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Respectful Co-existence - Travelling

Animals affected

Dogs, Cats






More and more people are deciding to travel with animals, either on holiday or because they are going to live in another place. Abandonment is not an option. From the moment we decide to take an animal into our homes we are responsible for it, therefore we are going to take a look at all the things we need to consider when travelling with animals. It’s very important to know all the steps very well in order to do them correctly, that way we avoid problems.

When we travel with our pet it is very important to take into account whether or not it is a species which adapts well to travelling and changes. Obviously, dogs and cats are different. Travelling with an animal which is considered a “pet” requires planning and being ready to take some precautions.

If it is a dog and for some reason you cannot take it with you, the best thing is to have someone look after it at home. This eases the stress of separation from you. There are also professionals who take animals into their home, like a babysitter, and as a last resort there are kennels. 

On the other hand, cats are very much connected to their territory. It is not advisable to move it because that will just stress it out. The best thing would be to leave it at home, with abundant food and water and leave a neighbour or friend or family member in charge of going to your home to check-up on it, give it some attention and change the litter if necessary. Also give the person in charge the vet’s number, just in case.

According to the Spanish Institute of Tourism, when planning a trip there are more and more options for people who have pets. Both in our country and internationally the number of establishments and means of transport that allow pets is growing.

Faced with this growing demand the sector has increased its offer and there are more and more hotels, rural tourism lodgings, hostels and campsites which allow pets. This is clear from the numerous guides that can be found online. Even so, it is always recommended to call first, to make sure you won’t get a nasty surprise. 

Although availability is growing, Spain is still quite far from having the amount of choice that is available in other European countries, where travelling with your pet and being able to take it into any bar or restaurant is quite normal.

What you can do

If you travel overseas, according to the Official College of Vets of Barcelona, must take into account:

  1. Identification and anti-rabies vaccination. The main requisite to travel anywhere, both within the European Union and outside it, is that the animal is duly identified and subsequently vaccinated for rabies. The primary vaccination should be done at least 21 days before travelling - check with destination country - and the animal should be at least 12 weeks old. As for booster vaccinations, they should be applied within the period stated by the manufacturer. This data should be reflected on the vaccination card and/or passport or health certificate of the animal.
  2. Consult the embassy or consulate of the destination country. Each country has its own requirements for animals travelling there (such as an import licence specific to that country or an official export certificate stamped by the embassy or consulate).
  3. Passport. This is the document needed for pets to travel around the EU or to enter from other countries. On the 29th of December 2014 the new style of passport became law, passed by the European Parliament, substituting the previously emitted passports.
  4. Animal Health Certificate. This is needed to travel outside of the EU and is emitted by an authorised clinical vet who certifies that the animal has no symptoms of contagious diseases, that it is vaccinated against rabies and that it is fit to travel, as well as any other points required by the destination country. It normally lasts a maximum of 10 days, depending on the country.
  5. Official exportation certificate. This must accompany the animal’s health certificate. It is emitted by official veterinary services present in the Area of Agriculture of the Delegations and Sub-delegations of Government. This official document should be emitted differently depending on the procedures established in the destination country.  
  6. Returning to Spain with your pet (dogs, cats and ferrets). The return conditions depend on the country from where the return is being made. Specifically, if it is a country with a risk of rabies, it is necessary to carry out a serological test on the animal against this disease, where the result must be recorded in its passport. It is recommended that this test be carried out before the initial trip. In any case, if you travel with one of these animals to a country outside of the EU, you should take into account the established protocols concerning its return to Spain. It is important that you are informed by professionals about this point in good time, in order to avoid problems for both the owners and the pets. It is necessary to have an analysis of rabies anti-bodies done at least 21 days after the vaccination.

For more information consult the link to importation of CEXGAN or talk to the Spanish consulate or embassy in the origin country.

In this way, remember that each animal should have its documentation in order when travelling. Within the EU they require an international passport (which can only be issued by your vet), which states that:

  • It has an identity microchip and is registered on an official database. It is very important to check that the data on file is up to date and correct.
  • It has had its anti-rabies vaccinations or booster jabs.

For the UK, Malta, Ireland, Finland and Norway, animals must be treated against Echinococcus multilocularis 24-120 hours before entry into the country.

