Sara Walker 12 January 2023
Before you travel with your dog to Europe, there are a few pieces of paperwork you need to get sorted first. Here’s a quick guide to pet passports and AHCs
Before the UK left the EU, all you needed for a quick flip over the Channel with Fido was a microchip, a rabies vaccination and an up-to-date pet passport.
Since the new regulations came into effect, UK pet passports are no longer valid in Europe, making life potentially more complicated and expensive for British holiday makers and their pooches.
Leaving the UK with your dog
Dogs travelling between the UK and the EU now need an up-to-date Animal Health Certificate
Now, aspiring doggy tourists heading for le Continent will need to plan well in advance. You’ll still need to make sure your pet is microchipped and has a valid rabies vaccination, but now you’ll also need an Animal Health Certificate (AHC).
“Animal Health Certificates are valid for only ten days from the date of issue, and they’re valid for one trip only”
These are valid for only ten days from the date of issue, and they’re valid for one trip only. They’ll need to be issued by an officially authorised vet (which not all vets are).
Due to the complexity of the form, you’ll normally need a double appointment time, so don’t leave it until the last minute to book. Costs vary between approximately £180 and £200.
You may be happy to pay the extra certificate fee as a one-off so that Fido can share your annual week in Brittany, but if you’re planning to make several trips a year or have more than one pet, the costs can really add up.
If you have access to a permanent address in Europe, such as a holiday home, then you could consider getting your pet a European passport. This costs around 60 to 70 euros and can be used for unlimited travel, making it a much more cost-efficient option.
For your first trip abroad from the UK to EU, you’ll still have to bite the bullet and get an AHC. Once you’re in Europe, though, you can find a local vet to issue the paperwork and your pet can become an EU citizen—mais oui, sans souci.
Pet health certificate before you travel
Make sure you pay your vet a visit for women treatment and rabies vaccinations before you travel with your dog
Once he’s a fully paid-up EU passport holder, your pooch can travel freely from the UK to Europe and back again. Before you leave Europe to return home to the UK, you’ll need to visit a local vet to get your passport or AHC signed.
Your pet will be wormed against tapeworm (an official requirement, even if he’s not due), and your vet will sign the paperwork to certify your dog is in good health to travel.
This certification must be done between 24 hours and five days of the time that you arrive at border control to travel back to the UK.
“Before you leave Europe to return home to the UK, you’ll need to visit a local vet to get your passport or AHC signed”
If your pooch is now holding an EU passport, his rabies vaccinations must take place in the country which issued his paperwork.
For example, if you vaccinated your pet against rabies in May and took him to France in November of the same year, when he is issued with his new EU passport he’ll need another rabies vaccination even though he’s not due.
If your rabies vaccination is current but is listed on an old UK pet passport, you risk being turned back at the border.
How to travel with your dog
Once your paperwork is in place, you can think about how you’re going to make the journey.
The most straightforward method is via the Eurotunnel. Pooches stay in the car with their owners for the 35 minute crossing, and there are plenty of pet facilities at the terminal. Pets (dogs, cats and ferrets) can travel for £22 per pet each way.
“Dogs are allowed on most ferries, but depending on the operator they may be required to stay in your vehicle”
Dogs are allowed on most ferries, but depending on the operator they may be required to stay in your vehicle for the duration of the crossing. Prices vary depending on the operator, but start at around £15 per pet per crossing.
Olly’s packing list
As a seasoned traveller, Olly the springer spaniel has been making the journey to France for several years. He’s a proud holder of an EU passport and even has a French girlfriend. His suitcase contains:
Travel water bowl and bottle
ID tag with an up-to-date mobile phone number. If you’re staying at a temporary address such as a hotel, you can also buy a ‘capsule’ tag which will hold a slip of paper with holiday details. If your pet is spending a long time in Europe, it’s worth registering him on the local “lost pets” database, such as I-CAD in France—your vet will be able to advise.
Sufficient food for the stay—sudden changes of diet can result in doggy holiday tummy!
Easily washable bedding and a microfibre towel
Sufficient supplies of any regular medicine
Although the paperwork may seem daunting, taking your dog to Europe is still very much worthwhile. Nothing beats seeing your pooch scampering through the snow at a ski resort, or having fun on a French beach.
With a little care and planning, you’ll all have a fantastic time—and your pooch will have some tales to tell back at the local park.