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Passports go to the dogs

Press release: 07/08/2015

  • Demand for pet passports has increased by 50% since 2010 with dogs the most popular travelling companions
  • Pet passports can be issued 21 times quicker than a British passport
  • Brits consider their pets to be 'part of the family' and don't want them to miss out on their travel experiences
  • One in seven Brits who take their pet abroad do not have appropriate pet insurance

It seems British pets really are one of the family with dogs continuing to be man's best friend according to new research from LV= pet insurance which shows that more than three million [1] Brits have taken their pet on an overseas vacation over the past decade, and the number doing so is rising year-on-year.

A freedom of information request issued to The Animal and Plant Health Agency by LV= pet insurance reveals that a growing number of Brits are choosing to take their pet with them on holiday, with the number of pet passports issued rising by 50% over the past five years [2]. Last year, over one million Brits travelled overseas with an animal companion - an increase of 65,000 compared to the previous year [3].

Dogs are the most likely pet to be whisked away - accounting for close to three quarters (73%) of all pets taken abroad over the past decade. The most popular breeds to take away include Labradors (28%), Golden retriever (15%), and German shepherds (14%), but some travelled with smaller breeds such as Pugs (14%) and Beagles (13%). Bigger dogs such as Labradors and Golden retrievers tended to stay closer to home, being taken most commonly to France, while medium-sized pooches like Cocker spaniels and Pugs travelled further afield to the likes of Spain.

A third (33%) of Brits who have taken a pet overseas took a feline friend - primarily tabby cats (45%), persians (32%) and ragdolls (26%).

The peak periods for the issuing of pet passports align with the traditional summer holiday period, in the months of June and July. However, spontaneous holidays would not be an issue for pet owners wishing to take their furry friend, as a pet passport can be turned around in 24 hours [4], provided the animal has had all of the necessary health checks and vaccinations - a sharp contrast to the human passport, which takes between three and six weeks, depending on whether it is a renewal or first time application. So in theory, a pet passport can be turned around more than 21 times faster than a British passport.

The findings also reveal that France, Spain, Germany and Italy are the most popular destinations for Brits to holiday with a pet; however, some have travelled further afield to the likes of the United States, Turkey and even Australia.

The emotional attachment Brits feel for their pets makes it difficult for them to leave them behind. More than half (54%) took their pet on holiday because they are 'part of the family', while close to one in three (31%) wanted them to share their travel experiences. Other owners take a more practical approach and simply take their pet along because they couldn't find someone to look after them (20%) or it works out cheaper than paying for a kennel or cattery (20%).

Owners wishing to take their pet(s) abroad must comply with HM Home Office procedures. Pets must be microchipped [5] before they are vaccinated for rabies. If the microchip cannot be read on return to the UK, the pet could be refused entry or quarantined. Equally, a vet must treat any dog returning to the UK for tapeworm [6], which is then recorded in its pet passport.

However, the research found there are significant risks attached to taking a pet overseas. One in 10 (10%) Brits who have taken their pet abroad over the past decade had their dog's microchip fail while they were away - which would have only been picked up when their pet was scanned upon trying to re-enter the country [7] - and the same proportion (10%) had to delay either their departure or return because their dog needed to have their tapeworm treatment repeated. Others had to deal with their pet falling ill, being quarantined, lost or even dying while they were in another country. Unfortunately, one in seven (15%) who travelled with their pet over this period did not have appropriate pet insurance in place at the time of the trip.

Of those who have taken a pet on an overseas vacation in the past decade, most (77%) would consider taking them again. LV= is today reminding all those planning to take their pet on holiday with them to ensure they have a valid pet passport to avoid nullifying their additional overseas cover.

Pets are often like one of the family so it's understandable that owners want to take them along on their travels - but it is important to acknowledge the possible dangers with taking animals out of the country. When planning to take a dog or cat on holiday, ensuring vaccinations are up to date, getting appropriate pet insurance and a pet passport should be top of the 'to do' list.

Selwyn Fernandes, director of LV= pet insurance

LV= pet insurance automatically covers your pet while you're overseas, no matter how long your trip is. This includes the cost of quarantine kennelling, a replacement passport, tapeworm treatment and additional transport and accommodation. Also, if your pet's ill or injured the policy covers cancellation of your trip before you travel and vets fees while you're away. For full details of the cover, please visit

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For further information please contact:

Nicola Hussey,, 020 8253 5238 / 07468 761 128


A Freedom of Information (FOI) request was issued on behalf of LV= pet insurance to the Animal and Plant Health Agency. Please note that the questions asked within the FOI were regarding the number of pet passports issued. This number will include both those travelling abroad with their pet temporarily (for a holiday) and permanently (relocation).

In addition to this, Opinium conducted bespoke research among a representative sample of 501 Britons who have taken their pet on holiday overseas in the past ten years. This research was conducted between 22 and 28 July 2015.

  1. Source: Opinium. 7% of Brits have taken their pet abroad in the past 10 years. UK adult population is 47.4million (ICM). Therefore 3.3 million of Brits have done this.
  2. Source: FOI. 48,350 pet passports were issued in 2010, compared to 72,325 in 2014.
  3. Source: Opinium. 1,061,760 took their pet abroad in 2013, compared to 1,128,120 in 2014.
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LV= employs 6,000 people and serves over 5.5 million customers with a range of financial products. We are the UK's largest friendly society and a leading financial mutual.

When we started in 1843 our goal was to give financial security to more than just a privileged few and for many decades we were most commonly associated with providing a method of saving to people of modest means. Today we follow a similar purpose, helping people to protect and provide for the things they love, although on a much larger scale and through a wide range of financial services including insurance, investment and retirement products.

We offer our services direct to consumers, as well as through IFAs and brokers, and through strategic partnerships with organisations such as ASDA, Nationwide Building Society and a range of trade unions.

Authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. LVFS is a member of the ABI, the AFM and ILAG. Registered address: County Gates, Bournemouth BH1 2NF.