If you don’t want to get bogged down by all the paperwork, you can have it done by a company which specialises in dealing with all the bureaucracy. Another thing to assess before traveling with an animal or animals is the mode of transport:

By plane

Airline companies generally (except a few low-cost ones) allow pets up to 7-8 kg as long as they are in a special travelling crate. Bigger animals go in the cargo hold, also in a pet crate, which is why we at FAADA advise you only to take your pet on a plane if it is a very long trip and if there is no alternative means of transport.

The best advice we can offer is to assess very carefully whether it is worth putting your pet through this experience and to consult the airline company’s website to find out all the details before booking your flight.

By boat

Animals are allowed on most ferries. There is usually a space set aside for them and the tariff varies depending on the company. Having the dog’s paperwork in order is required (health card or international passport) and your pet must have a boarding pass. Each company has its own conditions and requirements (consult Balearia, Trasmediterránea, Grimaldi, Iscomar, Fred Olsen, etc.).

By train

In Spain, Renfe only allows pets of up to 10 Kg on the AVE (high speed train) and long distance trains. It may take up a seat and it must travel in a pet crate. On commuter trains there is no weight restriction and animals should be on a lead and muzzled, under your supervision and responsibility.

By car

Before setting off on a long journey, it’s a good idea to get your dog used to the vehicle (if it isn’t already). A few days before leaving, take it on short journeys to nice places, like a park or out for a walk, etc. His mind works by association, he shouldn’t remember that he only gets in the car to go to the vet, to have his fur trimmed or somewhere that doesn’t bring him happy memories.

Finally, before leaving home to make the trip, remember:


Make sure your pet has a resistant collar with ID tags stating your permanent address and phone number, as well as contact details (yours or the person looking after it) of where the pet is staying during the trip, and of course, microchip ID, verify that the data on file is correct. Take a recent photo with you in order to be able to identify him if he gets lost.

Should he be fed before leaving?

If your pet is not used to travelling by car, it is not recommended to feed him up to five hours before travelling. This will help avoid dizziness and vomiting. If it is an animal that gets dizzy a lot, talk to your vet about giving it an anti-motion pill.

Where’s he going to travel?

When travelling, keep in mind that your pet has to be safe. If it is small, the best place is on the back seat in a pet crate and with a seatbelt holding the crate, in order to hold it steady.

If it is a big dog, it can go on a seat with a seatbelt harness (taking up the place of a person) or in the boot if you have a safety barrier or if it is in a crate. Make sure it can travel away from objects which could smother it with movement. It should only travel in the boot if it is a hatchback. Keep in mind that the air conditioning may not reach the boot, which means it would be wise to travel at night or at times of little heat and stop every couple of hours so the animal can stretch, drink and freshen up a little.

During the trip

If possible, travel during times of least heat. It is also important to respect the biorhythms of the animal and to stop along route so that it can stretch its legs and drink. Keep the water bottle close at hand.

If your dog suffers from nervousness, you could play gentle relaxing music. If he barks, don’t shout at him, show him that you are by his side and make contact with him, without upsetting him or ignoring him.

If your dog shows clear signs of a phobia of cars, gets very anxious or doesn’t stop barking, consult a dog trainer or an ethologist. The reason for his behaviour always has a logical explanation.

His luggage

  • Health card and if you are travelling overseas, a European passport.
  • Collar and lead.
  • Bowls for food and water.
  • Its regular food (sudden changes in feeding are unadvisable).
  • Brush and cleaning utensils.
  • Bags for excrements.
  • Its blanket or bed (so that he doesn’t feel strange at the destination).
  • Some of his toys.
  • A first aid kit.
  • His medicine (if he takes it).
  • Telephone numbers of the nearest vets in the destination.
  • In the car, a water recipient to drink from.


Our action

  • We raise people's awareness so that they know how to improve the conditions of the animal they are sharing with.
  • We put pressure on and collaborate with the authorities so that they carry out responsible ownership campaigns.
  • We publish articles with useful information and advice so that anyone can put what they have learnt into practice.
  • On our website Soy Responsable we publish all year long a list of veterinary centres that offer low prices.
  • We carry out a yearly campaign of identification and sterilisation with which we have managed to help out more than 122,000 animals in 9 years (2012-2021).

What can you do?

  • Get all the facts before travelling with your pet.
  • Please share this information with pet owners who are planning their holiday.


Other sources

Tourism and pets
Travelling overseas with pets (COVB)
Travelling with pets (MAPAMA)

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