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? Like the UK, 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. Luckily though, there’s quite a few options to choose between, 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.
Crossing by Car
At the moment, 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 not usually enforced. This is partially because the likelihood of rabies is so low. (Read more here.) Additionally, while your dog is required to be wormed by a vet to travel to Ireland, this doesn’t apply when travelling from the UK.
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.
A Note on Brexit
Keep in mind the border situation may change after the Brexit transition period ends on 31st December 2020. If planning to cross the border with your dog after this date, read more about the potential changes, including the possible need for a rabies titre test when leaving the UK. At the least, a pet passport is more likely to be required.
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, we used this ferry to travel from Dublin to Liverpool, although dogs were required to stay in your car, and it’s a fairly long trip.)
Instead, the closest alternative is to driver 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 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 six crossings daily. The swift ferry crossing take 2hr 25 mins, while the regular crossing take about 3hr 30 mins. Alternatively, head further south in Wales to Pembroke, for the Pembroke to Rosslare ferry, with two crossings daily. This route is longer, taking just over 4hr.
Pets are allowed on both of these routes, travelling for free. 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 up to 10 kennels, depending on the ship, which must be pre-booked (get in early to ensure availability, especially for larger dogs on Irish Ferries).
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.
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. Alternatively, they also operate two crossing per day to Rosslare, but this is a Fishguard (near St David’s) to Rosslare ferry. Both of these routes take 3hr 15 mins each way.
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.
Does Your Dog Need a Pet Passport on the Ferry to Ireland?
Technically, your pet requires a pet passport, including a microchip and a rabies vaccine at least 21 days beforehand, to travel on the ferry between the UK and the Republic of Ireland. In the past, this was not often checked. (It was not checked when we took the P&O ferry from Dublin to Liverpool.)
However, there are reports that passports are more often being checked these days. As I mentioned above, with the Brexit transition period ending on 31st December 2020, your pet passport will even more likely be checked. Also read about the other potential changes, including the possible need for a rabies titre test when travelling from the UK to the Republic of Ireland.
Luckily, one thing that isn’t required when crossing in either direction is a worming treatment administered by a vet, unlike when entering Ireland or the UK from most other countries.
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.
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 17 hours to 19 1/2 hours, usually leaving in the evening or afternoon, then arriving the following afternoon or late 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 pre-book a kennel for your dog, with a charge of £30 applying. This is compulsory for foot passengers plus passengers travelling by motorcycle or bicycle.
Unfortunately, access to your pets on board (whether in a kennel or vehicle) is not guaranteed, instead it is at the discretion of the crew, depending on the availability of a crew member to escort your and the weather conditions.
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 also takes around 17 hours to 19 hours, depending on the direction and the ship, usually leaving late afternoon or early evening.
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 option is the Brittany Ferries route from Roscoff (almost on the western tip of Brittany) to Cork. Brittany ferries operates the luxury ferry, Pont-Aven, once per week, and the economy ferry, Connemara, once per week. Both ferries only operate between May and early November. The crossing takes 14 hours on the Pont-Aven, sometimes slightly longer on the Connemara. The options for pets depend on the ship you are sailing on.
Surprisingly, the economy ferry, Connemara, is more dog-friendly, with 13 pet-friendly cabins available. On the Pont-Aven, there are only kennels available, with 42 small and 24 large kennels, accessible around the clock with a swipe-card. Both ships also offer an exercise area for dogs, although note that a muzzle needs to be worn, as well as when taking your pet to their cabin or kennel. With the Pont-Aven, it is also mentioned that pets can stay in your vehicle, although this isn’t clear with the Connemara.
The price to transport a pet on either ship is currently €47. Unfortunately, only passengers travelling by car are allowed to take a pet, with pets not allowed for foot passengers, or those travelling by motorcycle or bicycle.
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 immediately before 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. I’m not sure if this applies to the other ferry companies.
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 Santander in northern Spain to Cork, between May and early November. This crossing operates twice per week, with the economy ferry Connemara operating the route. The crossing takes either 26 hours 30 minutes or 28 hours when sailing to Cork, and a longer 31 hours 30 minutes (including two nights) when sailing back to Spain.
As I noted above, the Connemara delightfully has 13 pet-friendly cabins, with a fee of €47 per pet. I recommend booking early to get one of these cabins, they tend to book out quickly. There is also an exercise area immediately outside of these cabins. 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 stated here). 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, some airlines disallow pets on flights to and from Ireland, the same as flights to the UK, such as Vueling and SAS.
Within Europe, Aegean Airlines seems promising, as they only mention pets need to fly as cargo on flights to the UK. The rules for Lufthansa and KLM are not clear; I would contact their call centre.
If you’re travelling from North America, one great option is Air Canada, who permits pets in the cabin and hold on both flights to Ireland and leaving Ireland.
The rules for the Irish airlines are a little clearer (if harsh). For starters, the budget Irish airline Ryanair has a blanket rule against pets on any flights, only guide and assistance dogs are allowed on most flights (see here). The Irish flag-carrier Aer Lingus does allow pets, with the rules depending on the route, read on for further details.
Flying with a Pet on Aer Lingus
Depending on where you’re flying to or from, you may want to consider flying with your pet on Aer Lingus. Unlike Ryanair, Aer Lingus does accept pets, although the rules depend on the route:
- Regional flights within Ireland and Great Britain (except flights to and from Jersey or Rennes): Pet dogs, as well as pet cats and rabbits, are permitted to travel as checked-baggage. Call the call centre to make a booking at the time your make your booking. Worrying though, the conditions include that the carriage of animals is subject to available space, and that they “reserve the right to refuse to carry an animal up to and including the scheduled departure time”.
- Flights to and from Continental Europe: Pets can only travel as cargo, using IAG Cargo. Pets are not allowed to travel in the cabin or as checked-baggage.
- Flights to North America: Pet dogs, as well as pet cats, can be booked as excess baggage, except on flights to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and Minneapolis.
- Flights from North America: Pets can only travel as cargo. A number of additional conditions apply, such as no pets on flights departing Friday and Saturday and only flights to Dublin are permitted.
An Important 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 and 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 24 hours in advance. You need to send an email with the details of your arrival to the relevant email address, as listed in the official guidelines. Arrival is only permitted at Cork, Dublin and Shannon Airports, as well as Cork and Rosslare ferry ports.
On arrival, your pet will be met and undergo compliance checks. This will be either carried out at the port/airport, or in the case of pets travelling as cargo to Dublin Airport, at Lissenhall Veterinary Hospital or Vets Direct. A fee will apply. For full details, see the link above.
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