Animals abroad in Spain

Animals abroad in Spain

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Taking your pets to Spain can be a remarkably simple and stress-free process, as expat Tony Roberts finds out.

For many Brits, the companionship of man’s best friend is second to one.  However, what happens when you decide you want to relocate and take old pooch along with you.

When my wife Carol and I decided to move to Spain, four years ago, we wanted our two Yorkshire terriers to come with us, and we were surprised to discover what a simple process it was. 

The Pet Travel Scheme was introduced in February 2000 for dogs and cats travelling from certain European countries. This basically states that in order to take your dog or cat abroad, you have to obtain a passport for your pet. This is a great scheme because it does away with the need for quarantine, which can be very distressing for everybody. 

Our experience of obtaining passports couldn’t have been simpler.  Our local vet knew exactly what was needed and the timescale involved. So it was just a case of turning up with the dogs and paying him.

A pet has to meet certain conditions to be able to enter and re-enter the UK without quarantine. These rules are set to protect human and animal health, and to reduce the risk of importing rabies. Animals not meeting all the rules must be put into quarantine.

For dogs and cats entering or re-entering the UK, the following steps must be carried out: your pet must be micro-chipped; vaccinated against rabies (but not before it is 3 months old); blood tested at an EU-approved laboratory and obtain a satisfactory result; issued with an EU pet passport and teated against ticks and tapeworms.

Pet transport
There are a number of ways to transport your dog, and the best thing about Spain is that animals are allowed to travel to most airports. The DEFRA website has a full listing of  transport companies that are happy to carry pets.  

The company you will be travelling with will need to know that you are bringing your pet and there is normally a cost to cover flight and UK handling charges. Also, you need to notify the airports which you are travelling to prior to your departure. The DEFRA website lists some Spanish phrases that may help you here.

We decided to relocate to Spain in our car. When it came to providing a room for the four of us, we found that French hotels on the way were very accommodating, but that many Spanish hotels prohibited animals, so we finished up staying in motels.

Before you arrive at your destination, it's important to know if pets are allowed – this applies to those planning to rent in an apartment block because most Spanish landlords have a strict 'no pets' policy.

When we first arrived in Spain, we were living in a two-bedroom apartment in the centre of Aguilas. Despite having a 'no pets' policy, surprisingly, almost everybody owned a small dog. This flagrant breach of rules is typical of Spanish behaviour; they often say one thing, then either ignore it or do the complete opposite.

Spanish vets
The vets are excellent in Spain, where it is a popular profession and most have a smattering of English. Also, the fees and medication are considerably cheaper than in the UK. Pet insurance is also available from a number of insurance companies in Spain. Premiums are considerably cheaper than the UK and provide cover against all the usual contingencies.

Article published with the permission of Tony Roberts, who has lived in Spain since 2001. Tony frequently writes about his experiences of living in Spain and he is a regular contributor to both Spanish magazine and A Place in the Sun. He is now an established estate agent in south east Spain and has written a free e-book, "How to Buy a Property in Spain".

Tony Roberts / Expatica / 2008
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1 Comment To This Article

  • Karin posted:

    on 31st August 2008, 18:11:08 - Reply

    I have just moved with 5 cats to Finland, and the process was indeed much easier than I thought (and very similar to that outlined above). However I used a company to organise the flights and admin, and came unstuck with them due to their extremely unprofessional behaviour. I can't name the company but would warn anyone thinking of moving their animals to be very careful picking a company from a website without checking they are DEFRA recommended and IPATA registered. This company put me through hell, totally unnecessarily. Lukcily, the cats were not affected and have settled well.