Traveling with your Pet outside the UK

dog in suitcase

Every one thought we were a wee bit crazy because we decided to take our one year old toy poodle with us on an extended six week trip to America in Winter 2014.  The UK now has a pet passport scheme and we decided to give it a try.  Please join us on our journey.

Part One:

First of all, we wanted to travel with our toy poodle under the seat in the cabin with us from Scotland to Seattle. Even the British Air folks recommend that we not use their cargo service from London saying that there is no guarantee she will be traveling on the same plane with us and also that she may have to stay in quarantine kennel on the return trip if there is no vet on duty to pass her through the passport scheme. So we nixed that as a possible way to go. Apparently there is no way you can travel out of the UK with an animal in the cabin with you. unless they are service dogs.

 The Pet Passport

You need to apply for a Pet Passport in advance of your travels as this is the document needed to return to the UK. Our vet is approved to prepare a Pet Passport, so that is the question you need to ask first. He is David Gordon at Gorden Vets in Musselburgh. 0131 665 2124

Required for the Pet Passport

See the following link for up to date information from the UK Government:
Before you travel:

  1. Animal must be Chipped, number, date and location must be recorded.
  2. Vaccination against Rabies-- Be sure that the dates are recorded and when it is to be renewed.
  3. All other vaccinations must be up to date, and it is smart to have the kennel cough vaccine as well.
  4. A clinical examination to prove the animal is healthy to travel. Record under IX. Clinical Examination. date (dd/mm/yy)
  5. Paste a recent photo of the pet under II. Description of Animal
  6. This pet passport may be required at your destination, and the Department of Agriculture in the US did accept it when we brought the dog into the USA.
  7. It will be required when you bring the pet back to the UK.

Before you return to the UK:

  1. You will need to have a tapeworm pill given to the animal within 5 days of returning to the UK and before 24 hours of return. It is to be documented in the Pet Passport under VII. Echinococcus Treatment. The date and time need to be the european date (dd/mm/yy) and 24 hour time used. This pill must be given to the pet in the presence of the Vet.
  2. Also, at the same time, a clinical examination of the pet must be done to say it is safe to travel and recorded in the passport document under IX. Clinical Examination. date (dd/mm/yy).
  3. A further document may be required to fly in/or out of the USA. It is the OFFICIAL SMALL ANIMAL HEALTH CERTIFICATE and will be provided by the Vet you used to get the tapeworm pill. Just to be safe, get the certificate, we needed it when we left Seattle.

We followed all of theses rules and had no trouble getting into the USA and returning to the UK. We traveled through France to enable us to take her in the cabin, and hired a Pet Transport company to get us from London to Paris through the chunnel. Although our UK trains allow pets to travel, the Eurostar does not, so that added an additional problem for us to solve.
Next, I will highlight the trip from Edinburgh to Paris to Seattle and give you the details of what was involved.

Part Two:

Traveling from Edinburgh to Seattle with our Toy Poodle

Our journey to Seattle from Edinburgh with our dog continues with the details of traveling to Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris.

Just to remind you, it is not possible to travel on any airlines in the UK with an animal in the cabin, under the seat, with you. So we had to make our way by car or train to Paris in order to fly to Seattle with our pet in the cabin. Since it was winter in the UK, we decided not to try to drive to Paris, just didn’t want to deal with the worry of snow, etc. So we took the train from Edinburgh to London Kings Cross and then hired a pet transport company to pick us up there and deliver us to our hotel at the airport in Paris.

1. Edinburgh to London on East Coast Rail (

Their policy:
“Your pet can usually travel with you free of charge, as long as they don’t occupy a seat.
You can bring up to two dogs, cats or other small domestic animals with you free of charge as long as they don’t occupy a seat. For each additional dog, cat or other small animal we charge half the adult fare for the type of ticket held for your journey, up to a maximum of £5.00 for a single and £10.00 for a return. “

Since we knew we were traveling well in advance, we booked our tickets Edinburgh-London, EC First Advance for £31.35 each, one way, using our Senior Railcards. We go first class when we get a good price on tickets because it includes coffee, tea and meals along the way and the seats are more comfortable. The dog carrier fits between us on the seat. (We weren’t so lucky to get that price on the way back, but it wasn’t too bad at £64.35 per person London to Edinburgh, again EC First Advance. We paid to use the First class lounge in London, an additional £10 which was a life saver for the return trip.)

2. Pet Moves‐ - Barry HUMPHREYS

We found Barry on the internet. We did lots of research on how to get to France, or Amsterdam for that matter, without flying. There are ships that go across, but it was Winter and we would have had to leave her in a kennel overnight, so wasn’t going to fulfil our criteria of having her with us at all times. Plus, did I mention it was Winter??? So ships were out.

