Dreaming of taking your pooch to the Eiffel Tower where they can sniff all the beautiful French poodles? Perhaps you’re the adventurous type, looking to hit the ski slopes and play in the snow in Switzerland? To reach those doggy holiday dreams, you will need to get an animal health certificate. It used to be a pet passport but Brexit has changed the game.
Like a dog doing agility in Crufts, you’ll need to jump through a couple of hoops to make sure you have all the right documentation. But it’s as easy as learning to ‘sit’. In this article, we’re exploring all the information you need to know, including how to get a pet passport (now called Animal Health Certificate).
What is a Pet Passport?
A pet passport is an important legal document packed with information about you and your pooch. It contains date of birth, microchip number, vaccinations received, and a description of your dog (just in case they get lost and you need to contact the authorities).
All pet passports that have been issued in Great Britain prior to the 1st January 2021 are no longer valid for travel to EU countries or Northern Ireland. Instead, you’ll need to get an animal health certificate. This is a document that proves your dog is microchipped and vaccinated against rabies.
How To Prepare For An Animal Health Certificate?
Your dog will need to be at least 12 weeks old before they can travel. They will also need to be up-to-date with vaccinations and microchipped.
The easiest way to get started is to phone up your vet and tell them that you’re looking to get an Animal Health Certificate. They can tell you whether or not your dog is up-to-date with their vaccinations, and what they need to book you in to complete the process.
Your dog will need to have a rabies vaccination before you get your Animal Health Certificate. You will also need evidence that your pet has had a UK rabies vaccine within the past three years. Your dog may also require treatment for tapeworm depending on the requirements. If your dog is having updated or new vaccinations you will need to wait 21 days before your dog can travel, so bear this in mind.
How To Get An Animal Health Certificate?
Once you’ve ticked those boxes you’ll need to get an Animal Health Certificate (AHC). To get an AHC, book in an appointment with an ‘official veterinarian’. You will need to call your vet practice and ask if they have an ‘official veterinarian’ on site. ‘Official veterinarians’ hold appropriate certificates authorised by the Animal and Plant Health Agency. This means they can officially issue an AHC.
The next step to get your AHC is to take your dog to the vet no more than 10 days before you travel. When you visit your vet to get an AHC, you’ll need to take proof of your pet’s microchipping date and vaccination history. If you’re getting your AHC at your usual vet, they should already have that on the system, but it’s worth taking any extra bits of proof if you have it available.
Once you’ve had the stamp of approval from the vet, your animal health certificate will allow your dog entry to the EU or Northern Ireland. It’s valid for up to 10 days from the date it is issued. It will then last four months for any onward travel to other EU countries and for your return to GB. You’ll need a new AHC for each trip you want to make.
How About Travelling Outside Of The EU?
Different rules apply when travelling to a country outside the EU.
Instead of a Pet Passport or Animal Health Certificate you’ll need to get an Export Health Certificate (EHC). This will check whether or not your pet meets the health requirements of the country you’re visiting. Again it holds similar information to an AHC, including vaccination details, microchip etc.
Each country has its own EHC requirements, so always check the country you and your dog are travelling to beforehand to see exactly what the requirements are.
In addition to the EHC, you’ll also need to fill in an export application form. Before you go, you’ll go through a check-list with your vet to ensure you’ve got the right documents to travel. They will then sign, and your pup is ready to fly!
How Much Does An Animal Certificate Cost?
Vets can set their own fees for issuing pet passports so costs will vary. But as a rough idea, the entire process should cost around £180, that’s including consultation and includes reviewing & finalising all your documents. Any further vaccinations, microchipping or medications will incur additional charges.
How Long Will It Take To Get An Animal Health Certificate?
Give yourself as much time as possible before and during the process. The AHC is issued up to ten days before you travel. Planning is key, and our recommendation is to make use of those 10 days, rather than scrambling 24 hours before you travel. That way, if your dog requires further blood tests and additional treatments to comply with the country you’re visiting, you have time to book in those last minute appointments.
If your dog is having vaccinations, they will not be allowed to travel for at least 21 days. So realistically the process will take 1-2 months.
How to get from A to B?
Okay, you’ve got your animal health certificate, and you’re all clued up on the old pet passport! What next? It’s time to travel. France is just on the doorstep, but it’s also a gateway to some other beautiful dog friendly countries too.
The quickest and easiest way is to travel across the pond is on the Euroshuttle with your car. It takes 35 minutes so you can spend less time travelling and more time exploring. They even have dedicated areas with artificial grass and complimentary poop bags.
Sadly, the Eurostar (train) is a no go for our dogs – boo!
Perhaps your pup is a sea dog destined for the open waves? You and your pooch can take the ferry. Some boats have rules meaning your dog has to stay in your car during the crossing, while others offer dog friendly cabins and exercise areas. Your dog may be required to wear a muzzle in public areas. You can check out the different dog friendly sea and rail routes here.
Is your pooch an international jet-setter? We know how important it is for your pooch to travel safely and in comfort. There are some professional pet carriers out there who take care of all this for you, but it’s much cheaper to do it yourself. Everything you need to know about traveling with your beloved pet, from taking your dog on a plane, to airline carrier fees is available on the Sky Scanner website. We also recommend checking out this list of approved pet travel airline and airports.
Returning to the UK
Don’t forget this part! So many dogs end up stuck in quarantine because dog owners haven’t prepared for this in advance.
Before you pack your bags to go home, your globe-trotting hound will need to visit a local vet for tapeworm treatment, not less than 24 hours, and not more than five days before you enter the UK. They will also carry out a quick health check, to certify your pooch is in tip-top shape and sign your pup’s passport for the journey back.
We suggest you find a local vet at the beginning of your trip and book an appointment ahead of time. Before you board officials will check your pet’s paperwork and scan him to make sure his microchip ID matches the records.
Did You Travel On A Pet Passport?
Have you travelled abroad with your pooch before? Perhaps you’re itching to travel with your canine companion on the new Animal Health Certificate? Share your travel stories with us in the comments below.