Travelling with dogs from the UK to France and other EU countries
There are new rules in place for travelling with dogs from the UK to the EU and from Great Britain (GB) to Northern Ireland from 1 January 2021. Pre-Brexit and pre-Covid we travelled extensively with our dogs, including across Europe and to the USA. Theo's mad road trip from Manchester-London-Paris-Venice and back in five days was just one such trip. We have been watching the UK/EU Brexit negotiations like a hawk as once this terrible pandemic is over we hope to travel with them again.
Travelling with your dog to the EU requires a little bit of planning but it's actually very straightforward if you are organised in advance!
Note that Northern Ireland (NI) is now treated differently for the purposes of travelling with dogs which is why this updated blog post now refers specifically to Great Britain (the island) and not the whole of the UK. Travelling with dogs from Northern Ireland to the EU remains the same as pre-Brexit: (see NIdirect.gov.uk).
While the paperwork and admin has changed for travel with dogs from Great Britain, the basic principles have not - your dog must be microchipped and have a current rabies vaccination before being allowed to travel, and your dog will need to be treated for tapeworm for entry into some countries, including re-entry to the Great Britain. There is now an additional requirement for a Rabies antibody test which has to be done at least 30 days after the initial vaccination and within 3 months of travel.
And one very important thing to note, personal imports of meat and milk or their derivate products are no longer allowed. This means that you cannot take wet or dry dog food or 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 that the food is a packaged proprietary brand products 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.
The Animal Health Certificate - the new "passport" for travelling with dogs from GB to the EU & NI
The key document required for dogs in GB to travel to the EU (and Northern Ireland) from 1 January 2021 is the Animal Health Certificate (AHC). From 1 January 2021, the UK is a part 2 listed third country under the EU Pet Travel Scheme.
Pet Passports issued previously in Great Britain will no longer be valid for travel to the EU or to Northern Ireland, however EU Pet Passports issued in Great Britain prior to 1 January 2021 will still be accepted at the GB border for dogs returning to GB.
EU Pet Passports issued in a country other than the UK prior to Brexit are still valid for travel according to the information provided on the European Union website. See the section on the EU website towards the bottom of the page "Regarding the Animal Health Certificate ...".
From 1 Jan 2021 Theo can no longer use his EU Pet Passport to travel from Great Britain to the EU or Northern Ireland but he can still use it to get back into GB from overseas. He's going to need a new Animal Health Certificate for every trip that we make to the EU or Northern Ireland in future.
The AHC confirms that your dog is microchipped, and that your dog has an up-to-date rabies vaccination. Your vet is also required to record other treatments on the AHC relating to international travel e.g. tapeworm treatments for some countries.
The Animal Health Certificate (AHC):
- 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 GB for four months from the date of issue
- Can only be used for one return trip - a new, valid AHC will be needed for every trip you make from GB to the EU
What you need to do before travelling from Great Britain to the EU or Northern Ireland
There are three key steps that you need to plan for and factor into your timings:
- Microchip: make sure your dog is microchipped - it is a legal requirement that all dogs over the age of 8 weeks old are microchipped so this should not be an issue.
- Rabies Vaccination at least 21 days before travel: if your dog does not have a current rabies vaccination he/she needs to have a completed rabies vaccination at least 21 days before travel (some vaccines may require more than one injection so count from the last day of the final injection). A dog must be at least 12 weeks old before they can have a rabies vaccination.
- Animal Health Certificate issued within 10 days of travel: get an AHC from your vet within 10 days of travelling, you need to see a vet approved to issue AHCs.
If your dog is already microchipped and has a valid rabies vaccination, then all you need to do is go to your vet and ask your vet to issue an AHC for travel within 10 days of your travelling date - some countries may also need a tapeworm treatment (see below).
As we travel with our own dogs frequently we keep their rabies vaccinations up-to-date regardless of whether or not we have a trip planned imminently - it gives us flexibility as in theory we could literally leave for the EU the next day as long as we had a new, valid AHC issued by our vet. Also, if a rabies vaccination lapses, instead of having a booster, your dog will need to start again from scratch.
Your point of arrival in the EU (or Northern Ireland) must be a designated Travellers' Point of Entry (TPE). Crossing points such as the major ferry routes with passenger services and Eurotunnel have this covered but double check with your transport service before booking.
Tapeworm treatments for Finland, Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Norway and Malta
If you are travelling to Finland, Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Norway and Malta direct with your dog from GB and not entering any other territory then your dog does not need a tapeworm treatment to enter.
If you are travelling to Finland, Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Norway and Malta via another country (e.g. ferry to France or Holland and then driving onwards) your dog must be treated for tapeworm (echinococcus multilocularis) by your vet no less than 24 hours and no more than 120 hours (5 days) before you arrive in these territories. The details of the tapeworm treatment must be recorded on the AHC by an approved vet - you cannot buy an over the counter worming tablet and administer the tablet at home.
