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Complete guide to taking your dog abroad

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Taking your dog abroad isn’t as difficult as you might think. There have been a lot of changes in recent years that have made the process much smoother. However, you do still need to do your research and be aware of the requirements. You also need to take your dog’s needs into consideration when travelling and when you get to your chosen destination.

Why leave your dog at home when they can enjoy the fun with you? More and more people are taking their dogs on holiday. It can be hard leaving your canine companion at home when you go away, especially if they have to go in kennels. It’s much nicer to take them with you if it makes sense to do so and it is safe for your dog.

Some people migrate and move abroad and need to take their dogs with them. Not so long ago dogs had to go through a six month quarantine which is traumatic for both the dog and the owner. Thankfully this is not necessary these days. As long as you follow the rules and get everything done in time your dog should be fine to travel abroad.

If you are taking your dog back into the UK they will need to meet the following requirements:

  • be microchipped
  • have had a rabies vaccination
  • have a pet passport or third country official veterinary certificate
  • have had a tapeworm treatment
  • be travelling in an authorised carrier and on an approved route

The rules are slightly different if you are coming from an unlisted country, >click here for more information.

Upon arrival your pet’s documents will be checked and their microchip will be scanned. It is essential that you have all the necessary documentation or your pet could be put into quarantine or even sent back to the country you came from.

Pet passports

The rules for pet passports used to be far more complicated, thankfully they were changed in 2012 to make things easier. Pet passports are issued by a vet. You need to find a vet that is LVI (local veterinary inspector) authorised, they will be able to issue you with a pet passport. Take your dog to an LVI registered vet with their current vaccination records.

Section I-IV of your dog’s pet passport should be completed if you wish to leave the UK and also section V if you are going to an unlisted country (this will require a blood test).

‘The passport is valid for entry (or re-entry) to the UK 21 days after your pet was vaccinated against rabies. If 21 days has already passed and your pets vaccinations have been kept up to date, then you can use the passport immediately to travel or return to the UK. The passport will remain valid provided your pet is re-vaccinated by the “valid until” date in section IV.’ (


Your pet will need a rabies vaccination and a tapeworm treatment. When your pet is vaccinated make sure you record the following details

  • microchip no, the date it was inserted and where it is located on your dog
  • dob and age
  • vaccine product name
  • vaccination date
  • batch number

Useful pet travel products

  • Pet carrier
  • Seat belt restraint
  • Car harness
  • Travel water bottle
  • Travel eze tablets

Some essentials to pack

  • Water
  • Blankets
  • Lead
  • Collar
  • Identity tag
  • Bedding
  • Towels
  • Food
  • Grooming equipment

Temperatures in different countries

If you are going abroad you really need to consider the climate in your chosen destination. Remember your dog is used to the seasons in the UK and will be well adjusted to the temperature. Don’t take your dog to a really hot country where they may get heat exhaustion or really struggle with the heat. On the other hand you also don’t want to take your dog to a really cold country if they don’t cope very well in the cold (if they have a very short coat for example).

Change of routine and new surroundings

Taking your dog on holiday or to start a new life abroad can be quite stressful for them. It’s a change of environment and probably a big change to their normal routine. Try and retain some of their daily routine where possible to make them feel more comfortable. Bring some of their toys and bedding so that they have something comforting that smells like home. Give them time to adjust and be patient, they may not settle right away.

Do you need to take any medication with you?

Does your dog suffer from any medical conditions? You may want to take their medication away with you in case you have trouble accessing it or finding it when you are abroad. Talk to your vet about what medication or products you should bring with you.

Canine first aid kit

It’s always useful to have a canine first aid kit on hand. This will be very useful if they injure or hurt themselves while you are abroad. It also gives you peace of mind that you have the essentials to help your dog should they run into trouble.

Travelling by plane

If you are travelling by plane you need to abide by the rules of your chosen airline. Try and choose the coolest travel time possible so your dog doesn’t get too hot. You will also need to get an appropriate pet travel container/crate.

Especially long journeys including the car journey to and from the airport, waiting around at the airport and the flight can be very stressful for a dog. Where possible, aim to book direct flights to reduce travel times. Ensure your dog has access to water during the flight.

The International Air Transport Association has specific rules for the transport of animals. ‘IATA ensures that both safety and animal welfare are addressed in all regulatory issues pertaining to transportation of live animals by air.

Unless you have a registered assistance dog they will not be able to travel with you in the main aircraft, they will be put in the hold.

Travelling by ferry

Different ferry companies have different pet travel policies. Contact the ferry company in advance of your journey so that you can prepare accordingly. For more detailed information about travelling by ferry click here or take a look at the website of the ferry company you are using. When taking your dog by ferry consider the following:

  • Your dog’s comfort
  • The weather -  do not travel on a hot day
  • On lots of ferries dogs have to stay in the car and aren't allowed on deck. Some ferries also do not allow people to go to their cars during the journey so you may not be able to check on your dog
  • Your dog should be kept in a well ventilated, cool area
  • They should have access to water

Travelling by car

If you are travelling by car here are some things you need to think about and prepare:

  • Plan your journey so that your dog gets lots of breaks so that your dog can go to the toilet and exercise
  • Make sure they are secure in your car using a harness, seat belt restraint or pet carrier
  • They should have access to water at all time
  • Under no circumstances should you leave your dog alone in the car, especially if it is hot
  • Make sure their container is well ventilated
  • Don’t feed your pet too soon before or after a journey (two hours is a good amount of time)


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