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Getting into, and out of, England with an in-cabin dog: It’s complicated

We’re planning a long stay in Paris this fall, and for the sake of the blog I decided to fly home not from Paris but from London. Going through that process, I thought, would really help other travelers with dogs — and it is a process, since dogs are not allowed to fly in-cabin into the U.K. If they’re on a plane, they have to be traveling as manifested cargo (as always with posts on this blog, I’m talking about pet dogs, not service animals). Leaving the U.K. is a different story, and I wanted to try it for myself.

So one way to arrive in the U.K. is with your pet checked as baggage in the belly of your plane. It’s not a way I’m comfortable choosing, and for travelers like me, there are three other options. The train is not one of them, since the Eurostar trains that run through the Chunnel are not pet-friendly. Sailing on the Queen Mary 2 is the first option, and someday we’ll do it (in the meantime, my link will lead you to posts by colleagues that have traveled that way). The two remaining options are flying to the Continent and (1) making your way to England by car, carried on the Eurotunnel Le Shuttle, or (2) taking a ferry to England.

I have breezily spoken of renting a car in Paris and driving it (with me and my husband and Chloe inside) onto the Eurotunnel Le Shuttle. That is indeed possible, it turns out, though not every rental company will allow it — Avis, for example, will not permit one-way rentals into England, presumably because they don’t want their cars piling up over there. Hertz would allow me to rent a car one way, from Paris to Heathrow, but they charge a staggering €600 for the privilege.

Reader Tammy told me about an alternative. She is moving herself and her Toy Poodle from Singapore to London, and in one of her messages she said she’d found a courier to drive her from where her plane is landing in Europe to England via the Chunnel. Tammy tells me there are many courier options out there, covering all of the likely destinations (Paris, Amsterdam, etc.). She promised to let me know how the one she chose works for her, and if it’s a good experience, we’ll pass the reference on to future travelers. The fee is substantial (the one she ended up selecting is charging €500) — which works for her, and would work for me, but does not work for my husband, so back to the drawing board.

How about taking a ferry? The trip is much longer, but on the bright side (and this appears to be the only bright side, unless the thought of the Chunnel makes you claustrophobic), if you plan it right you can see the white cliffs of Dover. You start by looking at the list of ferries that are approved for pet transport into England (scroll down to the link for “routes by sea and rail”). After you do a bit of research, you’ll learn that most of those companies assume you’ll be driving your car onto the ferry, which brings you back to the €600 surcharge.

A couple of ferry companies do allow foot passengers to walk on with pets, however, including LD Lines (which travels between Dieppe, Le Havre, and Calais and, respectively, Newhaven, Portsmouth, and Dover — but please note Patricia’s comment, below, reporting that only certain LD Lines routes allow foot passengers with pets); and Stena Line (which travels between Harwich and Hook of Holland). Per LD Lines’ website, “Foot passengers wishing to travel with their pet should book via our call center and travel with their pet in a cage. Pets are taken care of by our staff from check-in to arrival.” You’ll do the same with Stena, per their directions.

That was good news, but then I took a moment and thought about the actual logistics of that travel day, and the way we travel. We’d take a train from Paris to Calais, then make our way to and onto the ferry, then off the ferry and to the car rental place in Folkestone — and we could do all of that easily except that when we travel with Chloe we travel with an additional, enormous suitcase.

I thought about how it’ll be November, we’ll be wearing bulky sweaters and coats, and it’ll likely be unpleasant out, and I quailed. My husband agreed that I was right to quail. And so we changed our plans — instead, we’ll be renting a car in Paris, ambling to Calais by way of a day in Amiens, crossing the Chunnel on the Eurotunnel Le Shuttle (which makes it very easy to add Chloe to a ticket, see below), and then returning the same way a few days later. That way, we’ll have a good reason to get a pet passport for Chloe, as well as the required tapeworm treatment, and we’ll have the experience of bringing her into the U.K. to share with you.

