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Taking Dogs to Spain From the UK

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27th Apr 2023 (Last updated on 14th Mar 2024) 8 minute read

Many people consider moving to Spain thanks to its warm climate, gorgeous beaches, high standard of living and relaxed way of life. After securing a visa, finding where to live, pet owners will need to consider taking a dog to Spain from the UK as well.

International removal companies will not deliver live animals as policy, so you'll need to handle this yourself.

In this article, we will go through all the documents, checks and travel options you'll need to get your dog to Spain.

  1. 1. Apply for Animal Health Certificate
  2. 2. Ensure your Dog is Microchipped
  3. 3. Get a Correct Rabies Vaccination Certificate
  4. 4. Decide on a Travel Method
  5. 5. Understand Points of Entry
  6. 6. Prepare for Travel
  7. 7. After Arriving in Spain
  8. 8. Follow Local Rules
  9. Finding an International Removal Company

1. Apply for Animal Health Certificate

These are what’s now used instead of pet passports since Britain left the EU, and can be issued by an authorised vet. Getting one of these costs £180, so be sure to budget for this. The difficulty is when you’ll need to secure one - as it needs to be 10 days or less before your dog’s departure date. It also cannot be issued if it’s within the first 21 days of your dog being vaccinated for rabies.

Before your vet can issue your Animal Health Certificate, you’ll need to have your dog microchipped and vaccinated. Finally, the document needs to be issued in Spanish and English or it will not be accepted by authorities upon arrival.

One upside is that up to 5 animals (not just dogs) can be certified to enter Spain under a single certificate.

2. Ensure your Dog is Microchipped

Compared to other services, a microchip is relatively cheap at around £16. The microchip must be implanted before vaccinating your dog for rabies. Rabies vaccinations administered before a microchip is inserted will not be recognised by the authorities.

You can enter Spain with an older microchip model, but this may cause complications at the admissions office. Plus, your animal won’t be able to be located if it gets lost whilst in an EU country.

This should align with ISO 11784 and 11785 regulations by being a 15-digit microchip.

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3. Get a Correct Rabies Vaccination Certificate

Prices for vaccinations may vary depending on your vet, usually costing between £50 and £90. You’ll have to ensure your dog is vaccinated at least 21 days before the arranged travel date (day 1 being the day following the rabies vaccination). Dogs cannot receive their vaccination until they’re at least 12 weeks old.

If your dog is vaccinated but has recently received a booster, it can travel to Spain immediately. You only need to ensure the booster was administered before the previous vaccination/booster expired. No other vaccination is required for your dog to travel.

Spain also accepts the use of the 3-year rabies vaccine, so long as it is administered as a booster and not as your pet’s first vaccination.

4. Decide on a Travel Method

Before travelling, dog owners will have to pick whether they want to fly, sail, or drive to Spain.

Fly

The cost of transporting your animal will differ depending on the airline you choose but expect to pay between €40 and €120 per pet. We recommend Air France, KLM and Lufthansa as these provide the most pet-friendly flying policies.

The main international airports for admitting pets from non-EU countries are Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Tenerife Sur and Malaga.

Depending on the airline, you may be able to have your dog travel in the cabin with you - as long as they’re a small dog under 8kg. There’s a set limit on how many dogs are allowed in the cabin per flight - usually no more than 2 or 3.

Ferry

An alternative to flying is to transport your dog to Spain via ferry using your car (adding the bonus of getting your car to Spain too!). Muzzles are required on all dogs moving between cars and cabins/kennels. The ferry will set you back £45 per dog.

The most direct seaward route would be using a Brittany Ferries service from Portsmouth or Plymouth to Santander or Bilbao. Bilbao is only accessible from Portsmouth. Depending on the ferry, you can keep your dog in a kennel, on a separate deck or in a pet-friendly cabin.

The journey takes somewhere between 20 and 32 hours, but is cheaper than flying and arguably less stressful for the animal.

Drive

You can either take the Eurotunnel or a ferry via car, with the Eurotunnel costing £19-£22 per pet for admission. Driving is the lengthiest and arguably most expensive way to travel. However, it could be a more suitable choice to a ferry for those moving to a less coastal location.

Once you’ve crossed the channel, you’ll have a roughly 2-day journey ahead of you, being somewhere between 700 and 800 miles from Calais. Many French motorways are tolled, so take this into account along with petrol costs if you’re planning a road route.

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5. Understand Points of Entry

A big consideration when moving to Spain is how your dog will journey there. Since Britain is no longer an EU country after Brexit, you must admit your dog at one of Spain’s Traveler’s Points of Entry. These are over 30 designated airports and ports where your animal can be processed by Guardia Civil's Tax Office.

