Northern Ireland is a fabulous destination to visit with your dog, whether you’re visiting family or friends or touring the beautiful countryside.
However, due to being situated across the Irish Sea and being treated differently since the end of the Brexit transition, it’s potentially trickier to visit than the other countries of the United Kingdom.
Read on for answers to all the questions you may have about the latest logistics of taking a dog to Northern Ireland, from whether you need an animal health certificate to the dog-friendly ferries available.
Can I Take My Dog to Northern Ireland from Great Britain?
From 1st January 2021, once the Brexit transition ended, the rules to travel with your dog from England, Scotland or Wales to Northern Ireland changed. Previously, there was no need for a pet passport or any other special preparations, but this is technically no longer the case.
In 2021, Great Britain became a “Part 2 listed third country” for the purposes of pet transport to the European Union. This includes England, Scotland and Wales, along with the Channel Islands and Isle of Man.
However, there was no change in the status of Northern Ireland, which is effectively classified as still part of the European Union for the purposes of pet transport.
New Requirements to take a Dog to Northern Ireland
This means that dogs travelling from Great Britain to Northern Ireland are meant to require preparation similar to visiting any other country in the EU.
Your dog technically requires a microchip, a valid rabies vaccine (at least 21 days before travel), worming treatment (done by a vet, between 24 hours and 5 days of travel) and an animal health certificate (within 10 days of travel).
Pet passports issued in EU countries can be used, in place of the animal health certificate. Pet passports issued in Great Britain cannot be used to travel to Northern Ireland, nor can old-style Northern Ireland pet passports, only the new-style introduced in 2021.
Additionally, when travelling to Northern Ireland you’ll need to use a “travellers’ point of entry”. This includes Belfast Port, Larne Port, Belfast International Airport, Belfast City Airport and City of Derry Airport.
For more information see the DAERA website. However, read on…
But Is This Being Enforced?
The good news though, is that these new requirement are not being enforced.
After an extended period in early 2021, when there was a grace period before the checks started being enforced, in September 2021 it was announced that checks on all pet dogs, cats and ferrets travelling from Great Britain to Northern Ireland would be suspended indefinitely. As of early 2023, this is still the case.
This means that for now, you no longer need to visit the vet to pay for an expensive animal health certificate, nor have a worming treatment done by a vet. A microchip and rabies vaccine is also not required.
Potential Future Requirements
The UK government has stated during the last few years that they are working on a permanent solution for pet checks, with negotiations with the EU continuing.
As of February 2023, it seems that a new simpler solution may soon be in place for pets travelling from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, assuming that the new Windsor Framework is ratified.
Pets travelling to Northern Ireland under this framework will only require a new simpler travel document, containing the pet’s microchip number and a declaration that the dog will not be travelling onwards to the Republic of Ireland or any other EU country. This will unlikely to require a vet visit. It is still early days though, with the change not yet definite.
At this stage it seems less likely that the UK will become a Part 1 listed country, similar to Switzerland, with its own pet passport and easier travel to all EU countries.
Returning to Great Britain with Your Dog
While there are numerous changes to travelling from Great Britain to Northern Ireland with a dog (not that they are currently being enforced), there are no changes travelling in the opposite direction.
Technically dogs travelling to Great Britain need to be microchipped and vaccinated against rabies, but there is no requirement for a pet passport or health certificate (that would prove this) for travel from Northern Ireland to Great Britain.
Dogs travelling from Northern Ireland to Great Britain are also not required to have a worming treatment, nor are they required to travel on an approved route. For more information, see the UK government website.
Dog-Friendly Ferries from Great Britain to Northern Ireland
The best way to travel from Great Britain to Northern Ireland with your dog is on a dog-friendly ferry. As it’s not possible to fly with your dog in the cabin to Northern Ireland, with only a handful of UK airlines allowing pets to fly as checked baggage or more often cargo, I recommend taking a ferry rather than flying.
There are currently three ferries to choose from between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, operated by Stena Line and P&O Irish Seas. (Irish Ferries doesn’t operated any ferry routes to Northern Ireland.) These are the three routes, ranked in order of dog-friendliness…
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Stena Line Ferry from Cairnryan to Belfast
After taking this ferry with my dog, I selected the Stena Line Ferry from Cairnryan to Belfast as the most dog-friendly ferry to Ireland (whether Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland).
As well as being a quick crossing (2 1/4 hours), with up to six services daily, small pets in a pet traveller case are allowed to travel on the passenger deck by your side, in a dedicated pet area on Deck 8.
