Taking Your Pet Abroad? Here’s What You Need To Know
As the Summer Holidays eagerly approach and holidays abroad return to the ‘norm’, we thought it would be handy to cover the latest guidelines for taking your pet abroad to the EU.
Travelling to an EU Country
Before jet-setting, it’s important to ensure your pet has all the necessary requirements to enter an EU country. If they haven’t it will take 22 days from their rabies vaccine before your pet can be issued with the correct paperwork to travel.
When entering an EU country or Northern Ireland, pets need:
An animal health certificate
A rabies vaccination
Some countries also require tapeworm treatment (such as Ireland, and Malta)
As of January 2021, when we left the EU, travel for pets (dogs, cats, and ferrets) guidelines changed. ‘Pet Passports’ are no longer valid, these have been replaced with ‘Animal Health Certificates’ (AHC), which have to be issued each time you want to leave and reenter the UK. These are 10-page certificates that can only be issued by an Official Veterinarian (OV).
Not every vet can issue an AHC or complete forms for export, this is an additional qualification that a vet completes to become an Official Veterinarian (OV), so it is worth checking with your vet if they hold this qualification.
In order for your veterinarian to issue a certificate, the vet will need to scan your pet's microchip and check their rabies vaccination status which must be in date and given after the microchip was implanted. If your pet's rabies vaccine expired/ given the first time it must have been administered at least 21 days before the AHC can be issued.
Up to 5 pets from the same household and species can be added to an Animal Health Certificate. Due to the length of time required to complete this lengthy document we no longer issue these at Roundwood as they impact our appointment availability for patients in need, however, we can advise you on practices that do.
For your cat or dog to be eligible to travel you need...
a microchip implanted before the rabies vaccination (if your pet doesn’t already have a microchip).
a rabies vaccination given at least 21 days before the AHC can be issued and the microchip checked and noted on their record. Rabies vaccines can be given by your normal veterinarian, they do not need to be an OV.
An AHC issued by an OV Vet within 10 days prior to your planned departure date.
The rabies vaccine is an additional optional vaccine that has to be requested by yourself, this vaccine is not part of the core or annual vaccinations your pet receives at the vet's.
It is also important to remember it is your responsibility, not the veterinarian, to ensure your pets rabies vaccination is up to date and doesn’t go past the expiry date listed in a passport or certificate, even given one day late, the rabies vaccination will be classed as expired and you will need to wait an additional 21 days before an AHC can be issued.
If you have an EU passport it is also important to keep your pet's rabies vaccinations up to date and administered in the country that the passport was issued. UK vets can no longer update rabies vaccinations into the EU passports so if your pet's vaccine is due to expire or the rabies vaccine was given whilst in the UK, your pet will need an AHC to travel.
An AHC is valid 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
A new certificate is required for each trip.
It’s important to note that you are not able to take more than 5 pets to an EU Country or Northern Ireland unless visiting for a competition, show, or sporting event and the person signing the certificate should be the person travelling with the pet.
Before travelling, it’s also important to have a look into the location and weather and how you are transporting your pet. All pets are susceptible to heatstroke during the warmer months, particularly if travelling in the car. Heatstroke can occur even when the car is moving, not just when it is stationary, so you should be monitoring your pet and the temperature regularly. Have a look at our heatstroke blog (here) for more information about signs to look out for and first aid treatment.
When travelling by car:
Consider the times you are travelling, avoiding the hottest times of the day.
Use air conditioning to keep the car cool.
Clip-on fans are handy for air circulation, especially if your pet is travelling in the boot.
Use a thermometer in the area your pet is travelling in so you can monitor if this area is getting too hot, over 29°c is at high risk of heatstroke and action should be taken to cool this area down.
Use pet cooling mats (available online or in pet shops).
Provide plenty of water.
Place window shades over the rear window if your pet is travelling in the boot.
Take regular toilet breaks for dogs.
Make sure the area/carrier your pet is in is well ventilated.
All dogs should be secure in your car, your insurance may be invalid if your pet is loose and you have an accident (both car and pet), it is also illegal in the UK to travel with your dog in the car unsecured.
When transporting cats or ferrets make sure the carrier is large enough to accommodate a litter tray, water and food.
It’s also pivotal to ensure your accommodation is pet friendly, and that there are nearby facilities to exercise your pet.
Additionally, we recommend taking your pets' favourite toy, blanket, or treat to help them feel at home.
When You Have Arrived:
Once you have arrived in an EU country of Northern Ireland, you must report the ‘Travellers Point of Entry’. Here they will check your pet’s animal health certificate, as well as proof for microchips, rabies vaccinations, and tapeworm treatment (if required).
Once on holiday, it’s important to keep your pet's routine as ‘normal’ as possible, to avoid stress. Where possible, pack food or keep them on a similar diet to avoid an upset stomach, give them time to explore, and rest to recuperate.
Returning to the UK
Tapeworm treatment for dogs
A vet must treat your dog for tapeworm and record it in the pet passport or health certificate every time you want to bring it to Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland).
The treatment must have been given no less than 24 hours and no more than 120 hours (5 days) before you enter Great Britain. Your dog can be refused entry or put into quarantine if you do not follow this rule.
You do not need to treat your dog for tapeworm if you’re coming directly to Great Britain from Finland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Malta or Norway.
The treatment must:
be approved for use in the country it’s being given in
contain praziquantel or an equivalent proven to be effective against the Echinococcus multilocularis tapeworm
If you’re leaving Great Britain for a short trip, your dog must be treated by a vet before you go. You must wait for 24 hours before re-entering Great Britain and return within 120 hours or you’ll need to get another treatment abroad.
You should treat your dog again within 28 days of returning to Great Britain.
The biggest takehome from this article about travelling with your pet abroad is…
PLAN, PLAN, PLAN
Do not leave it to the last minute or your pet won’t be able to travel!
We also recommend ensuring your pet has its rabies vaccination as soon as possible, otherwise, you will delay your departure by 22 days from the vaccine. Book your AHC appointment well in advance, most clinics that offer AHC, even specialist export clinics appointments will be fully booked over the high-demand months such as the Summer and Christmas periods.
Travelling to a Non-EU Country
When travelling to a non-EU country, an ‘Export Application Form’ and ‘Export Health Certificate’ is required if travelling from England, Scotland or Wales.
These are to ensure your pet meets the health requirements of the country of travel. These vary from country to country, so it’s important to check the requirements before you travel.
In order to gain the certification, you must allocate an official veterinarian (OV) who will be sent the EHC and ensure your pet is fit to travel.
It is important to remember that the registered owner is responsible for obtaining this paperwork and finding out what is required to travel, not the vet. We also highly recommend using a pet export company.
To find out more, visit the Government's Guide here, or call the Pet Travel Scheme helpline on 0370 241 1710.