Just like their two-legged owners, pets move a lot more easily between countries when they have a passport. For instance, there are no quarantine restrictions when moving a pet to Spain from the UK, if the animal has a pet passport, enabling it to be transported as a part of the EU´s Pet Travel Scheme. The pet will, however, have to be micro-chipped and vaccinated against rabies and will also require a fitness-to-fly certificate issued by a vet. This confirms that on the date of being examined, it was free of any diseases and of a satisfactory condition to be transported by air. The certificate is only valid for 10 days.
Airlines that transported pets in the cargo holding area of the aircraft, at the time of writing included: Monarch, Britannia Airways, Excel, British Airways, BMI and Thompson (See 2010 update below for further information). Budget airlines such as Ryanair, Easyjet and Jet2 do not accept pets. To take a pet on board, a passenger must notify the passenger reservations team and book and pay for an additional charge that will largely depend on the size of the cargo.
In order to transport a pet to Spain by ship or ferry, the individual shipping company’s regulations should be consulted. Some companies insist that pets be left in vehicles (if applicable), while others allow pets to be kept in cabins. If the pet is of a nervous disposition or unused to travelling, it may be best to medicate the animal to keep in calm on a long sea crossing.
For those who need to leave a pet here while they are absent, there are kennels and catteries (residencias para animals de compañía) throughout Spain, which can temporarily house a pet. It´s a good idea to see the licence of the place and to ask for a reference. Book well in advance of the date a pet needs boarding, particularly for school holiday periods. Fees are around four euros a day for a cat and from six euros a day for a dog, depending on its size (there may be a small discount for more than one pet). Pets must be vaccinated.
All municipalities have rules (ordenanzas) regarding the keeping of dogs, which require a health card if they’re older than three months. In public areas, a dog must be kept on a lead (and muzzled, if dangerous) and wear a health disc on its collar. Dogs are prohibited from entering places where food is manufactured, stored or sold; from sports and cultural events and are banned from beaches. Many hotels accept pets such as cats and dogs. Pet owners may be discriminated against when trying to rent housing. Landlords of furnished flats are likely to be reluctant to rent to a pet owner and the statutes of community properties can legally prohibit pets.
In response to several killings and maimings by dogs in Spain, the government introduced extensive legislation for dangerous dogs with strict regulations regarding ownership of such dogs. Under the legislation there are eight breeds defined as ´dangerous´: Akita, American Staffordshire Terrier, Dogo Argentino, Fila Brasileiro, Japanese Tosa, Pit Bull, Rottweiler and Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
Finally, owning a dog or cat can be a fantastic pleasure, but one of the most unpleasant aspects of widespread urban pet ownership is the vast amount of excrement deposited on Spanish streets, which is an increasing health hazard, particularly for young children. It’s illegal to not clean up after your dog in a public area, but there are many scoff the law.
Supposedly, these infractions will receive more sanctions under the civismo initiative. Nevertheless, when out walking the dog, or doing anything else, it’s still necessary to keep a weather eye on the pavement ahead.
The use of the word “pet”
Legally a pet is classed as a dog, cat, ferret, invertebrates (except bees and crustaceans), ornamental tropical fish, amphibia, reptiles, birds (all species except poultry), rodents and domestic rabbits.
How to get a passport
Your vet will guide you through the pet passport process.
Bringing pets back to the UK
Luckily Spain is a country with a low level of rabies, so your pet does not need to be quarantined on return to the UK. However, as well as the standard requirements, the UK does insist that your pet undergoes a blood titer test 6 months prior to arrival to the UK. It is also necessary for your pet to have Echinococcus treatment (ticks and tapeworms).
Microchips and tattoos
In the past, many pets were tattooed as a form of identification when travelling, however from July 2011 tattoos will be invalid and all travelling pets will have to be microchipped.
Age restrictions on travel
Your pet must be older than 10 weeks to travel.
Useful table of airlines how they deal with pets:
Pet Travel Scheme (DEFRA)
International Air Transport Association
First published March 2006. Updated August 2010