Note that the pet traveller case should be a maximum size of 80 x 52 x 52cm, and must have a secure door, zip or lock mechanism, with your pet totally enclosed. Regular bags are not allowed. Plus naturally pets must remain in the carrier at all times.
In November 2022, it was announced that Stena Line would no longer permit small pets to travel in a carrier onboard this route, due to health, safety and hygiene reasons, but this decision was reversed, with just the new requirement to travel in a dedicated pet area. (Thanks to everyone who helped signed the petition!)
In early 2023, pet-friendly cabins were announced on the majority of other ferries crossing the Irish Sea, but this won’t apply on this short crossing. Instead, it has been announced that in May 2023 a Pet Lounge will be opened – full details are yet to be released.
Larger pets can either be checked into a kennel or left in your car, both free of charge. All pets must be pre-booked, including those travelling by your side, at the “Stena Plus & Onboard Extras” step of the booking process. Foot passenger are also allowed to transport pets.
Click here for more information on their pet policy
Stena Line Ferry from Liverpool to Belfast
In early 2023, Stena Line announced that there would now be pet-friendly cabins available on a number of additional routes, including the Stena Line Ferry from Liverpool to Belfast. So, I’ve bumped up this ferry in terms of pet-friendliness out of the ferries between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Up to two pets are permitted in each vinyl-floored pet-friendly cabin, with water bottles and pee pads provided. Just bring your own bowls and beds. Make sure you book these cabins well in advance, with bookings available both online and through the call centre.
When walking to your pet-friendly cabin, carry your pet in a carrier or walk them on a leash, with muzzles also recommended. There’s also a dedicated outdoor area on the ferries on this route, where your pup can get some fresh air and have a toilet break.
The alternative options for transporting your pet are in your own car (if you are travelling with one), at no cost, or in a kennel in the “Dog Lodge” on the promenade deck, for an additional £15.
Pets travelling in the Stena Line Dog Lodge can be accessed and exercised during your crossing. Even free dog food is available. Just note that the kennel size may be a little too small for larger dogs, at 100 x 82.5 x 75cm.
No matter which option you choose for transporting your pet, you need to specify you’ll be travelling with pets at the “Stena Plus & Onboard Extras” step in the booking process, and select the relevant option. The crossing is 8 hours, with both a day-time and overnight option available.
Click here for more information on their pet policy
P&O Ferry from Cairnryan to Larne
The final pet-friendly ferry crossing from Great Britain to Northern Ireland is travelling on the P&O Ferry from Cairnryan to Larne.
Out of all the crossings, this is the shortest, a quick 2hr trip. However, pets are only allowed inside vehicles (at no additional charge), with no kennels on offer. For this reason, foot passengers are not allowed to transport pets on this ferry.
As there are up to 7 daily crossings, both during the day and night, I would recommend selecting a cooler time of day for a crossing with your dog during summer. Add up to four pets to your booking when selecting the number of passengers.
Previously, it was possible to ask a staff member to visit your pet during the crossing, if you were concerned. However, I can no longer see that this option is available – double check if it’s important to you.
Click here for more information
Taking Your Dog from the Republic of Ireland to Northern Ireland
Prior to Brexit, it was easy to take your dog in a car across the border from the Republic of Ireland to Northern Ireland, and vice versa, with generally no checks performed.
This continues to be the case. The DAERA website clearly states that there is no change to the requirements for pets travelling in between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, due to Northern Ireland still being part of the European Union for pet travel.
You are technically required to have a pet passport for your dog, including microchip and valid rabies vaccination, as for crossing any country border within the EU. However, DAERA state that a “risk-based approach is taken with regards to the level of compliance checks on pets”, with checks rarely occurring.
There is no need to worm your dog travelling between Northern Ireland and Ireland, in either direction, so proof of this is not required.
Travelling Directly to Northern Ireland with a Dog
Prior to the end of the Brexit transition, if you were planning on travelling directly to Northern Ireland from outside of the UK and the Republic of Ireland with a dog, you needed to apply for Import Authorisation for your dog.
An Import Authorisation was required to be obtained at least 10 days in advance. You were also required to engage and pay for the services of an approved quarantine establishment to check your pet’s paperwork on arrival.
This was because this was not an approved route under the Pet Travel Scheme. The approved routes were for pets to firstly enter Great Britain or enter the Republic of Ireland, then travel onwards to Northern Ireland.
