Overseas residents who reside for significant parts of the year on the Costa del Sol will more than likely want to bring their pet with them. After all, apart from the expense of putting a pet in kennels for several months of the year, both animal and owner will be stressed by the separation.

Bringing your pet to Spain is not difficult, provided you have your pet’s papers in order. Just like us, pets now need a passport to travel, so, if you’re planning to bring your pet the first thing you need to do is talk to your vet about getting him or her a European Pet Passport. The rules are slightly different if you’re bringing a pet from outside the European Union. Plus, British and Irish pet owners should be aware that the regulations for moving animals back into those countries are much more stringent than those of other EU member states.

Here’s a quick checklist of things your pet must have before it arrives:

An ISO microchip inserted. Make sure it is compliant with International Standards 11784/11785
Vaccination for rabies at least 21 days prior to and not more than one year before travel
Pets from the USA or Canada will need a USDA or CFIA endorsement respectively
Pets from any country with a high incidence of rabies must have a blood titer test one month after the rabies vaccination and three months prior to arrival in Spain.
Consult the IATA Traveler’s Pet Corner to check the various world airlines’ regulations as well as specific country regulations.

You will also need to buy an appropriate container for your pet to travel in, but first consult the airline your pet is travelling with about its requirements. Sufficient space, a secure locking system and sturdiness are the most important requirements for containers.

The rules for pets travelling in the cabin vary between airlines and between countries. Some airlines allow small pets in the cabin on flights of less than 10 hours, but they do need to be in appropriate carriers. However, there are countries that don’t permit this at all. For example, owners travelling back to the UK or Ireland may not travel with animals in the cabin regardless of size.

Perez Legal Group suggests it’s important to keep your pet’s passport up-to-date in the event that you need to move with your animal companion at short notice. If the passport isn’t correct, you may find that you have to leave your pet behind until he or she has received the appropriate vaccinations within the specified time period, whereas just a little attention to the paperwork will mean you won’t have to be separated for extended periods of time.