Not long ago, I wrote about travelling with a dog in the Republic of Ireland. But how do you travel to Ireland with your dog in the first place?
Like the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland is located on an island, with only a land border to Northern Ireland. So, like the UK, it’s trickier to visit than countries where you can just drive across the border, especially with a dog. Luckily though, there’s quite a few options to choose between.
Read on to find out all the options available if you’re travelling to Ireland with a dog…
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Crossing from Northern Ireland to Republic of Ireland with a Dog
The easiest way to visit Ireland with your dog is if you are already in Northern Ireland. I’ve written about the different options for getting to Northern Ireland, ranking the ferry options in terms of how dog-friendly they are, including a post about the most dog-friendly ferry to all of Ireland. Then it’s simply a matter of crossing the land border.
Following the end of the Brexit transition, while the rules for pet travel from Great Britain to Ireland changed, Northern Ireland has essentially remained part of the EU for pet travel purposes, with no changes for pet travel between Northern Ireland and Ireland.
Crossing by Car
It’s easy to take your dog in a car across the border from Northern Ireland, with no checks generally performed. Technically, you are required to have a pet passport for your dog, including microchip and valid rabies vaccination, but this is unlikely to be enforced.
This is partially because the likelihood of rabies is so low. Additionally, while your dog is required to be wormed by a vet to travel to Ireland, this doesn’t apply when travelling from Northern Ireland.
Crossing by Train
If you are not travelling by car, dogs are allowed to travel on the train operated by Irish Rail from Belfast to Dublin. Larger dogs must travel in the guards vans, with a fee charged, while small dogs can travel free of charge if they travel on your lap, either in a container or simply on a leash. Ensure you have your pet passport with an up-to-date rabies vaccine, although I’m not sure if this is normally checked.
Taking a Ferry From England to Republic of Ireland with a Dog
Unfortunately, there are no ferry options available to travel from England to the Republic of Ireland with a dog. The only ferry that operates between England and Ireland, the P&O ferry from Liverpool to Dublin, no longer allows dogs on board.
Previously dogs were allowed on this ferry, including when we used it to travel from Dublin to Liverpool in 2017. However, dogs were required to stay in your car, and it’s a fairly long trip, so wasn’t the best trip for dogs.
Instead, the closest alternative is to drive to Holyhead in Wales, then catch a ferry operated by Irish Ferries or Stena Line (see below). If you wish to take a P&O ferry, you can instead catch their quick Cairnryan (Scotland) to Larne (Northern Ireland) ferry (see my post on taking the ferry with your dog to Northern Ireland).
Taking a Ferry from Wales to Republic of Ireland with a Dog
If you’re wanting to catch a ferry from Great Britain to the Republic of Ireland with your dog, its best to head to Wales. There are multiple options available, with dogs allowed on each of these ferries to Ireland.
Irish Ferries Between Wales and Ireland
Firstly, Irish Ferries operates two routes to Ireland. There’s the Holyhead to Dublin route, with up to four crossings daily, each taking around 3hr 15 mins. Alternatively, head further south in Wales to Pembroke, for the Pembroke to Rosslare ferry, with two crossings daily. This route is longer, taking about 4hr.
Pets are allowed on both of these routes, travelling for free, although they need to be pre-booked. Pets have the option of either staying in your vehicle (if you are taking your car), or staying in an onboard kennel, on the car decks. There are a variety of different sized kennels on each ship, which must be pre-booked. (Get in early to ensure availability, especially for larger dogs.)
If you are travelling on foot, your pet dog or cat needs to be transported to and from the ferry in your own secure, rigid pet cage or box. If the kennels are booked out, they can travel next to the kennels in this carrier. Note that some Holyhead to Dublin ferries don’t accept foot passengers.
Stena Line Between Wales and Ireland
Stena Line has a similar set-up. They offer four crossings daily on their main Holyhead to Dublin ferry, which takes 3hr 15 mins each way. Alternatively, they also operate two crossing per day to Rosslare, but this ferry departs from Fishguard (near St David’s), taking 3hr 30 mins or 4hr.
Similar rules apply for pets on the Stena Line ferries. Your pet can either remain in your vehicle (if you are travelling by car), or they can be booked into a kennel. Both options are free of charge, although pets must be pre-booked for either option (on the “Stena Plus & Onboard Extras” step of the booking process).
