How to take your pets with you to Portugal
One of the most frequent questions we’re asked is ‘can I take my pet with me when I move to Portugal’? – and the answer is an emphatic yes, even after Brexit! Portugal is a great country for pets, where they’ll enjoy the open space, sunshine and clean air. Here’s what you need to know about bringing a pet with you when you move.
How are pets treated in Portugal?
It’s a dog’s life in Portugal (even for other pets!). Beyond the tendency to spoil pets rotten, they’ve even got legal protection! Since 2017, domestic animals aren’t just ‘things’, but legally have status as sensitive living beings – which goes some way to show the attitude of the locals. It’s even illegal to refuse a clean, rabies-free animal entry onto public transport. Cafés and restaurants are generally happy for well behaved dogs to sit in outside areas, although you’re unlikely to find the equivalent of a dog-friendly pub here.
In the summer, dogs can run around to their hearts’ content on nearly all non-lifeguarded beaches, and on all beaches in the winter. Peniche in Central Portugal even has its very own dog beach.
How can I bring a pet to Portugal?
Before the Brexit deadline in October, while the UK’s still part of the EU, you can travel with your pet as you do now, with a pet passport. If your pet isn’t already a seasoned traveller and hasn’t got their passport yet, you can apply for one with certain vets. If your vet can’t and doesn’t know anyone who can apply for one, then contact the Animal and Plant Health Agency. At the moment, it’ll cost you around £60. Remember to bring vaccination and medical records with you when you apply – these will be included on their passport.
Your pet will also be microchipped, which will be contained in the passport. The current fee is around £20.
What happens to pet travel after Brexit?
If we leave with a deal, it’s unlikely that anything will change, at the very least during any Implementation Period (expected to be two years). In case of a no-deal, or during the period after any Implementation Period, the UK will be considered a ‘Third Country’.
If the UK becomes a ‘listed’ country, which is likely with a deal, then it will either be a:
- Part 1 listed country – meaning the rules will be the same, but the pet passport will be different – or,
- Part 2 listed country – meaning the rules will be a bit different. However, all it means is your pet will need a new health certificate for each trip, issued max. 10 days before travel.
If the UK is unlisted, which the government considers likely in the event of a no-deal Brexit, then your pet will need to be microchipped and vaccinated as usual before travel, but blood samples will need to go an EU laboratory. The blood test will need to be completed three months before travelling. 10 days before travelling, as above, you should visit your vet to get a health certificate. Repeat trips are not a problem – you normally don’t need to do extra blood tests.
What should I keep in mind about owning a pet in Portugal?
1. Be prepared for the costs
Veterinary bills are quite high in Portugal, higher than those in the UK, for example, so this can take some getting used to, and you will need to budget accordingly. However, all pet owners know what looking after your extended animal family doesn’t come cheap. Some expats we know often joke that they spend more on their pets than on themselves, but it’s worth it!
The main veterinary hospitals in expat areas are the Hospital Veterinário do Algarve, in Faro, and the Hospital Veterinário de São Bento in Lisbon.
2. There are stray animals in rural areas
If you buy a Portuguese property in a rural location, you will soon get to know the local strays – both cats and dogs, although there are more stray cats. While tempting to adopt them, take them to a local vet to find out if they are microchipped and are actually somebody’s pet before taking them home. Stray animals are rarely neutered or vaccinated, so they often have health problems, which you will need to consider before adopting them.
3. Beware poison!
Sadly, there are still occurrences of old fashioned residents in a number of European countries poisoning stray animals, and Portugal is unfortunately one of them. Be vigilant about any meat or food left out in areas popular with strays, in case it is poisoned, and if you find anything suspicious, share it with local expats and vets, if possible.
4. Be vigilant of natural dangers
Natural threats to your pets, such as snakes and ticks, can be found in Portugal, so make sure you are vigilant and seek guidance from the local vet if you have any concerns.
5. Make sure to license your pet
In Portugal, pets need a license once they’re three to six months old, so if you have a young pet – or you’ve brought over an older one and you’re not sure if they’re registered – do check with your town hall on how your municipality registers them. You normally need to review each year, currently for around €20.
Finding a pet in Portugal
If you don’t have a pet, or you’re looking to add to the family, there are lots of animal charities and adoption groups to find the perfect furry friend in Portugal. Seek tips from other expats and look online at Facebook and expat forums for tips for local animal charities and how you can ensure the pet that you adopt is well cared for before you give them a home.
The Portugal Buying Guide is designed to support you through each stage of buying property in Portugal, providing relevant, up-to-date information and tips from Portugal property experts and expats who have been through the process themselves. It helps you to: