Europe

Taking Your Dog to Europe: Vaccines & Paperwork

Taking dog to Europe

So, you’re planning on taking your dog to Europe, whether on a holiday or for a longer stay. Europe is a great place to take your dog, as it’s certainly the most dog-friendly region of the world. Plus it’s usually easy to travel between countries in Europe with a dog, at least within the European Union (EU). But, how do you travel to Europe with your dog in the first place, in particular the EU?

Travelling to the European Union with a Dog

If you’re travelling to the EU with your dog, the rules to enter with your dog are virtually the same for every country. There’s no need to track down different rules for each country, you just need to learn the one set of rules.

The complete rules are set out on this single official page: https://ec.europa.eu/food/animals/pet-movement/eu-legislation/non-commercial-non-eu_en. The rules are fairly clear and this page should always be your final port of call (as sometimes rules do change). But to save you deciphering this page, here’s everything you need to know about taking your dog to Europe in simple language.

Travelling to Europe with a dog
This could be you, exploring the delights of Budapest with your dog at your side

What Countries are in the European Union?

Currently, there are 27 countries in Europe that are part of the EU. These countries are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden. The same rules for dogs apply to all these countries.

The United Kingdom is currently in transition, and for the rest of 2020 it still counted as being in the EU for the purposes of dog transport. Find out what might happen to dog travel following Brexit.

Microchip Your Dog

Your dog needs to have a microchip (“transponder”) to travel to the European Union, which should be readable by standard microchip readers. The one exception is for dogs that have a clearly readable tattoo that was applied before 3rd July 2011.

For many other countries, such as my home country of Australia, this is already generally done to all puppies. Even if you’re not taking dogs to Europe, it’s still a good idea to have them microchipped so that they are more easily reunited with you if they become lost.

Vaccinate Your Dog Against Rabies

Rabies is present in most European countries, including in the EU. Due to this, it’s a requirement that your dog is vaccinated against rabies before travelling to the EU.

If you’re vaccinating your dog for the first time, it must be completed at least 21 days before arriving in the EU (plus allow time for the rabies antibody titration test, if required, see below). Otherwise, any booster vaccinations must have been completed before the previous vaccine expired. (If not, you’ll need a new “primary” vaccine and to wait at least 21 days.)

If you’re newly microchipping your dog, the microchip needs to be done before the anti-rabies vaccine. Note that your dog also usually needs to be at least 12 weeks old when the anti-rabies vaccine is administered (there are a few exceptions for some countries), although I would never recommend you to travel overseas with a young puppy!

Also consider a vaccination for leishmania if heading to Southern Europe – check out my tips for avoiding leishmania

Is a Rabies Antibody Titration Test Required?

Depending on the country you are travelling from, a rabies antibody titration (titre) test may be required. This test confirms that your dog has been successfully vaccinated against rabies.

To see whether your country is exempt from this requirement, check the countries listed in both tables on this page. Some of the exempt countries include the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and the UAE. Most other countries in Europe but not in the EU are also on the list. This means your dog does not require this test.

If your country is not exempt, the test must be done at least 30 days after your dog is vaccinated for rabies (if vaccinated for the first time) but not less than 3 months before arriving in Europe. It needs to be done by an authorised veterinarian and tested in an approved laboratory, with an antibody level equal to or greater than 0.5 IU/ml detected.

Once this test has been successfully done once, it doesn’t need to be renewed as long as your dog is revaccinated before any anti-rabies vaccine expires.

Is a Worming Treatment Required?

Depending on the country you are travelling to (not from in this case), your dog may require an additional preparation step, a worming treatment.

Before travelling with your dog to Finland, Ireland or Malta (plus the United Kingdom), they need to be wormed against Echinococcus multilocularis. This treatment must be done by a veterinarian, between 24 hours (1 day) and 120 hours (5 days) of your scheduled entry time.

Note that this step also applies if you’re within the EU and are travelling into any of these countries, except for travelling directly between them. For instance, if you’re travelling to France and then travelling to the UK, your dog needs to have a worming treatment between 1 day and 5 days before your arrival in the UK. (See my full guide to travelling between countries in Europe.)

