Doggo Travel Papers

Before humans can travel with a doggo they need a lot of paperwork. And before you’ve figured out what it actually is you need to do you’ve already spend hours on the web browsing through articles, stories and comments from others.
This is one of the most heard comments from people that want to take their dog with them on an adventure.
The second most heard thing is: Once you know what you need to do, it’s not very hard to get it arranged.

Sooooo… Let me post a blog about my travel experiences and the once of my little brother, so everybody is on the same page. At least…everybody from The Netherlands and most likely from the European Union.

What kind of trip are you planning?

Our pawrents almost always travel by car. We prefer not to fly if not absolutely necessary. Not only because of the obvious environmental reasons, but also because traveling by car is soooo much more fun. If we can get somewhere overland we tend to reserve some extra time to get to our destination while enjoying the journey. Maybe a bit cliche but Mom said it…and she is super cliche if you ask me.

In case you travel by car like us, you can check the website of the There you can find travel information for most countries. I say most because there are always people that choose a super tiny country or indipendant state which is not acknowledged by anybody else and no one that knows how to follow what rules. In that situation it’s always good to look up the ambassy information of this country and send them a message with all your questions. In most situations you get a response with redirecting information to another person or department.

Traveling with a dog nowadays requires a chipped dog and a European passport. In the passed dogs had tattoo marks in the ears, but nowadays all get a chip between the shoulderblades. The number that shows once the chip gets scanned is written in the animal passport. Each country has its own European passport. Also your vet details, animal characteristics and vaccinations are listed in the passport. So it is basically the same as your own passport but with a chip instead of a finger print.
This is the starting point before you can arrange anything else. Big hint is to start far ahead of time. Especially the first time it is nice to give yourself 4 to 6 monthsprior to your trip. Reason behind this is that it always takes some time to gather all details from the ambassy, vet, laboratory or notified body. Now,..Don’t Panic!Don’t get scared now… It’s just words!!

In case your trip includes a flight from an airport, you will find your information also on LICG, but your airline is also willing to support you in your search for additional requirements. It is important to check with your airline anyways what their flying rules are for your furfriend. They always have a website with information about the allowed and necessary crate size, brand, type (wheels or no wheels), but also if your dog can travel in the cabine or should travel in the cargo area together with the suitcases, how long before you should board, if you fly with the same plane etc etc. Contacting an airline anyways to double check is always helpful and gives Mom peace of mind as well.

When traveling by boat, you can contact the boattravel company. Our experience is that they will redirect you to the LICG website as well and the information is corresponding to the information of the country of your destination. In case you don’t travel by car on a boat, please ask the boat company for their crated areas for dogs. Don’t forget to make a reservation for the right size crate for your best friend. If the staff on the boat (captain) does not agree with the size of the crate or bench, you may get refused to travel with that boat.

Traveling with a dog on a bicycle or by foot is the same as the information for traveling by car. Because you are physically crossing the country boarder with your dog and your gear.

It is our experience that traveling by plane is most strict concerning following the rules. In those cases you are often confronted with quarantine as well. But over the last few years we see only islands have quarantine due to the risk of importing illnesses from abroad.
Traveling with your dog by car has also rules (muzzle required or seat belt required), but depending on the country they are not super strictly followed. And in our situation we often cross the boarder at a super tiny office where the mister with the blue hat has no clue what to do other then confirming to us: Aaaah yes Labradoreeeee. Maybe a bit redundant to say but in case nobody asks about your dog, you don’t mention it either. And always start with the passport. In case more questions are asked or another guy with a different color hat is called in, show them the stamps in the passport. More questions leads to showing another and another forms. Never show all your cards at first instance.

What documents are there?

When you start off with the petpassport, you’re most likely next step is to get all your doggo vaccinations including stickers, date and vet signature signed in. If you are going to travel anywhere or go to public places the most basic thing to take care of is the Rabies vaccination. This is one shot which is as well signed in the passport and sealed with plastic to prevent fraud. In case a person or other pet gets bitten by your dog (which we never expect or hope but it can happen for whatever reason), the first question will be if your dog has been vaccinated against rabies.

