Travelling with your dog to Europe may appeal to you if you usually holiday with your pet or assistance dog in the UK. However, have you considered a new adventure together across Europe?
As it’s national dog day in August, we wanted to look at the logistics of travelling with dogs to Europe. In this short guide, we’ve included the documentation needed and rules to follow. Plus, where the best dog-friendly countries are in Europe!
Will you be travelling with your dog to Europe soon? Get ready by looking at pet passports first.
What you need to know about European Dog Passports
Does my dog need an EU passport?
Before the UK left the EU, your dog would have needed a pet passport to travel to an EU country. However, now the rules have changed. Today, your dog will require an EU animal health certificate when travelling from the UK to other parts of Europe.
Obtaining an EU animal health certificate
The EU animal health certificate (AHC) replaced the pet passport on 1st January 2021. Make sure your pets AHC is accredited by your vet 10 days before you travel to Northern Ireland or an EU country. Also, it needs to be signed by them or an ‘official veterinarian’ (OV) for your dog to travel.
The animal health certificate will then be valid for the following:
- 10 days for entry into the EU or Northern Ireland
- Four months for onward travel within the EU
- Four months for re-entry to Great Britain
Also, before travelling your dog will need to follow the PET Travel Scheme (PETS) rules:
- Have a microchip.
- Be up to date with its tapeworm treatment. Some countries may demand certification to ensure your pet is vaccinated against tapeworms. These countries include Ireland, Northern Ireland, Finland, Malta, and Norway.
- Hold a valid rabies vaccination.
- Be vaccinated against diseases we don’t have in the UK.
- Wait 21 days after any primary vaccinations before traveling. So, be aware of this when you’re making your travel plans and AHC appointment.
Be aware that all this documentation is necessary (hence the VET visit). Along with the other Brexit travel changes.
Also, before traveling with your dog to an EU country, make sure you contact the competent authority of your destination. There might be additional requirements to meet. Overall, all these rules will be the same for all pets when they’re travelling to an EU country.
Pet transport – travelling with your dog from the UK
Although there are a number of pet-friendly airlines remove stress by travelling with your dog another way, such as by car…
Are dogs allowed on the Eurotunnel?
Yes, the Eurotunnel is an authorised pet carrier. When travelling with your pet via the Eurotunnel, you can stay together in the comfort of your own car. There is a cost for pet travel. However, guide and assistance dogs are free.
Whether you’re taking an assistance dog or not, in Folkestone and Calais there are facilities to exercise your dog. Each terminal provides an adequate spot for your dog to stretch its legs, complete with artificial grass.
The Eurostar and dogs
Due to space, Eurostar only allows guiding dogs and assistance dogs aboard its trains. Assistance dogs (accredited and non-accredited guide dogs) are referred to as auxiliary aid. However, they’ll need to be approved by Eurostar before you both travel.
Also, on the date of your departure, you’ll need to bring proof that they’ve been accepted for travel by Eurostar (follow our advice above). Your evidence will include validated documentation and a copy of your confirmation email. Or, case reference number.
To ensure everything goes to plan, book your tickets at least one month before your departure date.
Travelling with your dog by Ferry
There are many ferries that allow dogs to travel across the water to Europe.
Here are a few things you need to be aware of when traveling to Europe by ferry with your dog:
- On most ferries, your dog needs to be locked in your car (with water and the window ajar) on the cargo hold or placed into the onboard kennels. There is a small charge for either travel option. Do ask if you can visit your dog during the journey when booking.
- Dogs are not permitted in passenger areas. However, in recent years a few ferry companies have designed areas to walk your dog. Some even have pet-friendly lounges. Either way, dogs must be leashed and muzzled to avoid any accidents.
Visit the specialist pet travel website for more information about each ferry company.
Arriving in an EU country with your dog
Travelling with your dog to Europe by train or car may involve a lot of planning in advance. However, on arrival, you’ll just need to share all the paperwork you’ve organised at the travellers’ point of entry. Here, all documents will be checked by the authorities.
