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Travelling with your Dog

Travelling overseas with your dog

Missing your dog? I never do, because she always comes with me, and now it has become so much easier to take your best friend on holiday with you. Most dog owners in the UK will have taken their dog with them on a self-catering, or even hotel break, in the UK, but why not take them with you when you travel further afield? Everything is getting easier all the time.Breezy & our boat in Greece

So what are the advantages?

  1. Save on kennel fees.
  2. No more worrying about your dog.
  3. More exercise and fun on holiday!

So how easy is it to take your dog with you? Most people who take their dog on holiday will choose to drive. If you take your dog to our closest EU countries of France, Belgium, Germany, Holland, or Spain, it is the best option. Most dogs are familiar with their own car, and they are relaxed to travel with you. First step is to obtain a Pet Passport.

This is done in 3 steps.

  1. Visit your vets and get the dog micro chipped, (if not already done.) Then ask the vet for a rabies jab and a Pet Passport. In my local vets, it costs £26.59 for a Pet Passport examination and issue, and the rabies vaccine costs £41.68.
  2. Wait for 3 weeks, or 21 days, and your pet is now ready to travel to any EU country, and most importantly, to return to the UK. If you want to visit a country outside the EU, then a blood test must be done 30 days after the initial jab. But for most of us, it won't be necessary as we will be going to France, or Spain, anywhere within a few days driving. How simple is that! 
  3. Ah, you ask, it sounds easy, but what about coming back? Well, on the return journey you have to take your dog to a vet, at least 24 hours before you return, and not more than 5 days, or 120 hours before you return to the UK. Then the vet has to give your dog a worm tablet. He stamps the passport, with the date, time and make of tablet, and then you are ready to come home.

Ferry & Tunnel

We have taken our dogs out of the country quite a few times now, travelling to Spain, Portugal and Greece. We have used many different carriers. They generally all follow the same procedure. As you drive up to your departure ferry port, they will check the microchip of the dog against the Passport, often passing you the scanner, so that you can scan your dog yourself. Then off you go, providing your tickets and passport are correct! They will put a sticker identifying your vehicle as having a pet in it. Once you are on the ferry, you are not allowed to go down to the dog when you have left the ferry garage. Most dogs settle down, the noise of the engines is a dull background sound for them. They generally sleep. Make sure your dog has adequate water, and familiar bedding. On some longer routes, like the Brittany Ferry's' one to Santander from Plymouth, they do have pet friendly cabins, and kennels on board. There is a great demand for these, so book early!

Travelling through the tunnel they follow the same routine. They check the dog in at the booth in Folkestone when you arrive at the Eurotunnel check-in. There are no controls when you reach the other side. On return to the UK via the tunnel, there is a dedicated check in area for dogs, where they will check the chips, passports, making sure that you have been to a vet to get the passport stamped confirming the dose of a worm tablet, in the right time scale. We found them friendly and helpful. It really is that straightforward!

If you just want to go to France for a day, you can get your own vet to administer the worm tablet, and stamp the passport, before you leave, as long as it is 24 hours before you will be returning.

Flying your Dog

When we sailed our boat to Greece, we started off in Portugal, where we had left the boat the previous winter. It would have been not have been sensible to leave a vehicle in Portugal when we were going to Greece, so we decided to fly our dog down, on a one way flight. Flying with your dog

I found it very easy to arrange the flight, we flew with Monarch (0845 680 9002). from Heathrow to Faro in Portugal. We booked the dog in with their very helpful animal cargo department. They supplied the cage as part of the ticket price, and we got her used to it for some weeks before her flight, we put it in the back of the car, so she associated it with going for walks and outings. Soon she was completely relaxed in it. The dog must be able to stand up and turn around in the cage. Breezy is a Doberman, who weighed 30 kilos at that point, when she was eighteen months old. We had to get a letter from our vet before we left to say that she was fit to fly.

Will my dog be OK?

As any dog owner I was worried about leaving her in the vastness of Heathrow Airport. I had visions of her being lost somewhere in the enormous metropolis of the airport, but I need not have fretted. As soon as we arrived at the animal reception centre, the staff were very helpful, relaxed with the dog, and professional. They soon reassured both me, and Breezy. They photocopied her paperwork, attached labels to the crate, and gave us an airways bill. We watched from the waiting lounge in the terminal as she was loaded onto the plane, and we could see the staff talking to her, it was easy to see that she was relaxed. On arrival at Faro, we went to the cargo area, a short drive from the main terminal. She was in her crate, fast asleep. As soon as we woke her she ran around, just as if she had been in the back of the car for a few hours. She seemed completely oblivious to her journey. Any crate you use must be airline approved if you wanted to buy your own. You should travel on the same flight if possible.


  1. Quick and easy
  2. Adds days to your holiday.


  1. It is VERY expensive! Our flights cost £99, Breezy's cost £650 one way, including the crate!
  2. Nervous, or dogs that suffer from separation anxiety, could get stressed. 
  3. Your dog must be used to being in a crate, and be relaxed in it. 


Flying your dog back into the UK


You must visit a vet in the same time period, 120 hours to 24 hours, before you fly. You will need to get the tapeworm tablet, again recorded by the vet in the Pets Passport. You may need a letter stating that the animal is fit to fly. Each airport is different and you will need to check with your airline for each journey. They will tell you the procedure for delivering your dog to the terminal.

HARC at the animal reception centre in Heathrow are responsible for collecting your dog from the plane. It can take up to an hour for them to get to the centre, where they will be cared for by the staff, who make sure they have fresh water etc. You have to take photographic id, the dogs lead and collar, and the airway bill, which the airline will have given you. Once the paperwork has been checked, your dog will be ready to leave.

So now all you have to do is start packing...oh and if you choose to fly, you'd better start saving as well....


Eleanor Smith

Eleanor Smith lives in Weymouth, Dorset, and has a Doberman, Breezy,  3.  Eleanor spends part of the year living on a yacht, sailing from Scotland , to the Mediterranean with her dog and her husband.  She has taken her dog to many different countries,  and Breezy has sailed 6000 miles so far!

Eleanor Smith

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