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Moving overseas with pets

Pets are an important part of the family, and you're sure to want to bring yours with you in a move abroad. Our guide to moving pets overseas offers tips and advice to make the transition easier for you and your pet.

Moving overseas with pets


If your pet is an integral member of the family and you’re planning to move overseas, it will be important for you to bring your four-legged friend with you.

A big move can be traumatic for the whole family and especially the animal in question, but there are a few simple steps you can take to streamline the process and move your furry friend with ease.

What’s best for the pet?

As a beloved part of the family, the concept of leaving your pet behind may be heart breaking, but it's important to consider the welfare of the animal first.
 
If your pet is very old, relocating could be exceptionally stressful. Climate is another important consideration, as sensitive pets may struggle to adjust well to extreme temperatures. It's also worth considering whether you will be able to provide the love and attention your animal deserves once you arrive in the new destination.

Talk it through with your family first, and consider what is best for your pet. If the idea of relocating your pet is not in its best interests, find a trusted friend or family member to take care of it while you're away, or consider kennels as an option. The international pet and animal transportation agency is a good place to visit for advice.

 


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Pet passports

Prior to the 1st Jan 2021, you could obtain a passport for your pet that would allow it to travel to any EU country or Northern Ireland. However, pet passports issued within Great Britain (England, Scotland, Wales) are no longer valid for travel. You must now apply for an Animal Health Certificate.

If you obtained a pet passport in the EU or in Northern Ireland, they can still be used. EU pet passports are only used for cats, dogs and ferrets. Pet passports are standardised throughout Europe, so if you have a valid EU passport, moving in the European Union will be fairly straightforward.

Animal Health Certificate

To obtain an Animal Health Certificate you must contact a vet no more than 10 days before you travel. Not every vet is authorised to give out the certificate so check your vet is authorised before contacting them.
You will need to supply the vet with proof that the pet has been microchipped, and records of its vaccination history.

Once your vet has issued the certificate it is valid for entry into the EU for 10 days. It will also allow you to travel within the EU or return to Great Britain for 4 months.

Again, the certificate only applies to cats, dogs and ferrets.

Travelling in the EU and NI

To transport your pet to an EU country or Northern Ireland, your pet will need it’s Animal Health Certificate, a microchip and a valid rabies vaccination. If you are going to Finland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Norway or Malta, it will also need tapeworm treatment.

Some other countries have additional requirements for entry, so be sure to research the rules of your destination before travel.

Once you arrive in the country, you will go through the traveller’s point of entry. Here you will need to provide proof of all the above requirements with documentation.

Remember that you CANNOT take more than 5 pets into an EU country unless it is for a competition or sporting event. In this case you will need to provide proof that you are registered to the event (to compete or train) and they must be over 6 months old. You should also, once again, check additional requirements for your destination.

Travelling outside the EU

To travel further afield, you will need to get an Export Health Certificate, and fill out an Export Application Form.
Search for your required EHC and download it, this will explain the process of application.

Once again, you must contact an authorised vet to certify your EHC before helping you to submit your application.

Pet transportation

There are many options when travelling abroad with a pet. You might decide to use a specialist animal transfer company, or if the journey is easier, transport your pet yourself.

If you are travelling on a plane with your pet, it will usually be transported within a special pressurised compartment in the hold with other live cargo. You could also (depending on the airline) have your pet with you as additional baggage.

Travelling within the EU and Northern Ireland will be fairly straightforward as travel will be short haul.
Travelling further afield can be more complicated and so hiring an animal transfer company for long haul travel is advisable.

These services can also help with paperwork, flights, custom clearance, and veterinary requirements. Therefore utilising them for any destination can be very helpful to you and your pets.

If you need more help with pet transportation you can contact the UK government’s Pet Travel Scheme Helpline. Contact details can be found here.

Happy traveller

Once the relevant documentation has been obtained, all you need to do is ensure your pet is happy. You can obtain natural remedies to calm anxious pets from most vets. Then remember to provide your furry friend with a familiar blanket and a toy so they feel more relaxed during the journey and make sure you have some of their favourite food upon arrival.


Updated: 5th January 2021.

 

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