Paperwork to Enter the EU with Your Dog

Naturally, all of this needs to be documented somewhere and presented on arrival in Europe, in the same way that you need a passport. For your dog, this is called an “animal health certificate” (or officially, the “EU Annex IV”). This also certifies that your animal is in good health and is up-to-date on the standard dog vaccines.

The health certificate needs to be completed and issued by an official veterinarian, or else by an authorised veterinarian and then endorsed by the relevant government authority. (Check with your government.) It needs to be issued by the official veterinarian within 10 days of entering the European Union. The only exception is for transport by sea, where the period is extended by the duration of the sea journey.

There’s also a second form that you’ll need to fill in yourself, stating that your dog’s movement is non-commercial and that if someone else (an “authorised person”) is transporting the dog, it is being done within 5 days of your movement.

For the forms, head here.

Where Can Your Dog Enter the EU?

Your dog must enter the EU through entry points designated by each country, where documentary and identity checks are then able to be performed. The possible entry points for each country is listed here. Generally most major airports are included.

Travelling to Other European Countries with a Dog

For other European countries that are not in the EU, the rules to enter the country with a dog vary, although often the same steps apply for dogs entering the EU.

I can provide details on some countries, including the following:

Iceland: The process is more onerous, including a complicated 30 day quarantine period. I recommend leaving your dog behind unless you are moving to Iceland long term.

Norway: The rules are similar to those in the EU. Norway also requires a worming treatment for your dog, similar to Finland, see above.

Switzerland: The rules are similar to those in the EU.

Turkey: Read my full post on Travelling to Turkey with a Dog, although the rules are not that clear and their application varies.

I recommend checking the relevant government websites for the full details required, including that you have the latest rules, although a handy place to start is PetTravel.com.

Also note that the following European countries (according to my investigations) do not recognise 3-year rabies vaccines, requiring yearly vaccine: Belarus, Moldova, Montenegro, Russia, Turkey, Ukraine.

Travelling Between European Countries with a Dog

Once you have arrived in Europe with your dog, you might be planning to travel to multiple European countries. Luckily, it’s often quite easy to travel between European countries with your dog, particularly in the European Union. Check out my guide to travelling with a dog between European countries.

In particular, if you travel to the EU with your dog, their health certificate used to enter the EU remains valid for four months, or until the expiry date of their rabies vaccine, whichever occurs first. During this time, the certificate can be used for their transport into other member states of the EU.

If you want to stay longer and travel to other European countries, head to a local vet and get your pet a European pet passport. From then on, this is the important paperwork document for your dog, including their rabies vaccine.

While most human tourists to Europe have restrictions on how long we can stay, there’s no upper limit on how long your dog can stay in Europe.

Inspired? Pin this to your Pinterest board!

EU Vaccines & Paperwork pin

You Might Also Like

12 Comments

  • Reply
    Jay Miller
    May 26, 2018 at 3:59 pm

    “Rabies Antibody Titration Test (Usually)”

    Why include “usually”?! This is very poor writing and makes readers confused over something so important! Use your brain, please!

    • Reply
      Shandos
      May 30, 2018 at 4:44 pm

      Hi Jay – I fully explain what is meant by this in the text under the headline. It’s just the headline, and I can’t fully explain everything just in a short phrase. Hope the post helped you! Shandos

  • Reply
    Hannah
    October 1, 2018 at 6:46 pm

    I am trying to find out if I need additional health certificates when I am returning to the US with my dog. I brought her with me to Austria and have been here with her for two months. Do you have any helpful information regarding this? I will fly out from Frankfurt, Germany. I cannot get a clear answer from anyone. I do not have a “pet passport” but maybe next time I will invest in one.

    • Reply
      Shandos
      October 2, 2018 at 3:21 am

      Hannah – I’m flying from France to the US later this month, and I’m getting a health certificate for my dog. The US regulations aren’t that clear, the main thing required is just a rabies certificate. But other travellers from the US have told me to get a health certificate (“letter of good health”) to be sure. Plus, my airline and some other airlines require it for the flight, so it’s a no brainer. I’ve also been advised that for the US authorities, they prefer it as a separate letter rather than the entry in the EU Pet Passport.