It’s just so straightforward to add a pet to your Eurotunnel Le Shuttle reservation

What we won’t experience ourselves is leaving the U.K. by plane with Chloe, but I feel like I did enough research to know how that would have gone. Under the original plan (where we took a car one way from Paris to Heathrow, with a few days of sightseeing in Kent), I had booked us on Lufthansa flights from London to Frankfurt, and then from Frankfurt home to Seattle. The airline reps repeatedly confirmed that I could leave the U.K. with Chloe in cabin. I added Chloe to my reservation, but I was told that I would pay for her in London, on the morning of our departure.

Since I first wrote about Lufthansa, another reader has told me that KLM may also allow pets to leave the U.K. in-cabin. I didn’t investigate further since my miles are on United. Keep it in mind yourself as an option and let me know what you learn!

47 comments

  • Gigi

    Oh, man. I remember those headaches.

    One tip (I’m sure you already do this, but I found it’s particularly wise with entering the UK): make sure you print out and bring copies of all the ferry’s dog policies and such. I found that while it always worked out in the end, I did have some trouble with people not knowing the policies or being misinformed about them both when I called and when we took the actual ferry.

    I guess it’s not as common as I assumed it would be to take a not-in-car dog (I also ended up in a situation where the ferry had just changed its policy on dogs and I’d somehow slipped through the cracks; though it worked out in the end, Luna and I spent a bit of time standing around on deck unsure of where to go or what to do).

  • Adam

    Thank you for this post Mary-Alice! It is so useful to have this info compiled in one easy place! Bravo! (Which arrondissement are you staying in? I’ve lived in the 16é, 12é, 2é & ‘en banlieue’…just curious! :-D)

  • Hi, Adam! How I envy you — such a wealth of experience. I have a lot of catching up to do! We’re renting in the 18th, close to the Lamarck-Caulaincourt station. We’ve only rented in the Marais before (repeatedly on the same street), so we’ll need to find a new grocery store and bank and market and pastry shop and….

  • Adam

    Oh, you pooooooor girl, life is so hard, isn’t it? 🙂 Paris in fall is just perfect—I can’t wait to read all of your blog updates from the other side of the pond!

  • Renee D'Antoni

    Good point from Gigi. I cover this in my book, “How to Fly Your Dog to Europe,” but it’s always important to print out and carry any rules or policies pertaining to dog travel for all legs of your journey. In many cases you the dog-owner will be more informed than the transit agents. Besides, when there’s a disagreement, waving around paperwork never hurts. That happened to us when we were ferrying our dog from Turkey to Greece. The Greek agent was misinformed, and I had to stand my ground and argue the regulations to get my dog though.

  • Yousif Zayani

    Hey Mary Alice.. As a matter of fact i tried the Ferry from Holland to England last summer with my Shih Tzu and Minuature Dachshund. it was a great experience and the Stena Line staff were super nice to my dogs. I left London Heathrow with the 2 dogs in the cabin to Bahrain on Lufthansa. A friend of mine flew London to Bahrain via Amsterdam on KLM with her 2 cats in the cabin – she used Shepra original largs carriers and fitted well under the seat –

  • Adrian

    I can’t begin to say how thankful I am that I found this site! I’m moving from Boston to London for a year and I’ll do anything to bring my jack russel with me! Based on all I’ve read, I think I’ll be taking KLM or Lufthansa from Boston to amsterdam for the in cabin experience, then foot travel on a ferry from there. I’d rather keep my pup by my side at all times, but renting a car is pretty unrealistic.

  • Thank you, Adrian! And welcome to Dog Jaunt!! Your plans sound good — only thing that comes to mind is that other airlines will let you bring your pet in cabin TO continental Europe (we, for example, will be flying to Paris on United this fall with Chloe) — it’s just that Lufthansa and KLM are the only ones I know of that let you take an in-cabin pet OUT of the U.K. (you probably already know that — I just wanted to make it clear if I’d been vague). Please let us know how the move goes, and congratulations on doing such a cool thing — waves of envy from Seattle!