No pets are allowed to be taken onto the passenger deck in a pet carrier like on the Cairnryan to Belfast Stena Line route (my pick for the most dog-friendly ferry to the island of Ireland). Unlike with Irish Ferries, there is no mention of a need for a rigid pet carrier to carry your pet onboard to the kennels.
Click here for more information on their pet policy (Scroll down for route specific information)
Does Your Dog Need a Pet Passport on the Ferry to Ireland?
Yes, your pet requires documentation to travel on a ferry between Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland. Prior to Brexit, pets technically required a pet passport, including a microchip and a rabies vaccine, but this was not always checked. However, following the Brexit transition the requirements have increased and are expected to be checked.
To travel from Great Britain to Ireland with your pet, your pet will require a microchip, rabies vaccine at least 21 days before travel, worming treatment (for dogs) and animal health certificate, or a pet passport issued outside of Great Britain. For more information, see the UK government website.
To travel from Ireland to Great Britain with your pet, your pet will also require a microchip and rabies vaccines at least 21 days before travel. A worming treatment is not required for dogs travelling from Ireland. A number of different documents are accepted.
For pets returning to Great Britain, you can use the same GB-issued animal health certificate you used to travel to Ireland, which is valid for up to four months. Alternatively, pet passports issued in GB prior to 1 January 2021 are accepted, for now, or head to the vet for a GB pet health certificate.
For other pets, use your pet passport issued by an EU country, including the new-style Northern Ireland pet passports, or by other Part 1 listed countries. If you do not have a pet passport, head to the vet for a GB pet health certificate.
Taking a Ferry from France to Republic of Ireland with a Dog
It’s also possible to take your dog directly to Ireland on a ferry from the continent. The most number of ferries operate from France across to Ireland. Note however that these aren’t daily ferries, operating only a few days per week, depending on the time of year.
Stena Line from France to Ireland
First up is the Stena Line ferry from Cherbourg to Rosslare. (Click on the “To France” rather than “To Ireland” section of the website to find this option.) This makes the crossing three times per week. The crossing duration varies from 16 1/2 hours to 19 hours, usually leaving in the evening or afternoon, then arriving the following afternoon or morning.
When travelling with a pet, you need to pre-book. If you are travelling with your car, you have the option to leave your pet in your vehicle, for free. Alternatively, you can book your dog into one of the heated onboard dog lodges on the Promenade Deck, with a charge of £30 applying. This is compulsory for foot passengers, plus passengers travelling by motorcycle or bicycle.
The advantage of booking your pet into the dog lodge is that you can access them throughout the voyage and exercise them. If your pet travels in your car, you can only visit them at set times, that vary depending on the voyage, for up to 10 minutes at a time, assuming the weather conditions are suitable.
Click here for more information on their pet policy (Scroll down for route specific information)
Irish Ferries from France to Ireland
Irish Ferries also make a similar crossing from Cherbourg in France, up to three times per week. But instead this ferry terminates in Dublin. This ferry takes between 18 1/4 to 19 1/2 hours, depending on the direction and the ship, usually leaving late afternoon.
For pets travelling with Irish Ferries, they are not allowed to remain in your car, but must instead be booked into an onboard kennel or cat box, with a charge of €30 to €60 applying per animal, depending on the kennel size. Kennels are located on one of the car decks.
It is possible to visit your pet during the crossing, accompanied by a crew member, including taking them for a short walk. Visiting times are displayed at the reception desk. Foot passengers are also allowed to bring pets, but again must transport them to and from the ferry in their own secure, rigid pet cage or box.
Brittany Ferries from France to Ireland
The final options are with Brittany Ferries, who operate two routes in between Ireland and France. Twice a week the Pont Aven or the Armorique sail in between Roscoff (almost on the western tip of Brittany) to Cork, taking around 15 hours, depending on the ship.
Alternatively, the Connemara sails once per week in between Cherbourg and Rosslare, taking 18 hours each way. Both routes only operate between May and early November.
The options for pets depend on the ship you are sailing on. I recommend booking to sail on either the luxury Pont-Aven or economy Connemarra ferries, as both have pet-friendly cabins along with a pet exercise area. Additionally, the Pont-Aven also has a large number of small and large kennels, accessible throughout the voyage and with access to a separate pet exercise area.
On the other hand, when travelling with your pet on the Amorique, pets need to remain in your car, with no other options available. No access to your pet is permitted on overnight sailings.
Note that a muzzle needs to be worn by your pet when they are walking to your cabin or their kennel, including when they are being exercised. Additionally, only passengers travelling by car are allowed to take a pet. Pets not allowed for foot passengers, with the Cherbourg to Rosslare ferry not accepting any foot passengers.
