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‘Does my Dog Need a Passport?’: 9 Taking Pets Abroad FAQs

Simon Colwill - September 24, 2021 - 0 comments

From Amber Heard ‘smuggling’ her two dogs into Australia, to emotional support animals being left at airports, it’s important to get things right when taking pets abroad. And now, after Brexit, it’s even trickier to travel with pets.

Below we answer some of the most common questions, so you take your furry friend abroad with confidence.

Can I take my pet abroad with me?

Yes, but you will need to do some research and preparation. The rules on travelling with pets depend on the country you’re visiting, and your pet may need things like a microchip, vaccinations, and an animal health certificate.

The below guidelines apply only to dogs, cats and ferrets (there are slightly different rules for other pets).

  • For the EU and Northern Ireland, you’ll need a microchip, rabies vaccination and animal health certificate
  • For Finland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Norway and Malta, dogs need the above AND tapeworm treatment
  • For non-EU countries, you’ll need an export health certificate, export application form, and documentation

You should always check the rules of the country you’re travelling to for any extra pet travel rules and restrictions. 
Need help? The Pet Travel Scheme helpline is 0370 241 1710 and the email is

What about smaller or exotic pets?

Jokes about Snakes on Plane aside, pets aside from dogs, cats and ferrets can travel abroad without a passport. 

But, they may need an export health certificate instead. Even if your animal is small, it’s important to research the rules specific to the country you’re travelling to. It’s a good idea to check with your vet or the destination country’s embassy.

Countries in and out of the EU have different rules on whether and how you can bring in birds, rodents or reptiles.

Travelling with a pet may not seem like a big deal, but countries have delicate ecosystems and the risk of spreading disease is no joke. Make sure you meet the requirements for taking your pet abroad or leave them safe at home.  

You may also have trouble taking over five pets abroad – unless they’re going to a show or sporting event.

Does my dog need a passport?

Before Brexit, you could use a ‘pet passport’ issued in Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland) to travel with your pet to the EU or Northern Ireland. You can still use pet passports, but they need to have been issued in the EU or NI.

If your pet passport is from Great Britain, it’s now no longer valid. You will need an animal health certificate instead.

Your dog, cat or ferret now needs an animal health certificate to be able to travel to the EU or NI. To get their certificate, your pet will need to be microchipped, have proof that all their vaccinations are in order, and be over 12 weeks old.

If you’re travelling to a non-EU country, you’ll need an ‘export’ health certificate, not an animal health certificate.

How much do passports for pets cost?

The replacement for the GB-issued pet passport, the animal health certificate (or AHC), needs to be given by a vet.

Vets charge different costs for animal health certificates, but prices can range from around £100 to £200. This only includes the consultation and finalising documents. Microchips, vaccinations and additional medication cost extra.

Once travelling with your pet, their animal health certificate is valid for up to four months after entering the EU.

An animal health certificate is only valid for 10 days after being issued, and cannot be signed until 21 days after vaccination. For this reason, we recommend getting in touch with your vet as soon as you know your travel plans. 

If you’re moving to the EU, you have the option of buying an old-style European pet passport once there too.

What other pet travel documents are there?

Another key document for taking pets abroad is the export health certificate, used for travel to non-EU countries.

It might be strange to think of your pet as an ‘export’, as this language is usually used for things like food or animal products! You can find an export health certificate here, using the search bar and destination country filters.

Once you’ve completed the relevant certificate, it needs to be signed by an official vet or local authority inspector.

Some pet travel documents need to come from the government’s Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) or the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). Talk to your vet about pet travel and leave plenty of time.

There is also DEFRA’s Pet Travel Scheme helpline on 0370 241 1710 and email.

Do pet travel documents need legalisation?

If your pet is travelling on a permanent basis to a country outside the EU, their documents may need to be legalised.

Check with the country you’re travelling to whether your pet’s travel documents need notarising or legalising. Our notary can witness your signature to provide notarisation, and also help to arrange apostille stamp or consular legalisation.

Again, it really depends on the country, type of pet and how long you’ll be staying in the destination country with them.

How has Brexit affected pet travel?

With the switch from pet passports to animal health certificates, taking pets abroad after Brexit is harder. You’ll need to organise an appointment with your vet to get the new type of certificate, as GB-issued pet passports are no longer valid.

Once you arrive in the EU with your pet, you’ll need to visit a Traveller’s Point of Entry to show proof of the below:

  • Your pet’s animal health certificate 
  • Their vaccination and microchip
  • Tapeworm treatment (if required)

It’s worth noting that the above applies to dogs, cats and ferrets – some smaller animals, like fish, rodents and reptiles have little restrictions on entering EU countries. However, it’s essential to check and arrange suitable transportation. 

Post-Brexit pet travel also requires a new animal health certificate for each time you travel to the EU with your pet.

What about bringing pets to the UK?

The rules for pet travel into Great Britain are slightly different than travelling abroad with your pet from here.

Dogs, cats and ferrets need an animal health certificate or pet passport, microchip, rabies vaccination, and tapeworm treatment if required. If they don’t have these, they may be refused entry or taken into quarantine for up to four months. 

There are extra rules for if you intend to sell or rehome the animals in Great Britain, alongside the following:

  • You must not bring banned or dangerous animals, they could be destroyed
  • You must ensure your travel company will accept your pet before you travel
  • You must use approved travel routes and sign a declaration not to sell

With the pandemic still happening, you should also avoid travelling to/from ‘red list’ countries with your pet.

Any tips for flying abroad with pets?

If you’re not already confused, different airlines and companies have different policies on travelling abroad with pets!

You may need to provide the airline with documentation to show your pet is healthy and fit to fly. Again, it’s a good idea to talk with your vet to get their opinion on flying. Some animals and dog breeds are simply too much of a risk to fly with.

Calling the airline in advance is best, as you can check what their rules are for travelling with a dog, cat or other pet.

Your pet will travel with you either in the plane cabin or as cargo. If they’re travelling with you, call ahead to check there’ll be enough space and that the plane is air-conditioned. Some airlines also offer long stop-offs for pet relief.

Small animals are sometimes allowed in the cabin, but large animals need an approved container to travel in cargo.

Pets will need to stay in their container for much of the flight, so ensure you have puppy pads (or an equivalent) for when they need to go to the toilet. Leave plenty of time so you can talk with your vet, airline and border officials.

Travelling or flying abroad with your pet can be expensive and tricky, but is possible if you’re well prepared.

Our last word on travelling with pets

Taking your dog, cat or other pet abroad requires good planning and communication with the parties involved. 

  • Discuss it with your vet, as they’ll be able to advise on pet travel documents and more
  • Contact the country’s embassy for their latest rules and regulations on your type of pet
  • The government’s Pet Travel Scheme helpline should also be able to help and advise
  • Contact the airline (or other approved method of travel) to ensure they’re well prepared 

If taking your pet abroad seems like a lot of money and stress, it may be better to leave them with a friend or kennels/cattery while abroad. However, with the right documentation, you can bring them on your adventures.

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