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Pets abroad: taking animals overseas

As a nation, Britain is renowned for its love of pets, with millions of households counting cats, dogs, hamsters, gerbils, fish and all manner of other animal friends among their numbers.

Anyone considering the expatriate lifestyle will know that there's a fair amount of work involved in moving yourself and your family overseas. The same is true of your pets as well. So here's a few things that you should keep in mind if you're planning to make the switch from the UK to a more exotic locale.

Pet passports and vaccinations – Within the EU specifically, and in a growing number of other countries around the world, pets are now required to have their own passports before entering. 

These can be acquired from your veterinarian, as can the microchip and rabies vaccination that animals are now also required to have at least a month before moving throughout Europe. Remember to get your pet microchipped before they receive the vaccination, otherwise it won't be accepted. 

If you're taking a dog with you, you'll also need to make sure that they have received a treatment for tapeworm.

Animal-friendly travel – Depending on how far you are travelling to your new home, it is also important to consider how exactly you plan to get there. 

Most airlines will not permit pets in the passenger cabin, even if they are small and well-behaved, so you'll need to speak to your flight provider about whether they check pets in as cargo or excess baggage – either way, they will travel safely in the pressurised and heated hold, although if your pet suffers from anxiety, it might be worth considering a tranquiliser. Speak to your vet for more information.

If your animal is required to travel in an a pet carrier, make sure that it is approved by your airline and also ensure that your animal is acclimatised to spending time in the carrier in the weeks or days leading up to the flight. 

If you are uncomfortable leaving your pet in the hold, are you able to reach your destination by car? If so, make sure that your animal will be comfortable travelling by road.

Visiting the UK – Once you're established abroad, you'll need to check that your pet complies with the rules for entry into the UK if you wish to visit home with the animal. It is often now possible to do so without the need for quarantine, assuming that you are in compliance with the Pet Travel Scheme.

Expatriate Healthcare specialise in providing international health insurance. Make sure you're protected.

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