  • Patricia

    Hi Mary-Alice, such an amazing website! I have just spoken to LD lines and they do not allow foot passengers on Calais to Dover – this was my intended route…, only allowed on Dieppe to Newhaven – . Back to the drawing board. I am flying from Malaysia to Charles De Gaulle and then intending train, foot passenger on ferry and the train to Sussex. I saw mention of one of your feedback people who planned flying into CDG and then hiring a one way rental, as you did. I wonder can you forward my post / details – I was wondering if I could ask him to share. My car is in Sussex not too much use in this instance. Air France have said we can fly out of UK with my little 4 kg dog – so I will give you feedback in that for other readers.

  • Thanks so much, Patricia! I/we would LOVE to hear about how the trip goes, esp. how you end up returning to the U.K., and how the in-cabin departure on Air France goes. The reader you’re referring to has a blog of her own, and I think the best way to contact her is through that — here’s the link to the post, and that’ll send you to her too: http://www.dogjaunt.com/posts/readers-report-traveling-to-england-from-the-continent-via-pet-chauffeur/ I’m trying to get hold of her myself, because she just did another trip, to the Continent and back, and I want to find out if she chose the same return method or not….

  • Nope, Patricia, I’m wrong — you must mean someone other than Tammy, now that I look closer, because she hired a driver, not a car. I’ll try to root around and see who you’re thinking of .

  • Patricia

    Hi Mary-Alice, it was the person coming in from Brazil – to avoid the world cup, hence I know it was around my dates, they were ex-Hong Kong too I think.

  • erwin

    My shih tsu is probably one of the most traveled and airline savy dogs in the world. From Philippines, we were migrating to UK back in 2011. It started with a vacation to USA/Canada. The Phil-USA-Canada-USA leg was a breeze getting him in-cabin, literally no hassle except for the extra charges. But he had to go cargo to the UK via BA(after 6 months residing in US, quarantine rules back then)

    myferrylink to France was also hassle-free, and relatively cheap. Only catch is he had to stay in the car.

  • Patricia

    Hi Erwin, Problem is my car is in England and I arrive at Charles De Gaulle. Now looking at train from CDG to Dieppe Ferry port, LD Ferry as a foot passenger with dog and that way to Newhaven! Still such a pity as it is about a 12 hour journey instead of 3 hrs which it would be, if the Eurostar would just take animals!

  • Caitlin.

    hi. Thanks for all the info. It’s the most helpful thing I’ve come across so far when researching for my travels with my pup. I’m touching base with you as I’m going to be traveling from the States to Paris (my final destination being Ireland) in February. I am also not comfortable bringing my dog in cargo and will only travel with him in cabin (he’s also snub nosed which is a whole other ordeal). I’m flying in to Paris as I can’t fly directly to Dublin with him. I’m opting to rent a car, drive to Cherbourg, and take the ferry over to Rensslare. The one way rental isn’t bad (except for the 30€ fee for picking my car up in Paris) and the ferry is 110€ for a cabin. The ride is 16 hours so I opted to get a bed though you can just book a seat. They take walk ons too. The one drawback is my pup my be in the kennel for the trip but it’s an overnight trip so I’m sure he’ll be fine. I’ll let you know how this turns out once it’s over.
    Best!

  • Please do, Caitlin! I’m grateful that you laid out your plan, because other readers (inc. me!) can follow in your shoes, and we’d all love to hear how it goes. Safe travels!

  • Patricia

    I came through CDG with my small dog in the cabin and it is actually very easy getting to the ferry ports by bus and train! The bus stops right outside the terminal and goes directly to the train station. You can pay on the bus. I met so many people on the entire route, because of the dog! People helped me with luggage, getting coffee, holding the dog… – nothing like this would happen if I had my child and a buggy! All the people in the train cabin were chatting – because of the dog, It was the nicest day of my trip! I also did ‘walk-on’ the ferry with the dog – they took her from me and kept her in her little kennel, and placed it in their ‘big’ cage, so not to stress her. They were VERY particular about the paperwork at the ferry port, so ensure you have everything correct and copies. It is far more reasonable than having to hire a car and drive if you feel you want another option.