However, it is not clear if this requirement still applies following the Brexit transition. The DAERA website simply states that if you are transporting pets directly to Northern Ireland via air, you should email [email protected].
You May Also Like
- How to Travel with a Dog Between the UK and Europe
- Travelling to the Republic of Ireland with a Dog
- Dog-Friendly Republic of Ireland
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44 thoughts on “Travelling to Northern Ireland with a Dog in 2023”
Hi, I am travelling in August with my puppy on the Cairnryan to Belfast route.
I am very confused as there is no clear information online regarding travel of pets between England/Scotland and Northern Ireland. I understand there is no requirement for a passport, although this may change in January 2021 due to ‘Brexit’. What i do not understand is if my puppy requires additional vaccinations. She is up to date on her vaccines but does not have Rabbies, she also got a flee and worming treatment a few months ago but does she need this done again? My Vet does not seem to understand that Northern Ireland is part of Britian and i do not want to give my pet anymore injections than is required. Please help! Thanks in advance!
Hi Jenny, There is no requirement for additional vaccinations or flea or worming treatments to take your dog to Northern Ireland. Here is the Northern Ireland government page about travelling with pets: https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/articles/travelling-pets. While it doesn’t state outright on the page nothing is required, if anything was required it would be covered here. When I travelled on the Cairnryan to Belfast route, I didn’t require anything. If you are in doubt, I recommend ringing up Stenaline to double check. Enjoy your trip to Northern Ireland! Shandos
You will be OK Jenny, the rules will not be enforced for domestic pets until after October.
Hello, I have a puppy with full vaccinations and an older dog with none since being a pup however neither have pet passports and we are looking to travel in November 2020 – What is the liklihood that we would be turned away at the port of dublin due to not having the right documentation as we would be looking to do this crossing as cheaper? Just worried we would make a
I recommend getting a pet passport for both your dogs. There’s plenty of time to do so. I think many years ago pet passports weren’t often checked, but have been increasingly checked in recent years, especially with the end of the Brexit transition coming up at the end of the year.
I travel back and forward between Scotland and Northern Ireland as I have family and grandchildren in NI. I part own a house in Scotland and part own a house in Northern Ireland. What requirements do I need ensure my dogs are not put into quarantine. I travel at least three times a year.
I have 3 dogs born in Scotland and have never required any passport or rabies vaccinations as Scotland and NI have no rabies. What do I require for them to travel back and forward several times a year.
I also have a 6 month old pup who has her own Latvian passport. What do I require for her to travel back and forward. Does this passport cover her for 3 years to travel to NI. Does she have to get any checks when returning from the NI to Scotland.
Do I have to get Rabies vaccinations every 3 years for every one of my dogs. Do I have to get vet checks prior to my returning from the NI.
Is there a difference in the rules whether I stay in NI for 3 / 4 weeks or 4/5 months. Please clarify. Can you please contact me via my email.
Hi Marigold – sorry about the delay replying, I’ve had a short vacation over Christmas.
Unfortunately, the situation is changing from 1st January. For your dogs travelling to Northern Ireland from Scotland, they will now required a microchip, rabies vaccination (at least 21 days in advance), worming treatment (between 1 to 5 days before travelling) and health certificate (within 10 days of travel). And yes your dogs will require a rabies booster every 3 years.
To travel back to Scotland, none of this is required, if you stay for under 4 months. The pet health certificate issued to travel to NI can be used to return to Scotland, but is only valid for 4 months. If you stay longer, you need to visit a vet to get a GB pet health certificate, unless you pet has an EU pet passport.
For the dog with the Latvian passport, you can use this in place of the pet health certificate. This passport will remain valid while the rabies vaccine is valid or longer if her rabies boosters are done in the EU (presumably including Northern Ireland). There may also be the option of getting your other dogs a Northern Ireland issued EU pet passport, which would replace the health certificate, but considering you also need the worming treatment each visit to go to NI you still need to visit the vet.
The UK government does note: “The UK government recognises that pet owners and assistance dog users will need time to adjust to these changes. It’s working with the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) on an enforcement approach that takes these challenges into account.”
For more information and any further clarifications, see: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/pet-travel-to-europe-from-1-january-2021 and https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/articles/travelling-pets.
Enforcement of the rules for domestic pets has been put back to October 2021. Perhaps there will be some compromise works out by then.
This information is dated , best to follow .gov .uk travelling with my pet, don’t leave it to chance..x
Aileen – I have recently updated this post with the latest government news.