Plan your dog's food before you travel!
As mentioned above, taking meat or milk or any products derived from meat or milk into the EU as a personal traveller is no longer allowed - that includes meat based dog food and treats unless the food is a special pet feed 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).
So, unless your vet is able to confirm in writing that your dog needs a special food for medical reasons you cannot take dog food or treats containing meat/meat derivatives to the EU.
This may not be a problem if you do not have a long onward journey from your point of arrival in the EU as you could head straight to a supermarket to stock up on pet food.
However, if you do have a long onward journey then a plan is required! At the time of writing, the UK is still in lockdown so we have not been able to travel in the post-Brexit era but we certainly have a plan for dealing with this when we are finally allowed to travel again. It goes like this:
- Around a month before travel, start using dry, vegan kibble as treats for our dogs so that their tummies get used to eating vegan kibble
- Order our regular dog food from an online pet store in the EU to be delivered to our hotel/accommodation three days before we expect to arrive, and warn the hotel/accommodation manager to expect a delivery
- Travel with vegan kibble in our hand luggage from the UK to use as food for our gang until we arrive at our accommodation where their regular food should be waiting for them
Why vegan kibble? It's plant based so there is no issue with taking it from the UK to the EU, and kibble is dry and clean and therefore easy to feed on the go. Water should also be made available to your dog while travelling. Simply search "vegan dog food" - there are increasingly more options being made available to consumers.
There are also heaps of online pet stores across the EU to order food for delivery to your accommodation. Sites such as Zooplus (www.zooplus.com) offer a huge rage of different dog foods and can deliver to any country in the EU.
Returning to GB with your dog from the EU (excludes Northern Ireland, Channel Islands and Isle of Man)
The good news is that there have been no changes made to the health preparation requirements for dogs entering Great Britain from 1 January 2021.
Your dog will need one of the following documents to re-enter the UK:
- An EU pet passport (issued in the EU, or in GB before 1 January 2021), or a pet passport from a Part 1 listed third country
- The AHC issued in GB used to travel to the EU in the first place – which is valid for up to four months for re-entry into GB from the date of issue
- A GB pet health certificate (for travel into GB only)
Tapeworm treatment prior to your return to GB
If you are returning from a country that is not free from tapeworm (which is most of the EU) then your dog will require a tapeworm treatment by an approved vet before being allowed back into GB. You do not need to treat your dog for tapeworm if you’re travelling directly to GB from Finland, Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Norway or Malta without entering another country.
For territories that are not free of tapeworm, the treatment must be administered no less than 24 hours and no more than 120 hours (5 days) before entering GB. This is the same as pre-Brexit days.
The treatment must be approved for use in the country where the treatment is applied and contain praziquantel or an equivalent proven to be effective against tapeworm (echinococcus multilocularis). You cannot buy an over-the-counter worming tablet and administer it on your own - it has to be administered by an approved vet and the details entered onto your dog’s travel documents by the vet and stamped.
Plan ahead for the tapeworm treatment for re-entry before you leave GB
We always search for a vet in the country that we're visiting before we travel and make an appointment for them to administer the tapeworm treatment within the required time frame for our return. Our personal preference is for the dogs to have the treatment usually 2-3 days before we plan to return to GB. Some dogs can have poorly tummies after a worming treatment - imagine dealing with a dog with an upset tummy in your car on a long car journey! There's also the potential for delays on your return journey - think ferry or Eurotunnel crossings cancelled at short notice because of bad weather etc. Aiming to have the tapeworm treatment 2-3 before re-entering GB gives us a little bit of slack either side of the treatment to deal with upset tummies and delays to our travel plans.
On short trips abroad, such as 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 GB. For Theo’s mad trip to Venice our home vet gave him a wormer on Thursday (a tried and tested tablet that he had before and we knew it was unlikely to upset his tummy), we travelled to Paris 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 in to GB.
The cost of having the Tapeworm treatment varies greatly. Our own UK vet charges us just for the price of the tablet (GBP £2.40) compared to the vet in Moûtiers (France) who charged us 40 EUR per dog!
Key Transport routes from GB to the EU
If your dog has a valid AHC and is legally good to travel there are two main options to take your dog from the UK to the EU: Eurotunnel or ferry crossing. Eurotunnel and the major ferry ports that take passenger services are designated Travellers' Point of Entry (TPE). We live just south of Manchester and always choose to go from Dover / Folkestone to Calais or Dunquerke because these routes have the shortest crossing times to continental Europe.
