Are you planning to travel with your feline friend from the UK to Europe? Whether it's a family vacation or a permanent relocation, understanding the travel requirements and ensuring a smooth journey for your cat is essential. In this blog post, I outline the necessary steps and regulations for bringing your cat from the UK to Europe, ensuring a stress-free experience for both you and your beloved feline companion.
Step number 1: Microchipping
All cats who travel from the UK to Europe must be microchipped. This is a simple procedure for your vet or vet nurse to do and is often done at neutering. If your cat was not microchipped at neutering, it can easily be done in the consult room, no anesthesia is required. And remember - microchipping is now compulsory in the UK.
Step number 2: Rabies vaccination
An up to date rabies vaccination is an essential requirement for travel to the EU. Your cat must be at least 12 weeks old before they can receive their first rabies vaccine. Depending on the brand and how many rabies vaccines your cat has had, a rabies vaccine may be valid for 1 to 3 years. A rabies vaccine for travel to the EU from the UK can be given by any vet. Your vet will be able to help you determine if your cat's rabies vaccine is up to date or not. If you have paperwork proving your cat's rabies vaccine status, please bring it with you to your other travel appointments as a copy of this paperwork will be required for travel.
Step number 3: Wait at least 21 days
You will have to wait at least 21 days from the date of vaccination before your cat can travel to the EU. This is why it is essential to plan your travel well in advance.
Step number 4: Animal Health Certificate
All cats travelling from the UK to the EU need an Animal Health Certificate or AHC issued within 10 days of travel. This is paperwork issued by an Official Veterinarian (OV) at a vet practice. An OV is a vet who is qualified to carry out work on behalf of the UK government. Most practices will have an OV, if yours does not then a nearby practice will. When you are booking your travel plans let the practice know you need an AHC and they will book your appointment with the OV. Once the OV has examined your cat they will issue the AHC. Do not expect to get this paperwork on the day as it is usually in multiple languages and 9-10 pages long. Allow time for your vet to complete this paperwork by booking your appointment for your cat to be examined by the OV several working days before you travel, but not more than 10 days. You can use this paperwork to travel back to the UK within a 4 month period.
Many airlines will allow you to travel with your cat in their carrier in the cabin, but some will not, so make sure you confirm with your airline before you proceed with your plans. And remember that the UK is unfortunately one of the only countries in Europe that does not allow you to travel with your cat in the cabin into the UK, even if the specific airline does permit this. For this reason, many people prefer to travel into the UK via car or ferry.
Travelling with your cat from the UK to Europe requires careful planning and adherence to specific travel requirements. By following the necessary steps and obtaining the required documentation, you can ensure a safe and stress-free travel experience for both you and your furry companion.