Taking a dog to Ireland in 2023: Everything you need to know
Taking a dog to Ireland is trickier than it was before Brexit, with extra paperwork required depending on which part of Ireland you are travelling to. In this guide we run through what you need to do in order to take a dog to the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland as well as travelling between the two, including when an Animal Health Certificate is required, when to get tapeworm treatment administered, and how to return to the UK.
Please note, this guide only covers owners travelling with their dog from Great Britain (England, Scotland or Wales) to the Republic of Ireland or Northern Ireland. If you're travelling to Ireland from another country, if you aren't travelling with your dog, or if a dog is moving for commercial purposes, then other requirements may apply.
This guide is frequently updated by our vets to ensure the advice we give is up to date. If you think that something is incorrect or out of date please do contact us so we can update our guide.
Dog Friendly Travel Routes to Ireland
There are a number of routes to take your dog to Ireland from Great Britain.
Due to the complexity and cost of taking a dog by plane, most people tend to travel by ferry from one of the ports along the west coast of Great Britain. Crossing times range from 2 hours to 8 hours, and generally ferry companies don't charge extra for taking dogs.
We've listed the most common routes that accept dogs from Great Britain to Ireland below:
Crossings per Day
4 & 4
Belfast (N Ireland)
Larne (N Ireland)
Belfast (N Ireland)
All of these ferry companies are dog friendly, with most routes having the option of either booking a kennel, a dog friendly cabin, or keeping them inside the car.
For more information on each ferry companies' individual pet policies please follow the links below:
If you are planning on flying with your dog to Ireland, you'll need to book with a pet friendly airline such as KLM, Lufthansa, or Aer Lingus. You'll need to check with the airline what their pet policy is, and whether your pet can travel in the cabin or whether they have to be in the hold. Typically in addition to the requirements detailed later on in this guide, the airline will often require a "Fitness to Fly" certificate issued by a veterinarian stating that the dog is fit to travel.
Taking a dog from Great Britain to the Republic of Ireland
The Republic of Ireland is part of the European Union so in order to take a dog there EU rules must be followed. Below we outline what these requirements are and in what order they need to be followed.
1. Ensure your dog is microchipped and has been vaccinated against rabies
The first step is to ensure your dog has been microchipped (a legal requirement in the UK), and if your dog hasn't had a rabies vaccination before (or the previous one has expired), then you'll need to book this in at your vet practice.
Rabies vaccinations are not routine vaccinations in the UK, so unless your dog has travelled abroad before, it is unlikely that they will have had one. Dogs need to be at least 12 weeks old before they are able to have a rabies vaccination.
The price of rabies vaccinations varies by vet practice but most tend to charge between £50 and £90.
The vaccination needs to be administered at least 21 days before an Animal Health Certificate can be issued (see step 3), so you'll need to factor this in when planning your trip.
When the vet administers the rabies vaccination, they should update your dog's vaccination/health card or issue you with a rabies vaccination certificate. See our guide on proof of rabies documentation for what type of document is required.
The vaccination card or certificate needs to have the following information on in order for a vet to issue an Animal Health Certificate (AHC):
Details of your dog including the microchip number
Date the rabies vaccination was administered
Manufacturer and batch number of the rabies vaccination
Name, signature and practice stamp of the vet surgeon who administered the vaccine
2. Plan your travel to the Republic of Ireland, ensuring you can book an appointment with an Official Veterinarian a few days before your departure date
Dogs may only enter the Republic of Ireland through a designated Traveller's Point of Entry (TPE). These are:
Port of Cork – Ringaskiddy
Most people travelling with a dog to the Republic of Ireland travel by ferry, either from Holyhead, Fishguard or Pembroke into Dublin or Rosslare.
Check with the ferry company what their policy on dogs is, and whether to book them into a kennel or dog cabin onboard, or to leave them in the car during the crossing.
Before you book your ferry, it's worth booking the Animal Health Certificate and tapeworm treatment appointment(s) in with us or another Official Veterinarian to ensure they fit within the time below scales:
The Animal Health Certificate must be issued at least 21 days after the rabies vaccination was administered AND within 10 days of your departure date.
The tapeworm treatment must be administered between 24 hours (1 day) and 120 hours (5 days) before your scheduled arrival time in the Republic of Ireland.
3. Get an Animal Health Certificate issued within 10 days of your travel date
All dogs travelling to the Republic of Ireland are required to have either an Animal Health Certificate (AHC) or an EU-issued pet passport with a valid rabies vaccination in. GB-issued pet passports are no longer valid for travelling to the EU, and have been replaced with AHCs.
Animal Health Certificate
An Animal Health Certificate (AHC) is a single-use document required for dogs or cats to enter the EU from the UK. The certificate must be completed and issued by an Official Veterinarian within 10 days of your travel date, and at least 21 days after the rabies vaccination was administered (to allow sufficient immunity to build up).
Not all vet practices have Official Veterinarians (vets than can issue AHCs), and prices can vary widely, so it's best to shop around to see which vet can issue your AHC within the time period you need it, and at a fair price.
At PassPets, we specialise in issuing Animal Health Certificates and travel documents for pets, with our prices for Animal Health Certificates starting from £99. We have branch in Havant (near Portsmouth) and have recently opened a new branch in London. If you would like more information about our service, visit our website or call us on 02392453650.
