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Reader question: What are the latest rules on travelling between Spain and the UK with pets?

travelling to Spain with your dog
Image: Tadeusz Lakota / Unsplash
Since Brexit came into effect on January 1st 2021, many things have changed, including the rules for travelling with your pets between Spain and the UK. Read on to find out everything you need to know and what the latest rules are.

If you’re travelling between Spain and the UK with your dog, cat or pet ferret, there are several things you need to keep in mind and prepare before you travel. The process may not be as easy as it once was when the UK was part of the EU, but it’s still possible, just with a few different documents. 

If your pet passport was issued in Spain

If you are a resident in Spain and your pet has a passport that was issued in Spain however, then you’re in luck because the British Embassy in Spain states: “From January 1st 2021, pet passports in Spain or another EU member state continue to be valid for travel to Great Britain and the EU”.

If your pet passport was issued in the UK

The UK has been granted ‘part 2 listed status’ by the EU, which means that those pet passports issued in the UK will no longer be valid and you won’t be able to use it anymore for travel between Spain and the UK. 

This means that if you are planning to visit Spain from the UK or you are a second homeowner, but not a resident in Spain, and your pet passport was issued in the UK, you won’t be able to use it anymore. This also goes for recent residents in Spain who may have had their pet passports issued back in the UK. 

If this is the case, you will need to get an AHC from an accredited vet, prior to travel instead. 

Animal Health Certificate (AHC) 

You will need to visit your vet, no less than 10 days before your trip in order to get the certificate. To be granted the AHC, you will need proof of your pet’s microchipping date and vaccination history.

According to both the UK and the Spanish government websites, you will need to make sure that your pet is vaccinated against rabies at least 21 days before travel. Dogs will also be required to have tapeworm treatment.

The AHC is valid for 10 days after the date of issue for entry into the EU and can be used for travel within the EU for a period of four months.

If you’re travelling back with your pet to the UK again, the certificate will be valid for re-entry to the UK for four months after the date of issue.

The certificate is only valid for a single trip to the EU however, so when you want to come back to Spain with your pet, you will need to apply for another certificate.

Taking your dog to Spain. Image: Johnell Pannell / Unsplash

AHCs are available as dual-language certificates, so pet owners should ask the vet for the Spanish language certificate when intending to travel here.

For those in Spain, here is a link to the form on the Spanish government website that you need to fill in to get your certificate (in Spanish and English).

AHCs and all the requirements also apply to assistance dogs.

Other rules

You may travel to and from the EU with up to five pets only. Those travelling for professional competitions with more animals, must get special permission and provide proof of competition attendance.

By Air

Even when have your AHC however, things may not be so straightforward.

Pets are allowed to fly in the cabin or as checked baggage on flights from the UK to Spain, but they are not when flying from Spain to the UK.

The Eurostar train also doesn’t allow pets (except assistance dogs).

Pets flying into the UK can only travel as cargo, which will mean extra expense, hassle and possibly being separated from your pet for a long time.

Even though technically you can fly from the UK to Spain with your pet, many airlines will not allow this, so you’ll have to find those who do.

Iberia Express is one that does. Lufthansa, KLM and Air France have been known to in the past too, however, this may mean having to change in another European city first before you get to Spain, causing more distress for your pet. 

By Road

Going by car is one of the best and easiest ways to travel with your pet between Spain and the UK, even though it is the longest and can be more expensive too (as you’ll need to stay overnight).

It will be the most comfortable for your pet however and less stress for you. If you take your car on the Eurotunnel, it costs an extra €27/£20 per pet. 

If taking the ferry across to France, it will cost around the same price, however your pet must stay in the car the whole time. 

By Ferry

If you want to travel straight to Spain by ferry with your pet, without all the driving in between, this can also be a good option.

Unfortunately, Brittany Ferries will not allow you to travel with your pet if you’re a foot passenger, but will if you have a car. Other ferry companies may let you. 

Many ships sailing to Spain have pet-friendly cabins, that can accommodate a single pet. There are also large and small kennels available, with exercise areas. 

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