Barry runs a company that specialises in pet transport to and from the UK. The company was everything they advertised and more. We were picked up at the train and delivered to the door of our hotel after making our way through the Channel Tunnel by car (van). The quote he gave us included:

  • “Owners are welcome to accompany their pets, at no extra cost, together with their luggage.
  • We specialise in owners accompanying your pets from door to door, by road.
  • We will guide you through the Pets passport procedure at the border controls.
  • We provide a tailor made dedicated, pet chauffeur service, this is exclusively for you at a time/date to suit you.
  • We personally accompany you and your pets, throughout the journey, this is what our customers prefer.
  • Air Conditioned/dual Climate controlled vehicle for your pets comfort.
  • We provide regular comfort breaks, and refreshments en route as required, important for both of us.
  • We can meet you at key points on the journey such as airports or stations if
  • required.
  • The cost of the journey is based on mileage/ferry costs and tolls.
  • We will keep you informed while we on route at strategic points and update our likely ETA.
  • You can contact us at any time whilst on route should you need to.
  • Our vehicles are not smoked in, our Drivers are non smokers.
  • We are experienced with Collections/Drop off’s at Paris CDG, Orly, Brussels Zaventem airports & most mainline Railway stations.
  • We can assist with finding Pet Friendly accommodation in London, Temporary or Long Term”

Barry was an excellent driver, very patient and kind. He stopped when we needed a break, took us to places to get some snacks and doggy parks for Minnie to get a walk. The drive took about 7 hours; including the London traffic, the Chunnel with its wait time, and short breaks.

It was expensive, but about the same as if we had shipped her via British Air cargo from the UK, but even the folks in the Cargo area told me there was no guarantee that she would get out on the same flight as we were on, so they honestly didn’t recommend we go that route.

He does individual quotes depending on time of year, time of day, day of week, etc., and will be happy to give you a quote if you are interested.

His other sites and services are to be found here:
a personal moving service ltd. company.

3. Hotel in Paris at the Airport

We were due to fly out in the morning from Paris, so we chose to stay over at the airport. Barry (from Pet Moves) recommended this Hotel and we were very happy he did, it was perfect. They are dog friendly, in fact crazy about dogs.

Hotel: Pullman Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport
Roissypole Ouest Bp 20248, 95713 Roissy, France‐0577-‐pullman-‐paris-‐charles-‐de-‐gaulle-‐airport/index.shtml

We ordered room service even though they said we could take the dog into the restaurant, we were tired and needed to chill. So every time I’m in Paris, I order steak and salad, wine and cheese. Heaven. Minnie got some steak for being such a good dog.

4. A word about Minnie, the toy poodle.

We had no idea how Minnie would travel for so many hours on such a long journey. We followed the recommendations to not feed her before traveling, and to limit the water to sips along the way, just enough to keep her hydrated. It turns out she is a terrific little traveller. We got an airline approved carrier, which is like a suit case with air vents. It had to weigh (with her in it) less than 6 kg, and she just fit into it. We had to know the dimensions of the carry bag when we booked her on the airline, so we got it well in advance and had her practice being in it in the car until it was time to travel.

Travel Bag for Pets

This is the bag we got: Sleepypod Air: Airline Approved Pet Carrier for Dogs and Cats
Shipping Weight 2.3 Kg

It was easy to put on the handle of our luggage, just like every other carry-on bag, and roll along on our way.
We put her in the bag in the stations and on the train. She complained at first, but then just settled in and went along for the ride. Our whole point of doing this method of travel with a dog was to keep her less stressed. As long as she was with us, she was fine and just went along with whatever was happening. We were really surprised how good she was, especially as she was only a bit over a year old.

I will leave you here, in our hotel in France, for this piece, and will finish up with the journey including the airlines, the stopovers and the journey home next month.

Hope you’re enjoying the trip as much as we did.

Part Three: Flying from France to Seattle with our Toy Poodle

The last bit of information I wanted to pass along was the airline details for traveling with your pet to the States. Just to remind you, the airlines in the UK won’t allow you to take your pet in the cabin with you on any flights in or out of the UK. So we chose to travel by land and Chunnel over to France because you can fly out of France (and other European countries) with your pet in the cabin.

The Flight

We chose to use Air France, which allies with Delta and KLM. Our flight was Air France going and Delta returning. Each airline has specific requirements for size and weight. The size of the carryall must meet certain specifications. They will weigh them both together. Air France says 6 kg is the limit for both but Delta said 16 pounds, so that meant Minnie could gain some weight on our holiday. Our kennel plus dog turned out to be 6.2 kg, but Air France let that go. We could have made it a bit lighter by just taking off the extra strap, but didn’t need to. Bottom line, check the airline and compare their requirements

We had to make reservations with Air France for the dog to travel round trip. Apparently they limit the number of animals per flight, so you must get your request in early. At the time we booked, six months in advance, you could not book through the Internet. We appreciated speaking to a person because we had so many questions. We couldn’t book our flight until we received permission for the dog to go on the same flight, and this took about 3 days to come through. We booked a non-stop flight from France to Seattle return, so we wouldn’t have to stop in the Midwest in winter.

