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Taking your pets to Europe on holiday

by Clare Mansell
Taking your pets to Europe on holiday

People are often surprised to discover that neither of our dogs are British. Macy our larger dog was born in Canada and traveled to the UK via two years in Cyprus where we picked up Bella our Beagle. All EU countries and a large number from outside Europe are part of the pet passport scheme which means animals can now travel relatively freely between most parts of the world. Free of quarantine, but not free of cost, as when you ship them halfway across the globe it does come at a price!

Traveling within Europe though is cheaper and as both our pets were already microchipped and vaccinated we decided to take them to France last year on holiday, along with two other family Border Terriers.

dog on holiday in france

If you are thinking of taking your animals away with you trying to find the right information online can be tricky. Microchipping will become compulsory for all dog owners in England, Scotland and Wales from 6th April this year, removing one thing from the travel check list, but there are still a few other things you need to be aware of if you want your pet to join you on holiday.

  • There are no restrictions on dogs leaving the UK, they only apply when you re-enter from Europe, so although you will need to make sure you have their vaccinations up to date no one will actually check your paperwork as you leave.
  • Your pet must have been vaccinated against rabies and you must wait 21 days from the date of the vaccination before travelling
  • If you are traveling on a short ferry service or on Eurostar your pets will have to stay in the car for the journey, however if you are traveling on a longer crossing (such as  services from Portsmouth) you can book a pet-friendly cabin. When we did our trip we went from Dover To Calais and specifically chose Eurostar so that our dogs didn’t have to left in the car without us as they would if we had traveled on a hovercraft or P&O ferry.
  • Some pet insurance policies will cover the costs you incur if you lose your pet’s travel documentation and any resulting quarantine fees
  • Pets returning to the UK need to be treated for tapeworm between 24 hours and 5 days before travelling. When you get the vets to complete their paperwork ensure they include the time as well as the date that the procedure took place as documentation that isn’t time stamped won’t be accepted

treating for tapeworm while on holiday in france

  • Doing the pet passport bit at the port in France before the crossing can be time consuming. Assume that if you are traveling during peak periods and/or school holidays you will need to allow extra time to queue at the pet passport office. When we traveled in May there was literally a queue of people and animals out of the door and into the car park!
  • Unsurprisingly vets who are close to ports charge more for worming than ones elsewhere, so do your research and find one near to where you are staying
  • If you arrive at the port with incomplete or out of date paperwork you will need to start again which will involve a minimum delay of 24 hours and that’s assuming you can change your crossing!

If in doubt check the official UK government website for more information. This post has been made possible thanks to Petplan but all thoughts and experiences are our own.

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