Can I Take My Dog Abroad By Car?

If you have a family trip planned then you can take the whole family, including your four-legged family member. Travelling abroad with your dog has been made a lot simpler over the last few years. Don’t let the travel regulations for pets scare you off. They are easy enough to follow through. Are you planning on going on a road trip abroad and would you like to take your dog? Keep reading to find out all you need to know about taking your dog abroad by car.

PETS And A Pet Passport

In 2001, a programme was introduced that allowed for pets to travel between the United Kingdom and member countries without having to undergo a quarantine period. This programme is called Pet Travel Scheme, or PETS for short.

If you are planning a holiday by car then you are probably going to Europe. Most European countries are member countries of PETS. For a complete list of member countries, check the UK government website.

To be able to travel under PETS, dogs need to have their own pet passport. A pet passport is a document that contains specific information about your dog and whether your dog complies under the PETS regulations.

You can get a pet passport from the LVI or Local Veterinary Inspector. An LVI has special government authorisation so is not just any regular veterinarian. Check with your local vet clinic if they have one in residence or where the nearest LVI can be found.

What You Need In Your Pet Passport

Your pet passport will be checked to confirm that your dog is travelling under correct PETS regulation. Sections I-V in the pet passport are what needs to be filled out by a vet before you embark on your trip. Below is an overview of what needs to be included for a valid pet passport.


Every pet that travels abroad needs to be microchipped. This microchip will be scanned by the carrier you are travelling with. In the case of travelling by car, this might be the ferry company.

Carriers that allow dogs will have a chip reader that meets either ISO 11784 or ISO 11785. If your dog’s microchip cannot be read by this ISO standard then you either need to bring your own chip reader or have a new microchip inserted in your dog. Carriers will not allow pets on board if the microchip cannot be read, even if the pet passport is completed according to regulations.

Rabies Vaccination

After getting the microchip, your dog needs to have a rabies vaccination. Remember, the vaccination needs to occur after the microchip has been inserted or it will not be valid.

To ensure the rabies vaccination is valid, the vet will note the microchip number, location and date of placement along with the important details of the vaccination. Check your pet passport to stay up to date on the rabies vaccinations.

If you are travelling to a PETS member country, you can only re-enter the UK with your dog if at least 21 days have passed since the rabies vaccination. Plan your rabies vaccination to align with your return home to the UK to avoid any issues.

If you are travelling to a PETS unlisted country with your dog, you will need additional proof to show your dog is rabies free. After the rabies vaccination, your dog needs to have a blood test done that shows the vaccinations were successful.

Tapeworm Treatment

To re-enter the UK, you need to have proof in your pet passport that your dog has been treated for tapeworms at least 24 hours before entering the UK but no longer than 120 hours.

Depending on how long your trip is, this could mean that you will have to give the tapeworm treatment while still in the UK. If you have treated your dog for tapeworms while still in the UK, this is considered valid for re-entry after at least 24 hours abroad but less than 120 hours or five days.

There are a few countries exempt from the tapeworm treatment rule. These countries are Malta, Norway, Finland and Ireland.

Tips For Travelling By Car With Your Dog

Aside from all the legal requirements, you also want your dog to be comfortable during the road trip. Here are a few tips on how to keep Fido cool and calm in the car.

If you are taking the ferry abroad, check whether the ferry company allows the dog to leave the car. Some ferries don’t let passengers stay in their car during the trip and some ferries don’t let dogs out on the platform. Avoid travelling with these ferry companies if you are bringing your dog along because a dog should never be left alone in the car for too long. It is easy for a dog to overheat inside a closed car.

Plan out your itinerary with plenty of stops for Rover to step outside the car and take little walks. It is easy for dogs to get nauseous in cars to make sure he always has access to clean drinking water. Another way to avoid a nauseous dog is to not feed him around two hours before and after the trip. If the car ride is not too long, that is.

While driving, don’t let your dog stick her head outside of the car. Your dog might get injured from passing cars or flying objects. Some dogs will also try to jump out of the window. It’s best to keep your dog safe with a seatbelt. It is worth grabbing a set of the best car-suited dog harness, a dog crate, or a dog seat made specifically for longer journeys.

Are you already excited about a road trip with your best bud? Follow our advice on driving with your dog as a passenger to make the trip more enjoyable for everyone. Also, don’t leave the procedures needed for the pet passport to the last minute. Travelling abroad with your dog is a trip that needs to be planned out well in advance.

For more information check out the Kennel Clubs Guide.

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