You don’t have to leave your four-legged family members behind when you relocate to Spain. Due to new EU regulations it’s far easier to import pets into Spain now than it was 20 years ago. Think ahead and get your paperwork in order, and remember that travelling with pets is similar to travelling with small children.
• Jabs and Microchips. Before you travel you need to get your pet fitted with an ISO pet microchip to fit in with Spanish law. You will also need to get vaccinations for rabies at least 21 days before travelling. Get the microchip fitted before the vaccinations; or you may have to vaccinate them again.
• Get Your Paperwork in Order. The European Pet Passport allows dogs, cats, and ferrets to travel freely through European borders. This is essential if you want to travel safely with your pets. To get one you need a vet to confirm that the animal has a microchip, has been vaccinated against rabies, and has had a blood test to confirm that the vaccination is still active. If you have a dog, it will also need tapeworm treatment. If you are in UK, check DEFRA’s website for updated guidelines. They’ll then issue you with a pet passport, which is valid for the animal’s lifetime as long as you update the vaccinations.
• Decide How You’re Going to Go. How you travel to Spain depends on your pet’s temperament. If your animal is very nervous and hates being kept in an enclosed space, then flying might not be the best idea. Your animal will be kept in a small container in the cargo hold for the duration of the flight, and this could be quite traumatising. In cases like this it may be better to drive and take the ferry; although you will need to make sure that your car is secure and comfortable for your pet, as they will need to stay there for the journey’s duration. Ask your vet for advice.
• Insure Your Pet. Vets in Spain work to an extremely high standard, and although vet care is slightly cheaper in Spain than it is in the UK, it’s a good idea to pick up some pet insurance. Even if your animal generally keeps good health at home, they may become poorly while they get used to their new environment. It’s better to have insurance than to fork out for a massive vet bill.
• Check out local pet services. Before you move it’s a good idea to find out what pet services exist in the area. Find out where the best vet is and register your pet with them. It’s also a good idea to find out where the best dog walks are in the area, so that you’re fully prepared once you arrive.
You may not think you’ll want a holiday once you move to Spain, but chances are you might want to pop back to the UK every so often. Find out if there are any pet sitters in the area who can look in on your pets while you’re away. If not, it’s a good idea to join a site like Trusted Housesitters, where you can get people to look after your animals and home for free.
• Register Your Dog. All dogs need to be registered with the local authorities within three months, although you will have to move quicker if you own a ‘dangerous breed’. Your Staffordshire bull terrier might be as sweet as honey, but if you’re moving to Spain you’ll still need to obtain a dangerous dog license within one month of arrival.
The dangerous dog laws are managed by the Autonomous Communities, but you can find a full list of breeds and crosses on AngloInfo.