Going on holiday

The rules on taking your dog or cat abroad changed on 1 January 2021. Make sure you know the new rules before you go on holiday.

Whether you take your pet on holiday or leave them in the care of a responsible person, there are things you can do to ensure your pets remain happy. Many pets will find the change in routine, environment and travelling stressful, so you'll need to decide what's best for them.

If you're thinking about taking your dog on holiday, make sure you plan before you book. Cats, rabbits and small animals who aren't familiar with travelling and visiting new places shouldn't be taken on holiday because the experience is likely to be too stressful for them.

Travelling to the EU or Northern Ireland

If your pet hasn't previously travelled or their rabies vaccination is out of date you'll need to visit your vet at least 21 days before travel. You'll need a microchip and rabies vaccination. Your pet must be at least 12 weeks old to get the rabies vaccination. After the rabies vaccination, you cannot travel for 21 days.

Pet passports are no longer valid

Your pet passport is no longer valid. You'll need a new animal health certificate from your vet for each journey you make.

An animal health certificate is required

Whether your pet has travelled to Europe before or not, you'll now need an animal health certificate for every journey that your pet makes to Europe or Northern Ireland.

You'll need to take your pet to the vet to get the certificate and this needs to be done no more than 10 days before you travel. You should plan well in advance as vets are very busy at the moment and may not be able to fit in appointments at short notice.

Tapeworm treatment required for certain countries

Your pet will need a tapeworm treatment if you're travelling to:

  • Ireland
  • Northern Ireland
  • Finland
  • Malta
  • Norway

You'll need an appointment with a vet for the administration of the treatment between 24 hours and five days in advance of you arriving in that country. This may be able to be done at the time of getting the Animal Health Certificate if the timings allow.

Pet checks before a holiday

  • Check where you're staying has everything your pet needs, including an emergency contact for a vet and 'out of hours' service.
  • Visit your vet at least one month before travel. Ask your vet to ensure vaccinationsflea and worm treatments are up-to-date. Your vet will issue a health certificate that must be used within 10 days of being issued.
  • As well as being microchipped, your pet should wear a collar with an identity tag with your name, holiday address and contact details, so if they get lost you can be reunited as quickly as possible.

Taking your dog on holiday

Holidays are a great way to spend time with your dog, but not all dogs will like the change and may not have as much fun as you will. Think about things like their age and health before booking as sometimes it may be a better idea to have someone look after your dog whilst you're away.

Check with your vet to make sure that your dog is fit and healthy to travel and can keep up with the sorts of activities you'll be doing away.

Before taking your dog

  • Check the weather, dogs need to be protected from getting heatstroke.
  • Ask the hotel policy of where you're staying. Let them know you're bringing a dog and what the facilities offer for pets, so you know what items you may or may not need to take.
  • Look up local dog-friendly activities and places like pubs, cafes.
  • Take a familiar smelling like a blanket, favourite toys and treats.

On holiday with your dog

  • Dog sleeping in sunlightTry to keep to their regular routine as much as possible (same walk times, food, toilet breaks).
  • Keep them on the same diet as at home as a sudden change can cause them an upset stomach.
  • Place the familiar smelling item you took in your dog's bed or where they'll spend a lot of time - this will help them feel secure in an unfamiliar place.
  • Give your dog the time they need to explore their new surroundings.
  • Don't leave them alone for a time that might cause them distress.
  • During all the fun and excitement of the holiday make sure your dog has lots of time to rest undisturbed in a quiet and comfortable space.

Keeping your dog safe on holiday

  • Walk your dog on a lead unless you're sure it's safe to let them off away from roads and other potential hazards.
  • If walking in the dark or in dim light, have an LED collar or light attached so others can see your dog.
  • Regularly check their behaviour as any changes may mean they're bored, stressed or ill.
  • Don't leave your dog where they could come to harm, such as tied up outside a shop in the heat.

For information about taking your dog on holiday please see our guide Taking your dog on holiday factsheet (PDF 511KB).

Looking for a holiday to take your dog?

Pet friendly holidays

Taking your pet on holiday

If you decide to take your cat or small animal on holiday with you, read our top tips to make them feel safe and comfortable.


Cats always need opportunities to hide as it helps them to feel safe. If your cat is staying away from home, make sure they're provided with hiding places such as an igloo bed or even a cardboard box.

Many cats get stressed being in their carrier. Help them learn to feel safe in their carrier by leaving it out in a quiet spot in the house, adding cosy bedding and regularly placing tasty treats and favourite toys inside. When transporting your cat always keep a familiar smelling item in the carrier with them. 

Rabbits and small animals

  • If you do have to transport your rabbits and small animals, transport them with their familiar companion(s) to help reduce stress and possible problems with re-introductions.
  • Transport small animals like hamsters in their home cage. If this is not possible, transfer them into a smaller, secure pet carrier.
  • Move some used, unsoiled nesting material into travel carriers and new homes - this will smell familiar to your pets and can be reassuring.
  • Make sure that rabbits and small animals have constant access to food and water while being transported.
  • Make sure that rabbits/small animals will be kept well away from dogs and cats as their presence would be a frightening experience for them.

Taking your pet abroad

There are rules to be followed when taking a dog, cat or ferret abroad which vary depending on the country you're going to or coming from. For more information read the guide to taking your pet abroad, or call the Pet Travel Scheme helpline on 0370 241 1710.

Your pet will need to be vaccinated against diseases we don't have in the UK, including rabies. Ask your vet for advice. Your pet passport is no longer valid.

Information on diseases your pet may encounter abroad can be found in the Animal Welfare Foundation leaflet 'Taking your pets abroad'.

Transporting your pet

Help your pet have a safe, stress-free journey; see our Transporting your pet factsheet (PDF 91.7 KB).

Who can look after your pet while you're on holiday?

If you think it's best to leave your pet at home while you're on holiday, you'll need to find who can look after your pet.

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