We are currently travelling all around the UK and Europe with our dog Lottie, and before we set off on our trip there was a lot we needed to learn about Europe travel with a dog.
Lottie had never left the UK before and this was the first time for us taking a pet abroad, so there was a lot for us to think about and learn, especially as we were going to be travelling for quite a long time.
We travel with our dog in a motorhome so the guidance in this post is all specific to that and relevant to motorhome travel, if you plan to travel in a different way then of course the guidance may be different, and you will need to do your research and look into this.
We wanted to share with you what we have learnt as there is a lot of preparation required to take your dog to Europe, but it’s all totally worth it when you see them enjoying travelling and having adventures with you!
Europe Travel with a dog – Requirements
In order for your pet to safely travel to Europe, there are some specific requirements:
- Your pet needs to be microchipped
- Your pet needs an animal health certificate / pet passport
- Your pet need a rabies vaccine
How do I get an Animal Health Certificate?
From January 2021 (post Brexit) an Animal Health Certificate is a document that is required for a pet to travel to Europe from the UK if they do not have an EU pet passport. An Animal Health Certificate must be completed and certified by an Official Veterinarian (OV) approved by the APHA (Animal and Plant Health Agency).
Prior to Brexit, you would need a pet passport for your dog to travel to Europe. Now, this has been replaced by a document called an animal health certificate which you need to travel to Europe or Northern Ireland, and you need to get this no more than 10 days before you travel and this needs to be issued by an official vet.
If you have a pet passport that was issued prior to Brexit then you can still use this, the animal health certificate is only required if you don’t already have a passport.
When we needed to get an animal health certificate, we called the vets that we usually go to which is a vets 4 pets branch, and they were able to issue the animal health certificate for us.
When you go to get this from your vet you will need proof of your pets microchip date and vaccination history.
This animal health certificate will then be valid for 4 months for onward travel within the EU or 4 months for re-entry to Great Britain.
The animal health certificate cost us £175, but we do know that this can vary massively in all different vets. We even had different quotes from 2 different Vets 4 Pets stores, and that’s the same branch! So it is well worth ringing around your local vets to find a good price.
The animal health certificate should be a recognised document across the EU so we have been informed that there is no specific need to have it printed out in the languages of all of the different countries you are going to, you just need it to be the version for the first country that you are going to enter, which for us, was France.
TIP – The animal health certificate needs to be completed correctly, and there are some very specific requirements with this paperwork, the Eurotunnel have some guidance on their website which we found helpful – What your vet needs to know about your pet’s official travel documents – Eurotunnel Le Shuttle Support
How to get an EU Pet Passport
So as mentioned previously, since Brexit, pet passports can no longer be issued in the UK, you need to get an animal health certificate.
The animal health certificate only allows you to travel for up to 4 months in Europe before you would need to come back to the UK to get another one. So how do you get around this if you want to travel for longer?
You need to get an animal health certificate to get yourself to Europe, and then when you’re in Europe, you need to find a vet to issue you an EU pet passport. This is what we did, as we knew we wanted to travel for longer than 4 months.
France would be the obvious place to try and get a pet passport issued, as for most people travelling to Europe, especially via the Eurotunnel, this is the first country that you enter.
However, we had heard some rumours that France were really starting to crack down on issuing pet passports to people from the UK, as they were being bombarded with so many requests, so we decided not to try to get a passport in France, but to try Germany instead.
We just searched for vets local to where we were staying in Germany and asked if they could do an EU pet passport, and they were happy to do this. All they needed to do was to check the animal health certificate and give our dog a quick health check, and that was all! We walked away with a pet passport at the cost of 19euros.
As part of the requirements for taking your dog to Europe, you need to get them a rabies vaccine, which you can read more about in the next section of this post.
Once you get an EU pet passport, a UK vet cannot record anything in this passport, otherwise it becomes invalid. This meant that the vet couldn’t copy over the details of the rabies vaccine that we had in the UK to the new EU pet passport.
This meant that we had to get a new rabies vaccine, issued by a vet in the EU, to record it in the pet passport. Again, we went to a vet in Germany who were happy to do this for us. The rabies vaccine lasts for 3 years, and our dogs original rabies vaccine had not yet expired, but this doesn’t matter. We were assured that it is not harmful for the dog to have another one.
So in total, with the cost of the new passport and the new rabies vaccination, the EU pet passport cost us around 70 euros. This passport will now last our dogs lifetime, there is no expiry date, as long as we keep up to date with the rabies vaccinations.
This does mean that we always have to get a rabies vaccination administered in Europe every 3 years in order for the pet passport to be valid, but we don’t mind that, any excuse to get back to travelling Europe, we’re happy with!
Your pet will also need a rabies vaccine and you must wait 21 days after the vaccine before you travel and keep on top of booster vaccinations, the vaccination generally lasts 3 years.
Your pet’s vaccination record in their animal health certificate must show:
- Your pet’s date of birth
- Microchip number, date it was put in or read, and where it is on your pet’s body
- Vaccination date
- Vaccine manufacturer and product name
- Vaccine batch number
- Date the vaccination is valid until
- The vet’s signature and contact details
Tapeworm treatment for dogs
A vet must treat your dog for tapeworm and record it in the animal health certificate if you’re travelling directly to:
The treatment must have been given no less than 24 hours and no more than 120 hours (5 days) before you arrive.