The third option is that dogs can fly as "pet cargo" from London Heathrow, London Gatwick and Manchester Airports. Dogs cannot fly in the cabin leaving the UK unless they are registered assistance dogs. Flying as pet cargo from Great Britain can be eye wateringly expensive and not many dogs tolerate the journey well.
When we fly to the US with our dogs, we drive to France and fly from Paris - it takes longer but the dogs can fly in the cabin (because they're small) and it's generally much more cost effective. For larger dogs that do not meet the size restrictions for travel in the cabin, they must also fly as "pet cargo" from France and it is generally a lot more cost effective than flying from the UK - think less than 200 EUR as opposed to thousands of pounds from the UK.
Eurotunnel from Folkestone to Calais
Eurotunnel (www.eurotunnel.com) is our preferred route for travelling into Europe with dogs because we can stay with the dogs throughout the crossing and it’s quick – just 35 minutes from Folkestone to Calais. In case of any confusion, Eurotunnel is the train that cars are driven onto to cross the Channel from Folkestone to Calais and is not the same as Eurostar which goes from London St Pancras to Paris Gare Du Nord for foot passengers only and has a no dogs policy.
Dogs should be booked onto the Eurotunnel ticket when you make your original Eurotunnel booking. A maximum of five dogs per car are allowed. It costs from GBP £20 each way for each dog i.e. minimum GBP £40 return for each dog.
Leaving the UK, the check-in process when travelling with a dog is pretty straightforward. Got to the Pet Reception (signed) to check-in with your dog(s). Sometimes the drive-through check-in for dogs is available so you do not need to leave the car - these are clearly signed when available.
Coming back into the UK, check-in is still very simple but with one additional step. Before check-in at Eurotunnel in Calais you must take your dog to the dedicated Pet Reception where your dog will be scanned and his/her travel documents checked before you proceed to check-in as normal. The Pet Reception is easy to find – on the right-hand side of the approach to the check-in booths with clear signs showing the way. Allow more time for check-in when returning to the UK - Eurotunnel advises a minimum of 45 mins.
Whether going out or coming back, once you have checked-in, you drive your car as usual to the Departures Area and wait for your train to be called before driving onto the train. There is a small, fenced pet exercise area at the Departures Area and you can walk your dog around the car park. Dogs are not allowed into the terminal building where the coffee shops and duty free shops are located.
Theo says he finds Eurotunnel a very comfortable way to travel!
Once on the Eurotunnel train, dogs must stay in the car at all times but, unlike on the ferry (see below), you can also stay with your dog in the car. The fact that the Eurotunnel is a fast service and our dogs are not left on their own at any time makes this our preferred option for leaving the UK with our gang.
Ferry crossings from GB to France and other EU countries
Dogs can travel on the main passenger ferry crossings from GB to continental Europe whether you are booked on with a car or as a foot passenger.
The information here is based on our experience of cross-channel ferry crossings from GB to France, booked with a vehicle, not as foot passengers. Our understanding is that a dog taken on board by a foot passenger does not travel with its owner on the passenger deck, but is transported in an "onboard kennel" area that needs to be booked in advance.
Dogs should always be booked onto the ticket in advance when you book your ferry travel and again the maximum allowed is five dogs per car. Most of the major ferry companies charge GBP £15 per dog each way i.e. GBP £30 return for each dog if the dogs are travelling in the car. The crossing time for Dover - Calais is 90 minutes, Dover to Dunquerke is 2 hours. Some ferry services, especially the longer ferry crossings (e.g. to Spain), offer onboard kennels so that your dog does not have to stay in the car - these need to be booked in advance and prices vary depending on the route.
The check-in process with dogs travelling on the ferry is again very straightforward - at check-in you need to declare that you have dogs and the check-in agent will help you with the rest - you won't even need to leave your car!
Once on board the ferry, all dogs have to stay in the car while human passengers go up to the passenger deck. Dogs are not allowed on the passenger deck unless they are registered assistance dogs. Human passengers are not allowed to go to the car deck to check their dogs while the crossing is in progress even if the crossing is delayed and the ferry is stuck on the water for hours. This has significant implications for the well being of your dog and you should prepare accordingly for the worst case scenario.
Our gang travel in a giant crate on the back seat of our car as leaving four Italian Greyhounds loose in a moving car is a potential recipe for disaster. On the ferry the gang stay in their crate with a water bowl so they have fresh water at all times, we leave the car windows open to ventilate the car, and deactivate the car alarm as the rocking motion of the ferry can trigger the alarm.
