Bringing pets to Ireland

Introduction

The importation of pets into Ireland is strictly controlled to ensure that diseases such as rabies are not introduced. The EU system of Passports for Pets allows cats, dogs and ferrets to travel between EU member states and some other countries that are part of the scheme.

The information in this document is about bringing a pet to Ireland, and is not about buying a pet abroad, or bringing animals into Ireland for commercial purposes.

For EU rules to apply, you must travel to Ireland with your pet.

If you are bringing a cat, dog or ferret from outside the EU (including the UK but not including Northern Ireland), you should follow the rules set out in ‘Cats, dogs and ferrets – non EU travel’ below.

Cats, dogs and ferrets – EU travel

If you are coming to Ireland from another EU country you should follow the steps below to bring your cat, dog (including guide dogs) or ferret with you to Ireland. These rules also apply to pets travelling from:

  • Andorra
  • Gibraltar
  • Greenland
  • Faroe Islands
  • Iceland
  • Lichtenstein
  • Monaco
  • Northern Ireland
  • Norway
  • San Marino
  • Switzerland
  • Vatican City State

Different rules apply if you are:

  • Buying a cat, dog or ferret abroad and having it shipped to Ireland
  • Shipping your cat, dog or ferret back to Ireland unaccompanied
  • Travelling to Ireland to sell a cat, dog or ferret
  • Travelling with more than 5 pets
  • Bringing your pet unaccompanied
  • Travelling from outside the EU or from a country not listed above (see ‘Coming from outside the EU’ below)

Detailed information about these situations is on the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s (DAFM) website.

The law governing the importation of cats, dogs and ferrets for non-commercial purposes is the Pet Travel (Cats, Dogs and Ferrets) Regulations 2020.

Step 1 – Microchipping

Your cat, dog or ferret must be microchipped before it is vaccinated against rabies. The microchip must be readable by a device compatible with ISO standard 11785. If you or your vet is unsure about the specifications of the microchip, you should contact the microchip manufacturer. Alternatively, you can carry your own microchip reader with you which can be used on your pet.

Step 2 – Vaccination

Your pet must be vaccinated against rabies. The vaccine must be given after the microchip is inserted.

Your pet must be at least 12 weeks old when it is vaccinated. You must wait until the appropriate immunity has developed before you can bring the dog, cat or ferret to Ireland. This is the time as stated on the datasheet of the vaccination given, and must be at least 21 days after the primary vaccination is given.

The waiting period does not apply to booster vaccinations, provided they are given BEFORE the date the previous rabies vaccine has run out.

Step 3 – the pet passport

You need an EU pet passport issued by an EU country or one of the countries listed above, to enter Ireland. The pet passport must be stamped by a vet to show that the rabies vaccination has been given.

Step 4 – Tapeworm treatment

If you are bringing a dog into Ireland, it must be treated for tapeworm (Echinococcus multilocularis) each time you travel to Ireland, unless you are travelling from Northern Ireland, Finland, Malta or Norway. The treatment must be given by a vet between 1 and 5 days before you arrive in Ireland, and recorded in the pet passport.

Cats, dogs and ferrets – Non EU travel

Note: If you travel from Britain (not including Northern Ireland) with your pet after 1 January 2021, non EU rules apply. You must follow the following process even if your pet is returning to Ireland from Britain and was born and raised in Ireland. The rules for travelling from Northern Ireland have not changed.

If your pet does not have an EU pet passport (GB pet passports are no longer allowed, but NI pet passports are), you must have a health certificate issued by UK authorities. You can read more about travelling from Britain.

Step 1 – Microchipping

Your cat, dog or ferret must be microchipped before it is vaccinated against rabies. The microchip must be readable by a device compatible with ISO standard 11785. If you or your vet is unsure about the specifications of the microchip, you should contact the microchip manufacturer. Alternatively, you can carry your own microchip reader with you which can be used on your pet.

Step 2 – Vaccination

Your pet must be vaccinated against rabies. The vaccine must be given after the microchip is inserted.

Your pet must be at least 12 weeks old when it is vaccinated. You must wait until the appropriate immunity has developed before you can bring the dog, cat or ferret to Ireland. This is the time as stated on the datasheet of the vaccination given, and must be at least 21 days after the primary vaccination is given.

