Travelling with dogs from the UK to France and other EU countries - legal requirements
We’ve been lucky enough to do quite a bit of travelling overseas with our dogs over the years and when the UK Government's Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) contacted us to get involved with a case study on travelling with pets to the EU to help explain the changes to the rules for pet travel from the UK to the EU post-Brexit we were delighted to help!
Co-founder of Charley Chau, Christine, filmed for DEFRA to help explain the new rules for travelling with dogs from the UK to the EU after Brexit
It's straightforward to travel from Great Britain to the EU with your dog as long as you plan in advance!
It may seem daunting when you're planning a trip to the EU with your dog for the first time but it really is straightforward as long as you are organised and plan in advance.
Note that while Northern Ireland (NI) is still part of the UK, NI is now treated differently to Great Britain (the island) for the purposes of travelling with dogs which is why this blog post refers specifically to Great Britain and not the whole of the UK. For info on pet travel for Northern Ireland please see the specific Northern Ireland guidance at www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/travelling-your-pets.
The new pet travel rules for travelling from the UK to the EU came into effect on 1 January 2021. This is our guide to the admin and paperwork side of travelling with a dog from Great Britain to the EU and the key things you need to know to plan for a smooth trip out and home again.
Travelling from Great Britain to the EU and back
At least 1 month in advance:
1. Ensure your dog has a current Rabies vaccination
2. Check that your dog's microchip is working and registered
3. Check any special requirements for your specific trip with your vet
4. Plan your dog's food
At least 1 month in advance of travelling
1. Ensure your dog has a current Rabies vaccination
Your dog needs a current rabies vaccination to travel to the EU or Northern Ireland. If your dog has never had a rabies vaccination before, or a previous rabies vaccination is no longer valid, then your dog needs to be vaccinated and cannot travel for at least 21 days after having the rabies jab - that’s why you need to book in at least one month before your travel date.
If your dog has a current rabies vaccination that will cover them for the duration of your whole trip, including the date that you re-enter Great Britain, then you do not need to repeat the rabies vaccination.
2. Check that your dog’s microchip is working and registered
Ask your vet to check that your dog’s microchip is working as it will be scanned on your travels and if it’s not working properly your dog may not be able to travel.
Make sure that your contact details are registered with a Government approved microchip registry (https://www.gov.uk/get-your-dog-microchipped)and up to date, e.g. in case you’ve moved house or changed your phone number.
3. Check for special requirements for your specific trip
For travel through and to some countries, there are special requirements that do not apply to the rest of the EU. For example, if you are travelling through or to Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Finland, Norway or Malta, your dog will need additional tapeworm treatments and being aware of any special requirements early will allow you to schedule you next vet visit appropriately.
4. Plan your dog's food
That may sound nuts but it's really important in the post-Brexit era because personal imports of meat and milk or their derivative products are no longer allowed.
This means that you cannot take any types of dog food or dog treats containing meat or meat derivatives from the UK into another EU country except where a special pet feed is required for medical reasons (and then only if weighing less than 2 kilograms, the product does not require refrigeration before opening, and the food is a packaged proprietary brand product for direct sale to the final consumer, and the packaging is unbroken unless in current use). This obviously raises a logistical challenge when travelling from the UK to the EU.
If you try to take any dog food (wet, dry or other) that contains any form of meat or meat derivative from Great Britain into the EU, it is likely to be confiscated and your dog may go very hungry until you find a supermarket!
One option is to take a vegan, dry dog food with you so that your dog has some food until you arrive at your destination and can get your hands on some regular dog food. Just search online for "vegan dog food" and order well in advance of your travel date.
Within 10 days of traveling
5. Get the Animal Health Certificate from your Vet
Your Vet needs to issue an Animal Health Certificate for your dog within 10 days of your travel date.
The Animal Health Certificate is the key document that gives your dog entry to the EU and Northern Ireland and is valid only for 10 days so the timing of this vet visit is critical. This new document is a "one trip only" document and valid only for one entry to the EU, unlike the previous Pet Passport so you need a new Animal Health Certificate for every trip to the EU.
If you are travelling through or to Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Finland, Norway or Malta then make sure this visit to get the Animal Health Certificate is scheduled within 5 days of travelling as your dog will also need a tapeworm treatment that is not required for other EU countries (see section 6 below).
The Animal Health Certificate confirms that your dog is microchipped, that your dog has a current rabies vaccination, and any other additional treatments that are a requirement for entry of the countries that you are travelling through or to.
The Animal Health Certificate:
- Is valid for 10 days for entry into the EU and Northern Ireland from the date of issue;
- Allows onward travel within the EU and Northern Ireland for four months from the date issue;
- Allows re-entry to Great Britain for four months from the date of issue;
- Can only be used for one return trip - a new Animal Health Certificate is required for every new trip that you make with your dog to the EU or Northern Ireland.
6. Tapeworm treatment for outward travel within 5 days of travel - specific countries only
If you are travelling from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Finland, Norway or Malta your dog will also need a Tapeworm treatment administered by your Vet within 5 days of your outbound journey. Your Vet will record this treatment on the Animal Health Certificate. You can combine the Tapeworm treatment and Animal Health Certificate Vet visit into one appointment but it must be within 5 days of your travel date.
Returning to Great Britain from the EU
There have been no significant changes made to the health preparation requirements for dogs entering Great Britain from 1 January 2021 other than the fact that an Animal Health Certificate can now be used for a dog returning to Great Britain from the EU.
7. Have the right travel document
Your dog will need one of the three travel documents listed below to re-enter Great Britain:
- An EU pet passport (issued in the EU or in Great Britain before 1 January 2021), or a pet passport from a Part 1 listed third country
- The Animal Health Certificate issued in Great Britain used on your outbound travel to the EU which is valid for up to four months for re-entry into Great Britain from the date of issue
- A GB Pet Health Certificate (for travel into Great Britain only)
8. Tapeworm treatment prior to return from the EU
Your dog will need a Tapeworm treatment administered by an approved vet no less than 24 hours and no more than 120 hours (5 days) before entering/returning to Great Britain from the EU.
This applies for all EU countries that are not free from tapeworm i.e. most of the EU. The only exceptions are if you are returning directly to Great Britain from Finland, Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Norway or Malta without passing through any other countries.
You cannot buy an over-the-counter worming tablet and administer it yourself - it must be an approved drug, administered by an approved vet, and the details entered onto your dog’s travel documents by the vet and stamped.
Hot tips on timing the return Tapeworm treatment
- We aim for the Tapeworm treatment to be administered 2 days before our return date in case any of the dogs have an upset tummy after the treatment, and in case there is any disruption to our planned travel - think cancelled ferry crossings because of bad weather.
- On short trips, e.g. weekends away, it’s possible to have the Tapeworm treatment administered by your home vet in the UK before travelling out as long as the timing of the treatment still fits with the requirement that the wormer is given between 1 - 5 days before re-entry into Great Britain. For Theo’s mad trip to Venice our home vet gave him a wormer on Thursday, and we travelled out on Friday and then returned to GB on Monday without needing to see a vet overseas as his tapeworm treatment in GB was given within 5 days of re-entry into Great Britain.
More on travelling with dogs from our blog:
- Theo’s mad road trip: Manchester - London – Paris – Venice - and back again
- Hot tips on planning a dog-friendly holiday in France or other EU countries
Official information on travelling with dogs:
- UK Government guidance on travelling with dogs
- EU legislation on travelling with dogs for non-commercial purposes
- UK Microchip information including approved registries
Pet Travel Scheme helpline
Telephone: 0370 241 1710 (charges apply)