I've traveled to and from Ireland with my dogs a few times now. 3 times to be precise (2006, 2007 & 2014). America was always on the other end of those travels, which thankfully resulted in no mandatory quarantine for my pets. In the past, animals would need to be quarantined for up to 6 months upon arrival in their new country. Crazy!

I've learned a lot about moving animals internationally, and a lot about keeping the costs down too. In fact, my e-book "Saving Money on Your Pets Move to Ireland" goes into great detail to describe the many ways you can avoid overpaying for your own pets move, including saving on a number of 'hidden' fees. I'm sure much of the knowledge that I share here in this blog post, and within the e-book, can help you plan your own pet's travel.

Must-know details before moving to Ireland with your dog

You can no longer book your pet's travel yourself
Back in 2006 and 2007 when I first traveled with my dogs to Ireland, I did all the paperwork, airline booking and arranging of vet checkups myself. I'm not sure when the change happened, but now the airlines that fly pets in to Ireland (Lufthansa and Aer Lingus from west coast of USA) require that you use a professional pet re-locator service. You can expect this to result in a higher cost of transport. Much higher! See below for more on this.

Price quotes vary significantly
Knowing I needed to use one of these pet re-locator services to get my dog over to Ireland, I began to shop around. If there's one piece of advice you take from this article, it has to be get plenty of price quotes. The gap in estimates I received to send a small dog (25lbs) from California to Ireland varied from $1665 to $4285 (sorry, that's not a typo) for airport to airport service. This did not include the extra fee of 230 Euro payable to the pet handler service in Dublin, or any other fees due for vet bills, USDA certificate etc.

Can you imagine my feeling of displeasure (to put it mildly) when I received those quotes? In 2007, I managed to take a dog from CA to Ireland for far less that that. In response to the high cost of sending a dog to Ireland, I wrote my money saving e-book to help others keep costs down. Having moved with dogs internationally a number of times, I have learned an incredible amount on this topic, and you will be amazed to see just how many opportunities there are to save literally hundreds of dollars. If you're interested in the e-book you'll find more details here.

As you receive price quotes be sure to read the fine print carefully, and be very clear about what the price covers. Some companies only offer airport to airport service, others will offer door to door, and other in-between options. When comparing prices, you'll want to be sure you're comparing like for like. Here's a breakdown of exactly how much I spent, and on what, when I sent my dog to Ireland in 2014.

moving to Ireland with your dog
The pet re-locator could've been more helpful
Of all the pet re-locators I contacted, two stood out as being the most professional, and both seemed very reputable. One of those quoted me the lowest fee ($1665), and the other quoted $4000 for the same type of service (airport to airport). I went with the lower quote (obviously!). We'll call them DogMoverCompany.
From the outset the person I dealt with at DogMoverCompany was perfectly courteous, and had the answers I needed. Every time I had a question I could get it resolved with a quick call or email. However, the problem I had is that I found I was asking so many questions, even all the way up until the actual move day. Knowing how much my credit card was going to get hit for, I couldn't help but feel that I shouldn't have to go seeking out this information. I felt that DogMoverCompany could have most of it typed up and readily available on their website, or at least tell me without having to ask. Here are a few examples of information I had to ask for:

  • Clear details about which route my dog would take (as it turns out, through Germany on Lufthansa)
  • Flight times, arrival times, layover info.
  • What their relationship to the people handling the dog in Germany is.
  • Is the dog allowed out of the kennel at any point? (yes, I was told she would be taken out, and walked, in Germany)
  • Feeding procedure (fed in Germany)
  • Time and place of drop off (with 2 days to go, I decided to ask)
  • USDA contact details to send paperwork to (this was very time-sensitive (see below) so I dug up the info myself)
  • How to label dog crate (as it turns out they do it, but I had to ask)
  • When will my credit card be charged
  • How much the fee in Dublin was
  • Exactly what I needed from my vet (on the day before the trip)

In case any pet re-locator reads this blog post, please note: people who are planning an international move do not have time to be doing all this back and forth. If your fees need to be as high as they are, then at least try to make our lives easier by giving us as much information as you can without the need for us to ask.

