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Taking your dog abroad this summer? Time to get your pooch travel ready

05 Jul 2023


With summer holidays around the corner, people travelling abroad with pets and assistance dogs are being reminded to book an appointment with a vet well in advance to get all the required health checks and paperwork in time.

Taking your dog abroad this summer? Time to get your pooch travel ready  Image

Vets are advising anyone planning to travel abroad this summer with their pets or assistance dogs to book an appointment with their vet practice well in advance to allow plenty of time to complete all the required health checks and paperwork.

With school summer holidays less than a month away, the British Veterinary Association (BVA) is calling on owners to first carefully consider if it would be in their pets’ best interests to travel overseas with them. For anyone choosing to holiday abroad with their pet, BVA has issued a handy checklist to remind owners about the checks their animal will need before travel. This includes trips from Great Britain and Northern Ireland to the European Union, as post-Brexit rules mean owners now have to get the more complex and time-consuming Animal Health Certificate (AHC) from a vet trained to issue them no more than ten days before travel.

British Veterinary Association Senior Vice President Justine Shotton said:

“The countdown to summer break has begun. While we should all consider whether a holiday abroad is appropriate for our pets’ welfare or their carbon pawprint, if you are making plans that include travelling with your pet or assistance dog, now is the time to contact your local vet for information on pet travel requirements. Book an appointment as soon as possible to make sure your pet has all the necessary paperwork and is fully protected against diseases they may encounter in their travels.

“We’d like to remind owners that the post-Brexit requirements for travel to the EU are a significant change from the previous and much simpler ‘pet passport’ system, so they will take longer to complete and cost more. A pet travel consult at the vets can now take around an hour and even longer where there are multiple animals.

“Vet practices are already under a huge workload pressure. To help make the process as smooth and stress-free as possible for yourself, your pet and your vet, we would urge you to contact your vet as early as you can ahead of travel to make sure there’s a vet available for this certification work and enough time to complete the required health checks and paperwork.”

Prior to Brexit, as many as 250,000 cats and dogs from the UK were taken to the EU on holiday every year.

BVA's seven-point checklist for pet owners

  • Timings: Contact your vet well in advance to ensure that you can get an appointment at least three weeks before your planned travel. Dogs, cats and ferrets need an Animal Health Certificate (AHC) for each trip from Great Britain to an EU country or Northern Ireland. Unlike pet passports, AHCs are 9-12 pages long, which means a much more complex, time consuming and costly paperwork process. Some vaccinations, like rabies, are time-sensitive, so even a one-day delay could result in your papers being rejected at the border.As Northern Ireland remains part of the EU pet travel scheme, travellers from the country can use an EU pet passport as an alternative to an AHC. Contact your vet to update the pet passport.
  • Destination: Be clear about the countries you intend to travel to so that your vet can identify specific health risks your pet may be exposed to, such as ticks, sandflies, heartworm or tapeworm.
  • Rabies: Check that your pet’s rabies vaccination is up to date.
  • Microchip: Ensure your pet’s microchip is working and contact details are up to date.
  • Heat: Talk to your vet if going somewhere hot to discuss prevention of heatstroke and how to recognise symptoms in your dog.
  • Emergencies: Identify a local vet in the area where you will be holidaying in case of an emergency and to administer compulsory tapeworm treatment to dogs one to five days before arrival back into the UK. 
  • Return: If your pet becomes ill after returning to the UK, it is very important to tell your vet that you have been abroad with your pet, even if it was some time ago.


More information for travellers from Great Britain is available on the UK government website. Anyone travelling from Northern Ireland should check the DAERA website.


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