UK pet friendly properties

Top tips for moving abroad with pets

29.09.2021 08:33 pm

So you got a lockdown pet and now want to move abroad! No worries, the processes are simple and may be cheaper than you think, says Christopher Nye from Property Guides. And they’re certainly cheaper than the emotional cost of leaving your beloved pets behind…

At Property Guides we often hear from readers that they can’t wait to buy a property and move abroad, but they’ve got a certain furry family member they cannot bear to leave behind. With the surge in “lockdown pets” that’s unlikely to change soon.

It’s a common misconception that it’s either impossible, or a huge hassle or expense to move abroad with your pet. Some are still under the impression that all pets must be quarantined for six months when they arrive in a new country.

Fortunately, it’s really quite simple to take your cat, dog or ferret too (we realise you probably don’t want to take a ferret, but they come under the same rules…). Even better, in many countries pets are more welcome. In France, for example, most cafes, shops and even some institutions like galleries and museums will allow a dog. No more pet passport?

If you decided to take your pet abroad with you this summer, you might have been shocked at the expense of obtaining the paperwork in the first summer after the pet passport ended. As well as the usual shots for rabies and tapeworm treatment, there was the paperwork for the animal health certificate, all adding up to around £200 per pet. Moreover, it only lasts for one trip.

That’s before you pay for the ferry expense (or £22 per pet each way on Eurotunnel), and the €50 or so for the vet on the other side of the channel to let you travel back. The good news is that it’s still cheaper than most boarding kennels for a fortnight in France, which generally cost around £20 per night.

One dodge increasingly common for holiday home owners in the EU is to claim their dog is European, and thus gain a pet passport. A British owner with an EU pet passport does not need to obtain an animal health certificate.

Short haul

Firstly, do bear in mind that for pets, the Irish border is now in the Irish Sea. The same rules apply taking a pet to Northern Ireland as for the Republic of Ireland and mainland Europe. For transport within mainland Europe it’s almost always better to drive or take the Channel Tunnel. Even pets that get car sick will generally prefer the experience to traveling in the hold of an aircraft and it is considerably cheaper, at around £20 per pet each way by ferry. The procedures are much more simple for travel on a boat too, as your pets can stay in your car on the shorter routes, or in a cabin on the longer ones. They will still need to be at least four months old, because the rabies jab cannot be given before three months and then there is a 21-day wait after that.

Long haul

Traveling long haul via aircraft is only a little more complicated. Puppies may need to be older, to cope with the rigours of flying long distances. Australian rules, in any case, require a longer period for testing blood.

The UK requires pets to be transported as cargo, in a crate. Speak to the airline about the size of the crate and any special requirements. It’s a good idea to “crate-train” your pet, getting them used to and comfortable in the crate. You will, of course, put some favourite toys in the crate.

The cost of transporting a cat to North America start at around £750, and double that for a dog. Traveling to Australia or New Zealand you can generally double those costs again, at £1,500 for a cat and between £2,000 and £4,000 for a dog, depending on size.

Taking a pet to Australia, the authorities are extremely careful (understandably given the catalogue of imported pet and animal disasters, from rabbits to camel numbers out of control). All dogs and cats must arrive at Melbourne airport for checking. Bad news if you wish to go to Perth, another four hours flight time away.

When and where

If moving to an extreme of heat, try to move when the weather is most like your own. Moving from the chill of a British winter to an Australian summer could be difficult for your pet, potentially lethally.

Once there your pets should enjoy life. Few of us move abroad to live in a smaller property, and most pets will love the extra outdoor space in your French cottage or the traditional New Zealand or Australian “quarter-acre section”.

While your pet should adapt quickly to new smells and new weather, the new wildlife could be another matter entirely. Do consider getting your property checked for snakes, poisonous spiders and even bigger critters such as bears and alligators. You might want to do that anyway!

Returning home

Of those who buy a property on a Spanish costa or in the French countryside, the majority will at some point return to the UK. Fewer come back from Australia or New Zealand, although “boomerang Brits” make up a sizeable percentage even of those. Returning with a pet is generally no harder than taking it from the UK. Indeed, the rules are considerably easier if you have a pet passport from the EU, meaning that your dog could accompany you on visits home to see family.

Of course, not everyone is thrilled for guests to bring a pet with them, so why not consider renting a pet-friendly property from Pets Lets?

To conclude, most pets are happy if their owners are happy, picking up on positive vibes while also being a great comfort should you feel homesick. So, if you’re moving abroad, don’t let your pets hold you back!