Travelling with Pets – to and from Italy
Travelling to and from Italy already requires doing a certain amount of homework – especially if you are arriving from outside the EU (and that now includes post-Brexit Britain). But if you are travelling with a pet, things can even more complicated and it’s essential to be fully prepared before you fly.
As with so many other things we could take for granted before Brexit, it was fairly easy to take pets to the Continent from the UK and back again. The EU Pet Passport scheme simplifies travelling round Europe with your dog, cat or ferret (if you’ve got one) and quarantine for pets is no longer a general requirement. However, since EU pet passports issued in the UK are no longer valid in the EU, people coming from the UK need a (more complex and expensive) animal health certificate. If you’re travelling to the US you will need a Pet Import Certificate from an authorised vet of the local ASL (Azienda Sanitaria Locale) in Italy. This certificate proves that your pet is healthy and fit to travel, and that it meets the requirements of the state you are travelling to. You will need to pay a fee and book an appointment for this service. Animals travelling to and from the UK and US also need to be microchipped or have a visible tattoo and there are rules on vaccination for diseases including rabies and tapeworm. You also have to check that any vaccinations or treatment take place within minimum time limits.
Of course, it’s worth considering whether or not you should take your pet with you on holiday or when you travel. Leaving him / her with a friend or pet sitter might be a better option, although an unfamiliar environment such as kennels could be stressful. This is very much a personal issue depending on your own individual situation.
A word of warning here: the rules on travelling with pets between the EU and non-EU countries are hideously complicated and subject to change. The golden rule is to check, check and check again BEFORE you travel. You need to find out the exact, current rules for the country you are travelling to and from – and remember that, as with the Covid requirements during the pandemic, there are different rules for coming and going back. The Italian Ministry of Health has a page in English that provides a lot of useful information, as does the UK government website.
Taking animals on a plane or train can present some extra issues. You need to determine beforehand if your airline or train operator allows animals to travel, including whether you can take them with you into the cabin of your plane. For example, British Airways only allows guide dogs in the cabin, not pets. You cannot take your pet on the Eurostar train, although you can take them on the Eurotunnel Le Shuttle or some trains that cross the Channel from France or Belgium. If you’re flying, those airlines that do permit pets have strict size and weight limits. You can only take a small dog or a cat, for instance, inside the cabin of your plane. The animal has to be in a carrier or bag that can fit under the seat in front and you should not take him or her out during the flight. In Italy, dog owners are also required to have a muzzle for their animal, although putting it on is not usually enforced.
The rules on larger dogs travelling in the hold of a plane are also very tight. The number of animals you can travel with is limited and you will need an approved crate which is big enough to allow the dog to turn round. All the food and water it will need during the flight has to be included. (There can be additional weight charges involved for food.) Note that you won’t have access to the hold during the flight and that any stopovers or delays have to be taken into account). And, of course, you will incur an additional charge for travelling with your pet. You should also consider taking out insurance, including specialist pet travel insurance to cover any unexpected costs, including veterinary fees. Check with your airline and insurer before you travel on their exact rules, requirements and charges.
Another point to take into account is the breed of your dog. “Dangerous” dogs can be excluded and some airlines may refuse to take “snub-nosed” dogs, such as pugs (known as a carlino – a “little Charles” in Italian) due to possible breathing problems.
Going on a long journey can be a strange experience for a pet, so you should start preparing them well in advance. Get your animal used to their carrier or crate gradually by introducing it as a positive and safe space. Additionally, take them on short trips in the car to familiarise them with the sensation of movement. Consult with your vet about any necessary medication you can give them to ease anxiety or motion sickness. (Although I did hear a cautionary tale from a friend of mine whose vet prescribed a sleeping pill for their cat, who was groggy for quite a while after the trip.)
Apart from travelling to your destination, one of the biggest issues facing pet owners is accommodation, especially hotels, guest houses and Airbnbs. Nowadays, a lot of these offer pet-friendly options, but it’s important to check in advance and confirm their policies on animals. You should also research attractions that welcome pets. Taking dogs into bars, restaurants and shops in Italy seems to be more widely accepted than in the UK. You’ll quite often see a waiter or bar owner bringing out a bowl of water for a thirsty dog. Using websites and apps such as BringFido will give you access to a wide range of facilities that accept dogs. Pet friendly hotel is another useful resource. For dog owners in Italy, the (Italian language) MeetMyPet app has a community that can offer advice and details on everything pet-related.
And finally, once you have cleared all the bureaucratic hurdles and actually arrived at your pet-friendly destination, you can enjoy your trip with your four-legged friend and have a memorable experience abroad. Have a great summer!
Article by Robert Dennis for Easy Milano
Special thanks to Simona Castanotto, Davide Cavalieri of Radio Bau, Emanuele Crescini and Fiona Martin for their advice and tips when researching and writing this article. Photo by Eugene Zhyvchik
About the author
Robert Dennis is a writer and Business English teacher based in Milan. He has been teaching for other 30 years both in the UK and in Italy. A long-time collaborator with John Peter Sloan, Robert published Business English (Gribaudo) in 2020. The book was launched with “Il Sole 24 Ore” and sold in newsstands throughout Italy. Robert has a website for people who want to learn Business English: Pay As You Learn.com. The site features keywords and phrases, audio and exercises to help professionals improve their language skills. A graduate in English from Oxford University, Robert is a regular contributor to Easy Milano who often writes about plays staged in English in Milan and other cultural events in the city. He is also a translator and “buongustaio” who loves Italian food! robertdennis.it
Easy Milano is the online publication for the international community of Milan. We offer practical tips, key information and essential insights about living and working in Italy. Easy Milano has been assisting English speaking expats in Milan since 1999.
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