Be sure of the flight route
I alluded to this above and it is a good thing to know so you don't make the same mistake I did. Do not assume your pet can get on any commercial flight (this is especially important if you are planning to fly with your pet). In fact, I was told that Aer Lingus would fly my pet to Ireland, but when I went to arrange this, I was told my only option was with Lufthansa (I had already booked my own flight with Aer Lingus). I was hoping for a low-stress journey for my dog (San Francisco direct to Dublin). Instead she ended up going from LAX to Germany, and then to Dublin after an overnight stay at Frankfurt airport.

Be aware of strict timelines
The EU pet passport scheme has some very strict guidelines and timelines that you must adhere to in order for your pet to be allowed to travel. Your pet re-locator should explain those to you, but if you want to read up on the details ahead of time, visit the Irish Department of Agriculture website. The timing of when the dog has been micro-chipped is hugely important (it must happen before everything else), as is when they received their rabies vaccination and tick and tapeworm treatment. (I don't want to give the timeline information here in case it changes). If traveling from the United States you will also need to have a completed USDA form for your animal. You will either need to bring it to one of their local offices, or expedite it there and back to be sure you receive it in time for your pet's travel. Keep in mind that if your animal is traveling long distance, or has a layover, they may arrive a day later than you were expecting. The time difference between your point of origin and Ireland will play a part in this too. Keep this in mind when making vet appointments, so that you are sure you are meeting the timeline requirements for the pet passport.
Your animal must fly in to Dublin
Having already flown to Ireland from the US with a dog before, I knew my dog would need to fly in to Dublin. I don't think there's any way around this, so be prepared to have Dublin as your first port of call. Your animal will be picked up at Dublin airport, and from there be whisked off to Lissenhall Veterinary Hospital in Swords. Currently they are the only Department of Agriculture approved inspection site for all pet passports entering Ireland through Dublin Airport. Plan your own travel accordingly, or if you have someone coming to pick up your pet for you, be sure they know where to go. You won't get to see your pet in Dublin until they have been inspected and cleared by the vet.

The pet can travel without you
This was a surprise to me, but yes, it is likely that you can send your pet ahead of time and have someone pick her up for you on the other side. As much as it was not my preference, I had to send my dog one week before I traveled, and had someone pick her up for me in Dublin.

You can bring your dog on trains
As mentioned above, your pet will fly in to Dublin if you're using the EU pet passport scheme. If you're traveling elsewhere in Ireland by train, then you can bring your dog along for the ride 🙂 The Irish Rail policy indicates that the dog must be kept in their crate while on the train.

What you will need to pay for
It's a good idea to have an idea of how much it is going to cost you to send your pet to Ireland. Approximately allow for:

  • 3-4 vet visits
  • Microchip identification (if your dog doesn't already have one that meets the requirement)
  • Up-to-date immunizations (e.g. for rabies)
  • Department of Agriculture approval stamps (USDA in the US) + overnight delivery service fee (due to timeline requirement)
  • Pet re-locator fee
  • Travel crate if not included in re-locator fee.
  • Lissenhall fee in Dublin
  • Travel costs to/from airport on both sides of journey

You might also be interested in another article I wrote where I shared a complete breakdown of all my costs for sending my dog to Ireland from California.

Crate/Kennel restrictions
For the health and safety of the animal, there are strict rules in place for the type and size of crate your pet can travel in. I recommend getting this information from your pet re-locator (hopefully you don't have to ask 🙂 )

Pet Identification requirements
Your animal needs to be micro-chipped (in some cases a clearly readable tattoo will suffice, but the best option is a micro chip). Your pet re-locator should guide you through exactly what you need, and how to check if the microchip your animal already has, meets the requirement of the Irish Department of Agriculture.

Good luck moving with your pet. It's a bit stressful, and the process can seem quite drawn out, but hopefully it'll all be worth it.

I'm eager to hear of other pet travel tips. If you'd like to add to the conversation, please comment below, or add your feedback in the forums.