If you don’t follow me on Instagram and haven’t read my 2020 review (I know, how could I even doubt that), you might be not know that back in October we finally got ourselves a little dachshund puppy. Frank is an absolute amazing clever little dog (obviously my completely unbiased opinion here) and we are completely head over heels in love with him. I mean who wouldn’t be, just take one look at those puppy eyes and wrinkly legs. But since we love to travel and back then were still planning on seeing the family in Germany for Christmas, we had to ensure we had everything needed for taking a dog abroad post Brexit.
Travelling with dogs between the UK and the rest of Europe has always been different, not just since Brexit. With the UK being a rabies free country, they are very protective when it comes to travelling with dogs and other pets.
When we were kids, we wouldn’t dream of taking our dog to England, as it would have meant months of quarantine for the poor thing. Not worth it for a two-week holiday obviously.
However, some years back those rules were changed, and pets were allowed to travel in and out of the UK, provided they met certain criteria.
Preparing for travelling with our dog in 2020
Although Brexit already happened in January 2020, the rest of that year was considered a transition period. Meaning that the rules for taking our dog abroad post Brexit hadn’t really changed yet.
So, when Frank moved in with us back in October, we immediately checked what requirements we needed to fulfil to travel to mainland Europe with a dog.
For a dog to travel between the UK and mainland Europe until the end of 2020, they needed to be microchipped, vaccinated against rabies and have an EU passport issued. And then have a vet administered tapeworm treatment between 24 and 120 hours (between 1 and 5 days) before re-entering the UK. All in all, fairly straight forward.
As Frank was already chipped when we got him, we booked him in for his rabies vaccination for the moment he’d turn 12 weeks (the earliest dogs can be vaccinated against rabies) and had an EU passport issued for him. With a good £100 (for both the vaccination and the passport) a rather costly exercise, especially considering that the passport potentially would be useless in 2021 when taking our dog abroad post Brexit. It was all a rather tight schedule, as we would need to allow at least 21 days for the vaccination to be effective. But in order to go and see our families in Germany for Christmas, this was the price to pay (also, our relatives were eager to meet the puppy in real life, so no way could we leave him behind when travelling). We would just need to ensure we were back in the UK by the 31st December. As back in October and November, no agreement was reached yet how travel rules for pets would change from 2021 onwards. Needless to say, we wouldn’t want to risk being stuck at a border when taking our dog abroad post Brexit.
Possible travel requirements for taking a dog abroad post Brexit
Although we were all set for travelling with our dog between the UK and Europe before the end of 2020, we ended up staying in the UK for Christmas. Not hard to guess why, given the travel situation everywhere. But in order to be prepared for taking our dog abroad post Brexit as soon as possible in 2021 (once it will eventually be allowed and safe again to do so again), we looked into the possible travel requirements listed on the Gov.uk website. As the post Brexit deal between the UK and EU wasn’t agreed until the last minute, the Government urged everyone planning on taking their dog abroad post Brexit to prepare for the worst possible outcome, the UK becoming an unlisted third country. If that were the case, come 1st January, we would no longer be able to travel with the UK issued EU passport for our dog. We would still need him to be microchipped and vaccinated against rabies, but in addition, he would need a blood test 30 days after the vaccination to check he had sufficient antibodies for rabies. And if they were sufficient, he would be issued a certificate, which then needed to be at least 3 months old before travelling. But at least, once this certificate was issued, we would have been able to travel with Frank between the UK and mainland Europe whenever we liked, as long as we kept up with his rabies vaccination.
Another trip to the vet for Frank’s blood test 30 days after his initial rabies vaccination (he was due his last set of other vaccines anyway, so we were able to combine it with that next trip). As this was the week before Christmas, we knew that if we weren’t going to make it to Germany for Christmas, it would be at least until the middle of March before Frank could travel… assuming these rules wouldn’t change.
We paid another 150GBP for the blood test and certificate. More money spent without a guarantee that this would actually be needed for taking our dog abroad post Brexit.
Documents for taking a dog abroad post Brexit
Eventually the UK and EU came to an agreement. At the eleventh hour so to speak, but at long last we had certainty what documents we would need travelling to Europe with our dog. The UK was given listed part two country status.
So, in order to travel with a dog to Europe, it would still need to be microchipped and vaccinated against rabies. And it would still need the tapeworm treatment coming back. No change there.
However, any UK issued EU passport unfortunately is no longer valid from 1st January 2021. Instead, all dogs and other pets will need an AHC (Animal Health Certificate), confirming that they are microchipped and vaccinated against rabies.
We will need to get this AHC from a vet when we want to travel to Europe with Frank.
The Animal Health Certificate is valid for 10 days for leaving the UK and then up to four months for returning. And we will need a new AHC every time we want to travel again (even if it were within those initial four months). And now for the ‘best’ bit. This AHC will cost us around 100GBP every single time. Effing great. Actually, 100GBP was just an estimate given at the beginning of 2021. Now that we are finally ready to actually go abroad, it turned out that our vet actually charges 175GBP for it… oh the fun and joy of taking our dog abroad post Brexit.
If you are travelling from the EU to the UK and back, you can however still travel with an EU passport. Not a problem.
How to travel with a dog from UK to Europe
Having the correct travel documents for your pet is only part of the journey when taking a dog abroad post Brexit. As Great Britain is an island, getting to Europe always requires some planning. Since you can’t simply cross the border into France. You will always require some form of transport to get you across the Channel. When it comes to travelling with a dog post Brexit (well, actually pre- and post-Brexit really), the options are limited.
Flying with a dog is more or less out of the aquation, as you are not allowed to take your dog (cat or other pet) into the cabin with you. What is perfectly acceptable when flying within mainland Europe (I remember sitting next to a lady with a dog in her handbag on a domestic flight in France a while back), is unfortunately not an option when flying in and out of the UK. Instead, your dog would need to go into the luggage hold. Not something I am keen on trying anytime soon.
Unfortunately, taking the Eurostar isn’t an option either. The Eurostar from London to Paris (or to any of the other European destinations) does not allow pets on board.
Which means you are pretty much left with driving as your only option, when taking your dog abroad post Brexit.
To be honest, for your pet taking the car is probably the comfiest option anyway.
When taking the short ferry trips across the Channel, the dog will need to stay in the car for the duration of the journey. However, there are dog exercising areas in the port, so that the dog can have a quick run around before boarding the ferry. And you are able to go down and visit your pet during the crossing if need be, as long as you are accompanied by a crew member.
On the longer ferry routes (like Portsmouth to Cherbourg or St. Malo for example), there might be kennels available for your dog or even dog-friendly cabins. So, it is definitely worth checking the available options before booking your ferry crossing.
Alternatively, you can obviously take the Euroshuttle instead of the ferry (this was the option we had originally booked for our Christmas trip). Dogs stay in the car with you.
All these options (ferry and Euroshuttle) come with additional charges when travelling with your dog (around 15-20 GBP each way for the ferry or Euroshuttle, a little more when booking a kennel for your dog).
You see, taking your dog abroad post Brexit isn’t an easy thing to do. It requires planning and will set you back quite a bit of money. But would you still consider doing it regardless? Truth to be told, I think Frank will still come to Europe with us. Maybe not for each trip, but surely every now and then to see the family.
Have you ever taken your dog on holiday?