Worming Before Crossing to Ireland
Note when crossing from France to Ireland, that your dog needs to have a worming treatment from a vet between 24 hours and 5 days of their scheduled arrival in Ireland.
To make it a little simpler, Stena Line mentions that even if you only have your pet wormed on the day you check-in, they will still accept your pet for transport. Even if the full 24 hours hasn’t elapsed by the time you arrive in Ireland (although close to 24 hours will elapse between the check-in duration and sailing duration), they will supply you with a leaflet to ensure the treatment is effective.
Taking a Ferry from Spain to Republic of Ireland with a Dog
Finally, it’s possible to sail to Ireland from Spain, with a single ferry option available.
Brittany Ferries from Spain to Ireland
Brittany Ferries operates a ferry route from Bilbao in northern Spain to Rosslare, between May and early November. The crossing operates twice per week, taking between 27 and 33 hours, depending on the direction and day, with one late night departure including two nights.
The economy ferry Connemara operates this route, which includes 13 pet-friendly cabins on board, plus access to a pet exercise area. I recommend booking early to get one of these cabins, as they book out very quickly. Note that this route only allows bookings for passengers travelling by car; no foot passenger or passengers with a bicycle can book on the ferry.
Worming Before Crossing to Ireland
Note when crossing from Spain to Ireland, that your dog needs to have a worming treatment from a vet between 24 hours and 5 days of arriving in Ireland. Due to the length of the ferry crossing, it’s fine to do this on the day of the crossing.
Flying to Republic of Ireland with Your Dog
Like many people, I had the mistaken belief that dogs aren’t allowed to fly in the cabin or as checked baggage on flights into the Republic of Ireland, the same as for the United Kingdom. However, this is not true (or at least not true these days, maybe the rules have changed).
According to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, “it is up to the airline to decide whether to carry the animal in the cabin or as excess baggage” (as previously stated on the Department of Agriculture website). There is no obligation to use a cargo handling company, it is “a matter for the airlines to decide how the pet is carried”.
However, finding an airline that will carry your pet in the cabin or as excess baggage to or from Ireland is a little trickier.
For instance, quite a few European airlines specify they don’t fly pets in the cabin on flights to and from Ireland, the same as flights to the UK. Plus the Irish carriers Ryanair and Aer Lingus rule out flying pets in the cabin or as excess baggage. (Previously Aer Lingus flew pets as excess baggage on selected flights, but now it only accepts pets as cargo.)
Possible Airlines to Fly to and from Ireland
Vueling has recently amended their pet policy to specify that pets can be booked in the cabin on its flights to and from Ireland by calling its service centre. Additionally, I’ve recently heard reports that Iberia Express allows pets in the cabin on flights to and from Dublin, despite what they say on their website.
If you’re travelling from North America, one great option is Air Canada, who specify online that they permit pets in the cabin and hold on both flights to Ireland and leaving Ireland. Just ensure the flight doesn’t have a stopover in the UK.
Many other airlines don’t mention on their websites that they don’t fly pets in the cabin or as excess baggage on flights to and from Ireland, but still won’t accept bookings. Based on comments from recent travellers (see the comments section below), whether pets are or aren’t allowed seems to be changeable.
Restrictions on Flying out of Dublin Airport
Unfortunately, since July 2021, pets have no longer been permitted to depart from Dublin Airport flying as excess baggage, due to an upgrade of their baggage system. It is not clear when this issue will be rectified.
Pets are still fine to depart Dublin Airport flying in the cabin, plus arrive at Dublin Airport flying in the cabin or in the hold (according to their website). Plus larger pets are fine to fly as cargo when departing Dublin Airport.
An Extra Step Before Flying to Ireland from Outside of the EU
If you are travelling directly to Ireland with a dog, from outside of the EU member states or a list of related countries (Andorra, Gibraltar, Greenland and the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino, Switzerland and the Vatican City), there is an additional requirement.
You need to provide advance notice of your intention to bring your pet to Ireland, at least one working day in advance. You need to fill out and email this form, or email the details of your arrival, to the relevant email address. Arrival is only permitted at Cork, Dublin and Shannon Airports, as well as Cork, Dublin and Rosslare ferry ports.
On arrival, your pet will be met and undergo compliance checks. This will usually be carried out at the port or airport. A fee will apply, except for pets arriving from Great Britain. For full details, see this page.
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