Have you decided where to travel with your dog in Europe? Here are some of our suggestions…
The most dog-friendly countries in Europe
For a beach holiday close to home, (with similar summer temperatures) stay on the Belgian Coast, which has 13 seaside resorts in 10 coastal towns. Less than two hours from Calais is the seaside resort of Knokke-Heist. This resort provides a range of dog-friendly accommodations and places to eat. Plus, you and your dog can run along the dunes in the mornings/evenings in summer or between October –March leash-free.
To enjoy the sun, sea, and sand at any time of the year, visit a strip of beach along Ostende beach, which is seven kilometers long! One of the best strips of Ostende beach for you and your dog is from beach Westlaan to Middlelkerke. Middelkerke has lots of facilities for everyone. For instance, you can enjoy bicycle rides along the coast or play golf with sea views in the sun.
If you wish to venture further inland you’ll be happy to know that pets on buses and trams are free in Belgium. They’re also welcome aboard trains – with a small pet supplement for large dogs. If you plan to explore Europe with your dog via train, you can hop over the border from Belgium to Germany where dogs are welcome on the rail there too.
Across Germany, many establishments are open to dogs. This is because German dogs are very well-behaved. Find a dog-friendly holiday destination four hours from Calais called Trier. Trier is an old Roman city, which makes it one of Germany’s oldest. It’s also one of Germany’s smallest cities and spreads across the Mosel river.
Travel beyond the city to follow some hiking trails. Some of the most picturesque trails include Saar-Hunsrück-Steig and Eifelsteig. After your hike, relax on the edge of a refreshing lake at Center Parcs.
Not far from Germany is France…
In recent research, France’s capital Paris came out as the best place to holiday with your dog. Here, you can stay within 800 pet-friendly hotels and eat at 184 pooch-friendly restaurants. Plus, all public transport in Paris is pet-friendly too. Dogs can ride both the Metro and buses, while in a carrier basket or leashed.
For a French destination to escape the crowds, book a dog-friendly holiday in the Midi-Pyrénées. The Midi-Pyrénées offers a stunning mountain range with many dog-friendly excursions, such as easy to moderate hiking routes.
Austria is a good destination for a dog holiday. Due to its natural landscapes of glorious grasslands, Alpine valleys, and lakes, you can both explore it on foot. For instance, visit Zell Am See, south of Salzburg for a stroll past the Krimml Waterfalls. After your walk, relax in a dog-friendly cottage to admire Kitzsteinhorn Mountain.
For more mountain views, wander around Innsbruck. Innsbruck is a pedestrian-friendly city in the Alps, which provides an alpine-urban experience. You can travel in some lifts and cable cars with your dog to enjoy stunning views of the Alps. Then visit a market for a bite to eat, before visiting one of many dog parks for a runaround.
Looking for some winter sunshine with your dog in January or February? Head to Italy.
In Venice, the most famous pet-friendly places to stay in include the Baglioni Hotel Luna and the Westin Europa & Regina. Also, your dog can enjoy a traditional gondola experience or boat ride to admire Venice via its waterways too!
To experience the rest of Italy on foot admire some ancient archaeological sites and remains. Many are not off limits to dogs, such as the ancient city of Pompeii near the Bay of Naples or Ostia, the harbour city of ancient Rome near Italy’s capital. If you stay in Rome, visit the Villa Borghese where your dog can stretch its legs in an attractive dog park called the “Area Cani Villa Borghese”
Travelling with your dog back to the UK
When you’re ready to head home, refer back to the PETS checklist and ensure your dog has the following:
- A microchip.
- An in-date Animal Health Certificate.
- Has been vaccinated against rabies.
- Has been given tapeworm treatment one to five days prior to departure.
Free Spirit European Travel Insurance
Where will you be travelling with your dog across Europe? We hope we’ve guided you in the right direction and given you enough information to make a decision. However, to travel with peace of mind, take our Europe Travel Insurance.