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Pet travel: how to travel with a dog or cat

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Cats and dogs can travel with you on planes and trains. But you need to check in advance what the travel provider's requirements are.

If you're going abroad your pet should be covered under the UK Pet Travel Scheme (PETS). Your pet also needs a rabies vaccination and an Animal Health Certificate (AHC) or Export Health Certificate (EHC). This has details of your pet's microchip, vaccinations and tapeworm treatment details. Here's what else you need.

Black and white cat sitting on a packed suitcase lying on a double bed

If you're travelling to the EU, your pet needs to be over 15 weeks old, your pet also needs:

  • A microchip.
  • An Animal Health Certificate (AHC) or pet passport - you need to get this 10 days before you enter the EU. You can get an AHC from your vet.
  • A valid rabies vaccination - you need to wait for 21 days after your pet is vaccinated to travel. Your proof of the vaccine will be on your pet passport or your animal health certificate. Your pet will also need to be at least 12 weeks old to get this.
  • Tapeworm treatment
  • Treatment for fleas and ticks 48 hours before and after travelling abroad if required.

If you're travelling outside the EU with your pet you need:

  • An Export Health Certificate - this certifies that your pet meets the health requirements of the country you're visiting. You need to apply for an EHC.
  • An Export Application form (EXA) if you’re travelling from England, Scotland or Wales.

It's not mandatory but it's worth checking whether any existing pet insurance you have in place covers your pet for travelling abroad. Depending on the policy, it might be included as standard or come as an extra with additional costs.

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Yes, if your airline allows you should be able to fly with it as cargo. On the return journey you have to fly with the dog as cargo as this is a legal requirement by the government.

PetAir UK work with British Airways and other major airlines. You can contact them to see how much it would cost to fly your pet abroad with you. If you're travelling back to the UK you can contact IAG Cargo. Both of these organisations can facilitate flying with your pet.

There are guidelines on the size and type of carrier animals should travel in and only 1 pet is allowed in a carrier.

There are also size and weight restrictions on the animal. Check with your airline to see what size carrier you need. You might also need to pay a fee for your pet but this is usually dependent on its size.

The only dogs allowed in the cabin on most flights are registered assistance dogs. There's a full list of airlines and their requirements on the GOV.UK website.

If you're taking the train with your pet in the UK, there are rules you need to follow.

Before you go, check with the train company you're travelling with. In general, the following rules apply:

  • Each passenger can take up to 2 dogs (or small animals)
  • Dogs need to be kept on leads unless they're in a carrier
  • Carriers need to be a maximum size of 85cm x 60cm x 60cm
  • Pets can't annoy other passengers (if they do you may have to leave the train), or sit on seats
  • You can't take animals into dining areas, unless they're assistance dogs

Travelling with your pet abroad by train

You're not allowed to take pets on the Eurostar. The only exception guide dogs and assistance dogs.

If you're already abroad with your pet, you have to check the country's policy on travelling with pets by train. Most allow dogs and cats but there are rules on:

  • The size of the animal
  • How many you're travelling with
  • Where on the train they are allowed to go

You need to make sure your pet's vaccinations are up-to-date and that you have all the required paperwork.

For more information on how to prepare your pet to travel see the Dogs Trust guide.

One of the easiest ways to travel with your pet is in the car, this also takes preparation. For example, pets need to be strapped in or restrained properly when travelling.

You also want your pet to be as comfortable as possible. The following could help make your pet's journey a little easier:

  • Taking regular breaks
  • Making sure pets have plenty of water
  • Avoiding giving them food immediately before a journey
  • Making sure they're travelling in a comfortable temperature

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