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Travelling abroad can be an incredible adventure: new sites, tastes and cultures to explore, as well as fantastic opportunities to take the next step in your career.

Unfortunately, it can also be stressful. You cannot just hop to a new country without planning for how long you are staying for, what you will be doing once there and what you need to take with you, or you could encounter serious difficulties once you arrive.

This is doubly true if you want to take any pets with you. The thought of going abroad without your furry friends may be unthinkable. However, you will need to take the time to make sure that they are fit for travel, with all of the necessary paperwork and vaccinations along with safe transportation for the journey itself.

When it comes to travelling abroad, you cannot leave anything to chance (we have a handy Moving Abroad Checklist here). Here’s what you’ll need to take into account when taking your pet to a new country.

Travelling with pets from the UK

As friendly as your pet might be, a cute face won’t be enough to get it through customs. While planning your trip, it will be crucial for you to investigate exactly what hoops your pet will need to jump through in order to be allowed to enter your destination country.

Start by speaking with your vet. They should be familiar with the requirements for your pet based on your destination. They should also be able to arrange any necessary vaccinations on your behalf, as well as microchipping.

If your destination is outside of your vet’s expertise, it will be a good idea to contact the nearest embassy for your destination country. You should be able to find contact information online, and you may even have a location nearby to drop in on. Make clear when you are travelling, for what purpose and what type of pet you want to bring with you, then ask them to clarify the requirements.

It will also be a good idea to check the exact regulations for your chosen travel company. Rules can vary significantly between different airlines, ferry providers, railway services and so on, so do not take any chances!

Travelling abroad with dogs or cats

Luckily for you, you’re not the first person to want to travel abroad with pets! There are regulations in place to help guide you in planning out your trip, though it will still be crucial to give yourself enough time to organise everything before your moving day.

Start by familiarising yourself with the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS). Administered by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), it allows pet owners from the UK to take dogs or cats to specific countries without having to put them in quarantine. This can make the trip far less stressful for both you and your fuzzy friend, though you will need to make sure that it applies to your destination country first. You can do this by getting in touch with DEFRA yourself.

You should also think carefully about how you intend to travel with your pet. With dogs and cats,  the most convenient way of travelling is usually by car. You can even do this when going via ferry or train. However, when using a ferry company or Eurostar, you may have to pay extra costs for taking a pet with you. Certain companies may also require you to muzzle your pet, keep them in designated areas or even keep them locked in your car (in which case you may need to stay with them in order to make sure they are safe and comfortable).

Travelling by air will easily be the most convenient option for you. However, airlines will also have strict rules about how pets can be transported. Make sure that you use an appropriate container, and check to see if any specific vaccinations or paperwork will be required on the day. Again, the rules can vary significantly – some airlines even refuse to transport pets, though they sometimes make exceptions for service animals.

Bringing animals to…

Unfortunately, different countries can have widely different rules for importing pets. You should give yourself ample time to find out your exact requirements, especially if you are planning to travel to a country with strict import policies. In these cases, taking your furry friend along could require months of preparation!

Bringing animals to the USA or Canada

The UK is classed as a rabies-free country by the United States and Canada. As such, you should not face too many problems bringing your pet along for your trip.

There will still be prep work, however. For one, your pet will need to be microchipped, typically with an ISO 11784 compliant 15-digit pet model. Once this is done, you will need to arrange a rabies vaccination. You will be required to do this at least 30 days before the pet arrives at your destination.

If your pet arrives in America without the correct vaccinations, you will be asked to sign a ‘confinement agreement’. This will require you to keep your pet away from any other animals until at least 30 days have passed since the vaccination. Canada will not usually require any kind of quarantine for your pet unless they are showing any obvious signs of illness.

Keep in mind that within the USA and Canada, rules can also vary between different states and locales, so be sure to check this ahead of time!

Bringing animals to Europe

Travelling with pets to Europe can be surprisingly simple. In fact, it’s almost as easy for pets to travel in Europe as it is for people, even with Brexit on the horizon.

The first step will be to apply for a European Pet Passport. For this, your pet will require an ISO 11784 compliant 15-digit pet microchip. The unique microchip number should appear on the Pet Passport, as well as any vaccination certificates. Once the microchip is installed, you will need to arrange an up-to-date rabies vaccination, along with a tapeworm vaccination if your pet is a dog.

Once the rabies vaccination is administered, you will need to wait at least 21 days before travelling.

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Bringing animals to Australia

Sadly, Australia has had quite a few instances in the past where foreign animal and plant species caused havoc with the local environment. As such, the country takes a huge amount of care in deciding when pets can be imported.

For example, dogs and cats will need their rabies vaccinations at least eight months before travelling to Australia. They will also require a Rabies Neutralising Antibody Titre Test (RNATT), after which they will need to wait for 180 days before entering the country.

Also, in addition to an updated microchip, dogs will also require tick checks, as well as treatments against Ehrlicia, Leishmaniosis, Brucellosis and more!

Once they are disease free, you will also need to apply for an Australian Import Permit for your pet. Finally, they will need to be placed in quarantine once they arrive.

In short, travelling with pets to Australia can require a huge amount of planning. Generally speaking, it is best to start arranging everything at least a year in advance.

Moving? Don't Panic!
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