What do I need to do to travel to Europe with my pet?
Nowadays it is common to travel with your pet. In airports and public transport hubs it is common to see whole families arriving and leaving for their holidays, or for other reasons, accompanied by their pets, without it causing them any inconvenience.
However, it is important to follow certain regulations that are established to make this process easier and safer for both the pets and their companions. Informing yourself well of the requirements established for the entry of animals into the country you want to visit will ensure that you have an enjoyable trip without any unpleasant surprises. This article will answer everything you need to know about the requirements of travelling to Europe with your pets.
Before you travel:
Of course, before buying a ticket, and even before planning your trip, several procedures need to be completed in your own country.
In order to take your pets to Europe, you need an official document stating the pet’s good health that is recognised by the pertinent authorities in the country that you wish to visit.
One of the most important tests for pets is the rabies antibodies test. This test must be performed at least one month after the pet was vaccinated against rabies and a maximum of three months before your trip.
In this case, you must take into account the age of the animal you want to take, since the rabies vaccination is normally given to pets over 12 weeks old as it has no effect on pups.
You should also remember that to visit countries like Norway, Finland, Malta, Ireland and the United Kingdom with your pet, it is compulsory to deworm it against Echinococcus within 1 to 5 days before travel.
Another requirement that you must take into account is that your pet must be identified with a microchip that fulfils the regulations of the country you are visiting. Your vet will be able to explain to you the requirements of the country in question.
It is best to start these procedures well in advance since, in the majority of cases, it can take some time to have everything done before your trip.
During your trip:
When your pet is ready for travel, you need to look into the flight requirements.
To make this process easier for you, below is a general outline of some of the things you need to take into account when travelling.
The first thing you need to do is to choose an airline that accepts pets. Not all airlines have a policy regarding pets, so you need to make sure that the one you choose is not too restrictive in this matter. An easy way to find out is to visit the company’s website or to call their customer service line and ask for the information.
When booking your flight, it is also important to bear in mind that many companies only allow two pets per flight.
In most cases, pet owners must pay extra for their companion, regardless of whether they travel in an area reserved for animals in the hold or in the cabin. The cost depends on their weight. For example, the majority of airlines that allow animals on board have a standard weight limit of between 8 and 10 kilogrammes, including both the animal and its carrier. The carrier must comply with specific measurements if your pet will be flying in the cabin with you. If your pet weighs more than the specified weight, it will spend the flight in an area of the hold specially allocated for this purpose. Since the airline will also have regulations regarding the size of the carrier going in the hold, it is important to read them carefully.
If it is stressful for a person to travel by plane, for pets it can be a traumatic experience and, for this reason, it is advisable to prepare them in advance so that the day can be as normal as possible. Those used to travelling with their pets try to get them used to being in different places by taking them on trips before the flight.
Another recommendation is to take them for a walk before the flight to release energy. Don’t feed them in the two hours previous to the flight, to avoid accidents during the flight and, most importantly, do not give your dog sedatives since they will not be in an adequate condition to pass through the security controls and this might complicate your journey.
Finally, I would like to recommend that you always travel with a lead or harness that your dog is used to and that you always have it to hand because there are many European cities that do not allow animals to walk without a lead, with the exception of in specific areas.
You should also make an effort to familiarise yourself with the local regulations in the country you are visiting, since they may differ from your country of residence.