How to travel with your dog abroad

In this post you will find useful tips, guidance and checklists for travelling with your dog to the United Kingdom (UK), the European Union (EU), Canada, the United States (US), New Zealand and Australia.

We love travelling around the UK with our pooch, but we have always dreamed of taking her further afield and allowing her to experience the world with us. Travelling with your dog abroad can be complicated. When planning your trip abroad you should understand all the requirements that apply to your trip, speak with an appropriate pet travel agency (where applicable or suitable) and consider how your pet will deal with the trip. For example, long-haul flights can be very distressing for dogs, especially large ones that need to travel in the hold.

Please note that this is information taken from the applicable government websites and is not legal advice. This information was accurate at the time of writing (December 2020), but things often change and so it’s important that you check the local government guidelines for the exporting (from) and importing (to) countries ahead of travel. Furthermore, this post only covers travel guidance for a single pet dog travelling for leisure/private travel that is at least six months old. It does not aim to cover multiple dogs, other pets, travel for business (e.g. selling or rehoming a pet abroad) or assistance dogs. Finally, you will need to check with your transport company (e.g. airline) for any additional requirements that they may have.

Checklist for travelling with your dog abroad

All countries are concerned with keeping their own people, animals and ecosystems safe. They only allow pets that aren’t going to cause harm or have a negative impact. For this reason, most countries will require a level of vaccination, treatment and documentation. The below steps should help you identify and complete what you need to do to take your dog abroad:

  1. Confirm the exit requirements for your export (from) country
  2. Confirm the entry requirements for your import/destination (to) country
  3. Ask your vet for advice and schedule any required appointments
  4. Confirm the travel agency’s/transportation company’s (e.g. airline) requirements
  5. Get your dog microchipped (not required in all countries, but recommended)
  6. Complete all necessary vaccinations and treatments
  7. Complete all relevant documentation (e.g. veterinary certificate )
  8. Provide advanced notice of pet travel as required

Dog travel timelines

The timelines for getting the requirements in place for each country will differ. For example, some suggest starting to prepare for travel to the EU four months ahead of arrival as there are specific timings that you must meet, including completing your rabies vaccinations 21 days ahead of travel and issuing the veterinary certificate within 10 days prior to arrival.

I would recommend that you know all the requirements relevant to your trip at least six months before you travel. Hopefully making it a stress-free experience!

Travelling with your dog to the UK

Applicable government website: Bringing your pet dog, cat or ferret to the UK – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

To bring a pet dog to the UK for leisure (i.e. not to sell or rehome), you will most likely need to ensure that:

  1. your dog isn’t on the banned breed list;
  2. you use an approved route and/or company;
  3. your dog has been microchipped;
  4. your dog has been vaccinated against rabies at least 21 days prior to travel;
  5. your dog has been treated for tapeworm; and
  6. you have the appropriate documentation (i.e. acceptable pet passport or veterinary certificate).

In some cases you may need a blood test (e.g. if you’re coming from an ‘unlisted’ country). Please note that there are different rules if you and your pet arrive in the country more than five days apart, see here for further guidance.

Travelling with your dog to a country in the European Union (EU)

Applicable website: EU rules on travelling with pets and other animals in the EU – Your Europe (europa.eu)

EU law often has local country derogations (e.g. exemptions) and so you should always double check the local rules for the EU country that you are visiting.

In general, to take a pet dog to a country in the EU for leisure, you will most likely need to ensure that:

  1. you enter through an EU ‘point of entry‘ in the destination country, where applicable;
  2. your dog has been microchipped;
  3. your dog has been vaccinated against rabies at least 21 days prior to travel;
  4. your has been treated for tapeworm; and
  5. you have the appropriate documentation (i.e. acceptable pet passport or veterinary certificate).

UK issued pet passports are no longer accepted in the EU.

You and your dog have to arrive in the country within five days of each other.

The applicable website listed above has a great function that allows you to check the detailed rules applicable to the country that you are travelling from. Definitely worth looking at.

