What do you need to do if travelling abroad with your pet?

On Ireland AM this week, we discussed the issues of pet passports, rabies vaccinations and tapeworm doses. We also discussed my recent trip to India, looking at street dogs and rabies.


Rabies used to be a big problem here in Ireland: towards the end of the nineteenth century, there were regular human deaths from the disease. Rabies was eradicated in the early 1900’s through a combination of strict measures, including compulsory muzzling of dogs, rounding up of all strays, and a new vaccine that became available for dogs.

Even now, rabies continues to be a threat, and strict control measures are in place when dogs are imported from overseas. The details of the measures depend on the country where the dog is coming from, but basically they include microchipping, vaccination, and where necessary, a blood test to show that the vaccine has “taken”

Also, for people travelling abroad with their pets, it’s necessary to take some actions to prevent the risk of the pet picking up rabies while overseas: these precautions are strictly enforced.

Travel to and from EU countries

Every Irish pet brought out of Ireland to another EU Member State or brought back into Ireland must be covered by an EU Pet Passport. This involves microchip identification, rabies vaccination then issuing of the passport (this used to be done centrally but the document can now be issued by your local vet). Before returning to Ireland, a tapeworm dose must be given by a vet in the country you are leaving and this must be certified in the pet passport.

These regulations now also apply to travel to and from the UK.

Travel to and from countries outside the EU

The requirements for taking a pet into another country vary, and it’s to check with the country you are visiting because they can be quite specific and detailed (eg to Australia)

When coming back from countries outside the EU, you must have either an EU Pet Passport (for EU-originating pets) or a Veterinary Certificate certifying microchip identification and a subsequent rabies vaccination. Depending on the country of origin, a blood test, carried out at least 30 days after vaccination, may also be required.  In these cases a pet may enter Ireland only when at least three months has expired since a successful blood-test.  And a certified tapeworm dose must also be given.

Physical transport of pets

If planning to travel overseas with pets, don’t forget to check up about the physical means of transport – animals are not always allowed. It can be difficult to find an airline that permits dogs, and when allowed, it can be very expensive. While ferries usually allow pets, they often have specific requirements that you should find out about beforehand. Also, dogs are not allowed in the Eurotunnel train.

For pets travelling to and from EU countries:

  1. pet passport is needed
  2. microchipping and rabies vaccination
  3. tapeworm dose needed before coming home

For pets travelling to and from countries outside EU

  1. pet passport is needed
  2. microchipping and rabies vaccination
  3. sometimes, blood test to prove rabies immunity

In all cases, it’s best to check on specific requirements with your local vet

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Please note that I am unable to answer veterinary questions in comments. If you have questions or concerns about your pet's health it is always better to contact your vet.

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