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Pups on the Go Internationally - March 2024


People are taking pets overseas for vacation or a permanent move more than ever.  A savvy traveler offers tips for success.


Whether you’re moving to a new country or simply visiting for a few weeks or months, taking a pet along requires planning and patience.


Quarantine is rarely required, not even in the United Kingdom, but mandatory vaccinations, parasite treatment and paperwork are musts.  It’s also important to be aware of travel requirements to certain countries.  For instance, animals can’t travel in the cabin on flights to the U.K. unless it’s by private jet - out of reach financially for most of us - but generally they can on flights into European Union countries.


Debby Bradford, currently living in Melbourne, Florida, traveled with her dog Dazzle in the U.K. and Europe for four months last year, and in May they’re moving to Portugal.  She has advice for others contemplating overseas travel with their pets.


Her first tip: “Stop asking strangers on Facebook for advice.” Instead, go to the source: the USDA-APHIS website (www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/pet-travel), which has everything you need to know for each country you’re planning to visit, including required microchips and vaccinations, finding a USDA-accredited veterinarian to do the paperwork, and the timeline for completion and approval of paperwork before travel.  “Once you’re on the website, choose what country you’re going to, see what is required and check the list of veterinarians in your state authorized to do the paperwork.  It’s just that easy,” she says.


Bradford knew she wanted to go to the U.K. first and that pets weren’t permitted on flights into the country, so she made a reservation 18 months in advance on the ship the Queen Mary 2, the only way besides private jet that animals can enter the country directly.  While it’s not necessary for humans traveling on the ship to reserve that far ahead, it has only a limited number of highly coveted kennels for pets.  It can take up to two years to get a pet reservation, although cancellations can move you up the wait list quickly. Flexibility is a must.


A Queen Mary crossing is not as expensive as you might think. Bradford, who describes herself as a budget traveler, says passage for herself and Dazzle was about $3,000.  “I always get the cheap room, but I’m eating the same food and seeing the same shows,” she says.  “Airfare is about $2,000, but on the Queen Mary, you get a nice seven-day vacation with gourmet food and shows.”

Bradford and Dazzle could hang out for up to eight hours a day at the kennel, and Bradford was impressed by the level of care pets received from the kennel masters. “If something happened to me and somebody wanted to give my dog to one of the kennel masters, I’d say yes. They are absolutely wonderful.”


Taking pets into a European Union country such as France, which I did myself seven years ago (uexpress.com/pets/pet-connection/2017/08/07), has similar requirements for microchips, vaccinations, parasite preventives and paperwork, but can be done by air -- if your pet fits in a carrier beneath the seat. Medium-size to large dogs must fly cargo, which most people prefer to avoid. Airlines such as La Compagnie allow pets up to 33 pounds in the cabin. Other times, people with large or multiple pets put together private jet charters that don’t limit pets by size. They find each other on Facebook groups such as Chartered Air Travel With Pets.


To visit the U.K. from France, it’s necessary to hire a pet taxi to escort your pet through the Chunnel or take a ferry as walk-on passengers, which is how Bradford and Dazzle returned to the U.K. for their passage home.


One important thing to consider is whether your pet will enjoy traveling or be prepared for a flight.


The bottom line?  “It’s not that it’s complicated,” Bradford says.  “You just have to pay attention to the little details.”

 

Reprinted with permission, and originally published at https://www.uexpress.com/pets/pet-connection/2024/03/25

 

ABOUT PET CONNECTION

Pet Connection is produced by a team of pet care experts.  Kim Campbell Thornton is an award-winning journalist and author who has been writing about animals since 1985.  Kim Campbell Thornton is at Facebook.com/Kim.CampbellThornton and on Bluesky at kimthornton.bsky.social

 

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