How to Travel to Estonia with a Dog

Estonia and its capital Tallinn are a delightful dog-friendly destination to visit in Europe. However, they can be a difficult spot to reach, particularly if you are travelling without a car. Find out more about the requirements to travel to Estonia with a dog, plus the transport options to consider, from flights to ferries.

Travel to Estonia with a Dog

Travelling to Estonia with a Dog from the EU

The rules to travel to Estonia with a dog from elsewhere within the European Union (EU) are the same as for most EU countries and quite simple.

First, your dog needs to be microchipped. Secondly, your dog needs to have a valid rabies vaccine, that was given at least 21 days before crossing the border (in the case of an initial vaccine) and hasn’t expired. Plus, this needs to be recorded in your dog’s pet passport.

Travelling to Estonia with a Dog from Outside the EU

If you are travelling to Estonia from outside of the EU, including from other European countries that aren’t part of the EU, some slightly different requirements apply.

Your dog will still need a microchip and a valid rabies vaccine. The rabies vaccine must have been given at least 21 days before entry into the EU, plus not yet expired. For some countries, a rabies titre test is also required, although there are exemptions for many countries such as the UK and USA.

Additionally, your dog will need an EU pet health certificate, unless they have an up-to-date EU pet passport from a previous stay in the EU. Only authorised vets can issue an EU pet health certificate, and an endorsement by an official veterinarian may sometimes be required. The certificate needs to be issued within 10 days of your arrival in Estonia.

For more information, see my guide to the paperwork and vaccines for travelling to the EU with a dog.

Flying to Estonia with a Dog

The easiest and quickest way to travel to Estonia from elsewhere in Europe with a dog is by flying. There are many European airlines that will fly your dog in the cabin to Estonia, including the Estonian flag-carrier, Nordica.

Schnitzel in his carrier bag inside the cabin
There are multiple options to fly with your dog in the cabin to Estonia

Nordica permits pets to travel in the cabin, as well as larger dogs to fly in the hold as check-in luggage. In the cabin, there is a maximum weight of 8kg, with a generous maximum carrier size of 56cm long x 45cm wide x 25cm high.

On one-way flights within Europe there is a €35 charge for pets in the cabin, while there is a €55 fee for small and medium pets flying in the hold, up to 60kg in weight including their carrier. Larger pet need to fly as cargo. View their full pet policy.

Taking a Ferry from Helsinki with a Dog

From Helsinki, the southern capital of Finland, it’s just a short ferry crossing to Tallinn in Estonia, with multiple ferry companies making the quick crossing. We travelled with Tallink Silja Line, with our crossing taking only two hours.

Options on Tallink Silja Line ferries include leaving your pet in your vehicle (on Star and Megastar only, with no charge), booking a kennel (on Star and Megastar only) or booking a pet-friendly cabin. There is a €9 (daytime) or €18 (overnight) fee for the latter options.

Travel to Tallinn with a dog
Schnitzel in the kennel on the ferry from Helsinki to Tallinn

We found the kennels to be of an excellent quality, including a sand pit for your dog to do their business. I believe this has since been moved to the outside deck where pets can be walked, both on the Megastar and MyStar.

Pet facilities in the kennel room onboard the ferry to Tallinn
Facilities in the kennel room onboard the ferry

Additionally, since our voyage, it is now possible to transport pets under 20kg in a carrier bag, cage or cart (with wheels) alongside you in the passenger indoor areas, for no charge. Pets are just not permitted in the kid’s zone, restaurant, pub and bar areas.

Read more about transporting pets on Tallink Silja Line ferries. The options onboard the other ferries from Helsinki to Tallinn for pets are likely to be similar.

Take a Ferry from Stockholm with a Dog

There are also longer ferries that can transport yourself and your pets from Stockholm, the capital of Sweden, to Tallin. Generally this longer trip is an overnight voyage.

We took a similar overnight ferry operated by Tallink Silja Line from Stockholm to Helsinki, staying in a pet-friendly cabin, and were impressed with the fun, pet-friendly experience. Read more about my experience.

Onboard an overnight Tallink Silja Line ferry
Onboard an overnight Tallink Silja Line ferry from Stockholm

Depending on the ship, generally both pet-friendly cabins and kennels are available. I recommend the pet-friendly cabins if available for this longer voyage, and booking in well in advance.

Other Transport Connections to Estonia

When it comes to other transport options, other than flights and ferries, there are limited public transport connections between the Baltic states and the rest of Europe, particularly if you have a dog.

The trains lines within the Baltic states have historically led to Moscow, not to Central and Western Europe. There is a project to connect the Baltic states with Poland by rail, Rail Baltica, but it isn’t due to be completed until 2030.

Usually the most popular method of public transport to and between the Baltic states is bus. However, after checking the details of every bus company I could find, none of them mentioned allowing dogs, similar to other long-distance buses in Europe, and I didn’t wait to rely on the chance generosity of a driver.

Taking the Slow Train from Latvia with a Dog

Without hiring a car, the only option left to us to travel from Estonia to Latvia was the daily slow train between Tallinn and Riga, including a train change at the border.

For the latest information on making this trip (the timetable often changes from year to year), check out the latest information at Man in Seat 61. As of 2023, there’s a four hour wait most times when changing trains at the border in Valga.

On the smart, modern trains in Estonia, the rules for travelling with pets state they are only allowed in the train’s C area (the vestibule), in carriages marked with a pet sticker. Animals are not allowed in first class.

However, I believe we were allowed in the main part of the carriage with our small dog in a carrier bag. You should carry your dog’s vaccination papers, and move if requested by attendants. No pet ticket is required.

On the Latvian side of the border the trains are much older. The rules for dogs on Latvian trains are quite generous – there is a limit of 10 dogs per wagon! Larger dogs not in a carrier bag need to wear a muzzle and be on a short leash. Plus carry your dog’s papers. There is a fee for dogs, depending on the distance.

If you end up travelling on a train with a long gap like we did, fill up the break with lunch at the excellent Lilli Restaurant in Valga. There is a large courtyard where we lunched with our dog, but we also passed through the inside dining room, where I think dogs would also be allowed. The prices are even cheaper than in Tallinn.

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About the Author

Photo of Shandos & Schnitzel

Shandos Cleaver is the founder of Travelnuity: Dog-Friendly Travel. She has travelled extensively with her Miniature Dachshund, Schnitzel, including to 33 countries across Europe, every state and territory of Australia except Tasmania, and 10 of the United States. She’s passionate about providing inspiration and information to others wanting to travel with their dogs, whether close to home or internationally.

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