  • Kirsi salo

    Hi, By any change is anyone planning to travel from France or Belgium to UK with small dog or cat in march or early April 2016 and would be interested on sharing the chaffeur service? I think it could be cheaper with two sharing. I am traveling from Finland with my small chihuahua that is champion on traveling and we would be delighted to share the costs. Or if anyone is going with the train and has a car/ renting a car we could pay half of the cost. Im a thirty year old professional woman and good travel company. Please email me if youre interested to [email protected]. As we’re traveling pretty short distance we can be flexible with dates and times and whether its france or belgium. Cheers ereandthanks for the awesome tips shared!

  • Kirsi salo

    Oh and Patricia could you share which ferry did you took and from which port? They allowed walk in customers? Where does it end in UK? Most of the ferries Ive been able to find dont allow people without a car 🙁

  • Vivienne brugmans

    Hi I have been onto KLM about taking my toy poodle in cabin to Holland to visit family he has a European passport and all the requirements ie injections and rabies injection .but I can’t find a flight to bring him back to the UK he is 2 years old

  • Lucy

    This is all useful stuff. We traveled to USA with a 4YO lab in cargo. She’s now nearly 11 and we’ll have to wait till she passes away, or find another option, to get back to Scotland. In addition we have a 6lb chihuahua. Will keep you posted on what transport options we find 🙂

  • Hello, Vivienne — The problem is that you are not allowed to fly into the UK with an in-cabin pet. You’ll need to find a different way to return — either by biting the bullet and shipping him in in the belly of your plane, or following our lead and renting a car and returning via the Chunnel, or driving or walking onto a ferry, or finding a one-way taxi service. Like I say, it’s complicated!

  • Bridget

    Does any one have an update on which ferries from France to UK allow foot passengers with pets. I haven’t been able to find any and so will fly into CDG with cat in the cabin with me and then take bus/train to Calais and get pet taxi from Folkestone to meet me there and take me to Folkestone. If there is a ferry option then I would really like to take it. Also any top tips regarding clearing customs at CDG would be welcomed (i.e. where, how long, etc and I arrive at 5am so not sure they will be open?)

  • Caitlin

    Going through customs is a breeze at CDG. Just have all your paperwork ready. All they did was look my stuff over, quickly scan for the microchip, pet my dog, and send me on my way. What is this pet taxi? I was ready to rent a at just to get my dog over and then leave him at a vets while taking the car back over to drop it off and then foot passenger it back over

  • Hi, Bridget! No problem at all — I have four cats, myself, so we don’t discriminate. 😉 Here’s a link to the list of approved ferries (on which pets can arrive in the U.K.): https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/pet-travel-approved-air-sea-rail-and-charter-routes-for-the-movement-of-pets/pet-travel-sea-routes-and-companies-you-can-use

    As you’ll see, there are notes about which ones allow walk-on passengers, but I’d double-check with the companies’ websites (which you’ll do anyway as you make your reservation), and triple-check with a direct contact of some kind.

    In my experience, there hasn’t been anyone checking Chloe’s paperwork on arrival at CDG, but if there is a welcoming committee this time, it’ll be clear that there’s a checkpoint. Don’t be surprised, though, if you just end up picking up your bags and exiting.

    Please let us know how you end up getting to the U.K., and how it goes!

  • Janice

    Hi Caitlin, what was the date you entered through CDG? I was wondering f there have been any changes since the terrorist attacks in Paris.

  • Caitlin

    I was there in February last year, so before the attacks. I cannot say how security has changed. I think they are probably more rigorous with people and not pets. The Parisians are dog-lovers. 🙂

  • Janice Feirstein

    Thank you Caitlin?. I will be bringing them into the uk from Paris via the taxi that Mary Alice talked about.