The waiting period does not apply to booster vaccinations, provided they are given BEFORE the date the previous rabies vaccine has run out.

Step 3 – EU pet passport, or EU health certificate

If you have an EU pet passport the pet passport must be stamped by a vet registered in the EU to show that the rabies vaccination has been given. This is useful for Irish pets who are returning from holidays in a non-EU country.

If your cat, dog or ferret does not have a valid pet passport, you must get an EU Health Certificate signed and stamped by an official government veterinarian in the country you are travelling from..

After being checked and stamped on arrival into the EU, this Certificate is valid for 4 months, or until the anti-rabies vaccination expires – whichever is the earliest.

Step 4 – Blood test

Your cat, dog or ferret must get a blood test called a Rabies serological test, if they are from a country or territory that is not a listed country or territory. If your country is not listed on the DAFM website, your pet needs a rabies blood test.

You must wait at least 30 days from the rabies vaccination before your pet gets its blood tested. The sample must be sent to an EU approved laboratory.

The blood test must show that the vaccination was successful. If it is successful, you must wait a further 3 months from the taking of the blood sample before travelling to Ireland.

If your pet is starting it’s journey in the EU, (e.g. Ireland to Brazil and back again), you do not have to wait 3 months in Brazil if the blood sample was taken by a vet in the EU or one of the following countries, and entered into an EU pet passport or EU health certificate before leaving Ireland:

  • Andorra
  • Gibraltar
  • Greenland
  • Faroe Islands
  • Iceland
  • Lichtenstein
  • Monaco
  • Northern Ireland
  • Norway
  • San Marino
  • Switzerland
  • Vatican City State

You must bring the original test certificate, or a copy received from the lab, with you when you come to Ireland.

If the blood test is taken in a non-EU country, the three month waiting period will always apply.

Step 5 – Tapeworm treatment

If you are bringing a dog into Ireland from a non-EU country, it must be treated for tapeworm (Echinococcus multilocularis) each time you travel to Ireland. The treatment must be given by a vet between 1 and 5 days before you come to arrive in Ireland, and recorded in the pet passport or EU health certificate.

Step 6 – Advance notice

You must tell the Irish port or airport authorities at least 24 hours before your arrival, but ideally in the week or so before travel. You must only enter Ireland at the following ports and airports. Advance notice should be emailed to:

Step 7 – Compliance check

Your pet must undergo a compliance check on arrival into Ireland from a non-EU country. This is arranged using the email addresses above.

If your pet is travelling to another EU country first and you have a check there, then your pet does not need another check on entry into Ireland. If however, you entered another EU country and were unable to arrange a check to be carried out there, you must arrange a compliance check on arrival into Ireland.

Pet birds, rabbits and rodents

If you are moving to live in Ireland or coming here on holiday, you may be able to bring your pet bird, rabbit or rodent with you, provided you meet certain requirements. There is more information about the entry requirements for birds, rabbits and rodents either from EU or from outside the EU on the website of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

If you are bringing a pet bird, rabbit or rodent to Ireland from another EU state you must accompany the pet to Ireland. At least 24 hours before you arrive in Ireland you must send a completed advance notice of importation into Ireland form to the Animal Health Division, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine at the address below. Owners of pet birds must also travel with a completed Owner Declaration for Pet Birds form which can be found at DAFMs website.

If you wish to bring a pet bird, rabbit or rodent from a country outside the EU, please see DAFM's guidance, and make sure you have enough time to allow the pre-export requirements, which include a veterinary health certificate, testing, or quarantine requirements to be completed.

Forms and notices are available on the DAFM website.

Non-compliant pets

If your pet does not meet the entry requirements, it may be refused entry into Ireland. The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine may return your pet to the country you travelled from.

Alternatively DAFM may place your pet into quarantine to be tested or microchipped and vaccinated to comply with EU requirements. Your pet will remain in quarantine until it fully complies with EU Legislation. In very limited circumstances, your pet may be euthanised. You will have to pay to cover the cost of these measures, including quarantine if necessary.

Further information and contacts

Blank templates for EU Health Certificates, advance notice forms and detailed guidance are available from DAFM.

Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Animal Health Section

Agriculture House
Kildare Street
Dublin 2
Ireland

Tel: (01) 607 2827

Page edited: 19 January 2021