It’s a common misconception that it’s either impossible, or a huge hassle or expense to move abroad with your pet. We’ve even heard people say they can’t possibly make the move until their beloved furry friend has moved on to pet heaven! Many other people are under the impression that all pets must be quarantined for six months when they arrive in a new country. Or, that that their beloved fluff ball will be exposed to horrors such as rabies or leishmaniasis.
While risks of exposure are a possibility you need to prepare for, it’s now relatively easy and inexpensive to move abroad with your pet. Today we’re running through how to do it.
What is a pet passport?
If you’re transporting a dog, cat or ferret to the EU or further afield, they will need a Pet Passport in order to travel. (Ferrets? Yes, ferrets, it’s a technical thing, as ferrets are not in the top 15 list of favourite pets in the UK). This passport details all the vaccinations and treatments your pet has received and when. In order to secure a pet passport, you need to prove your pet has been micro-chipped and vaccinated for rabies.
Your vet should be able to issue your Pet Passport
Your vet should be able to issue your Pet Passport and offer advice on particular health concerns relating to the country you’re travelling to. If they’re unable to help, they will be able to recommend an organisation that can. Alternatively, you can reach out to the Animal and Plant Health Agency for local recommendations.
The pet passport will contain details of:
- Description of the pet
- Vaccination against rabies
- Rabies blood test (if required)
- Canine tapeworm treatment (if required)
Top Tip: Keep hold of old pet passports and travel with them. Although encountering a problem is unlikely, having all documentation on hand will reduce the risk of issues arising with your pet’s medical history. Remember to travel with the original documents, rather than photocopies.
How to get your pet passport, step-by-step
Take your pet, its identification, vaccination records and rabies blood test results with you to a vet that offers the service. You’ll also need to have your pet micro-chipped. It’s best to do that before or at the same time as they are vaccinated against rabies.
A pet passport will cover your pet for travel to and from the EU and a range of ‘listed countries’, which includes all the major expat favourites.
1 – Six months before
Contact your vet to determine what’s needed and the steps you need to take. Lock in the necessary appointments for vaccinations.
2 – Three months before
If your pet isn’t microchipped, now’s the time to act. Make sure the microchip is ISO standard.
3 – Two months prior
Arrange the rabies vaccination allowing a minimum of 30 days before you are set to travel. This time period is standard – you need to allow the vaccine time to take effect.
4 – Two weeks before
Time for your pets to be vaccinated. All vaccinations must take place at least two weeks before departure.
5 – One week before
Finally, you must get your EU Health Certificate completed by an accredited vet. This certificate is only valid for 10 days from the date of issue, so you must travel soon after.
If you and your pet are ready to move abroad within the next few months, call our friendly Resource Team on 020 7898 0549 or email [email protected] to be put in contact with trusted lawyers, estate agents and currency specialists.
1 – Seven months prior
If not already, have your pet microchipped. This needs to be in place prior to the first rabies vaccination.
2 – Six months prior
For Australia, the vaccination must be done six months out as there needs to be an 190-day countdown between the blood being drawn and the data being sent to Australia. We suggest not taking your pet out of the country prior to the move.
For Australia, the vaccination must be done six months out
If you choose to transport your pet via an agency, get in touch a minimum of six months in advance. Ask for recommendations from friends, family and in online forums. Always shop around to find an agency you like and to secure the most competitive price.
3 – A month – three weeks prior
If you’re moving your dog to Australia, you need to have its microchip scanned by a vet. They may also need to perform blood tests for Ehrlichiosis, Brucellosis, Leptospirosis, Leishmania, and issue an External Parasite Treatment.
For New Zealand, your pet must receive the required parasite and worm checks within the 30 days before leaving.
4 – Two weeks out
Secure a Health Certificate from your vet expressly stating that your pet is fit to fly.
5 – One week out
For Australia, take your pet to an accredited vet to issue internal and external parasite treatments. At this point, additional vaccinations may be required which your vet can administer.
For moves to New Zealand, you need to notify the NZ Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) at least 72 hours before your arrival.
Hiring an agency
Moving to another country is tough enough, without having to worry if your dog’s cage is big enough. So most people planning their move abroad enlist the services of a specialist pet transport agency. These agencies offer a door-to-door export service that includes:
- A Personal Pet Travel Consultant
- Collection from anywhere in the UK in DEFRA approved vehicles
- DEFRA Export Health Certificate
- EU Pet Passport
- All Veterinary Services (Micro Chip, Vaccinations & Blood Tests)
- Veterinary Check On Departure
- Direct Flight Organisation (From Heathrow)
- Pre-flight boarding – 5 Star Kennels & Cattery
- 5 Minute Delivery To Heathrow Airport
- IATA Approved Air Kennels
- Homeopathic remedies to help pets remain calm during their travels
If you’re moving to Australia your pet must arrive via Melbourne. In New Zealand, they must arrive via Christchurch or Auckland. In these instances, companies like Air Pets can also arrange onward transport, perhaps to Perth or Brisbane, on your behalf.
If you break down the costs, it may prove slightly cheaper to sort everything out yourself. However, choosing an agency removes all hassle as every step is taken care of for you. There are a lot of rules and regulations in place and an agency will know these for every country like the back of their hand.
If you’re moving within Europe and it’s possible to transport your pet yourself, we recommend doing so to save money. All you will need to sort is your Pet Passport and their transit. You should budget £250-300 per pet for the pet passport and all necessary vaccinations.
Costs will vary depending on where you’re emigrating to.
Transporting a dog to somewhere like Australia can cost up to £4,000 for a large dog. For a small dog, some places charge around £1,900. To transport a cat to Australia expect to pay around £1,500.