When traveling across borders you’ll want an antibody count for the rabies vaccination. This shows the vets in your destination country if the vaccination was succesful by showing an antibody count above a certain threshhold. For this test the vet will draw some blood (doggos read: the vet will stab you with a sharpie) and send this to a laboratory (doggos read: she will sell it).
A letter with the counted antibody numbers will come back within 2 weeks. I had the luck that my antibodies were too low and we had to repeat the cycle by boostering, drawing blood, sending it to the lab etc. For my little brother Mom chose to do the booster first, just in case, and then go through the testing. This choice was cost related as the laboratory testing, test result interpretation and drawing the blood is all more epensive then the booster vaccin. Anyways… if the count is high enough you are good for the rest of your life!!! That is, when you neatly follow up on the booster schedule. Rabies is valid for three years and each booster shot is added in the passport. If you forget about the schedule you will have to repeat the lab testing again. So let your vet send you a reminder as well.

When we left The Netherlands to go to Mongolia over land by car, this meant we were leaving the European Union. This is not a problem for any of the countries you are trying to get to. The issue starts when you try to enter the European Union again to get home. If you can’t proof this dog belonged to you already when you left and you’re not trying to import a dog from outside of Europe, the chance is your dog will be quarantined untill things are settled. And burocracy can take ages in most countries. To prevent this situation they advised us to legalise my passport. This meant we had to go on an adventure to Utrecht where the Nieuwe Voedsel en Waren Authoriteit is located. My lady friend Coby works here that will arrange the administrative actions for you. A vet will check the passport and add an extra stamp and signature to show his CHECK. And don’t they LOVE LOVE LOVE stamps at the boarders. This way other vets know I’m legal and gooooood. It’s their secret code, I guess. It wasn’t necessary for me to come to Utrecht, but I wanted to see with my own eyes and paws where the money was going to. And I maybe kissed the lady at the passport pick up and drop off…maybe I kissed her twice!

At the time we went to the Ukrain in 2012 there was a requirement for a toxoplasmose test result for dogs. Which was weird as this was normally a test performed on cats, so pregnant woman know they won’t get sick. We decided not to debate or fight it with the embassy as they often sent you back and forth between somewhere , nowhere and far far away land. And because my blood was tested for rabies at the same time we could save some money. Also it was an extra form and stamp for the boarders. Spoiler Alert: Nobody ever asked for any of it.

Another thing Mom did was to translate the most important information from my passport into multiple languages. Also the clinical health check which is mandatory before you go on a travel was signed into the passport and translated as well. The health check should be performed x amount of days before entry of the country OR x days before the start of your trip. The ‘x’ is specified by the countries on, for instance, the LICG website.

We started with translations in Dutch, English, German, French and Russian. That was enough for our Mongolia trip because most Russian, Mongolian or Kazach officers did not understand English. Especially, again, at the super small boarder passings. Later we added a Turkish and Arabic translation as well.
The translations all have been signed and stamped by our vet and by the nVWA office.
Mom said you can always send us a message via our contact form if you are interested in these forms. We noticed it was really appreciated as extra document for most officers. We even got one entry stamp for me in Kazachstan hahaha.


For our latest trip to Morocco we decided to ask for a medication prescription letter and list for me. I don’t like to admit it but maybe you have noticed I’m getting older. I’m the OG in our group and with age comes health issues. For some of my quercky issues I get some meds. And traveling for a longer period of time (read 4 months) this means a substancial amount of meds too. One thing they don’t like at the boarders is pills. Because you shouldn’t lie to the officers (and yes they will find them with a vehicle search), you better come prepared. So we figured we would do the same thing for me as we did for Moms meds. Ask for a prescription and complete list of my meds and daily amounts and total amount and get it signed and stamped by the vet ON VET OFFICE PAPER. This again makes it super official. So we can be honoust with the officer and show him our stash of goods.

