Planning Your Trip - Before You Go
Updated: Feb 6
Start preparing at least 6 weeks before your trip to ensure your vaccinations and paperwork is in order! Your vet should help to guide you through the process.
I'll admit - it is a little bit more complicated since Brexit as we can no longer use Snowy's Pet Passport (such a lovely head shot in there too), instead we need to get her a Animal Health Certificate (AHC) from the vet.
Five key things to remember:
1. Your pooch must be micro-chipped
2. Annual booster vaccination must be up to date and a 3 yearly rabies vaccine must be done at least 21 days before travelling.
3. The AHC must be issued by the vet within 10 days of your
4. 1 - 5 days before your return, a wormer and health-check must be undertaken by a vet and a certiticate issued.
5. Remember to book travel for your pet. Whether using the Eurotunnel or Ferry you will need to book a place for your pet along with each of the passengers.
We usually contact our vet around 6 - 8 weeks before we're due to depart. The vet checks Snowy's vaccination records and books us in for her annual booster later that week and her rabies jab the following week. The rabies vaccination only needs to be done every 3 years. They prefer not to do both vaccinations at the same time in case there's any reaction.
We had our AHC appointment with the vet on Monday - 5 days before our departure on Saturday (it MUST be within 10 days remember). They sent us a form to complete a few days before the appointment so they can prepare the AHC in advance. This includes Snowy's micro-chip number, vaccination info and dates and destinations of travel. There could be different rules based on the countries you are visiting.
We needed to take Snowy's vaccination records along with us and she has a health-check to confirm she's fit and well to travel. Checking of micro-chip, ears, teeth, tummy and heartbeat - nothing too stressful! She passed with flying colours thankfully!
But - there was a glitch with the paperwork. The dates on her vaccination records had an incorrect month (an admin error) so didn't match the certificate. Thank goodness the vet spotted this - it's really important that everything is 100% accurate otherwise border control could deny entry either in or out of a country. Luckily there was plenty of time to amend the certificate and we go back mid-week to collect it.
The AHC now costs around £200 - £250 and unfortunately, you need a new one each time you travel. If you're planning to travel more regularly then it could be worth getting an EU Pet Passport. If you decide to get an EU Pet Passport then this needs to be done whilst in Europe and the vaccinations must both be done in Europe. It's something we'll consider next year when Snowy's annual vaccination is due. We regularly use a lovely vet near Salamanca in Spain that we could visit while heading south for her first vaccination and do her second on the return trip.
The AHC is valid for 3 months from issue when coming back into the UK. Or - if you do have an EU Pet Passport issued before Jan 2021 (which we do) then weirdly that is still valid for your return entry. As you're only allowed to stay in Europe for 90 days now without returning to the UK this won't be an issue.
Before you return to the UK you must make an appointment with a vet to administer a worming tablet and undertake a health check. This must take place between 24 & 120 hours (1 - 5 days) before entry back into the UK.
The vet will provide a printed certificate that you must show along with your original AHC on your return. It's fairly easy to find a local vet on your return trip using google maps - read the reviews and make an appointment via phone or email in advance clearly stating when your return entry to the UK is. We have a favourite on the outskirts of Salamanca, Spain; https://cvlosalamos.com.
The charges vary from 5 to 70 euros but the most important factor is you get the correct paperwork within the correct timescales. It may be a good idea to organise the appointment 3-4 days before your return just in case of the unlikely event that anything isn't correct - then you have time arrange a second appointment.
On leaving the UK via the Eurotunnel there is a Pet Reception immediately after check-in. You should take your reservation details and AHC paperwork provided by the vet into the reception where they will ask you to scan your pets microchip. It only take a 5 minutes before you're on your way and there will be no need to stop again at French border control. From this point onwards you can remain inside your car whilst passing through immigration etc.
Similarly for your return journey, a Pet Reception is located just before check-in and the same process applies only this time with the additional certificate confirming your dog has been wormed and passed the health-checks.