      About getting the EU pet passport – one of the best advantages if you get one and get a vet to record your rabies vaccine in it (some vets aren’t okay with doing this, and require a new vaccine), is you can use it next time to return to Europe, if you plan to return soon. If you have the EU pet passport and the rabies vaccine hasn’t expired, you don’t need to go to your vet in the US again then have the paperwork certified by the USDA, just use your EU pet passport.

  • Reply
    Cecilia
    November 9, 2018 at 6:10 am

    Thank you for this detailed article and kudos to you for answering so politely to the rude comment you received in May 🙂
    We are moving to The Netherlands from Bolivia and I am looking for information about the cost of the custom’s paperwork once we arrive with the dog. Do we have to pay any custom’s fee?

    • Reply
      Shandos
      November 9, 2018 at 10:40 am

      Thanks Cecilia, I think I remember that comment 🙂 I don’t believe there’s a customs charge for pets arriving in the Netherlands. I’ve heard from other travellers arriving in the Netherlands with small dogs travelling in the cabin that sometimes their paperwork hasn’t even been looked at, so I’m pretty sure they haven’t paid a fee. The same would also apply to checked-in pets, that are collected at the oversize luggage area, before you walk through customs. Are you travelling with your pet in the cabin or as checked-in luggage, or as cargo?

      A possible exception I can think of would be for pets travelling as cargo. Our dog had to travel like this from Australia to Madrid. However, because of the extra hassles of collecting him from the cargo terminal (plus our lack of Spanish), we had our pet transport company organise the pick-up and delivery to our hotel, so I don’t know if there was a fee. I know there are customs fees for pets travelling to the UK as cargo (the only option for pets arriving via air in the UK), but I think that’s an unusual case.

      Just to confirm, I would ask your airline or email the airport. I would be interested in hearing the response!

  • Reply
    Katherine Gould-Martin
    March 28, 2019 at 12:25 pm

    Thank you for this information in a much more attractive format than the official one. In another place, you mention ferries and say that you found only “these two” allow dogs with passengers traveling by foot. Which two? We are struggling with how to get from Southampton to St Malo. The ferry seems to require us to have a car, and then there is a huge fee when we drop it off in France.

    • Reply
      Shandos
      March 28, 2019 at 3:00 pm

      Katherine – The two ferries in southern England allowing foot passengers to take dogs are the DFDS ferry from Newhaven (near Brighton) to Dieppe and the Stenaline ferry from Harwich to Hook of Holland. The former one will suit you best – hopefully there are decent train connections at either end! I’ve reviewed our experience here: https://travelnuity.com/dfds-ferry-dieppe-newhaven-dog/. Enjoy your trip!

  • Reply
    MB
    November 20, 2019 at 12:07 am

    We are moving from the US to UK but are planning to fly into Paris and then ferry over to UK. Do you know what the requirements are for this situation? Do we need two sets of health certs etc. I know the dogs will need the deworming, but now I am concerned we may need an EU passport and titer test.

    • Reply
      Shandos
      November 20, 2019 at 4:41 pm

      As long as you do it before Brexit (because it’s still up in the air what will happen after it), prepare one set of EU health certificates with the end destination of the UK. Once you arrive in the EU, this is valid for 4 months (get it stamped at customs at the airport), although of course you need the extra worming step also done for the UK. You would only need to get a EU passport if you don’t get the worming done until you arrive in Europe.

  • Reply
    Alexis
    July 19, 2020 at 4:57 am

    Hey there! So I’ll be heading to Spain with my dog, he’s a German Shepherd and about 100lbs. Do you have any advice about getting him on the plane? Do you know what to do once I have all the necessary documentation?

    • Reply
      Shandos
      July 19, 2020 at 9:38 am

      Unless your dog is an emotional support animal, he’ll need to go in the hold, either as checked baggage or cargo. Many airlines offer this service, but due to the pandemic some airlines have temporary stopped this. I recommend checking with multiple airlines that fly your preferred route as to whether they currently offer this (e.g. American Airlines, Delta, Iberia). They’ll also have information on the required crate size. Before flying, I recommend getting a crate as soon as possible and familiarising your dog with it. Dogs that are crate trained handle flying a lot better.

Leave a Reply