Bringing pets back home from Europe becomes more difficult for yachtsmen

If you take your dog across the Channel you
cannot just bring it back on your boat. That’s the law.

It is illegal to bring a pet, even with Pet
Passport, back into the United Kingdom on a private boat, and those who do risk
a fine and having their pet placed in quarantine.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) says options for
pet owners getting their dogs and cats back into the country currently only
include ferries and aircraft.

Reader Dr Geoff Cutts is campaigning for a
change in the law because he says ‘all realistic ferry routes are closed’.

P&O Ferries – the only cross- Channel operator to offer foot passenger
services on the Calais to Dover crossing – has stopped allowing foot passengers
with pets due to ‘concerns about animal welfare’.

The Channel Tunnel is also
not an option for pet owners without cars.

Geoff and his wife Janet have taken their dog Domino on many cross-Channel
trips to France: Janet would get off their Bavaria in Calais and bring Domino back
via P&O Ferries to Dover, while Geoff sailed home single-handed.

Although Domino had to travel in a dog carrier in a luggage cage on the vehicle
deck, Janet was allowed to stay with her while all cars were loaded and later
unloaded, plus she could visit during the voyage. Now this route has been
closed to them.

The only remaining options for foot passengers with passported pets are the LD
Lines Le Havre to Portsmouth or the Zeebrugge or Rotterdam to Hull routes,
which Geoff says are impractical for single-handed voyages and mean much longer
crossings on the vehicle deck for the pet.

He added: ‘With ferry companies not willing to convey pets unless they are in
cars it does seem that the options open to sailors with pets are totally

Geoff is calling for sailors to petition Defra to change the law and authorise
marinas to check pet passports in addition to the ferry companies. Geoff has
spoken to several South Coast marina managers and they would be happy to check
passports if authorised by Defra.

A Defra spokesman said strict checks on pets entering the country were needed
to stop the spread of diseases such as rabies. They urged pet owners to visit
before making travel arrangements.

Geoff urges caution when checking the website as it lists foot passengers with
dogs being able to travel on LD Lines from Boulogne to Dover. LD Lines say that
this ferry route was discontinued in 2010 although Defra say on the website
that the list of authorised routes was updated on 19 December 2012.

Find Dr Cutts’ petition at