You will have to pay an excess baggage charge to take the dog in the cabin. It was €200 in France on the way over, and $200 to come back from Seattle (included all flights in the price) Get to the airport early (3 hours for overseas flights), you might get someone who doesn’t know what to do with the dog and may take a bit longer to go through Security with the dog.

Best laid plans and all that...a few weeks before we left Air France wrote to say our flights were changed to one stop, Minneapolis on the way over and one stop Salt Lake City on the way back. In winter... Noooooooooo! Couldn’t change the plans at that late date, they cancelled all of the non-stop flights to Seattle from Paris.

One connection had 1 1/2 hours to make the transfer and the connection back gave us 45 minutes. Looked impossible to me, but they insisted it was do-able.

Long story short, we made each connection with the help of wheelchair service, running and a pilot who made up 15 minutes of the time on our 45 minute transfer (which left 45 minutes late) and a brilliant crew who ran with us and held our seats on the next plane. Whew!

On the flight leaving Paris, they gave us the four middle seats for only the two of Minnie and us. We could spread ourselves out and they even let Minnie come out of the cage and sleep in between us when we weren’t eating. I took her to the WC mid-way along with her pee pads, but she wasn’t interested in using it. We were told not to feed her before the flight (or during) and to just give her sips of water along the way, so she could keep hydrated, and apparently that’s all she needed. She was very contented and slept and cuddled the whole way. Must have been the engines and movement.

Some important notes:

  • Don’t feed her before you fly and give sips of water along the way.
  • Carry pee pads for emergencies.
  • Label the carryall with her information, a picture of her and your information. Put LIVE ANIMAL on it in plain sight.
  • Take the animal out of the carryall going through security checks. The carryall will go through X-rays but not her. If it is a foreign country even though you have a huge sign saying LIVE ANIMAL, they may not know what that means and they won’t tell you to take her out. ·
  • Remove any metal on her when she goes through as you carry her.
  • Carry a replacement collar in case the one you are using is broken (or eaten in our case).
  • The rules are to keep her in the carryall in the airport and plane at all times; you can break the rules by being quiet and polite and returning her when asked.

Coming Home:medical certificate

Before returning, dogs need to have a tapeworm medicine up to five days before entering the UK and a vet must do this. The vet must sign the animal passport and record the date and time using the European date and time format. Very important. Also, make sure it is put in the proper page in the passport. Our dog had a slight reaction to the worming, so we were glad we did it three days in advance.

Also, although the UK doesn’t require it, the US airports want to see a medical certificate (OFFICIAL SMALL ANIMAL HEALTH CERTIFICATE) that insures that the animal is fit to fly, so get that from your vet while you are there. Our vet was super to research that for us because we didn’t find anything that told us that we needed that in the US before we did the trip. The vet wasn’t as expensive as we were led to believe, just an office visit, $15 for the worm medicine and $30 for the medical certificate.

We had Barry from pets move ( pick us up in France and take us through passport control, he made it so easy for us, and the passport had all the right information so they passed us right through. He got us to the train on time, a brilliant driver and lots of fun to talk to as well.

Bill and MinnieA little side note...we did all this with as little stress as possible. I wanted Bill to be with his family to celebrate his 85th birthday in Seattle; he is a super traveler and loved having his dog with him.

Another side note from Caroline Puck Graves, one of our members:
”I loved the how-to on traveling back to Seattle. I wish Jamie and I had known about the service for getting through the Chunnel! We ended up with me getting off the plane in Paris, hiring a car and driving to Calais and him flying through to the UK and hiring a car before coming back through the Chunnel to get us. The service would’ve been much easier.
“Carrying full vet docs and photos saved us though. My US vet missed the last three digits of Mina and Della’s microchips. Because we had all documents they were able to get us a walk in appt at a Calais vet to draw up new, adorable-r EU passports. We still got on a train earlier than booked. Whew.”

So this is our experience, Minnie learned some new tricks while we were there and we did too with this experience. I’ll definitely do it again, but only if we have five or six weeks to be gone, and probably in the summer.  Please remember this was winter 2014, so you will need to do some further research to make sure the rules haven't changed since then.

Thanks for coming along on our trip with us, send any of your comments or further suggestions along and we will print them too. If you have an experience you think someone in the club could benefit from, please consider sending an article or two to our Newsletter Editor so we can all share in what you learned.


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