Yes, you can take your dog with you, but in all Nick Brown’s and MAFF ‘s negotiations, they overlooked the fact that  British paperwork might not conform with European countries’ requirements. So what will get your pet in and out of Britain, might not necessarily be what the authorities want in Spain or Switzerland.  

Most countries are demanding an Export Health Certificate (EHC) issued free by your local MAFF office - but allow seven days for paperwork. Some want a General Health Certificate (GHC) issued by your Vet. within seven days of travel (there will be a charge for this). If Certificates need translation your local Chamber of Commerce will have details of officially approved translators.

Travel can be stressful for a dog, and even more so for a puppy. If you have to take a puppy different countries apply different regulations. Ask the appropriate authorities. 

However, as the scheme gets under way hopefully countries will get together and rationalise the paperwork; already this seems to be happening with some countries. MAFF say Gibraltar needs the EHC and an import permit, but talking to their Tourist Office in London they say that UK documentation may soon be all that is needed. 

To make things easier for readers,  country-by-country guidelines show what countries need NOW. Before travelling we strongly advise you to check with the Embassy, National Tourist Office or your Travel Agent to confirm what documents are required. Hopefully there will soon be a ‘Pet’s Passport’ similar to a human one.

Most countries will need :-                                                          

Official Documentation showing

  •         name and address of owner

  •         number of microchip (tattoos not accepted)

  •         description of animal (breed, sex, age, colour, identification marks)

  •         exact date of vaccination against rabies

  •         results of laboratory blood test

  •         registered trade mark of officially approved serum

  •         name of manufacturer of the serum and batch number

and you MUST have this to be allowed back into Britain. If you have mislaid this your pet will be put into quarantine on arrival back in Britain, until you have produced the approved paperwork.

Although all countries will want to see original documents, make two photo-copies of all documents (yours and your pets); leave one at home with a responsible person, and carry the other set in a safe place away from the originals. So if documents are stolen, you have two back-up systems. 

N. B. Take your dog’s Certificate with details of current vaccination against leptospirosis and canine distemper, as some countries ask for this.    

European dog owners happily travel across frontiers with no problems. Most say their dogs papers are never checked, but they probably speak the language. There is always the Customs official who wants to make an example, so we suggest crossing at the type of frontier with lots of trucks going through, where there should be English speaking officials. At first small frontiers might not have seen British paperwork, and this could delay matters whilst they phone or fax their superiors. If you do find you are held up, golden rule is to back-track, find the next frontier and try there.

Most countries will accept one or two dogs or cats - but if you are going to take in more please ask the appropriate Embassy for information on paperwork needed. e.g. Switzerland says a border veterinary inspection is required for more than three animals imported together, but most countries make exceptions for teams of sled dogs.  

Andorra - requirements same as France and Spain

Austria - Maximum 3 animals per person. Veterinary Certificate should be in German or have translation attached. Exemptions are made for authorities e.g. rescue dogs, and puppies under 10 weeks.

Belgium - General Health Certificate from your Vet obtained not more than seven days before travelling. You may be asked to produce evidence of vaccination at camping and caravan sites.

Denmark - only need UK paperwork

Finland - UK documentation OK

France - Want Export Health Certificate. You may be asked to produce evidence of vaccination at camping and caravan sites. There has been some talk of Tattoos. Currently the French are reviewing the official requirement to tattoo resident dogs, Petplanet was told that this only applies to dogs in France for over a month, and deemed to reside there. Anyway, it is expected that tattoos will soon no longer be required.

Germany - Dogs must wear a tax mark or collar badge stating name and address of owner. Maximum 3 dogs or bitch and litter. Import permit needed for larger number. Do watch strange dogs if you are near the eastern or southern frontiers, as officials estimate a substantial amount of dogs may be smuggled through from countries with rabies.

Gibraltar - UK documentation and they currently ask for Export Health Certificate and Import Certificate. However, this may change soon.

Greece - Dogs over 6 months need a General Health Certificate from your Vet obtained no more than seven days before travelling and Export Health Certificate. British Embassy in Athens says 'it has been suggested to us that controls are not routinely enforced at borders'. Therefore beware strange dogs in case they might carry rabies.

Iceland - Export Health Certificate and import permit issued by Icelandic authorities (phone 020 7904 6347 for details)

Italy - Export Health Certificate. Vaccination must have been within last eleven months.

Liechtenstein - see Switzerland

Luxembourg - Same as UK (some airlines may ask for Health Certificate issued by a Veterinary surgeon seven days before)

Monaco - see France

Netherlands - Health Certificate with full description of animal from local Vet and Export Health Certificate.

Norway - (not Spitzbergen_ - EHC and Health Certificate from Vet (valid for maximum of 10 days), plus annual vaccination certificate against leptospirosis and canine distemper. If you have an animal that might be mistaken for one of a fighting breed, take documents that detail its pedigree. Incidentally you can't take Bengal cats into Norway. The only dogs that don't need documents are Herd dogs used to control the reindeer herds that roam Scandinavia.

Portugal - Export Health Certificate

San Marino - see Italy

Spain - (including Canaries but not Ceuta and Melilla) - need Export Health Certificate.

Sweden - Dogs or cats must have been resident in EU or EEA country for at least one year. Currently authorities ask for Export Health Certificate and separate import permit, especially if you are showing dogs - cost 400 kroner approx. £40 and each permit covers up to ten dogs. Plus confirmation that the dog has been de-wormed within previous ten days. However, this may not apply to UK residents.

Switzerland - Export Health Certificate. Certificate must be written in English (or German, French or Italian) or have a notarised translation. And if your dog has cut ears or cropped tail, the Swiss don't like this - but will allow foreign owners to bring such pets into the country. If you want to bring in a large quantity of dog meat ask for import regulations.

Vatican -  see Italy

If you have to make a long journey across Europe with your pet, perhaps to Vienna, Portugal, Greece or Finland, you could save several day’s travelling by going across the Channel by car, driving to Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris or Brussels Airport, and leaving you car there whilst you fly on to your destination.

As an airline, Air France are very dog-friendly. They even allow dogs weighing under 5 kilos (around 11 lbs) to travel in an appropriate container inside the passenger cabin. Larger dogs travel, as usual, in heated holds. For more information 020 8759 2311.

At Swiss airports you have to be careful not to step on all the dogs also waiting patiently to check-in. Travelling with your dog, or cat, is a regular occurrence, and Swissair are also very dog-friendly. Dogs have to travel in the hold, but they are well-cared for. Now that Swissair have formed an alliance with Sabena (the Belgian Airline) you can check in to Brussels Airport. Swissair 0845 601 0956.

If travelling to other countries, including the USA, dogs will still have to be quarantined on their return.

And when you return, Passports for Pets would like to hear how you and your pet got on. Please obtain one of their forms, fill it in and fax back to 0208 870 9223 or send to 20, Seymour Road, London SW18 5JA. Having campaigned successfully for pet’s passports, Lady Fretwell and her team want to monitor how things are going. If you have had a happy holiday with your pet, why not enclose a donation to help towards the funds of Passports for Pets?

Bon Voyage

More details from Pet’s Helpline 0870 241 1710

MAFF are looking at Cyprus as the next possible country to be admitted into the scheme.