  • Debbie

    Does anyone know if you fly from Canada to Paris and cross by ferry do you need to see a vet in Paris before you can get into the UK?

  • Hello, Debbie — The nub of the question is how long you plan to stay in Paris. As you likely know by now, the UK has a tapeworm treatment requirement for incoming dogs, and that treatment must be administered between 24 hours before scheduled arrival and 120 hours before scheduled arrival. If your plan is just to transit through Paris (as a way to arrive in Europe with an in-cabin dog), you can get your pup’s tapeworm treatment in Canada just before you leave, since your travels will bring you ultimately to England within that tapeworm treatment window. If, however, you plan to hang around a bit in Paris, eating croissants, you’d want to get your pup’s tapeworm treatment there.

  • Debbie

    Thanks for the reply! We will be flying into Paris and then get picked up and driven to England so will be within the time frame. Do we need paperwork for Paris and another set for England or is the one set good for both? Thanks for your help!

  • The one set is good for both, Debbie — who knows if that’ll change, down the road, but it hasn’t yet. If you get a chance, please let us know how the ferry crossing logistics go (like what company you used, and whether you drove or walked on, and how it went) — I’ve not taken a ferry yet, and that would be such helpful info! And hey, have fun!!!

  • Residents of EU countries will have and use an EU pet passport, but folks like you and me, from the U.S. or Canada, fill out “a third-country official veterinary certificate” instead (which will contain the same info, but in a different, non-booklet format).

  • Debbie

    Our dog is a medium size dog and will fly as baggage that shouldn’t change things correct? I know your reference says In-Cabin. Thanks

  • If your pup is traveling in the belly of the plane, Debbie, you should be able to fly directly into the U.K. on several airlines — no need for a Paris stop and transfer. Folks only do that because in-cabin dogs are not allowed to fly into the U.K.

  • Debbie

    The problem is if you fly your dog straight to the UK you can’t take them as baggage you have to ship them as cargo with a price tag of $2,200 vs $200 to $400 flying into France and then driving across. We did call one of the ferry’s and they said we needed a EU passport??

  • Oh, now that’s interesting, Debbie. I’ve obviously never looked into that — fascinating that folks with bigger dogs, too, have a reason to fly into another European country and follow an alternative path into the U.K.

    The ferry companies likely don’t see a lot of non-EU passengers with pets. I would follow the plan, getting your third-country certificate, and also print out the relevant pages from the U.K. government’s pet importation resource, starting with this page, which says “If they’re coming from outside the EU, you need a third-country official veterinary certificate if they don’t have an EU pet passport” among other useful things (keep reading below that quoted language): https://www.gov.uk/take-pet-abroad/pet-passport

    You certainly CAN get an EU pet passport — a French vet gave us one without blinking — but it’s extra time and effort and money, and it’s not actually necessary (and due to the difference in how dates are notated between the U.S. and Europe, our French vet inadvertently made a transcription mistake in Chloe’s rabies dates, which could have been a nightmare).

    To set your mind at rest, how about calling the ferry company back with the finer details about U.K. pet importation, and ask to speak to a manager, or someone with perhaps a bit more experience than whoever answers the phone initially?

  • Cassidy

    Anyone else confused about why no ferries will allow a foot passenger into the UK with the dog? There are some on the UK website but according to the ferry websites foot passengers can’t bring pets.

  • It is vexing, Cassidy, that Brittany and P&O don’t allow foot passengers to bring pets on board (Condor Ferries allows foot passengers with pets between England and the Channel Islands, but if you go on to France, it has to be by car). However, Stena Lines DOES allow foot passengers with pets: http://www.stenaline.co.uk/ferry-to-holland/plan-your-trip/travelling-with-a-pet/pet-travel-guide Hook of Holland is not too far from Amsterdam, so consider booking your flight to Amsterdam instead. There is train service from Harwich, the British end of the Harwich/Hook of Holland ferry (small pets in carriers travel free on U.K. trains: http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/stations_destinations/luggage_animals.aspx). Hope that helps!

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