! Make sure to bring one original box of each medication with the vet sticker that includes your dogs name, chipnumber and prescription. We always push meds into a zipper bag and pack it as small as possible. But remember to bring one original box unfolded with you in the same zipper bag.

Most likely the officers alarm bells go off once they see the amount of pills and magically we show him the papers for it. Sometimes it helps to show the officers a map of your trip, so they understand why you travel for this long. We haven’t had any trouble with this method so far. And it’s definitely not written in stone that this should be your way to go, but it was the best we could think of. Should you have any other tips, tricks, advices, recommendations or comments for us then please don’t hesitate to contact Mom. Don’t ask me… because I can be rude or grumpy…ask Mom via the contact page!

The actual boarder crossings

From all our boarder crossings we only had a few where the officers demanded the vet would be involved before we would be allowed to enter the country. In Mongolia or Kazachstan coming from Russia the vet indeed came to check my passport. When Mom offered me to the vet for a physical checkup (Yes she did almost give me away, my dragon of a Mom) the vet jumped up and stepped back. Mom did not really understand the situation and asked what was wrong and saying I didn’t bite and was a good boy. The officer translated for Mom that the vet was actually scared of dogs. Come againnn?? In these countries dogs are never held as a pet. They are solely for the protection of your land and live stock. You bring in goats or camels…no problem! But nooooo…don’t you bring your D-O-G to the vet! The same thing happened at the vet on the countryside of Mongolia when a fur friend of mine became sick. The vet said to give it an asprin and wait it out. (PLEASE NEVER DO THIS) Luckily the owners of my furrfriend decided to go to an American vet in Ulaanbataar 500 kilometrs away. She said they did the right thing, because most certainly my friend could have died.

Other then this we had no big issues. We have never actually met a boarder officer that knew the rules and asked us for all papers. If an officer wanted to play… we played harder with all the documents we had. Because Mom does not EVER want to risk my freedom! My brown labrador butt does not do well in quarantine jail!

Being Self-reliant

Mom and Dad took a first aid course for dogs and got a certificat after following 5 lessons. It’s just the very basics of everything you need to know to be able to do as most for your dog as possible in secluded areas. They actually found it very interesting and helpful with great tips and tricks. It is also very helpful to be able to support your own vet to perform a diagnose over skype or the phone when you get ill. Your Mom or Dad executes these little tests so the vet has all the information to make a first estimation. Then you at least know if it is life threatening or not. Luckily we didn’t need it so far (knock on wood), but it gave our vet enough trust to help us make a first aid kit as well. Please find the link to our first aid kit here.

Traveling with a service dog

When you have a service dog like Mom, you have to do all of the above because it’s just a plain doggo to start with hahaha. Nothing ‘plain’ about my little brother Fin but okay. On top of this it is always good to check and investigate if your destination country has any awareness for the service dog concept. Best ways are to check either with the embasy, other people that traveled there with their service dog or residents/nativs from this country that actually live in your country. These last humans might actually be able to find more relevant information or contacts online as they speak and write the language. Good thing to remind yourself is to never be scared to ask for help. Do your homework and show them what you’ve figured out by yourself and then ask for help with clear and to the oint/specific questions. Stay on top of it and manage it yourself. Don’t drop your problem with someone else or make it their problem. Make sure you stay in charge and be responsible yourself.

On top of the standard work we added a letter from Moms caretaker that confirms the necessity for the service dog and a letter from the doggoschool that explains they have trained the dog for multiple tasks. All of them are best printed on the relevant company paper to make it official.

! Make sure to send the documents to your own inbox (as a sort of digital vault or dropbox) and bring a USB stick to be able to reprint. Always bring more then one copy, so the other partie can keep it if required.

We added the caretaker letter after our trip to Morocco as this was a rquirement from the ferry agency that brought us from Spain to Morocco.

