AMI 12055 - Locally based Agent

Pet Relocation to Portugal

Written on Tuesday 30 March 2021

European Union's Pet Relocation System

The EU has a system for relocating pets, involving a personalised pet passport. The system covers cats, dogs and ferrets. For the movement of pets between most EU member states, a valid rabies vaccination is the only requirement. Your vet will be able to supply this before your move and fill in the information in the passport.

This guidance does NOT apply to hamsters, rabbits, birds, guinea pigs, horses, poultry, other livestock or exotic animals from non-EU third countries. Specific guidelines are in place for animals travelling from South Africa and its worth checking these with your vet prior to making any travel arrangements.

A microchip will allow authorities to identify your pets and link them to the corresponding passport.  The system makes travelling with your pet easier and speeds up the process of veterinary check-ups in Portugal.

If you are moving to Portugal from a country outside of the EU, you will need to discuss the process with your vet. Usually, if you come from a country where rabies is uncommon, the process will be relatively simple.

Under the BREXIT withdrawal agreement, which came into effect on 1st January 2021, then different steps will apply if you are travelling to or from the UK with your pet. These steps are similar to the current process for taking your pet to EU, but you'll need an animal health certificate (AHC) instead of a pet passport:

  • You must have your dog, cat, etc microchipped
  • You must vaccinate your dog, cat etc against rabies – your pet must be at least 12 weeks old before it can be vaccinated and you must wait 21 days after the primary vaccination before travel. 
  • You must visit your vet to get an AHC for your pet no more than 10 days before travel
  • In addition, if travelling to Finland, Malta, Northern Ireland, Norway or Republic of Ireland with a dog you need to ensure it's received treatment for tapeworm  one to five days before arrival in these countries. This needs to be detailed on the pet's AHC.

As long as you keep your pet's rabies vaccinations up to date, you will not need to get repeat vaccinations for subsequent trips to EU or Northern Ireland (other than tapeworm treatments)  but you will need to visit your vet to apply for a new AHC for each trip.

In order to fly over your pet, you should contact an airline pet carrier service. These will use approved crates, vehicles and trained staff to look after your pets. It is also possible to bring your pet yourself by air, but you will have to arrange this with an airline (e.g. TAP) that allows animal transport. You will have to provide a cage, food for the journey and the pet passport. Some airlines will allow the pet to travel with you on board but this is subject to the size of the pet. Other airlines will only allow pets to travel in the cargo hold, so it's important that you check with the airline first and foremost. Different rules apply for assistance dogs so check first!

It is possible to have your pet transported overland by van (e.g. Euro Pet Transport – fully licensed and D.E.F.R.A inspected). Again, you may need to provide the cage, food and passport but some companies will provide the cage and the food, so please check with the transport company.

You could also drive to Portugal yourself and for this you will need, food and passport. You may also need a cage depending on how far you are travelling and how well behaved your pet is in the car. If travelling from say the UK to Portugal then you may opt to travel by sea from a UK port to Santander or Bilbao (e.g.  Brittany Ferries) then drive down through Spain and Portugal. Kennel space on board the ferry is limited so it's wise to book well in advance. Eurotunnel is pet friendly, allowing pets to travel across the English Channel by car.

Pet Health:

Once your pets are safe in their new home, you should familiarise yourself with a few potential issues. In some areas, your dog may pick up a type of malaria that only affects dogs, there are known remedies for this. Speak to your vet.

Due to the climate, it is possible that your pet may suffer from heatstroke. Don`s leave your pets unattended in a car or lying in the sun. be sure to provide them with shade and also make sure they have a constant supply of fresh drinking water.

In the area around Vale do Lobo and Quinta de Lago, there are several veterinary surgeries that you can choose from (e.g. Antonio Albuquerque, Veterinary Clinic in Almancil, Tel: 289 399 910) and there is also have a very good Veterinary Hospital in Loule which is open most days and provides a 24hour emergency service, Tel: 289 422 424. Finding the right vet to look after and care for your pet is an important choice and is key to a long and healthy life for your pet in Portugal.


Sometimes, you may find that you need to return to the UK, Ireland or anywhere else in the EU which may mean leaving your pet in Portugal- There are several Pet Hotels which cater for short and long stays. There are also an increasing number of pet sitters who can look after your pet in their own home or some prefer to stay with the pet in your home. For further details on these options then please give us a call.

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