets) that one individual can travel with. Those travelling from the UK to an EU member state, or travelling into the UK from the EU, with more than five dogs to a competition, show, or training for such an event will need to complete a declaration form. This declaration will allow an exemption from the requirements for commercial movements.

From 1 October 2021, this form will also need to be completed by those travelling from Great Britain into Northern Ireland with more than five animals for an event.


 

Requirements for dog owners/exhibitors living in Northern Ireland and travelling to Great Britain or the EU

Dog owners based in Northern Ireland may continue to use an EU pet passport to travel to EU countries with their dog. Pet passports issued before 1 January 2021 will need to be updated by a veterinarian participating in the Pet Passport Scheme. Please note that compliance with tapeworm treatment rules is also required.

Although no health preparations or documentation is needed to enter Great Britain from Northern Ireland, from 1 October 2021 you will need a pet passport to re-enter Northern Ireland from Great Britain and must ensure that your dog has met the tapeworm treatment requirements. This means that you will need to visit a veterinarian based in Great Britain to administer tapeworm treatment between 1 and 5 days before your journey back to Northern Ireland.

From 1 October 2021, if you are returning to Northern Ireland from Great Britain with more than five dogs from a competition, show, or training for an event, you should complete a declaration form which will allow an exemption from the requirements for commercial movements.

You will also need to enter Northern Ireland with your dog via a designated Travellers’ Point of Entry.

For more information regarding pet travel rules for Northern Ireland, please visit the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs’ website.

Planning a holiday with your dog

As international borders begin to open and holiday plans are made, we are encouraging dog owners to follow our advice to ensure your pet-friendly trip is as stress-free as possible and in line with any new requirements.

Before making any bookings, always check the latest travel advice for the country you are hoping to visit. Make sure the accommodation you are staying in is dog-friendly and suitable for your dog.

Things to consider when planning
  • Will your dog be happy, comfortable and safe during long car journeys?
  • Will the weather at your holiday destination be suitable for your dog?
  • Will the location be suitable for your dog?
What to pack
  • Dog bed
  • Bowls for food and water
  • Poo bags
  • Dog lead and/or harness
  • Details for a local vet where you will be staying, in case of any emergencies and for the administration of tapeworm treatment as required
  • Favourite toys

Please be aware that new restrictions apply regarding taking pet food from Great Britain into the EU (and Northern Ireland from 1 October 2021). You can no longer take products of animal origin with you, including pet food. A limited exemption applies for special pet food required for medical reasons, as long as it weighs less than 2 kilograms. Unless you qualify for the exemption you will need to plan where you will be purchasing your dog’s food from when abroad.

On the day

Before you leave the house, make sure your dog is wearing its collar and identification tag, and that your details on the tag are correct and up-to-date.

Due to the new pet travel requirements and checks outlined above, it is likely that border crossings may take longer than usual. As such, we advise you to plan to arrive at border checkpoints at cooler times of the day – such as in the early morning or later in the evening – in case of delays and potential warm weather.

Things to remember

Always update your holiday details on your pet’s microchip record before you travel. Petlog, for example, is a member of the European Pet Network so can still help to reunite holidaying owners and pets.

It is also worth checking that your pet insurance will cover your trip and, if not, take out insurance to ensure your dog is protected when on holiday abroad.

It is essential that you never leave your dog in the car, especially in warm or hot weather. Always check ahead whether businesses are dog-friendly and plan your activities to ensure that your dogs are inside during the warmest hours of the day.