Depending on your chosen form of travel, you can bring your dog to one of the following locations:

Airports

  • A Coruña (Galicia)
  • Alicante (Valencia)
  • Almería (Andalusia)
  • Barcelona (Catalonia)
  • Castellón (Valencia)
  • Fuerteventura (Canary Islands)
  • Girona (Catalonia)
  • Gran Canaria (Canary Islands)
  • Jerez de la Frontera (Cadiz)
  • Lanzarote (Canary Islands)
  • La Palma (Canary Islands)
  • Madrid (Madrid)
  • Málaga (Málaga)
  • Palma de Mallorca (Balearic Islands)
  • Santander (Cantabria)
  • Santiago de Compostela (Galicia)
  • Sevilla (Andalusia)
  • Tarragona/Reus (Cantabria)
  • Tenerife Norte (Canary Islands)
  • Tenerife Sur (Canary Islands)
  • Valencia (Valencia)
  • Vigo (Pontevedra)

Ports

  • Algeciras (Cádiz)
  • Alicante (Alicante)
  • Almería (Almeria)
  • Barcelona (Barcelona)
  • Bilbao (Biscay)
  • Ceuta-El Tarajal (Ceuta)
  • Málaga (Málaga)
  • Santander (Cantabria)
  • Tarifa (Cádiz)
  • Valencia (Valencia)

6. Prepare for Travel

When your dog’s moving day is getting close, be sure to pay a final visit to your vet to ensure everything is in order. You could also look at prescribing your dog medicine to help ease stress and travel sickness during their journey. We recommend taking a photo of your dog to include with your documents (roughly 5cm x 5cm), as this may assist with processing your animal at border control.

Besides documentation, you can help reduce your dog’s stress during transit by getting them accustomed to their kennel beforehand. Take a stroll near your home with your dog inside so they’re accustomed to travelling in it, and be sure to throw in their favourite toys and blanket for good measure.

Ticks, mosquitos and sandflies can carry potentially fatal diseases for dogs in Spain, so we heartily recommend asking your vet about the best protection you can provide for your dog before jetting off.

Also - if travelling by air - certain airlines have specific requirements for your dog’s pet carrier, so double-check to avoid unnecessary complications at the airport.

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7. After Arriving in Spain

Keep in mind that certain dogs are classified as dangerous breeds (or PPP dogs) in Spain. The following breeds are included in this category:

  • Akita Inu
  • American Staffordshire Terrier
  • Argentine Dogo
  • Brazilian Row
  • Doberman (Andalusia only)
  • Pit Bull Terrier
  • Rottweiler
  • Staffordshire Bull Terrier
  • Tosa Inu

These dogs need to be registered within 3 months of entering the country and must be insured as soon as possible. You’ll need to acquire an Administrative License Possession of Potentially Dangerous Animals for when you’re walking your dog too, which must be renewed every 5 years. They also must wear a muzzle and be on a lead no longer than two metres when being walked.

Once you and your dog live in Spain, be sure to keep its record updated with regular booster vaccinations from an accredited veterinarian.

8. Follow Local Rules

Once you’ve settled in Spain, there are several dog-related rules you should always keep in mind:

  • Dogs are not allowed to be walked on Spanish beaches.
  • Like in the UK, not picking up excrement carries a heavy fine in Spain, so bring the appropriate bags whenever out with your beloved canine.
  • When driving with a dog in Spain, they’ll need to be secured with a dog belt or harness.
  • Dogs are not allowed on most buses in Spain unless they’re a guide dog or assistance dog.
  • You can bring dogs (in a carrier) onto other forms of public transport, such as trains, trams and metros, though there are exceptions. One prime example is during rush hour in Barcelona.

The regulations around dogs can differ depending on the local municipality where you decide to live. Andalusia for example has stricter rules on PPP dogs, requiring leads be no longer than one metre and banning any such dogs from entering children’s parks and play areas.

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FAQs

Are any dogs banned in Spain?

Though no dog is outright banned, several breeds are designated as dangerous dogs (Peros Potencialmente Peligrosos or PPP). These dogs are defined as possessing muscular jaws and necks, short hair and strong character among other traits.

How many dogs can I bring to Spain?

Non-commercial customers are allowed to bring no more than 5 dogs, cats or ferrets with them when moving to Spain. If you are likely to be bringing more, consult your vet for advice and the proper documentation required.

Can I fly my dog back to the UK from Spain?

Whilst dogs are allowed in the cabin on selected flights from the UK to Spain, this isn’t allowed on flights in the other direction. This means your dog can only travel as cargo, which could be much more stressful for your dog and costly for you.

Can I bring my puppy to Spain?

Your puppy must be at least 4 months old to travel to Spain. This is because dogs cannot receive their vaccination until they’re a minimum of 12 weeks old. You then have to wait at least 21 days after vaccination before your health certificate can be issued.

Can I take my dog to Spain by car?

We recommend transporting your dog to Spain in a car via ferry, which costs £45 per dog but saves you a lot in fuel. You can also use the eurotunnel to transport your dog by car, which will cost £19-£22 per dog plus fuel costs.

Finding an International Removal Company

At Compare My Move, we’re there to help cut out all the stress and hassle of moving abroad. There’s plenty to consider if you’re considering moving elsewhere, let alone another country. That is why we’ve done our utmost to help you choose an international removal company that best suits your needs.

Those moving domestically can still benefit from our guidance on moving house with a dog.

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