As travel becomes increasingly accessible, a rising number of people are choosing to take their four-legged best friends with them. If you’re planning a trip to Europe and hope to share the adventure with your dog there are a few things you’ll need to take care of before you leave. Here’s a convenient travel checklist from the folks at Auto Europe.
Overview of International Travel with Your Dog
It’s important to be clear before we begin: the rules for international travel with dogs vary according to your destination. For simplicity we’ll be focusing on the rules and restrictions which apply to bringing your dog into the UK. While many of these same regulations will apply to other countries in the European Union it’s important to do all of your homework before you depart.
To help clarify their guidelines and restrictions, most countries have a helpline which you can contact directly with specific questions and concerns. In the UK you can contact the Pet Travel Scheme helpline at 0870 241 1710 (there is an international charge for this call) or you can send an email to email@example.com.
For reference here’s a list of “Must-Have’s” list when traveling to a country within the European Union:
- A Microchip
- A Rabies Vaccination (your pet must have a microchip prior to vaccination or this won’t count)
- A Pet Passport (some countries will accept a certificate from a third-country veterinarian but obtaining a pet passport is your best bet)
- Recent Tapeworm Treatment
Additionally you must use a pet carrier which is authorized for your destination country and you must enter the country through an approved route. For reference here’s a list of the approved air routes for entering the UK with a pet dog. You should note that procedures for traveling with a service dog are different, as are procedures for traveling with a dog you intend to sell or with multiple dogs (5 or more).
It’s a good idea to have a microchip in your dog whether you’re traveling or not (it’s a great way to make sure you don’t lose your pooch if he is in the habit of wandering off at home or abroad), but it’s a requirement* for international travel to the UK. Important to note is that having your dog micro-chipped isn’t something you can do at the last minute - it needs to be done prior to vaccinations and the vaccinations must take place well in advance of your trip.
*If your pet was tattooed prior to July 3rd, 2011 the microchip requirement is waived in the UK (providing the tattoo is clearly legible and providing your pet was vaccinated after receiving the tattoo).
If you are traveling to the UK from the US with your dog it’s important that all vaccinations (in particular rabies) must be administered to your dog at least 21 days prior to travel. All boosters must have been administered on-time and all shots must have been administered after your pet received his or her microchip.
Facts About the Pet Passport
Most countries within the European Union require that pets have a pet passport and this is true for pups visiting the UK. Your veterinarian can supply you with this paperwork, but as with your own passport it’s important not to leave this paperwork to the last minute. Contact your vet well in advance of your trip.
Many air transport companies also require that your veterinarian sign and date a statement declaring that your dog is in good health and is fit to travel. It’s always recommended that you double-check with the airline, car rental company and your destination country to see if their requirements have changed and to confirm that you have everything you’ll need prior to departure.
It’s important that all necessary treatments (vaccinations, tapeworm treatment, etc.) are recorded by your veterinarian in your pet passport.
UK Requirements for Tapeworm Treatment
If you’re bringing your dog with you to the UK you must have a record from your vet (recorded in your dog’s pet passport) stating that your dog received a tapeworm treatment between 24 and 120 hours (1-5 days) prior to your scheduled arrival in the UK. The time frame is important here (you’ll have to schedule a visit with your vet just before your departure), but we recommend that you use this final appointment to confirm that your dog is in good health and to receive a timely, dated note from your vet stating that he or she is fit to travel.
Before leaving the clinic be sure that your vet has recorded the following information in your pet passport:
- Name of the product (and the name of the manufacturer) used to treat your dog
- Date and time the treatment was administered
- Veterinary stamp and your vet’s signature.
To travel to the UK from the US the treatment used must have praziquantel (or its equivalent) as the main active ingredient. Double check with your vet to be sure the treatment your dog receives will meet this guideline.
What you Need to Know about Quarantine
All dogs which fly into the UK from the US will need to be quarantined if they do not meet all of the UK’s entry requirements (most of which we’ve already covered in this article). If you want to avoid quarantine then preparation is key and you’ll need to check with the specific rules and guidelines of your destination (call or email the PETS hotline mentioned above if you’re traveling to the UK) to be sure you your dog’s stay in quarantine will be brief.
If your dog does not meet the requirements he or she will be quarantined and one of your responsibilities will be arranging quarantine premises for your pet - here’s a list in the UK to help you identify a reputable, local quarantine location. It’s important to note that some charges do apply and these vary by facility - do your research and find a local, licensed animal specialist with a good reputation. It’s a good idea to have a copy of all documentation for your pet attached to its pet carrier (if arriving in cargo) in addition to the copy of the pet passport and paperwork that you’ll pack in your carry-on.
Driving Your Pets Internationally
final note about international travel is that different countries have
different requirements when it comes to restraining your dog. While many
travelers pay close attention to securing an approved carrier for their
air travel they may forget about requirements which await them on the
ground. Rental car companies
have different requirements to make sure that international travels are
adhering to all local laws, so a good rule of thumb when you’re
planning an international trip with your dog is to be sure that you call
the airline, car rental company (this includes the local pick-up
counter) and the government support line for your destination prior to
your departure to be sure that you’ve covered all of your bases. Consider bringing along a dog car seat cover to keep things clean and avoid rental fees.
When you do reach out to authorities in your destination country be sure to verify that they will accept your breed of dog. Some dog breeds are considered dangerous and countries like the UK will not admit them even if you’ve met all of the requirements covered in this article. It’s important to know what you’re getting into before you land at Heathrow with your dog - for his or her safety and for the sake of your trip.
While this checklist may seem like a lot of work (it’s a lot to take in!) the fact of the matter is that traveling with your pet can be great fun (for you and for your dog). Seeing new sites, smelling new smells and experiencing a new set of circumstances is a great way to socialize and stimulate your dog and since you will be the one constant during your international adventure, taking a trip can forge a lasting bond between you and your dog.
Want to do an active European vacation with your dog? Check out The Long Haul Trekkers who biked with their dog through Europe!