Need to know how to get a dog passport for your canine companion? Read on to learn more about the documents your pup requires for a smooth journey.
We all need the proper documentation on hand to travel through borders. Dogs aren’t exempt — no matter how adorable a face they’re able to pull at border control.
Different countries have different requirements for entry, so the first thing to do is check the precise details of the destinations you’re travelling to.
In this article, we’ll take you through the documentation necessary for your dog to enter the UK, as well as what they might need to travel to other countries.
Do dogs need a passport?
The short answer is yes. If they’re travelling internationally, dogs need paperwork that outlines:
- Who their owner is
- What they (the dog, not the owner) looks like
- Their healthcare information, including their vaccination record
Most countries, including the UK, require a vaccination record that shows:
- Your dog’s name and date of birth
- Information about their microchip, including when it was put in and where it is on your pet’s body
- Date of vaccination
- Date vaccination is valid until
- Vaccination manufacturer, product number and batch number
- Details of your dog’s vet, including their signature and contact details
This goes for both pets and assistance dogs.
The main reason for these rules is to stop diseases like rabies from spreading across borders, so while it may mean a bit of extra legwork for you, it’s an important way to keep animals and humans safe.
If you don’t follow the rules, your dog may be put into quarantine for up to four months or even be refused entry into your destination country.
It’s vital that you check to see what travel documents are necessary for the country you’re travelling to ahead of time. That way, you’ll be able to get everything in order, and won’t have a last-minute rush just before you depart.
It’s also important that you travel with original documents and not photocopies, and that you check with your carrier to see that they’re happy to take your pet on board.
Some countries accept a pet passport, which can be used multiple times until it expires. Others require a certificate that’s only valid for one trip.
Dog travel documents to enter the UK
If your dog is coming to the UK or re-entering after a trip abroad, they will generally need to be:
- Vaccinated with their primary vaccines and boosters
- Vaccinated against rabies. This can only happen once your dog is 12 weeks old, so if you’re travelling with a tiny pup, it’s important to factor this into your planning. If they’re older, they must have also received any booster shots that are due.
Some countries also require your pet to be treated for tapeworm.
Your dog will need to have all this documented and issued by an official veterinarian (sometimes referred to as an OV) who is authorised to provide this paperwork. Check in with your vet to see if they can perform this service. If not, they should be able to recommend a professional who can. If you’re stuck, you can contact the Animal and Plant Health Agency for a recommendation.
The requirements to enter the UK depend on where you’re coming from. Countries are divided into three categories: “Part 1”, “Part 2”, and “not listed”. Each of these groups has a different set of rules, so it’s important to check which one is relevant to you. You can do so here.
(The good news is that if you’re travelling from Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man, you will not need special documents for your pet.)
We’ll take you through the different types of documents so you can see what you need.
A pet passport
Pet passports are official documents issued by an authorised vet that allow domestic animals to enter the UK from specific countries. With a passport in hand, they won’t have to quarantine beforehand, as long as they meet all the health requirements of that country.
A pet passport will include information about your pet’s identity, as well as their vaccination and health history.
You can either have a pet passport issued in the UK or from one of the Part 1 countries. These documents are valid for life, but you may need to get your dog a new one if theirs is full.
It’s your responsibility to ensure that all of your dog’s vaccinations and boosters are up to date and recorded in their passport.
A pet passport will allow your dog to enter the UK if:
- You’re travelling from an EU country or any of the Part 1 countries
- The passport was issued in the UK before 1 January 2021
A Great Britain pet health certificate
If you’re travelling from a country not on the Part 1 country list, ask your vet to fill out a pet health certificate. You can download it here.
It’s important that you enter the UK within 10 days of the certificate being issued.
If you’re travelling from certain countries, you may have to meet additional requirements to prevent diseases from spreading across borders. If you’re coming from Peninsular Malaysia, for example, you will need a certificate from the government veterinary health services that shows your pet has not come into contact with Nipah disease.
A note about about the Balai rules
If the dog you bring into the UK is a “commercial import”, you will have to follow Balai rules. This directive states that animals being imported into the UK must meet the legal conditions and can only be exported from a premise that’s registered and approved.
Your dog may be considered a commercial import if you’re bringing them to the UK to be:
- Transferred to new ownership
It’s important to note that this applies to rescue pets, too.
If you’re bringing more than five of your pets into the UK, or if you can’t travel five days before or after their arrival to accompany them, they are also considered commercial imports.
There are also additional rules if you commercially import dogs from Poland, Romania, Belarus, or Ukraine. If this is the case, you must apply for Approved Importer status, which you can do here.
Dog travel documents to enter other countries
If you’re travelling abroad, make sure to check the specific regulations of the country you’re going to.
The EU and Northern Ireland no longer accept pet passports issued in the UK. Instead, they require that you travel with an Animal Health Certificate (AHC) and show proof of having your pet microchipped and vaccinated against rabies. This has been in effect since January 2021.
It’s valid for one trip, so it needs to be reissued if you travel multiple times with your dog in tow.
From the date of issue, your dog has 10 days to enter the EU or Northern Ireland. It will then be valid for four months for travel within the EU and re-entry into the UK.
The certificate should also be issued by a vet who is authorised to do so and includes details of:
- The owner
- The dog
- The country of entry in the EU (not your final destination)
- Rabies vaccinations and blood tests, if required
- Tapeworm treatment, if travelling to Finland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Norway and Malta
You’ll have to wait 21 days after a rabies vaccination before you can get the certificate issued. It’s important to factor that time period into your travel preparations if you need to.
If you’re travelling outside the EU, you may need other supporting documentation.
How do I get a UK dog passport?
Next question: how do you get a dog passport?
Here are the steps you should follow:
- STEP 1: Start the process as early as possible so you don’t run into delays.
- STEP 2: Find out the specific requirements of the country you’re travelling to. Is a pet passport sufficient, or do they require an Animal Health Certificate, for example?
- STEP 3: Contact your vet. Ask them if they’re authorised to provide the documentation you need. If they aren’t, they should be able to point you to a vet who can, or you can get in touch with the Animal and Plant Health Agency.
- STEP 4: When you visit your vet, take all proof of your dog’s vaccination history and microchipping date. Also, take your dog!
How much is a dog passport UK?
There are several factors to consider when pricing out the cost of a dog passport or health certificate, including the requirements of your specific destination, your vet’s fee, and the particular treatments your dog may need.
To give you an idea, an Animal Health Certificate issued by the Royal Veterinary College currently costs £180. This includes the vet’s time and the cost of processing the documents. Any vaccines, treatments or microchips you need on top of that will cost extra. So, you could be looking in the region of a few hundred pounds, depending on your exact needs.
How long does it take to get a dog passport?
Pet passports and certificates can be turned around in 24 hours if you can find an authorised vet who will issue the paperwork in that time. (Note that there are time constraints once certificates are issued — you have to enter the EU within 10 days of issue, for example.)
Some factors might cause delays. If your dog needs to get a rabies vaccination, you’ll have to wait 21 days before you can get your certificate.
Once you know where you are travelling to and when, contact your vet as soon as you can to get the process underway.
Dogs, like humans, need the right documentation to travel across borders. For dogs entering the UK, this means either a:
- Pet passport
- Health certificate
Each of these documents outlines details of their ownership, what they look like, and the healthcare they have received. The kind of documentation your dog needs will depend on the country you’re travelling to and from.
If you are going abroad, find out ahead of time what documentation you require. The sooner you get started on the process, the less stressful it will be.