From DAERA website
Routine checks on the non-commercial movement of pets from GB to NI will be delayed until at least 1 October 2021
I live in Southern Ireland and have reserved a pedigree puppy in Northern Ireland which will be ready for collection at the beginning of Feb. I am confused reading the varios information and wonder if you can kindly let me know if there is anything I need to be aware of or to ensure is in place/done before bringing the puppy to southern ireland?
Normally, your dog would need a microchip and rabies vaccine at least 21 days before movement, but there are exceptions in place for puppies, that are too young for the rabies vaccine. These are the EU rules: https://ec.europa.eu/food/animals/pet-movement/eu-legislation/young-animals_en. However, I don’t think Ireland allows the exception, looking at this. I’m not fully across this, as I’m more familiar with the rules for older dogs being taken on vacation. Also, I’m not sure whether the transport is commercial or non-commercial, I think it depends on whether you go and pick up your puppy.
I’m travelling from Northern Ireland to Liverpool next month. I’m confused if there is any requirement for my dog travelling to the UK from Northern Ireland?
It sure is a lot more confusing today! If you’re only travelling to GB and not returning to NI, there are no passport or vaccine requirements, other than the standard requirement for dogs to microchipped. This is covered half-way down this page: https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/articles/travelling-pets. However, the extra steps apply if you return to NI.
Thanks you so much for your reply. That’t really helpful 🙂
I am moving to the Republic of Ireland later this year. I would like to travel from Scotland via ferry with my dog to Northern Ireland and then by car to the Republic of Ireland.
Is this feasible considering Brexit? the Irish border?
She has a pet passport.
Appreciate your advice.
Nan – I haven’t been keeping up to date with changes for the movement of people (as I’m currently in Australia), but for pets, the new key border crossing is when you cross to Northern Ireland. As well as requiring a microchip and valid rabies vaccine at least 21 days before entry, your dog will also require a worming treatment at a vet and health certificate. The pet passports issued before 2021 are no longer valid for crossing the border. I recommend visiting a vet well before your travel.
Once in Northern Ireland, I expect you will not need to show anything when driving across into the Republic of Ireland (as occurred when I visited previously), but it is expected that your dog is vaccinated for rabies and you have a health certificate or passport.
Enjoy your trip!
I live in Northern Ireland, I have a Minature Schnauzer which is fully vaccinated and micro chipped, I and travelling to Scotland for a wedding in July 2021, do I need a pet passport to take her and bring her back. If I do how do I go about it and what is the cost.
You don’t need anything extra to take your dog to Scotland, but you’ll need extra steps to return to Northern Ireland with your dog. Your dog will require a worming treatment done by a vet between 24 hours and 5 days of returning to Northern Ireland. This should also be able to be done in Northern Ireland before leaving, if your trip is short. You’ll also need either an animal health certificate or one of the new style NI pet passports. I recommend speaking to your pet before your trip. Unfortunately, I don’t know the current cost.
From Daera website
Routine checks on the non-commercial movement of pets from GB to NI will be delayed until at least 1 October 2021
Enjoy the wedding
I’m moving to NI from England in June. I have 3 small dogs and a house cat. I contacted DEFRA and they informed me checks won’t be enforced until july 1st. 2 of my dogs have heart conditions and have previously had adverse reactions to vaccines. I was advised that there were no exceptions in the legislation but I will unlikely be checked. I am a single parent of two young children, if they refuse us entry or insist on quarantine we will end up homeless or without our beloved animals and in debt from quarantine costs. I’m terrified. Do you have any advice?
Based on DEFRA’s advice, I’d probably take advantage of the period prior to 1st July to move. I had heard they weren’t doing checks early in the year, but this is even later than previously mentioned, probably due to Covid. As an emergency backup, find out the details of a kennel or vet near your departure point, and arrive extra early, in case something does come up.
The checks are on the NI side not GB side. They’ve now delayed the checks till 1st October. Hopefully they will be scrapped all together.
The new entry rules to NI from the UK regarding pet passports are not currently being enforced by NI. This is clearly stated on the NI gov website and in recent news media. You do need a pet passport however to cross into the Republic. So your above advice about requiring rabies and a health certificate etc is not correct yet. A good opportunity to get your pup into NI to get an NI issued EU pet passport!
That’s great to read, earlier in the year they were planning to enforce a lot earlier.
We are travelling from cainryan to Belfast for 2 weeks in august with our dog.
Can anyone confirm if we need to get the animal health certificate and worming to get into Northern Ireland?