The treatment must:
be approved for use in the country it’s being given in and contain praziquantel or an equivalent proven to be effective against the Echinococcus multilocularis tapeworm.
Rabies Titre Test
The rabies titre test is also known as the rabies antibody test, rabies neutralising antibody titre (RNAT) test or rabies blood test, as it measures the amount of antibodies produced in the blood of your dog to rabies. It is basically a blood test that confirms the effectiveness of the rabies vaccine in your dog.
In most countries in Europe, you won’t need this, all you will need is the record that your dog has had a rabies vaccination, and you will be good to go.
There are some countries however in Europe where there is a higher chance of catching rabies, so you need to have the rabies titre test too.
These countries are generally countries that are in Europe but are not in the EU, and you need to titre test to get back into the EU from these countries.
The rabies titre test is a blood test that needs to be taken after your dog has had their rabies vaccine, and this needs to be done around a month after the rabies vaccine.
The best thing to do is to get this done with plenty of time to spare in before you leave the UK to travel to any of these countries.
The blood sample will need to be taken by a vet and then sent off to a laboratory for testing, and there are only a certain amount of labs across Europe that do this testing, so again this can take a little while.
Occasionally, A dog can fail the titre test even if they have had a valid rabies vaccination, and then another test will need to be done, so it really is best to give yourself a good 3/4 months to sort out this test.
TIP – You can check the list of exempt countries for the rabies titre test here – Listing of territories and non-EU countries (europa.eu)
Eurotunnel Pet Check-in Folkestone
The Eurotunnel at Folkestone seems like they’ve really considered everything to make sure you and your pet can travel as comfortably as possible. We found them to be so accommodating and friendly in the pet check-in reception.
The lady who checked all of our documentation even gave us lots of advice regarding animal health certificates and pet passports.
There is a dog walking area outside of the pet reception with lots of cool agility style activities for your dog to do whilst you wait to board the tunnel. There is even a separate dog area to this for female dogs in season which we thought was a really great idea.
The Eurotunnel really did seem to us like the perfect way to travel to Europe with a dog, especially with the short journey from Folkestone to Calais being only 35 minutes, and all being able to stay together and not having to leave the dog on their own, as you may have to if you got the ferry.
At only £22 per pet each way also, it is not too expensive, and we really think that the Eurotunnel is the best and easiest way to travel to Europe with your pet.
Other things to think about
- Your pet’s food and how much you might need to take and also can you get this through customs
- The weather – will they need a warm coat or a cooling coat etc
- Harness and lead – depending on where you are going to be going, you may need to consider getting a good quality harness and lead, especially if you plan to do more adventurous travel and activities like hiking and climbing
- Does your pet take any medication that you may need to take with you?
- Does your dog require any regular vet treatments or have any health conditions? – There are vets all over Europe and they are pretty easily accessible, so if you do ever need to see a vet whilst you’re travelling, this shouldn’t be too difficult.
Pet Grooming Kit
We have to groom Lottie quite regularly and normally we would take her to the groomers, but this is something that is not so easy to arrange whilst travelling, so we bought our own dog grooming kit so that we can keep on top of Lottie’s grooming ourselves.
It is also cheaper to manage whilst we are travelling on a budget.
Dog First Aid Kit
A dog first aid kit is a great thing to take on your travels with you, it means you can be prepared for any injuries or illnesses.
Dog Cooling Jacket
If you are going to be travelling to warm countries with your dog, then a cooling jacket is a really important thing to take on your travels with you, to keep your dog nice and cool.
Warm Dog Coat
As much as it’s important to keep your dog cool in warm weather, it’s also important to keep them warm if you are going to be travelling in cold weather.
Collapsible Dog Water Bowls
These collapsible dog bowls are great for attaching to your bag or backpack and having handy to give your dog a drink of water whilst you are out and about exploring.
Waterproof Dog Suit
These waterproof dog suits are amazing for travelling with your dog. They protect your dog from the elements but they also keep your dog dry and clean, meaning you don’t have such a mess to deal with when you get back to your van!
Being able to travel all around Europe with your dog is the best thing in our opinion. We’re so happy that we get to have the most amazing experiences and bring our dog Lottie along with us to experience it too, we just want to give her the best life ever.
There is a lot of prior planning and preparation to do, but with the know-how, you can get it done and have the best time travelling with your furry best friend!
Keep up with our full-time van life travels over on our YouTube channel! If you enjoy our videos, please give us a thumbs up and subscribe to our channel – Three As A Bird – Vanlife Travel – YouTube
You can take a look at some of our other van life posts which include lots and lots of hints and tips on all things van life here – Van Life – Travel Information, Hints, Tips and Advice (threeasabird.com)
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I have always wanted to travel and luckily I always got to travel to some amazing countries while I was growing up with my family and this really encouraged me to continue this and get out into the world on my own when I was older.
My goal growing up was really to see as much of the world as I could, but then I started going to work and really concentrating on my career and travel took a back seat. I still tried to get away a few times a year but I always knew there was an end goal which was to travel as much as possible.
So I got my head down and worked as hard as I could as an e-commerce manager. I have always been techy, I love computers and websites, so that’s where it gave me the idea to start this blog and also have my own web design agency. If you want to check it out or need any help then please take a look rrwebdesign.co.uk (shameless plug there)
But after covid, we both knew this was now the right time to take the leap and go and see the world after being trapped inside our house and working from home for a couple of years. We realised more than ever that you only get one life and you really need to make the most of it and do what you love!
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