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