I can see that checks are delayed until 2021 but didn’t want to get caught out
I recommend doing it still, just for your peace of mind, although the reports are that it isn’t being enforced yet. But it might start being enforced!
Help!!! I am so confused. I am moving to Belfast after FINALLY getting my US passport renewed (nightmare!!! *covid*)
Do I still need to get my dog and cat pet passports for entry if traveling after Oct 1 of this year?
If you’re coming from the US, you’ll need to get UK pet health certificates completed and certified by USDA APHIS. The EU and other pet passports are only relevant once living in the jurisdiction.
Planning to travel to NI in July 2022. Are the checks on pets entering NI still suspended, have they been scrapped ? If reinstated are they likely to be enforceable immediately ?
The checks are still suspended. It hasn’t been announced that they are being scrapped, but I believe the government is hoping GB will move to the same category as Switzerland, where they won’t bd required. I recommend checking this page for the latest: https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/articles/travelling-pets
Thank you – very helpful
Since the UK left the EU and the transition period ended, according to DAERA, a worming treatment has technically been required to enter NI from GB. However, checks are not currently being made, so this is not being enforced. Hopefully the situation with pet travel to and from GB changes again, back to being more similar when UK was part of the EU.
I am travelling from Northern Ireland to England next week with a puppy of 10 weeks old. We are travelling overnight from Belfast to Liverpool and after researching the dog lodges on Stenaline, I would not be happy to leave such a young puppy on their own surrounded by other dogs. We would like to leave the pup in the car but unsure if we can visit it at anytime as I have heard that once the boat set sail that you are not allowed in that area. What would you advised as I am concerned for the pup because of them spending first night away from litter and long journey.
That’s a tough situation. It’d be better if you could take the ferry from Belfast to Cairnryan, as small dogs can travel in a carrier bag onboard and it’s a quick trip. However, I understand that ferry to Liverpool is probably better suited for you. I haven’t heard that you can visit dogs in the car after departing, can you call up the customer centre and ask? They might make an exception in certain cases, too. Otherwise, it’s probably best to put the pup in the dog lodge so that you can regular walk him/her.
Hi, I’m travelling from Sri Lanka to Northern Ireland. I want to know if there’s any possibility of taking my dog as excess baggage to the UK, or do they have to travel as manifest cargo? Any help you can give me regarding this would be appreciated.
Unfortunately dogs travelling to the UK need to travel as manifest cargo, not excess baggage. The alternative is to fly into the continent, such as Paris or Amsterdam, then travel via ferry/car/train to Northern Ireland.
Hi, I am currently living in Northern Ireland and my cat is living in Germany. I want to go back to Germany and bring my cat back to NI, is it possible I take the flight from Germany to Dublin with my cat and then take the bus to Belfast? I want my cat to stay with me in the cabin, do you know any airlines allow me to do that? Thanks a lot for you help in advance.
Wang – It should be possible to fly your cat in the cabin to Dublin. Although most airlines don’t allow this, some airlines do, although I’ve heard from other travellers that airline staff say different things at different times – see the comments on my post about travelling to Ireland, https://www.travelnuity.com/taking-a-dog-to-ireland/. Two possible options are Vueling and Iberia Express. It’s probably not possible to take your cat on the bus, but cats are allowed to sit on your lap in a secure carrier on the train from Dublin to Belfast. Hope this helps!
Hi,I would like to visit my relatives in NI. I have have an assistance dog with ID passbook, and have a record of all his vacations, flea and tick, and worm treatment from berth, which is four and a half years worth.
1. Does he have to have a rabies jab.
2. I presume I can take him with on any crossing.
Rabies vaccines are still not being enforced on dogs travelling from GB to NI, and there are no requirements for the return journey. Assistance dogs should be accepted by any ferry crossing, although I’m not across documentation requirements.
Hi, I am hoping to travel from the US to Ireland with my Dachshund. I got her a France Pet Passport in 2021. Do you know if this will be enough? Of course, she has a Microchip and is up to date with her shots. I am looking to do a road trip through Europe with her.
That should be fine, as long as her latest rabies shot is in the pet passport, not on a separate certificate. Some airlines also require a health certificate from your vet – but just a simple letter, not a complicated form that needs to be certified. Additionally, Ireland also requires an inspection on arrival for dogs flying into the country from outside of the EU – see my separate post on Travelling to the Republic of Ireland (I assume you mean the Republic of Ireland, not Northern Ireland).