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Travelling with your pets in the United Kingdom

Taking your pet on a UK trip can be a convenient and exciting way to holiday. Find out how to safely travel with your pets in the UK and whether your pet insurance will cover you.

Amy Smith
Amy Smith
Updated 29 April 2021  | 5 mins read

A great British holiday is the easiest way to include a pet in your travel plans because they don't need vaccinations or an Animal Health Certificate for a UK trip. Many places offer pet-friendly accommodation – although you might want to double check exactly what animals are allowed before you take your cat, bunny or ferret along.

Car travel with pets

Travelling by car can be convenient when it comes to holidaying with your pet in the UK. Most service stops tend to be pet friendly, with water bowls and a dog walk area. 

Rule 57 of the Highway Code states that you must secure your dog – or any other pet – so they can’t distract the driver or injure you or themselves, while the car's moving.

Pets also shouldn't be allowed on the front seats, and you shouldn’t let them stick their head out the window.  

Dogs

You’ll need to have a dog seat belt, dog cage or dog guard to keep you and your pooch safe. 

A dog seat belt attachment clips into the seat belt fixing of your car and attaches to their harness to stop them being thrown forward if there’s an accident. 

Another option is a travel cage, either secured on the back seat with a seatbelt for smaller dogs, or in the boot for medium or large dogs. 

Alternatively, you can get a dog guard which sits between the rear passenger seats and the boot. This allows your dog to move around in the boot without affecting your driving but it might not be the safest way for your pet to travel. 

Cats

Cats should travel in a carrier which is made of a sturdy material and be the right size for them, offering privacy and some space for a soft blanket. It’s handy to have a carrier that has both a front and roof opening for easy access. 

If possible, it’s best to speak to your vet to make sure your cat is fit to travel and practice short trips first to get your pet used to the car. 

Plan your route so you can stop off every few hours to give your cat access to water and a litter box. It might also be worth packing some extra food or any of their medication, just in case you need to extend your stay. 

Long-distance trains with pets

Up to two cats, dogs or other small animals per passenger can travel for free in the UK, according to National Rail. Small pets will usually need to be kept in a carrier, but larger dogs will  be fine on a lead. 

Any more than two pets, or if they take up a seat – whether they’re in a carrier or not – then you’ll be charged a fee. 

If you’re planning on an overnight UK rail journey, it’ll usually cost extra for your pet to come along.

There’s no charge for assistance dogs.  

Motorhome and caravan travel with pets

Caravan or motorhome holidays are another convenient way to travel with your pet around Britain. 

You shouldn’t leave your pet alone in the caravan while it’s moving, so you’d still need a restraint or carrier for them in your towing vehicle. 

Similarly to travelling by car, you can have your pet in your motorhome while driving, as long as they’re secured. 

Make sure you have all the supplies you’ll need to keep them comfortable on your trip. 

Domestic flights with pets 

Flying might not be the best way to travel with a pet as it can be extremely stressful. 

Most airlines allow pets to travel in the hold, but some won’t fly any animals at all. No commercial UK airline allows pets in the cabin, unless you have a registered assistance dog, and even then you might have a limited choice. 

These rules can vary by airline though, so it’s always best to check with it directly before you book. 

Ferries and pets 

Most UK ferry lines allow pets on board, but whether that’s in your car, a carrier, in kennels or on a lead depends on the company.

Like with other means of transport, make sure you have all you need to keep your pet safe and comfortable. 

Pet travel checklist

Here are a few things you can do to help make your pet’s UK trip comfortable: 

  • Practice and keep them calm
    Help your pet get used to travelling by taking them on short trips when they’re young, and working up to longer journeys. Make sure they have a blanket and perhaps their favourite toy to sooth them.
  • Travel safely
    Secure them in a suitable restraint, like a carrier, harness or dog guard and don’t let them stick their head out the window because they could get injured or distract other drivers.
  • Check your pet insurance
    Read the policy or get in touch with the provider to see whether it'll cover your pet if you're taking them on holiday in the UK.
  • Keep your pet cool and never leave them alone in the car
    Leave a window slightly open to keep fresh air circulating on your journey. Even if you leave the window open a little, don’t leave your pet in the car alone as it can quickly get dangerously hot and be very stressful.
  • Stop regularly
    Plan for a few breaks along the way, so you can give your pet a drink and let them go to the toilet. If possible, let them stretch their legs too but only if it’s safe to do so.
  • Plan and pack carefully
    Include extra food and medication for your pet, as well as an animal first aid kit and any anxiety aids your vet has recommended. Make an emergency plan too, just in case your trip doesn’t go the way you expect.

Pet insurance when travelling with your pet in the UK

Depending on the type of cover you have, pet insurance can help with the cost of vet treatment, certain diagnostics, third party liability (for dogs only) and advertising to find lost pets.

Before you excitedly book your UK holiday with your pet in mind, you’ll need to find out whether your pet insurance covers them when they’re away from your home. Most vets accept payments from the majority of insurers, but it’s best to double check by reading the policy documents or getting in touch with the insurer.

Take a copy of your pet’s vaccination records and your pet insurance policy with you on your trip, just in case your pet needs veterinary care while you’re off exploring Britain.

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