You don’t have to leave Fido or Mittens at home anymore when you want to take a holiday to the continent. If you travel by ferry, you’ll be able to take your pet along with you, making it a proper family holiday. This means you won’t have to spend extra money putting them into kennels or a cattery, or find a family member to put up with them for a week. You won’t have to worry about how they are dealing with being left alone either. Over forty percent of people in the United Kingdom own a pet, and many become a member of the family. So of course you’ll want to share your annual family holiday with them.

If you’re travelling to Ireland, the Isle of Man, or the Channel Islands, you won’t need to do a thing. There are no set rules, so simply hop on board a ferry with your pet in the car. For other countries in the European Union, for example if you are taking the ferry to France, you’ll need a special document. There is a new scheme run by the UK government meaning you can travel with your pet, as long as you plan in advance.

The first thing to do is ensure that your cat or dog (or ferret) has a valid passport. Just like kids and grown-ups, they need one to travel over the globe. To get a pet passport, your animal must be completely vaccinated, have been tested for rabies, and have a microchip fitted. This whole process can take as long as six months, so make sure you are well prepared. You also need to get your animals checked out for tapeworms and ticks before you come back into the United Kingdom by ferry. It’s quite simple to do, but you must do it between forty-eight and twenty-four hours before boarding the vessel, and it needs to be stamped on the passport. And if you’ve got more than one pet, there’s no need to worry. The Pet Travel Scheme allows you to take up to five animals with you on holiday.

The Pet Travel Scheme does have certain regulations, so make sure you check you’ve fulfilled them all before you leave. Be warned that if you don’t, your pet might be put in quarantine for six months. During the journey, your pet can either stay in the car, or go into kennels that are on the vessel. They won’t be allowed into cabins or onto the decks. So if it’s a particularly long journey, make sure you visit them frequently. You will need to reserve a spot if you choose to put your pet into kennels, so make enquiries in advance. The exception to the rule is if you are travelling with a guide dog. They are allowed to stay with their owners at all times, as long as the staff on the ferry have been told in advance.

These days, around twenty-four ferry operators allow you to take pets on board. Just check with the company’s website before you book, and enjoy your holiday with your furry friends.