Mom also decided to make an information card for those who don’t know what a service dog is. This was made for our trip to Morocco as this is in terms of medical aids lesser developed. It simply explains what my little brother is SUPPOSED TO DO! We did actually meet some people in Morocco that read the Arabic patch on Finleys vest and asked: ‘Ahaaaaa special chien huh?’ When Mom confirmed they asked: ‘He help you?’. Mom confirmed again and we got the thumbs up…In the middle of a souk.
And although there will be enough places where Mom and Fin will get denied, there are already more places then expected where they love both of them. Even at the local markets where people sell their homegrown veggies with pride, Mom and Fin were more then welcome to buy their veggies.

To make things easier for people in other countries that are less familiar with a service dog, Mom always prepares Finleys vest with patches with translated ‘SERVICE DOG’ text on them. Currently she made the following languages:

  • Dutch
  • English
  • German
  • French
  • Spanish
  • Arabic (traditional writing)

We still have a few languages on our wishlist for our next travels, such as Russian, Italinan, Turkish and maybe Mandarin. We will see in future. For all the current translated patches Mom got confirmation from locals that they are correct.
Mom also decided to make some patches with international known medical symbols (blue cross next to the Spanish patch). This was specifically done for the Morocco journey to help people understand that bringing a service dog is not a choice. Finley is attached to Mom, so where she goes he goes. Two for the price of one! Should you want these too, then don’t hesitate to contact us via the contactform.

One last good tip is to make sure to put a spare pair of patches and service dog IDs in your travelbag. In Spain Mom panicked because Fins vest only had one blue medical patch instead of one on each side. She looked everywhere and even drove back with the car to places we have been and redid our walky looking in every bush…to later find the patch sticking to the headrest of Dads car seat with the velcro sticking to the fabric. Mom was sooo happy with all the translated service dog patches she made, that in all her enthusiasm she forgot that a double set is smarter when you loose one. Or at least have 3 patches of eacht language (so only 1 spare patch) It wouldn’t be Finleys first time walking against something and be hooked behind something with his vest. Us labradors are like trucks without brakes..If we get stuck, we just push the throttle even harder down to keep moving! Destruction above asking questions or being gentle or considerate.

Some last experiences with a service dog abroad:

At home Mom does not allow anyone to pet Finley when he is vested. On some occassions she is way to scared to make people stop, but if people ask she is now capable (most of the time) to say no. In other countries people love cute and obedient dogs just as much. Therefor they all talk to your dog in a different language and pet your dog or even engage play while he is vested. Mom is not too harsh on those people or Finley. For one because she’s already surprised she is allowed with Finley as a team and doesn’t want to ruin the moment and second because they don’t understand if Mom says no. It changes the entire vibe and engaging moment, so she learned. It is received as impolite or even as attitude towards a person older then yourself for example. Or as a woman towards a man. Much more cultural rules are at stake in this interaction.
Mom has seen that people that make sounds or snap their fingers at Fin don’t know any better. And in most cases Fin ignores it or is easily brought back to Mommies attention. He tries really hard and deserves a lot of credit (read coockies and ‘good boy’s) for it. And in order to let those adventures be GOOD and POSITIVE adventures, she chooses not to go for the confrontation with the humans, but to follow Finley and ignore them AS A TEAM!

Also don’t be surprised or mad if kids throw rocks at your service dog. Mom and Fin had this experience in Morocco and I (as a normal dog) also had this experience in Mongolia where kids learn to keep the cattle guard dogs and street/stray dogs at distance. And you can’t blame them for not exactly understanding the difference. Mom just handles it as if nothing has happened and moves along quickly from that situation. If she would stop and go for confrontation, people most likely will not understand the harm in their method. Stopping and checking your dog and talking sweet to him will only learn him that something major or traumatic happened with possibly unwanted behaviour from your fluff in response.
By redirecting the dog in a different direction and speeding up the pace so he has to pay attention to you is actually helping the dog to overcome it. Don’t make a THING out of it! A bit later you can cuddle and check your dog for injuries. It’s okay to be shoock up a bit, Mom was too. But try not to make it a thing for your dog and also snap out of it again. And moving along helps the brain to move along as well!