When you live in the US, domestic travel with your pets is pretty straightforward; you can either pack them (safely!) into your car and hit the pavement for an epic road trip or you can book a flight to another state—and, with some minimal paperwork (and a few extra fees), you’re ready for takeoff.
But traveling internationally is a little more complicated. If you’re booked for a European vacation and want to bring your pup with you to eat gelato in Italy, explore a castle in Germany, or take a siesta in Spain, there are some things you need to know.
Let’s take a look at the ins and outs of traveling with your pet to Europe—and whether it’s realistic to take your dog with you on your next European vacay.
Figuring out how to get there
The first thing you need to do when determining whether you can (and should!) take your dog to Europe? Figuring out how you’re going to get yourself and your pet there.
Getting to Europe requires crossing the ocean—so, obviously, driving is out. You could take a boat, but currently, there’s only one cruise ship that takes dogs to Europe (the Queen Mary 2, which makes trips from New York to Southampton, England)—and it can be both challenging and expensive for your dog (currently, trips are limited to 24 onboard pets—and, according to Cruise Critic, a ticket for your dog can cost you anywhere between $500 and $1000).
That leaves flying—which is, by far, the most popular way to get your pet over the ocean and onto European soil. But what does flying your dog to Europe actually entail?
First, you need to figure out if your dog is able to fly with you in the cabin. Each airline has its own weight and breed restrictions, but typically, only smaller dogs who can fit in a carrier underneath the seat in front of you are eligible to fly in the cabin. Larger dogs have to be crated and placed in the cargo section of the plane—which, for many dogs, can be an anxiety-inducing experience.
You should also explore how much taking your dog on your European flight will cost you. Again, fees vary by airline, but typically, international pet fees run somewhere in the $200 range—and that’s for each leg (so, if you were to take a direct flight to Europe, the additional costs would be $400). Before you decide to bring your pet with you to Europe, you should make sure to work these additional costs into your budget—and make sure you can afford to bring your pet with you.
(Side note: service dogs and emotional support animals are typically exempt from fees and cabin restrictions; if you’re flying with a service or emotional support dog, make sure to check with your airline and submit any necessary paperwork before your flight.)
Another thing to consider? How realistic the trip is going to be for your pet. Depending on where you’re flying from (and where you’re flying to) flights from the US to Europe can be long—perhaps too long for your dog. While flying direct from New York to London might be doable, a direct flight from Los Angeles to Amsterdam or from Denver to Madrid is going to be way too long in the cargo hold or in a carrier without a break to eat, snuggle, and use the bathroom.
Requirements to travel with your dog to Europe
If you do decide you want to take your dog to Europe, it’s important to understand the entry requirements you’ll need to fulfill before you bring your dog into your destination country.
Some countries have different requirements (for example, England requires that your dog receive tapeworm treatment from a veterinarian in the days before your arrival), but any country in Europe is going to require two things: an EU Health Certificate and a working microchip.
Again, requirements will vary slightly by country, but an EU Health Certificate will need to be completed and signed by a veterinarian and include:
- Your dog’s identifying characteristics (including breed, weight, height, color, and gender)
- Your dog’s rabies vaccination history (including dates and serial numbers)
- Your dog’s microchip information
Also, keep in mind that every EU Health Certificate needs to be endorsed by an APHIS Veterinary Services office—so make sure you give yourself time to get the endorsement.
Again, every country has slightly different requirements. Before you travel with your dog, make sure to check your destination country’s canine travel requirements—and gather and submit all the necessary paperwork before your trip. Also, make sure you have any necessary paperwork to get your pet back into the US following your vacation!
Don’t forget to check your accommodations and your itinerary
There may be a few hoops to jump through, but it’s possible to get your dog to Europe for your next vacation—but what are they going to do when they get there?
Before you decide to bring your pet to Europe, make sure you’re able to book dog-friendly accommodations—and that the majority of your activities will include your pet. (If your dog is going to be sitting in a European hotel room for most of the vacation, what’s the point?)
Don’t want to bring your dog to Europe? Set them up with a pet sitter through Rover!
Again, bringing your pet to Europe is definitely possible—but it also might not be the best choice for you or your dog. If you decide to leave your pet at home, you’ll need someone to take care of them—and that’s where Rover comes in.
With Rover, you can book a qualified pet sitter to watch your dog while you’re off on your vacation—your dog will have someone to keep them company and take care of them while you’re away, and you’ll get to enjoy your time in Europe, knowing that your dog is in loving, capable hands. It’s a win-win!