PET FRIENDLY: Bone Voyage – Travelling with Pets

I have just returned from sunny Sicily (browner but at least a stone heavier). Although I wasn’t lucky enough to be travelling with a pet, it got me thinking about how easy it is to set off on a European adventure with your pet in tow. As our most recent Style Tailor, Kirstin Knox – The Clothes Whisperer attested, it used to be quite frankly…….. a MASSIVE BALL-ACHE whenever the UK was involved.

The UK does have some silly old laws. For example the law which says that in Liverpool, it is illegal for a woman to be topless except as a clerk in a tropical fish store (seriously). Likewise, some archaic laws dating back to the 1800’s meant that until January 2012, pets travelling into the UK faced a six month wait in quarantine and a nasty bill for pets owners. This made the whole thing pretty much out of the question.

Lucky for you though, those laws were changed in January this year and the UK has now been brought into line with the rest of the EU. Rejoice! I can already see myself trotting down La Crossette in Cannes avec le chien.

In light of this magnificent news, I caught up with pet travel experts, Ladyhaye Internationl Pet Travel Agents to get the lowdown on jetting off with pets.

dog in suitcase

What is the checklist of things pet owners must do before they set off?

For pets (dogs, cats and ferrets) to travel into the EU, a microchip must be inserted first, followed by a rabies vaccination. The owner will then need to ask their vet to issue a pet passport. It is also good practice to have your dog vaccinated with DHPPI and cats with Tri cat, these are the usual booster vaccinations.

Movement between the UK and EU is permitted 21 days from the date of the rabies vaccination.

How can pet owners apply for a pet passport and how long can they expect to wait?

The good news is there is no waiting period for a pet passport. Once the rabies vaccination has been completed, you should be able to walk into your vet and have one issued there and then. It is the vets responsibility to ensure they have a supply of them. Each passport has its own number, so the passport can be traced, just like our passports.

Do regulations differ across EU countries? 

Regulations across Europe are all the same.

What can owners do to make the situation as stress-free as possible?

Flying with pets can be very stressful for both the animals and the owners. Pets must fly in an airline approved travel crate which can be quite restrictive and unusual if an animal has not been used to this before. We always recommend that the owner lets the animal have as much time with the crate as possible to allow them to get used to it.

The animals also tend to pick up on how stressed the owners are, especially cats, so owners should try and be as calm as possible. Pets should also travel with some things which smell of home – an old t-shirt or pillow case from the owners bed works well.

Sedatives are not allowed so we recommend the DAP (Dog Appeasing Pheromone) spray, which offers some reassurance for the animals.

What is the most common mistake people make when travelling with pets?

The most common mistake travelling from EU back to the UK, the owners do not allow the 21 days gap from the date of the vaccination to re-entry to the UK. If this occurs animals will either be denied entry or placed into quarantine until the 21 day waiting period is up.

Full details of the rules and regulations regarding traveling with pets (both EU and non-EU countries) can be found on the Defra website.

For enquiries on travelling with pets both within Europe and also relocation to countries like Australia and New Zealand, contact LadyHaye International Pet Travel agents at

Happy Travels!


Sara is the Founder & Editor of StyleTails. A writer, design-lover and long-time animal-hugger, Sara launched StyleTails in 2012 to inspire people live a more beautiful life with their four-legged friends. Along with her canine sidekick George, a rescue Yorkie with a big attitude, Sara regularly commentates on luxury pet product and lifestyle trends and has been featured in Elle Decoration, BBC Radio, and is also an expert contributor to WGSN, the leading design trend forecaster.

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