Because the dogs have to stay on their own in the car, and we are not able to check on them during the crossing, we prefer to travel via the Eurotunnel, and we never use the ferries in warm weather. We only use the ferries in cool or mild weather. The cars on ferries may be parked in shade on the car deck but the temperature inside a stationary car that has been travelling for miles in hot weather can rocket significantly as soon as the air conditioning is turned off. Hence we prefer Eurotunnel as we are with the dogs at all times and there's no danger of them over-heating in the car whilst unattended.
Booking dog friendly accommodation
It’s really easy to find dog-friendly accommodation in the EU, particularly in France and Switzerland. When we travel overseas with the dogs we book our hotels in advance for every planned stopover to avoid any potential traumas while we're away.
Tino and Charley making themselves at home at our stop-over hotel in Troyes, France on the way to Meribel.
We always use the major travel portals to search for dog friendly hotels as they usually allow you to search for hotels in a city and then filter the results by facilities offered by the hotel, including a ‘Pet Friendly’ or ‘Pets Allowed’ option. www.booking.com, www.expedia.co.uk, www.hotels.com and www.lastminute.com all have a pet friendly filter – plus they usually have some very good deals on a huge selection of hotels from bargain basement to lush and decadent.
Some hotels in continental Europe allow dogs to stay at no extra charge - which is almost unheard of here in the UK! Otherwise be prepared to pay anything from EUR €10 - €35 per dog.
Out and about with your dog
Our experience of travelling with the dogs in France, Switzerland and Italy in particular is that restaurants, cafes and most shops, tend to be a lot more dog friendly than in the UK.
Our experience is that it's easy to find dog-friendly restaurants in France. Chez Denise in Paris even has their own Bar Dog serving drinks into the small hours of the morning!
Even when we're skiing in the Alps we have no problems - the dogs are even allowed onto the cable cars to go up the mountains!
Theo making friends over supper
However, if we were planning a holiday that involved lots of museums and galleries and other ticketed attractions, things would be different as those types of visitor attractions are likely to have a no dogs policy. The Palace of Versaille doesn’t want dogs wandering around and lifting their legs on the furniture! This is worth bearing in mind when planning your holiday as sensible arrangements would need to be made for your dog if you want to go off for a few hours to do something that is not dog friendly. Most dog-friendly hotels do not allow you to leave your dog unaccompanied in the hotel – many dogs might find being left alone in a strange hotel room rather upsetting. Leaving your dog in the car for prolonged periods of time is inadvisable and definitely not an option in warm weather.
Last words ...
While travelling to the EU with your dog is relatively straightforward once the paperwork is sorted, there are a few other things to think about too ...
- Make sure your dog is insured for overseas travel - check your pet insurance policy and speak to your insurance company before travelling to make sure you're covered for your specific trip
- Look up vets overseas before you travel - we always search for vets in the towns/cities that we are planning on stopping at before our trip. We print the vet’s name, address, phone number and email address and carry it with us at all times.
- Register your dog's microchip - make sure your dog’s microchip is registered with PetLog (www.petlog.co.uk) with up-to-date contact details.
- ID tag your dog - all of our dogs’ ID tags show our contact phone numbers with the UK dialling code i.e. +44 (0)161 848 8702, not just 0161 848 8702 and we put our full address on the tag including United Kingdom at the end of our address.
- Use your common dog sense - just like when at home in unfamiliar places, common sense needs to apply when abroad with your dog in a new place. We never allow our dogs off lead unless we are absolutely certain that it's safe to let them go.
- Packing list - we write a packing list for our dogs and it's an essay in its own right. Our monkeys have more luggage than we do! Beds and blankets, spare collars & leads, LED light collars for night time, food for the whole holiday, treats, bowls, dog first aid kit, travel sick pills, tummy settlers, toys, coats/jumpers, poop bags, nail clippers, toothbrushes … the list goes on!
This has been a very long post but we hope you found it useful. The information included here is based on our own experiences of travelling from the UK to the EU via France (as our gateway to the rest of Europe and the rest of the world when we fly from Paris) in particular and is not meant as a definitive guide to travelling with dogs.
We strongly recommend that you consult your vet before travelling and that you check the UK government’s guidance on travelling with dogs.
- UK Government guidance on travelling with dogs
- EU legislation on travelling with dogs for non-commercial purposes
- Petlog (microchip registry)
- Eurotunnel - Travelling with Pets
- DFDS Seaways - Pet Travel
- P&O Ferries - Pet Travel
- Stena Line Ferries - Pet Travel
- Dog Friendly hotel search: www.booking.com, www.expedia.co.uk, www.hotels.com, www.lastminute.com, www.pierreetvacances.com and www.ernalow.co.uk
Please note: we cannot give advice to individuals on the specific laws and regulations around travelling with pets. For advice in the UK please contact your vet or:
Pet Travel Scheme helpline
Telephone: 0370 241 1710 (charges apply)