Legal requirements for travelling abroad with your dog

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Legal requirements for travelling abroad with your dog

Last week we looked at the best places to holiday with your dog in the UK as more and more people are taking their pups on vacation with them. So it follows that as this trend for holidaying with out pets continues, more people are looking into travelling overseas with their dog as well. But it is not as straightforward as packing a packet of food and popping them in the car. 

Before you travel at all, you need to consider the welfare of your dog first. You may want to share your adventure with them, but will they be happy to travel long distances or experience extreme changes in temperature or surroundings? If your main reason for taking them is because you don’t like the idea of putting them in kennels, try finding someone to housesit and care for your dog at home instead, as depending on their temperament, this may be the best outcome for them. However if your dog is the adventurous type, loves a road (or plane or boat) trip and is happy as long as they are with you, this week we’re looking at the legal requirements for travelling abroad with your dog.

Dogs on a yacht photo by Jesse Orrico on UnsplashDogs on a yacht photo by Jesse Orrico on Unsplash

Travelling to NI and the European Union with a dog

If you’re planning on taking your dog to Northern Ireland or any country in the European Union, your dog will need the following things:

  • An Animal Health Certificate (AHC). The certificate needs to be signed by an official veterinarian. Check to see if your vet can issue an Animal Health Certificate and if they can’t, ask them recommend a vet that can. You need to get the AHC no more than 10 days before you travel.
  • An up-to-date rabies vaccination - you must wait 21 days after the primary vaccination before you travel. The vaccine must be an inactivated or recombinant vaccine that’s approved in the country of use. Your dog should be at least 12 weeks old before getting vaccinated. If you’re travelling long term with your pet, you must get regular rabies booster vaccinations for them as you travel.
  • A microchip – this is now a legal requirement for dogs in the UK anyway so your dog should already be chipped.
  • If you’re travelling directly to Finland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Norway or Malta your dog will also need a tapeworm treatment (given no less than 24 hours and no more than 120 hours (5 days) before you arrive) he treatment must be approved for use in the country it is administered in and contain praziquantel or equivalent treatment, that is proven to be effective against the Echinococcus Multilocularis tapeworm. The treatment must be given by a vet so they can prove it has been administered. Your vet should record the name and manufacturer of the product used, the date and time they treated your dog and their stamp and signature.

Visiting the motherland - photo by JF Brou on UnsplashVisiting the motherland - photo by JF Brou on Unsplash

How do I get a pet passport?

People talk of ‘pet passports’ but you can no longer use a pet passport if it was issued in Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland). You can only use a pet passport if the country you’re travelling to accepts passports for pets coming from Great Britain and the passport was issued in an EU country or several other countries, including Northern Ireland (see full list). As long as you have an AHC and the other things listed above you should be fine to travel.

Your dog’s AHC will be valid after the date of issue 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

You will need to get a new AHC for each trip to an EU country or Northern Ireland from Great Britain.

 If you’re planning on travelling with more than 5 dogs you can only do this if you are taking part in a competition or sporting event and they must be more than six months old.

Paddle boarding dog photo by Marco López on UnsplashPaddle boarding dog photo by Marco López on Unsplash

Travelling the world with a dog

 If you're planning a trip outside of the EU, you will need to get an Export Health Certificate (EHC), and complete an export application form (EXA).

 The rules for each country are different and the EHC and EXA info for each country will tell you what criteria you need to meet in order to apply. Like the AHC, an EHC must be issued by an official vet.

You can search the criteria for the country you are traveling to on the website. Make sure you find an official vet BEFORE you apply for the EHC, you can then nominate them during your application. If your vet is not an official vet then they should be able to help you find one. have really useful printable guide with all of this information on their website. 

Next week we’ll take you through what to expect when travelling abroad with your pet and how to plan for your trip.

Main photo by Egor Gordeev on Unsplash

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