I get a lot of questions about moving to Ireland with pets, in particular about moving with dogs. Previous articles I wrote on the topic seem to get people wondering if there are alternative ways to bring their dogs to Ireland from the USA, as well as from other non-EU countries. I think the main reason for searching for an alternative to flying is due to the high cost of transport to Ireland. This is totally understandable. I spent a lot of money bringing my dog over with me in 2014. See the details here. I even wrote an ebook on the topic, which documents ways in which you can minimize your pet move expenses. I also hear from people who are concerned about the toll a long flight will take on their pet, and are unwilling to hand their furry friend over to an airline cargo crew.

You'll be glad to know that you do have other options to take your pet to Ireland other than flying here directly (or flying at all). You may even be able to avoid using the services of a pet transport company. I'm sure they serve a purpose, but if I could have avoided using a pet transporter last year, I would've. I brought dogs to and from Ireland in the past without their help, and had no problems.

Option 1 : fly somewhere else first
Your primary alternative to flying directly to Ireland is to fly/travel to another EU country first, and then travel to Ireland from there. I called the Irish Department of Agriculture (pet travel dept) today (+353-1-6072827) and got some clarifications on taking this approach. I asked if I were to fly to the U.K. or another EU country first, then travel on to Ireland from there, what would I need to do. Michael at the department of Agriculture gave me the following advice:

  1. You need to satisfy the requirements of the initial country of entry in to the EU with your pet (this applies to cats and ferrets too). At a minimum this will include having your pet micro-chipped and providing a completed Veterinarian health certificate for your pet in the form of the Annex IV document (available for download at ec.europa.eu). There may be other requirements including evidence of tick/tapeworm treatment. You will need to check with the department of agriculture of the country you intend to arrive in for full details.
  2. alternatives to flying dog to ireland

  3. Once you have satisfied the requirements of the original destination EU country, your pet will be released and can travel within the EU, including Ireland, with minimal restrictions.
  4. If you plan to travel onward from your original EU port of entry, then your pet is bound by the following European Union restriction "For the purpose of further movements into other Member States the certificate is valid from the date of the documentary and identity checks for a total of four months or until the date of expiry of the anti-rabies vaccination or until the conditions relating to animals less than 16 weeks old cease to apply, whichever date is earlier." (note: this information may change, so check this link for most up-to-date info)
  5. When travelling to Ireland from other EU countries (with a few exceptions) you may need to have the tapeworm treatment re-administered and documented on the Annex IV form. At the time of writing this (May 2015), this treatment must be performed "not more than 120 hours (5 days) and not less than 24 hours (1 day) prior to scheduled arrival time in Ireland". Source and most up-to-date info here.

Thank you, Michael, for the information.

Option 2 : set sail on the high seas
An alternative to flying to Ireland/EU with your pet dog or cat, is to come by boat (a big one). Site member @dorzak mentioned he might be doing this, and was given a figure of $500 for pet transport from NYC to Southampton, UK. From there, he'll have to find a way to Ireland with his pet.

I was interested in finding out more about this way of transporting a pet internationally, so I got in touch with someone who has done it. Nikki Moustaki of www.nikkimoustaki.com was kind enough to respond to my email, and shared a pretty neat video of the conditions you can expect for your pet on board Cunard's Queen Mary 2, which I must say look quite nice. The journey might be long, but at least your dog gets to run around, have fun, and you can visit them often.

Regarding costs, Nikki said "I think it was about $500 US to take Pepper at that time." Pepper is her dog : ) Read more about Pepper's travels here.
And regarding onward travel within the EU, Nikki had the following message: "Bringing pets into the UK is the hard part -- it's much easier taking them out."

And finally, here's Nikki's video showing what life is like on the QM2 for pets

Also available at: youtube.com/watch?v=wtfTgI2wB18

Thanks, Nikki!

Important note! Keep all documents, receipts, vet certs, and anything else pertaining to your pets travel. I'd recommend keeping a digital file with copies of everything, including contact names/details of everyone you will interact with (vet, travel agents, agricultural depts, etc).

As usual, any helpful information you can add to the topic is much appreciated. Please use the comments (or contact form) to add to this topic.

image credit: flickr/cogdog