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Our essential guide to getting your pet's passport

Continental capers with the PETS travel scheme

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pet passportIs your dog the ultimate cosmopolitan canine? Maybe he’s always dreamed of strutting his stuff down the Champs-Élysées, checking out the saucy French poodles before stopping for a chilled bowl of eau de maison at a corner café. Or, perhaps he’s more of a chilled-out dude, and likes to hang around the Italian ski resorts for some off-piste action? All he needs is his own pet passport, and soon you’ll both be hitting the Continent in style.

Ahead of your and fido’s great adventure

To begin with, your precious pooch will need to be at least 12 weeks old before he can travel. He’ll first need a microchip, and then a rabies vaccination, which must be done at least 21 days before you travel. Any vet can issue the pet passport once you’ve completed these steps, so it is much easier than a human document – thankfully no need to try and balance your dog on a stool in the photo booth, while telling him not to smile! The passport scheme also covers cats and ferrets, so the whole family can come with you.

All Four Paws tip: Before you travel, check the details on the passport against the Vaccination Certificate list on the Defra website – Calais is not the place to discover there’s a problem.

Although it’s no longer a legal requirement of the passport scheme to protect your dog against ticks, it is a very good idea! European ticks can carry some unpleasant diseases, so protect your pooch proactively before you pack. Bravecto, available from vets, provides almost instant protection and lasts for 12 weeks. Discuss this with your vet when getting your pet passport.

Travel options for your road trip

pet passport

Once your paperwork is perfect, it’s time to travel. Pets aren’t allowed on the Eurostar, so they don’t get a paws up from us! If your pooch fancies himself as a bit of an old sea dog, you can take the ferry. On some boats, your canine companion will have to stay in your car during the crossing, while others offer pet-friendly cabins and exercise areas. Your dog may be required to wear a muzzle in public areas. You can check the different ferry regulations here.

Canny canines travel by EuroTunnel, which has had over 1 million pet customers to date! There are some great pet exercise areas for letting off steam before the crossing, which takes only around 35 minutes. You and your pampered pooch can catch a quick snooze in the car, and wake up in France.

All Four Paws tip: have a special collar tag made up before your trip, with your mobile number and a ‘+44’ prefix.

Now you can spend some time soaking up the sun in the South of France, or even motoring around Martinique (as well as all EU countries, the PETS passport scheme is accepted from countries as diverse as the Canary Islands and Iceland – see the DEFRA website for the full list). You can move freely between member countries such as France and Spain, although it’s a good idea to carry your dog’s passport with you.

A short paw-stop before your return journey

Before you pack your bags to go home, your newly suave and sophisticated Continental hound will need to visit a local vet for a tapeworm treatment (dogs only), not less than 24 hours, and not more than five days before you enter the UK. The vet will also carry out a quick health check, to certify your pooch is in tip top shape for the journey back.

All Four Paws tip: find a local vet at the beginning of your trip and book in your appointment well ahead of time so you’re not on the back paw at the last minute – your hotel or accommodation should be able to point you in the right direction.

If you’re travelling by boat or taking ‘Le Shuttle’, you’ll need to visit the pet passport office on the French side before you board. Officials will check your pet’s paperwork and scan him to make sure his microchip ID matches the records – and then it’s au revoir, France and Hello, UK until your next European excursion together.

We’d love to hear all about your adventures and must see stops. Happy exploring all!

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  • Simon

    Not something we have done yet, but definitely would like to give it a go some really helpful tips here.