If you’ve been dreaming of a paw-fect time abroad – one that includes your best four-legged friend – you’ll need to ensure you both have the right travel documents. Fortunately, we’ve done some research to help you understand what you need for your dog to enjoy your travel adventures with you. Here are some key bits of information to consider:
Research your destination’s vaccination guidelines
What vaccination you will need for your little woof depends on your intended destination. Browsing government websites should help provide some guidelines for the differing rules set out within different countries or continents.
EU and non-EU countries, for example, have a different set of regulations.
When travelling to an EU country, your pet needs a:
• microchip, which you can get from a vet;
• rabies vaccination, given at least 21 days prior to travel (your dog must also be at least 12 weeks old);
• a valid pet passport for the country you’re travelling to;
• and finally, tapeworm treatment if you are heading to countries such as Finland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Malta or Norway.
Even if you do have a pet passport for your companion, it’s important you check whether your ultimate destination accepts passports from the country of issue. You will only be able to travel to an EU country, for example, if the passport has been issued in the EU, or from a set list of countries outside it, which includes Norway and Switzerland. The full list can be found here. You will also need to make sure you have any other, necessary supporting documents when travelling to the EU.
When travelling to non-EU countries, the rules may well differ, and you may be required to apply for an export health certificate (EHC) for your pet. So conducting research into the rules of the specific country you are destined for is very important and there may even be differing rules for other pets besides cats and dogs, such as reptiles.
Pet Travel is a useful website you can use to navigate different regulations.
Check airline pet rules and fees
Airline operators have their own rules for pet travel, so it’s worth checking before you book your flights, if that is your intended means of travel, which offers the most appropriate deal or transport for your companion. Most airlines have one of the following policies:
• Carry-on allows you to take their pet onboard if they are small/ weigh under 20 pounds and can fit in an approved crate located underneath your seat;
• As checked baggage, dogs may find themselves chilling with all the other suitcases. Most are climate controlled, but that is no guarantee your pet will have a hassle-free flight;
• Some operators require pets to be stored in the cargo section of the plane, which might incur an extra payment from its doting “parents”;
• The dog could travel for free as an emotional-support animal, which would also require the relevant medical documents or letters.
It is, of course, necessary to double-check the updated guidelines of specific airlines before planning your trip. Here is a link setting out the rules for some global airlines.
Find a pet-friendly accommodation
Like the above, this will differ from country to country, but in general, you will always find pet-friendly accommodation if you do your due diligence.
And finally, some dos and don’ts
When travelling with your best friend (often your dog), don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as possible to authorities to ensure you have the right documentation and permission to travel your desired way. This is particularly important with cross-border travel, as outlined above.
It is also worth considering alternatives routes of transport to flying, such as taking the train or ferry, which ensures you won’t have to be separated for an extended period, alleviating the stress that comes with it. In any case, if you do opt for a flight, try to minimise stopovers or connecting flights.
Once you’ve arrived in the country and you’re out of customs (hurray!), you should aim for accommodation which has good, pet-friendly reviews to make sure the process is a (dog) walk in the park.