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Pet passports and travelling with your pet

Some animals require a pet passport, or equivalent, to travel abroad. Find out more about the documents you’ll need to legally take your pet abroad.

Updated 12 May 2020  | 4 min read

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Key points

  • Make sure you give yourself enough time to organise your pet’s passport or Animal Health Certificate
  • Your pet will need to be microchipped and probably tested for tapeworm and rabies
  • Rules for travelling with your pets after Brexit will change – check the government’s guidance  for up-to-date advice
  • Make sure you have pet insurance that covers your pet abroad, and don’t forget to sort out your own passport and insurance

What do I need to know when travelling with my pet?

If you want to take your pets overseas, you’ll need to get them a pet passport and/or an Animal Health Certificate (AHC) – these need to be signed off by a vet. To get one, your pet needs to be microchipped and tested for tapeworms and rabies.  

You’ll need to take proof of all these test results and the microchip with you when you travel.

Which pets require a passport or similar documentation to travel abroad?

Cats and dogs will need a pet passport, or equivalent documentation, along with ferrets and horses

What's the impact of Brexit on pet passports?

The UK is in a transition period up until 31 December 2020. So, if you plan to travel with your pet in 2020, your pet will need an up-to-date passport.

However, there’s currently an indefinite travel ban in place due to Coronavirus, so you might struggle to get a pet passport, or abroad, before the transition period is up. 

Can I still get a pet passport after Brexit?

From 1 January 2021, rules for travelling to the EU with your pet will change – exactly what that means depends on what category of countries the UK falls into after the transition period is up. Contact your vet at least four months before you travel to get the latest advice.

You can find the latest guidelines for travelling to Europe with your pet after Brexit  on the government website, though these could change. 

Travelling to the EU frequently with your pet

Your pet needs a new AHC for each trip, which you’ll need to arrange at least 10 days before you travel. The AHC proves you’ve kept vaccinating your pet against rabies, and that they’re clear of the disease. Your pet passport doesn’t expire as such, so you can keep using this for as long as it’s valid.

What animals can I travel with?

It’s not just dogs, cats and horses you can travel with. You’ll need to check the specific regulations of the country you plan to travel to, and have the right documentation and vet records, but you should be able to travel with:

  • Rodents
  • Rabbits
  • Birds
  • Invertebrates
  • Amphibians
  • Reptiles 

Can I travel with my pet to any country?

The requirements for your pet to be granted entry usually vary by country. There are extra conditions if you're travelling to an unlisted country – somewhere that’s not on the list of EU and non-EU countries.

For up-to-date information check government guidelines.

What happens when I bring my pet back home?

When you return to the UK, your pet’s microchip will be scanned and passport checked.

If the right documents are not in place, your pet could be taken into quarantine or sent back to the country you have just travelled from.

What if I have more than one animal?

The number of pets you can normally travel with is limited to five. If you wish to travel with more than five dogs, cats or ferrets, the group of animals will need an additional health certificate and will be subject to checks at point of entry.

Your journey must also be for non-commercial reasons, which excludes the sale of animals.

Insurance for pets abroad

You can get insurance that covers your pets while they’re abroad. If you already have pet insurance, your pet may be covered – check your policy before you travel. Most horse, dog and cat insurance will cover trips abroad, assuming all of the paperwork required to travel is in place. 

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