Thanks to the European Pet Passport Scheme its easier than ever before to take your pet to Europe.
Fortunately, a surprising number of ferries allow the transportation of pets within their guidelines.
In this article we’re going to take a closer look at some of the options available to you if you’re travelling to Ireland, France, Holland or even within the UK by ferry. By the end you should have a good idea as to which ferry company is likely to be most appropriate for your needs.
(As an important side note, please be aware that policies change regularly, as do prices. We have attempted to provide the most accurate information possible at the time of writing, but encourage any potential traveller to double-check all information with their ferry company before booking).
General Rules for Travelling with Pets on Ferries
Most ferries’ pet policies focus almost entirely on dogs, as these are the most frequently-transported animals. A tiny minority of ferries readily accept cats and even ferrets, but most provide no information on the subject. To transport anything other than a dog we would therefore advise you do further research.
Ferries typically offer two options for taking dogs abroad. Firstly, they may be locked in your car on the cargo hold during your journey. Alternatively, they may be placed into the on-board kennels. Not all ferries offer both services, and there is typically a charge for either option.
Foot passengers can struggle, as many ferry operators will expect you to contain your dog in a suitable (RSPCA-approved) pet carrier during the journey. For owners of large-breed dogs this may be a considerable inconvenience.
Broadly speaking dogs must be kept locked away at all times, and are not permitted in passenger areas. A few ferry companies are bucking this trend, and offer designated areas to walk your dog, or even a pet-friendly lounge. In these circumstances dogs are generally expected to be leashed and muzzled to avoid the risk of accidents.
All dogs, cats and ferrets are expected to be covered by the PETs scheme. You should do your own research to ensure that your pet will be approved for travel, as any pets not meeting the necessary requirements generally aren’t allowed to board.
Leaving Your Pet in Your Car
Most ferries allow you to leave your dog in your car. If doing so, be aware that it may not be possible to visit your pet during the journey. If in doubt, ask at the time of booking. Dogs left in cars should have suitable access to fresh water, and windows should be left ajar to allow fresh air in. Most ferry companies recommend the use of on-board kennels if available.
Specific Ferry Companies
Each ferry company is different, so deciding on the best solution for your needs can be difficult. The following table is designed to help you identify the key points from each company. Below the table you will find a more detailed run-down of each company.
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Brittany Ferries services both France and Spain, and the costs of taking pets vary drastically by destination. At the time of writing the cost of taking a dog to France is £16.50 each way, while Spain journeys cost £69. On-board kennels are available on journeys to Spain, and are included in the passage price.
All pets must be accompanied by their owner (or handler). Brittany Ferries is one of the few ferry companies to offer pet-friendly cabins and exercise areas on some vessels – but you are advised to check for availability before booking.
Condor services both France and the Channel Islands. No pets are permitted in the passenger area, and must instead to left locked in your car during the journey. It costs £25 to take a dog to France, or just £10 to the Channel Islands. Foot passengers may take dogs to the Channel Islands for free if they are stowed in a suitable pet carrier.
Costs vary by destination, typically ranging between £15 and £20. At the time of writing it costs £15 each way to take a dog from Dover to Calais, £18 from Newhaven to Dieppe and £19 from Newcastle to Amsterdam. On-board kennels are available for journeys to Holland, at a price of £6 each.
Taking pets to Ireland is easy with Irish Ferries. Dogs, cats and ferrets are all accepted, and can be transported for free. Vehicle owners may leave their pets in their car, or use the on-board kennel facility. Foot passengers may still transport pets if they are in a suitable pet carrier.
As one of the largest ferry companies in Europe the lack of information provided by P&O on transporting pets is rather disappointing. Broadly speaking P&O services Rotterdam, Calais, Zeebrugge, Larne and Dublin in the UK.
Irish journeys are free for pets though they must remain locked in your car at all times. At the time of writing dogs travelling from Hull to Rotterdam must be kept in the on-board kennels which are charged at £17 each way. Dover to Calais costs £15 each way, while Hull to Zeebrugge costs £17 each way.
It is free to transport dogs, though they must remain within your vehicle or on the outer decks at all times and are not permitted within the vessel.
Dogs are welcome on Stena Line ferries, and may be kept within your vehicle or one of the dedicated on-board kennels. Irish journeys charge £15 each way for the use of kennel facilities, while dogs travel free to France.
Dogs may be transported for free. There are no on-board kennels so your pet should be confined to your vehicle, though Wightlink does maintain a pet-friendly lounge area.
While not a ferry, taking your dog abroad along the Channel Tunnel is arguably one of the most practical solutions due to the short journey time. Additionally, the Eurotunnel offers dedicated exercise areas for dog owners (and their pets!).
Dogs, cats and ferrets may be transported with a pet passport for £18 each way. Most other small pets such as rodents, cage birds, reptiles and amphibians are free. All pets must remain locked in your car during the journey.