It can be hard parting with your beloved pets when you're jetting off. So, why leave them at home when you could all enjoy the fun together? Whether you’re moving abroad permanently or just fancy treating your pets to a holiday – there are a few rules you’ll need to follow when travelling.
From our experience with Smudge and Boo, we know how stressful it can be planning these trips, so we’ve put together a handy guide to taking pets abroad. Read on for all the essential information to make the process as smooth as can be. Make sure to read to the end for updated information on how Brexit will impact travelling with your pets to the EU and Northern Ireland.
Any preparation you can do before venturing on your travels will make the journey more enjoyable for both you and your pet. Most important before setting off is to check the country you’re travelling to doesn’t have any rules against pet entry or any special requirements.
It goes without saying, to check that your accommodation is animal-friendly, and they don’t mind your cat or dog staying there. Most places will require you to give them advance warning and details about your cat or dog, even if they advertise as pet friendly. Save yourself some stress and check ahead.
If your cat or dog is travelling anywhere outside of the UK, you’ll need to get them a passport. Check out gov.uk for the complete list of countries that will accept pet passports before booking your trip.
A trip to the vets will be on the cards for a pet passport too. Most vets can issue passports, but call ahead and find out whether yours can. Don’t worry, you won’t have to attempt to wrangle your pet into a photobooth for the perfect shot – their passports are simply a list of treatments they’ve had.
Passports will only be issued to pets over 12 weeks old. This is the earliest they can get their rabies vaccinations. You will also need to wait at least 21 days after the injections before travelling. So, best hold off booking until your pet is at least 15 weeks old. Finally, your pet will have to be microchipped, which, for dogs, is required by law anyway!
We’ve not yet travelled on planes with Smudge or Boo but it’s something we hope to do in future. If you’re travelling directly from the UK, unfortunately you can’t take your pet in the cabin with you. Certain breed types are prone to respiratory problems like Smudge, so we wouldn’t recommend travelling with them in the hold. You can still enjoy a holiday abroad by driving over to France where most airlines let your furry companion stay in the cabin with you, providing they are under 8kg.
Putting your pet on a plane alone for hours can be a pretty daunting and uncomfortable experience. In reality, it’s probably more traumatic for us parents than it is for the animals. That said, there have been a lot of changes in recent years that have made taking pets abroad much easier and smoother.
Unless they’re an assistance or emotional support animal, most airlines will require your pet to travel in the hold of the plane. Although, as pet lovers, we know this is not the ideal situation, there are a number of things to do to ease your animal’s anxiety.
size up your crate generously
Nowadays, airlines can be strict with the crate sizing and require that your pet is able to stand up straight and turn around in the crate. Don’t compromise when it comes to your pet’s comfort – give them plenty of room to stretch, especially for long-haul flights. The crate should also be sturdy, securely closed, with a waterproof bottom and adequate ventilation. Crate training may also be used to calm and allow your dog to get used to the environment.
pack the essentials
We all want to make travelling as pleasant and comfortable for our pooch or kitty. Make sure your furry companion has plenty of dog or cat food and water for the duration of the flight. Putting some toys in the crate and adding a blanket or piece of clothing that smells of home will help the animal to feel at ease. Remember, your pet needs to have a collar on, complete with an identity tag displaying your name and number.
choosing your flight
Adding the flight to the sometimes-long car journeys to and from the airport, your pet will be enclosed inside a crate for a prolonged amount of time. Wherever possible, try to choose a direct flight to reduce travel times, and make sure your cat or dog gets plenty of time outdoors in between flights, trains or transfers. It’s also best to choose the coolest travel time possible, so your pet doesn’t get too hot.
So, lets get down to the nitty-gritty – how much does it cost to travel with a pet? Well, of course, it’s dependent on destination and airline just like it is for us human travellers. But there are some key figures to bear in mind before planning your next holiday.
Unlike our travel documents, pet passports are valid for life, so it’s a one-time cost. For cats, passports usually cost between £25-£50 and £150-£250 for dogs. While this may sound expensive, factor in the costs you’ll be saving on catteries and kennels and it doesn’t seem so bad.
Remember, however, if you’re taking your dog abroad for a holiday and they will be returning to the UK, they must get tapeworm treatment, which will add to the overall cost. The treatment must be done by a registered vet between 24-120 hours before entering the UK. Failing to do so will result in your dog being put into quarantine, so don’t forget! We’ve heard horror stories of people being refused return from day trips in France to the UK, which led to hefty last-minute hotel stays and Vet visits, not fun!
don’t forget the heat
Last on our list is the heat, which can be uncomfortable and even dangerous for your pet. If you’re travelling to a warmer climate than they’re used to, it’s important to take measures to keep them cool. If there’s a pool nearby, this is perfect for water-loving dogs to cool down. Just be sure to check they’re allowed in.
For cats, make sure they get plenty of water and shade – although as lovers of the sun you may have a hard time keeping them out of it!
Brexit: new rules for travel to the EU and Northern Ireland from January 1st 2021
From January 1st, pet passports will no longer be valid for trips to the EU or N Ireland. Instead you will need an animal health certificate (AHC). Along with the certificate you will also need to make sure:
- Your pet has been microchipped
- They have had their vaccination against rabies, they must be at least 12 weeks old before you can do this.
- Wait 21 days after their primary vaccination
- Visit your vet to get your AHC, no more than 10 days before travel to the EU
Getting an AHC certificate
To get your certificate, you must visit your vet within 10 days of travel and it must be signed by an official vet.
When you go you'll need to have proof of your pet's microchipping date and vaccination history for them to check. The certificate will then be valid for 10 days after the date of issue for entry into the EU or NI, and onward travel within the EU or Ni for 4 months after the issue date which includes the re-entry time to GB.
For more information on Pet travel: to and from Great Britain