Taking Your Pet Dog Abroad

5th August 2016

Personal Injury Overseas’ useful guide to taking your pet dog on holiday

Dog on holiday by Javier Brosch (via Shutterstock).

Image by Javier Brosch (via Shutterstock).

Imagine you’ve booked your holiday. Normally, you leave the dog with another relative. Or your pet stays at the boarding kennels. What if your dog cannot bear to stay with your relatives or at the boarding kennels? Perhaps Rover, Benjy, Chrissie or Sammy fancies a trip abroad. Believe it or not, it is possible, subject to certain conditions.

Pre-departure tips

Before you consider taking your dog on holiday, is he or she all right on short distance trips? Does s/he like being chauffeured by their owner? Or is s/he alright with local buses and trains? Busy railway stations and bus termini can be disorientating for dogs. Plus there’s the likelihood of your pooch absconding if strange noises startle him or her.

If your mutt is comfortable in transit and worships the ground you walk upon, taking your dog abroad (with you) might be a good plan. Make sure s/he has enough food and water for the journey. Appreciate that s/he may need to pause for a loo break (don’t forget the poop scoop bags).

Travelling abroad

Before you consider taking your dog abroad, you need the following:

  • A Pet Passport: allowing access to all EU Member States plus a selection of non-EU countries (details of which can be seen on GOV.UK);
  • A Microchip: before you go abroad, your dog needs to be microchipped. Microchipping your dog for identification purposes has been mandatory in the UK since April 2016;
  • A rabies vaccination: most important. Rabies can affect both the animal and any human, who may have been bitten by an infected animal. Within days, this may lead to death. After vaccination, your dog can travel up to 21 days after their injection;
  • Tapeworm treatment: a vet must treat your dog for tapeworm and record it in your Pet Passport.

Planning your journey

Before you set off:

  • Will the operator allow dogs? Weight restrictions may apply on scheduled flights. Foot passengers on ferries may be unable to carry dogs on board. Your canine friend may be unable to use trams and underground metro systems subject to the operator’s Conditions of Carriage.
  • When’s your pet travelling? We recommend setting off on the same day as your furry friend. If you prefer to let him or her board before or afterwards, no more than five days before or after you have reached your destination. GOV.UK has a list of approved commercial and chartered airlines and ferry routes.

Using your Pet Passport

Your Pet Passport is valid in all EU Member States and territories, plus a number of non-EU countries and UK dependencies (i.e., Montserrat, Bermuda, the Falkland Islands). When you get a Pet Passport, you need to bring your pet, its identity and vaccination records. Where applicable, any rabies blood test results should also be furnished.

Please note that photocopied documents will not be accepted. Prior to departure, make sure that your veterinary surgeon has filled in the following sections:

  1. Details of ownership: Section I of your Pet Passport must be signed if it was issued on or after 29 December 2014;
  2. Description of animal: as well as ‘dog’, any type of breed (i.e., Jack Russell Terrier, English Springer Spaniel, mixed breed);
  3. Marking or identification of animal: for example, long hair and short legs, liver spots;
  4. Details of vaccinations against rabies;
  5. Blood tests: where applicable, details of rabies blood test;
  6. Vet details: details of the vet issuing your passport (for passports issued from 29 December 2014);
  7. Tapeworm Treatment: details of your dog’s tapeworm treatment (where required).

Assistance Dogs

All of the above rules apply to assistance dogs. Unlike pet dogs, assistance dogs are able to travel on more routes and are welcome at all UK airports from Lerwick to Lands End. They can sit in the passenger cabin of any scheduled and chartered flights with their fellow passenger. UK-based travel companies recognise any assistance dogs that are trained by organisations that are members of Assistance Dogs International or the International Guide Dog Federation.

To travel by air, assistance dogs need a car harness, for when the aeroplane takes off or lands. By ferry, your assistance dog can travel on all sailings from the UK to other EU member states. You can also travel on cruise ships from any EU Member State to England, Scotland, and Wales with an assistance dog.


    1. RSPCA: Going on Holiday: A useful guide to taking your dog on holiday. Required reading for anybody wishing to take their canine friend on holiday.
    2. GOV.UK: Bringing Your Pet Dog, Cat or Ferret to the UK: official guidance on the carriage of cats, dogs, and ferrets from the UK Government website. Has a host of helpful information on the subject including:
    3. British Airways: Travelling With Pets: The World’s Favourite Airline’s policy on accommodating dogs on their scheduled flights.
    4. P&O Ferries: Taking Your Pets: The carriage of dogs on Dover – Calais sailings.
    5. Caledonian MacBrayne ferries: On Board with CalMac: FAQs: All your queries answered on the carriage of dogs aboard CalMac ferries covering most parts of Scotland from Stornaway to the Isle of Arran.

Personal Injury Overseas, 05 August 2016.

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