Air Pets charges around £750 to transport a cat to the USA, including all essentials, i.e. bedding and the crate that they will travel in.
Expect to pay around £1,500 to move a medium-sized dog to Canada, and around £750 for a cat.
The average cost of flying a cat or dog to New Zealand is £1,500. The import permit will set you back NZ$220 (£115). If you make the application for this permit late, you will be charged an additional $176 (£92). Additionally, if the permit takes more than 1.5 hours to complete, the government reserve the right to charge an extra time-calculated fee on top.
Can I cut costs?
If you’re moving to Europe you can drive your pets over and save a lot of cash and unnecessary stress. While flying is an option, it can be a costly one. You will have to travel on larger airlines as budget airlines like Ryanair and EasyJet don’t take pets. Lufthansa, Aer Lingus, Air France, FlyBe, Thomson, Thomas Cook and Turkish Airlines allow you to fly with pets. In most instances, pets will travel in the cargo area of the plane, especially if they are above a certain weight.
If you’re moving to Europe you can drive your pets over and save a lot of cash and unnecessary stress
Cost will vary depending on the airline. As an example, Air France charges around €75 (£66) per animal (as long as it’s below 8kg) for flights within Europe. Lufthansa scales its prices according to the size of the pet. For one considered ‘large’, you will pay between €150-400 (£131 -350) per animal.
You can take your pets on the Eurostar between Folkestone and Calais. This journey takes half an hour and you stay with your pets the whole time. It costs £19 per dog, cat or ferret for each leg of the journey. Five pets per person is the limit. The Eurostar is also the best way to transport horses to Europe.
Another popular option if you move abroad with your pet is to catch the ferry. Most ferry companies accept pets, and some even allow you to walk your dogs on deck. You should book in your pets when you book your own tickets, or you can drop the company a line to book them separately. Expect to be charged a rate of around £16-20 per pet if you’re catching a ferry to France. For Spain, things are slightly more expensive at around £29-39 per pet.
What about trains?
Eurostar doesn’t allow pets onboard, unless you’re travelling with a registered guide or assistance dog. Before your guide dog is given the okay, you will need to provide proof they have been trained by a recognised organisation. For example, Assistance Dogs (UK), Assistance Dogs International or The International Guide Dog Federation. Emotional support animals are not permitted on the Eurostar.
If you decide to organise transport yourself, there’s considerable room for error given the strict regulations imposed. For example, you’ll need to ensure your crate meets minimum standards. You can significantly reduce the risk of error by opting for a pet transport expert.
You can significantly reduce the risk of error by opting for a pet transport expert
If you take charge, you will need to transport your pets to the airport yourself, check them in and walk them to the right spot. You will need to arrange a crate that allows them room to move and that meets the airlines regulations. In addition, you’re responsible for ensuring they have enough food and water and that your details are on the crate.
Where possible, choose your flights according to the time of year. This is because while waiting to be loaded, your pets could be exposed to very hot or very cold temperatures. We recommend travelling with a photo of you and your pet, just in case you need to be easily identified as the owner.
What happens on the other side?
We recommend researching the attitude to pets in your new country. France, Australia and New Zealand are all examples of pet-loving countries, but some parts of Cyprus can be quite hostile. Sadly, there have been a number of recent cases of dogs being poisoned on parts of the island.
Americans love their pets but do tend to be quicker to euthanise animals brought into animal shelters. If you have an emotional support animal, you’ll be pleased to hear that they are allowed on most internal flights. Pigs, ducks and other lap-sized pets are allowed on most airlines, but you will need to provide a doctor’s note in advance.
Need to know: individual countries
If you’re travelling to France with a bird, be aware that it will need to be quarantined in the UK for 30 days prior to departure.
Australia is one of the most challenging places to transport your pets to due to the distance and its strict import rules. Only dogs and cats can be imported – all other pets are forbidden – and they will require a pet passport and an import permit from the Department of Agriculture. If you have an animal that’s considered ‘snub-nosed’, it might have trouble breathing on the flight. Therefore, you need to contact the airline directly to determine whether or not they are permitted onboard.
All incoming pets to Australia must spend at least 10 nights in the government quarantine facility in Melbourne. Unfortunately, they have a strict ‘no-visits’ policy, so you will only be able to see your pet once their quarantine period is up.
Be prepared to pay the Canadian authorities $30 (£17) for an arrival inspection of your pet. All breeds of cats and dogs are allowed in Canada, with the exception of Ontario where pit bulls are banned.
When moving to the UAE, most pets are flown into Dubai and then transported by land to elsewhere in the region. This is because Dubai has the most direct flights from the UK, and where possible you should avoid transporting your pets on journeys with stop-overs.
Wherever you and your pet choose to live, learning a few negotiating tips could net a you more house for your money. Download our guide, How to Negotiate Abroad. It’s written by a licensed estate agent and is packed with insider tips.
You will need to secure an Import Paper from the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment before arrival. These are valid for 30 days and can include a maximum of two pets.
In addition to rabies, cats must be vaccinated against; Feline rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus and Panleukopnia. Dogs must be vaccinated against; Distemper, Canine Hepatitis, Leptospirosis and Parvovirus.
You need to book your pet into a MPI-approved quarantine facility at least 20 days prior to your arrival in New Zealand. These facilities are located in Auckland and Christchurch only and your pet will need to spend a minimum of 10 days in quarantine.
Once they are booked in, you need to secure a permit to import your cat or dog. This must be sourced from the NZ Ministry for Primary Industries.