Travelling with pets: the rules abroad

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For most pet owners, your dog or cat isn’t just a furry friend, but an important member of the family.

So it’s no surprise then that many people consider taking their pet abroad with them to Europe and beyond when they want to go travelling. If you’re planning a holiday and thinking of bringing your pet with you, there’s some important considerations that should be taken into account before you go.

If you’re keen to bring your pet with you on holiday to Europe, you’re not alone – last year P&O ferries alone carried 19,478 cats and dogs on its Dover-Calais route.

If you want to bring your four-legged friend on holiday with you, here’s what you need to know…

EU Pet Travel Scheme

You can bring your dog, cat or ferret into the EU and UK without quarantine so long as it meets the requirements of the EU Travel Scheme.

At a glance, the requirements are:

  • Pets must be be identified with a microchip
  • Pets must have received a rabies vaccination followed by a 21 day wait (make sure this is done after being microchipped so it’s properly recorded)
  • Travel with the relevant documentation
  • Dogs should be treated for tapeworm
  • Pets must enter with an approved transport company on an authorised route

Getting your pet ready to travel can be expensive for a one-off holiday, but if for example you have a timeshare and holiday in the same place each year or own a second home, the travel scheme eliminates the need for a quarantine and can make travelling back and forth considerably easier.

To read more about the requirements of the EU Travel Scheme, check the government website.


Fulfilling the requirements of the EU Pet Travel Scheme is only one piece of the puzzle. In addition to the list of approved routes and transport companies, you need to be sure whatever carrier you are using allows animals on board.

Guide dogs are the exception here, and if you have a pet that offers you assistance in general you are allowed to bring them on board regardless of how you travel. For anyone else, however, the rules are more stringent. Most budget airlines – Ryanair and Easyjet for example – won’t allow animals on board. In some instance airlines will allow small animals in the cabin but for longer journeys or larger pets they must travel in the hold.

If you’re going by train, check the rail company’s pet policy before you leave and on the day of travel make sure on-board staff are aware you have an animal with you before departing. Most ferries generally allow animals, but some have rules about whether your pet must stay in the car or go in a designated container area.  Always check the rules before you book to avoid disappointment.

Stop and consider

Travelling with an animal can be stressful and expensive for everyone involved, so unless you intend to be away for a long period of time it might make more sense to leave your pet with a friend, family member or at a kennel until you return home.

Like humans, every pet has a different personality – some dogs and cats are relaxed and don’t mind interacting with strangers or being moved to new environments. Others are much more sensitive and can find even a trip to the groomer or Veterinarian’s office a little traumatic. Be realistic and consider how your dog or cat will handle travelling and what you can do to make your holiday as enjoyable as possible for them, whether they’re coming with you or staying at home.

Have you ever taken your pet abroad? Let us know your best tips in the comments below.


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Silversurfers Features Editor

Hello there! I’m Rachel and I’m the Features Editor for Silversurfers. I work behind the scenes to bring interesting, informative and entertaining subject matter to the Silversurfers community. I hope you enjoy the features we have shared with you. Please feel free to comment below and share your thoughts with us, we love to hear from you!

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