Travelling with your dog to Canada

Applicable website: Travelling with your dog: import rules – Canadian Food Inspection Agency

To take a pet dog to Canada for leisure (i.e. non commercial purposes), you will most likely need to ensure that:

  1. you check whether you need to give advance notice of arrival to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), you can use the Automated Import Reference System;
  2. your dog has been vaccinated against rabies; and
  3. you have the appropriate documentation (i.e. acceptable pet passport, veterinary certificate and a letter from a the exporting country’s relevant competent government authority).

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) will inspect your documentation and dog on arrival. There may be additional requirements and/or fees resulting from this inspection.

The applicable website listed above has a great function that allows you to check the detailed rules applicable to the country that you are travelling from. Definitely worth looking at.

Travelling with your dog to the United States

Applicable websites:

  1. Bringing a Dog into the United States | Bringing an Animal into U.S. | Importation | CDC
  2. USDA APHIS | Bring your pet into the United States from a foreign country (Import)

In the US there are federal requirements, that apply to the whole of the US, and state specific requirements. It is important that you always double check the local rules for the US state that you are visiting

In general, to take a pet dog to the US for leisure, you will most likely need to ensure that:

  1. your dog ‘appears’ healthy;
  2. your dog doesn’t have screwworm and hasn’t come from a country with foot-and-mouth (further requirements apply if so);
  3. your dog has been vaccinated against rabies; and
  4. you have the appropriate documentation (i.e. rabies vaccination certificate).

This website has a drop down box in the ‘Additional State Requirements‘ that allows you to check the detailed rules applicable to the state that you are travelling from. Definitely worth looking at.

Travelling with your dog to New Zealand

Applicable website: Bringing pets into New Zealand | New Zealand Government (www.govt.nz)

To take a pet dog to New Zealand for leisure, you will most likely need to ensure that:

  1. you have engaged a professional pet exporter;
  2. your dog is eligible for entry and not on banned breed list (or a cross-species hybrid);
  3. you have the appropriate documentation (i.e. permits); and
  4. you have booked your pet into an approved quarantine facility for 10 days post arrival.

On entry to New Zealand you will have to submit your documents for review and pay applicable fees.

The New Zealand requirements are complicated. This is why they strongly recommend you engage a professional pet exporter to help ensure that you meet all the requirements. All documentation and guidance can be accessed through the applicable website link above including this detailed guidance document.

Travelling with your dog to Australia

Applicable website: Bringing cats and dogs to Australia – Department of Agriculture

The requirements vastly differ by export country group. You can only transport directly to Australia from a country in groups 1-3. Otherwise you will need to stop in an appropriate country prior to travelling to Australia (potentially for 6 months).

To take a pet dog to Australia from a country in groups 1-3 for leisure, you will most likely need to ensure that:

  1. your dog isn’t on the banned breed list or a cross-species hybrid;
  2. your dog has been microchipped;
  3. your dog has received all relevant vaccinations including, but not limited to, rabies;
  4. you send a blood sample for rabies testing (at least 180 days before travelling) and other ailments (within 45 days of travelling);
  5. your dog is not subject to quarantine restrictions at the time of export;
  6. your dog is not pregnant or a suckling puppy at the time of travel;
  7. your pet has completed the relevant internal and external parasite treatments;
  8. you have the appropriate documentation (i.e. permits and veterinary health certificates); and
  9. you have booked your pet into an approved quarantine facility for a minimum of 10 days post arrival.

Australia’s import requirements are extensive and specific. There are 20 steps in the guidance for group 3 countries. I strongly recommend that you read their detailed guidance and, if possible, speak with experienced Australian importers or pet travel agencies.

As mentioned above, you should research the local government guidance for the import and export country before travelling. This post aims to provide initial guidance and direct you to relevant further information. It is not legal advice.

General pet travel checklist - add requirements related to your trip
Checklist for taking your dog to the UK
Checklist for taking your dog to the EU

9 thoughts on “How to travel with your dog abroad

  1. We are always so hesitant to look into traveling overseas with Scarlett due to all the requirements. She’s been happy to road trip to Canada, but I think the plane noises would scare her! This is awesome information, I’ve pinned it to refer to it later.

    1. Glad you liked it. I started researching it because I am keen to take Sash abroad. I’m not sure whether taking her further than Europe would be worth it (or fair on her) for a short holiday.

  2. This is such a great post! I didn’t even know travelling with your dog was an option! πŸ™‚ Saving for future reference <3

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