EU Pet Passport
If you have an EU-issued pet passport (not a GB-issued pet passport), and the most rabies vaccination was administered and completed in the EU pet passport by a vet registered in the EU and it is still in date for the duration of your trip, then you can use this EU pet passport instead of an Animal Health Certificate.
4. Tapeworm Treatment
All dogs entering the Republic of Ireland are required to have tapeworm treatment administered and recorded by a vet between 24 hours (1 day) and 120 hours (5 days) before the dog's scheduled arrival time in the Republic of Ireland.
The vet that administers the tapeworm treatment does not have to be an "Official Veterinarian", any vet can administer and record tapeworm treatment.
To avoid having to make multiple appointments with the vet, it's worth seeing whether they can issue the AHC and administer the tapeworm treatment at the same time (i.e. between 24 hours and 120 hours before you arrive in the Republic of Ireland). At PassPets, we issue the AHC and administer the tapeworm treatment at the same appointment.
The treatment needs to be recorded in the table at the bottom of page 3 of the Animal Health Certificate. The vet will need to record the name and manufacturer of the product, the date and time it was administered and their name, stamp and signature.
If you have an EU pet passport, then tapeworm treatment is still required, but it will need to be recorded on the "Echinococcus Treatment" page in the EU pet passport instead.
5. Travel to the Republic of Ireland
Once you have an Animal Health Certificate (or EU pet passport), and tapeworm treatment has been administered, you can travel to the Republic of Ireland with your dog (provided you are due to arrive in the Republic of Ireland between 1 and 5 days from when the tapeworm treatment was administered).
At the ferry port, or airport, they will check your dog's microchip and inspect the paperwork you have to ensure it has been filled in correctly and that the tapeworm treatment has been administered.
6. Travelling back to Great Britain from the Republic of Ireland
Provided you have not travelled to any other countries whilst in the Republic of Ireland (apart from Northern Ireland), there are no extra requirements for returning to Great Britain.
At the border they will check to see you have an Animal Health Certificate (or EU pet passport), for your dog and that the rabies vaccination is still valid.
Taking a dog from Great Britain to Northern Ireland
Taking a dog from Great Britain to Northern Ireland is easier than taking a dog to the Republic of Ireland.
Most people travelling with dogs tend to travel by ferry, either from Cairnryan (in Scotland) to Belfast or Larne, or from Liverpool to Belfast. Check with the ferry company what their policy on dogs is, and whether to book them into a kennel or dog cabin onboard, or to leave them in the car during the crossing.
When the UK left the EU in January 2021, in order to take a dog to Northern Ireland, pet owners initially had to follow the same rules as for the Republic of Ireland, including a rabies vaccination, an Animal Health Certificate and tapeworm treatment.
However, on the 15th September 2021, a statement was issued from DAERA (the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development of Northern Ireland) announcing that all pet checks on the border between Great Britain and Northern Ireland would be suspended until further notice.
"There will be no routine physical or documentary checks on the non-commercial movement of pet dogs, cats and ferrets travelling from Great Britain to Northern Ireland until further notice" Department of Agriculture and Rural Development of Northern Ireland (Source)
So given the above statement, as long as you are only travelling to Northern Ireland and not to the Republic of Ireland, then there are no requirements for taking a dog other than the dog must be microchipped.
That said, we would still recommend contacting the ferry company (or airline) you are planning on using to see whether they have still suspended pet checks at the time you will be travelling.
When returning from Northern Ireland to Great Britain with a dog, there are no additional requirements:
"If travelling from NI to GB with your pet and not returning to NI, there are no documentary or health preparation requirements. However, there is a legal requirement that dogs are microchipped at 8 weeks old." Department of Agriculture and Rural Development of Northern Ireland (Source)
Taking a dog from Northern Ireland to the Republic of Ireland
Technically, because you are entering the EU when travelling from Northern Ireland to the Republic of Ireland, you need to follow the EU rules when taking a dog, which includes getting an Animal Health Certificate issued and tapeworm treatment administered (as outlined above in the travelling to the Republic of Ireland from Great Britain section).
If you entered Ireland through Northern Ireland but are planning on returning to Great Britain from the Republic of Ireland then we would definitely recommend following the steps above for travelling to the Republic of Ireland. This is because they will likely be checking documents at the border between the Republic of Ireland and Great Britain so they will want to see a valid Animal Health Certificate or EU pet passport.
On the other hand, if you are not planning on returning to Great Britain via the Republic of Ireland, then because there is no physical border between Northern and the Republic of Ireland, you are unlikely to be checked for pet documentation:
"A risk-based approach is taken with regards to the level of compliance checks on pets travelling between NI and the ROI. DAERA and the Department of Agriculture Food & Marine (DAFM) reserve the right to carry out checks should there be a suspicion of illegal activity or welfare concerns." Department of Agriculture and Rural Development of Northern Ireland (Source)
However an Animal Health Certificate or EU pet passport with evidence of the tapeworm treatment, is technically required.
Taking a dog from the Republic of Ireland to Northern Ireland
If you've travelled into the Republic of Ireland from Great Britain with a dog, you'll have had to get an Animal Health Certificate or EU pet passport, along with evidence of tapeworm treatment before you arrived.
As a result, if you were to travel into Northern Ireland, because there are no routine checks being done between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, nor between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, you are unlikely to need to show these documents, but it's worth keeping hold of them just in case.