Travel to Europe and Northern Ireland

Requirements for travel to Europe and Northern Ireland

The basic requirements for a pet to travel to Europe or Northern Ireland with an Animal Health Certificate are the same as those previously required for a passport. These are listed below:

  1. The animal is a dog, cat or ferret
  2. No more than 5 animals are being transported
  3. Transport is not for a commercial purpose
  4. The animal has a microchip in place – *this must have been placed prior to vaccination against rabies*
  5. A rabies vaccine has been administered more than 21 days before the date of travel

Please see the sub-headings below for more information on specific points.

Additional Requirements

The Pet Passport system is now invalid as a single method of transporting dogs, cats and ferrets. If your pet’s passport was issued in Northern Ireland or within Europe, it will still be valid for transport to and from Europe.  If your pet’s passport was issued in Great Britain, it will be valid for re-entry to England, Scotland, or Wales. However, your pet will now require an Animal Health Certificate (AHC) in order to travel to Europe or Northern Ireland.

Dogs travelling to Finland, Ireland, Malta, Northern Ireland, and Norway will require treatment for tapeworm prior to leaving the UK.

When returning to the UK, tapeworm treatment must be administered by an Official Veterinarian 1-5 days before re-entry to the UK, using an appropriate product (usually praziquantel). This applies to re-entry from any country except Finland, Ireland, Malta, Northern Ireland, and Norway.

Pets must also have had their routine vaccinations prior to travel to Europe, and this must be documented in the AHC.

Animal Health Certificates

An AHC will be required for dogs, cats and ferrets to travel to Europe or Northern Ireland. This must be issued and signed by an Official Veterinarian no more than 10 days prior to travel. You must bring proof of the following to your AHC appointment:

  • Date of microchip insertion
  • Vaccination history

The AHC will be valid for entry into the EU or Northern Ireland for 10 days after, and including, the date of issue. It is valid for continued movements through Europe or return to GB for 4 months from date of issue.

A new AHC must be issued each time you re-enter the EU or Northern Ireland. The same certificate cannot be used for repeated trips.

Documents required to enter Great Britain

Your pet must have one of the following documents in order to enter or re-enter England, Scotland or Wales:

  • a pet passport:
    • an EU pet passport issued in the EU, or
    • a pet passport issued in GB if issued before 1 January 2021, or
    • a pet passport from another Part 1 listed third country
  • the animal health certificate (AHC) issued in GB prior to travel – this is valid for re-entry to GB up to 4 months after it was issued
  • a GB pet health certificate (for travel into GB only)

Your pet will not need this documentation if it’s entering GB from:

  • Northern Ireland
  • the Channel Islands
  • the Isle of Man

Microchips

A microchip must be placed prior to, or at the same time as, the initial rabies vaccination. The microchip must be scanned prior to each subsequent rabies vaccine and matched with the recorded number in the records. This is to prove that the same animal is being presented for vaccination and travel each time.

Sometimes a microchip will work its way out of the skin or will stop working. Please see our FAQs for more information.

Rabies Vaccination

All dogs, cats and ferrets must have an up-to-date rabies vaccination to travel to Europe or to return to GB. There is no requirement for a rabies antibody titre test for travel to Europe and Northern Ireland. However, other destinations may require evidence of immunity via a blood test. Your pet must have a single rabies vaccine administered according the manufacturer’s guidance (every 12 months in Europe, and every 1-3 years in the UK depending on the vaccine stability). There is no longer a requirement for a vaccine course. Your pet can travel to Europe 21 days after rabies vaccination in the first year, and any time thereafter. However, if a rabies vaccine is overdue, travel is prohibited until the vaccine has been given, and 21 days have elapsed from the time of vaccination. The same time frames apply for pets entering the UK.

Our recommendations for rabies vaccines

We strongly recommend an initial course of 2 rabies vaccines, 14-21 days apart, and/or a rabies titre test.

25% of all vaccinated animals do not develop sufficient immunity after a single injection. If your pet is one of these animals, it will not have antibodies to rabies. It will be at high risk if bitten by a rabid animal! To reduce this possibility, your pet can have a second vaccine. This should ensure an adequate immune response but some pets may still be lower in immunity. To test the antibody levels, your pet can have a blood test. There is no need for a second vaccine if the result is above the minimum level. However, a second vaccine is recommended if the antibody titre is low. For travel within the EU, there is no requirement to wait 90 days from the date of antibody sampling. Your travel dates will be unaffected, but you will know that your pet is (or is not) immunized effectively.

Vaccinations

Dogs: must be vaccinated against canine distemper, canine hepatitis, canine parvovirus, and leptospirosis (there is no specific requirement for the type of leptospira vaccine, but consideration should be given to the destination country – please contact us for more information).

Cats: must be vaccinated for feline parvovirus, feline herpes virus and feline calicvirus. If your cat goes outside at all, vaccination against feline leukaemia virus is highly recommended.

Ferrets: must be vaccinated against canine distemper.

We recommend annual vaccination of dogs, cats and ferrets to prevent a resurgence of these viruses, which are frequently fatal.

Some destination countries may require additional vaccines before travel so it is worth reading up on this a few months in advance. Please note that pets with vaccines that have expired according to the manufacturer’s guidelines will be required to start and complete a new vaccine course, taking up to 4 weeks to complete, before they are able to travel.

Additional Vaccinations

Please research the country that you are travelling to as well as the specific area you and your pet will be staying in. There are pockets of diseases as well as widespread disease throughout the world. We do not have many of these diseases in the UK so vaccination is a good idea. Many are spread by biting insects, so protection from flies, fleas, worms and ticks is essential.

Additional canine vaccines to consider include:
Leishmania – carried by sandflies
Borrelia (Lyme disease) – carried by ticks

Parasitic Infectious Diseases

Leishmaniasis – carried by sandflies, can affect most species causing severe skin disease and/or organ failure. Treatments effective against sandflies are the best preventative, or vaccination is available for dogs.
Borrelia bergdorferi (Lyme disease) – carried by ticks, can affect most species. Clinical signs vary from profound lethargy to severe lameness. This organism is difficult to eradicate and symptoms can recur sporadically for years. Tick treatments are essential for all countries, including the UK!
Anaplasmosis / Ehrlichiosis – carried by ticks, causes the blood clotting process to fail. Fatal if an injury is sustained, but prevented by most tick preventatives.
Babesiosis – carried by ticks, causes failure of the blood clotting cascade and can be fatal