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Travelling with Guide Dogs

By: Elaine Everest - Updated: 3 Jul 2010 | comments*Discuss
Guide Dog Defra Ferries Trains Airport

Since the introduction of the Pet Travel Scheme it has been possible to travel to many countries with a dog and return to the UK without having to pout the dog into quarantine. For those people with guide dogs there have been some changes to the system.

Pet Passport

Like all other dogs a guide dog has to obtain its pet passport before travelling overseas. This can take some time to get organised so do not leave this until you are ready to travel.
  • Have your dog micro chipped
  • Vaccinated against rabies
  • Blood tested to check that the rabies vaccination has worked
Once the above is done you can apply for the pet passport. Allow six months for these procedures as you cannot travel until six months after the vet has taken the blood sample. When coming back to the UK your dog will have to be treated for tapeworm and ticks between 24 and 48 hours before re entry.


Since the Pet Travel Scheme was introduced in 2000 there have been some changes in the rules about guide dogs travelling with their owners. Until 2004 all dogs had to travel in sealed containers in the hold of planes and this was not really suitable or helpful to the visually impaired. Fortunately this requirement was removed and guide dogs can now travel in the cabin with their owners.

Help and Support

In light of the changes in regulations the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association formed a working group and invited Defra, the Department of Transport, The Civil Aviation Authority and members of the airline industry to discuss and plan the changes needed for the Pet Travel Scheme. By April 2005 a guide document had been formatted that produced a policy outline for guide dogs and other assistance dogs to travel through UK airports.


Owners are requested to bring with them a suitable car safety harness to secure the dog during takeoff and landing.

Book Ahead

Guide dog owners are advised to book ahead and also fax a copy of their travel documents and the dog's pet passport to the animal Assistance Centre ahead of arriving for the flight. They should also carry suitable identification with them on arrival.


When returning into the UK there will be someone available at the arrival gate to inspect the dog's passport documentation. Staff will put a sticker on the dog to enable dog and owner to progress through customs and immigration.


At present this scheme is available through Manchester, Heathrow and Gatwick airports and it is expected that this will soon be expanded to other airports in the UK.

Ferries and Trains

When travelling by train or ferry contact the relevant office of the travel company to check that they have the facilities to accommodate guide dogs and to ensure that you get the best service available. Assistance dogs will normally travel free but it is best to check ahead of your journey.


For more help and guidance through the system contact a Defra pet travel advisor on 0870 241 1710 or email pets.helpline@defra.gsi.gov.uk

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