Moving to Spain with Your Pets After Brexit

When the UK left the EU it had a significant impact on life for Britons living in Spain, or thinking of moving to Spain. As well as thinking about where they will live and how they will transport their belongings from A to B, Brits also have to think about whether they will need a visa, and whether they will be eligible to work in Spain. And if you have a furry companion, there will also be extra elements to consider if you’d like to bring your pet with you to Spain.

The good news is that it is still possible to move to Spain from the UK with your pet but, as with so many processes in Spain since Brexit, you will have a few hoops to jump through. The process will vary depending on the type of animal you wish to transport, with most rules applying to cats, dogs and ferrets, whilst more documentation is needed if your pet is a bird or a reptile. Check before you decide to move, as in some regions of Spain these types of pets are not permitted to be imported at all.

In this article we will discuss the rules that apply to moving to Spain with a pet dog, cat or ferret, as other types of pet will require a more specialist approach, and you may need the support of a specialist vet.

Do I Still Need a Pet Passport?

If your pet already has a pet passport then unfortunately, because the UK was granted ‘part 2 listed status by the EU, those passports are no longer valid. Instead you must get an animal health certificate (AHC) from your vet in order to bring your pet into the EU. Your pet must also meet the following criteria:

  • The pet must be at least 12 weeks of age.
  • You cannot travel with more than five pets at a time
  • The pet must have been inoculated at least 21 days prior to travel for the vaccination to be valid.
  • The pet most be vaccinated against rabies
  • The pet must be microchipped
  • If you’re travelling with a dog, it must be treated against tapeworm between 24-120 hours before arrival.

What is an AHC and How do I Get One?

An AHC is an animal health certificate, and you should secure this from your vet no less than 10 days before you intend to travel. Your vet will check your pets vaccination history and microchipping date in order to issue the certificate. These certificates can be bilingual on request, so you are advised to ask your vet for a Spanish language certificate to make it easier to use this to travel to Spain.

The AHC is only valid for 10 days after it has been issued for entry to the EU and you can then use it to travel around the EU for up to four months, but each AHC is only valid for a single trip to the EU, meaning you will need to get another certificate every time you travel to and from Spain.

All of these rules will apply regardless of whether you are travelling with a pet or an assistance animal.

How Can You Travel to Spain With Your Pet?

If you are travelling directly from the UK to Spain then you can only enter the country via an appointment Point of Entry. Examples of these include the airports in Barcelona, Valencia and Madrid, and the ports of Bilbao and Santander. You can find a full list of these here. The modes of transport you can travel to Spain with your pet include:

  • Aircraft. Legally, pets can travel between Spain and the UK either in the cabin or as checked baggage. However, not all airlines will allow this, so you may need to shop around to find the airline best able to accommodate your needs. Iberia Express is one airline that will allow you to travel directly to Spain with your pet.
  • Train. If you are travelling with an assistance dog, you can travel via the Eurostar train, but unfortunately other pets are not allowed to travel via this mode of transportation.
  • Car. This is the easiest way to travel to Spain with your pets, but it is also the most time consuming. You will need to consider the cost of an overnight stay as part of your journey, and it will cost an additional £20 per pet to take your animal on the Eurotunnel.
  • Ferry. There are many different routes and options for travelling from the UK to Spain via ferry. Many ships will have pet-friendly cabins if you wish to keep your pet with you, alternatively you many need to leave your pet in either a small or large kennel, or leave them in your car. Most ferries will also have exercise areas for pets.

What Happens Once Your Arrive in Spain?

Once you arrive in Spain, your pet will need to be registered in the Animal Identification Registry or Registro de Animales de Compañía. This is a legal requirement under Spanish law. Towards the end of 2021, Spain introduced the Ley de Protección y Derechos de los Animales or Animal Rights and Protection Law, which stated that as of 2022 pet owners in Spain will also need to register for the Pet ID scheme and get an Animal Pet ID.

You may need to get a specific license and register your dog separately if it is considered to be a  potentially dangerous dog (perros potencialmente peligrosas or PPP). Dogs that fall into this category include Doberman, Pit Bull Terrier, Dogo Argentino, Rottweiler and Akita Inu. If you’re in doubt whether your dog is considered to be a dangerous dog then you should check with the authorities of the region that you are moving to before you arrive with your pet.

Are you thinking of moving to Spain with your pets? Whether you want to make a permanent leap, or are looking for the perfect holiday bolt hole, our locally based property experts are perfectly placed to help you find the home of your dreams. Why not get in touch today to see how we can help you.