EU Tightens Rules on Pet Travel and Import of Dogs and Cats

English BulldogUPDATE: Although these regulations are still in effect, things will change with the withdrawl of the UK from the EU. See additional information on how pet travel will be affected by Brexit.

Effective on December 29, 2014, there will be a new regulation involving changes to the popular pet travel scheme governing pet movement throughout the European Union (EU). Whether you live in or are visiting the EU next year, these changes will affect you. Here is the abbreviated version:

EU Pet Passports: The passport issued to EU residents will be changing and will be provide for more identification of the pet. This change will not affect visitors to the EU.

Border Inspections: EU countries will be required to provide for inspections of pets crossing borders at certain locations. The EU may not be as laid back on ground controls.

Minimum age requirement: rabies vaccination for puppies, kittens and ferrets entering the EU will be administered no sooner than 3 months of age. This requirement is meant to prevent the movement of puppies and kittens who have been vaccinated too young in an effort to comply with regulations.

Commercial Movements: If you are traveling with more than 5 pets, unless you are traveling to a pet show or competition, you will need to use a licensed agent and enter the EU through an approved Border Inspection Post. The movement must also be registered on the TRACES system which tracks the movement of animals entering and traveling within the EU.

Unaccompanied Pet Travel: when entering the EU by air, if you cannot travel on the same plane with your pet, you must sign a declaration that you are not selling or transferring ownership of your pet. Additionally, you must travel within 5 days of your pet’s transport. This regulation will raise a lot of questions from pet owners who, for whatever reason, cannot travel with their pet.

Definition of Your Pet: Your pet must be a domesticated dog, cat or ferret. Wild animals, Savannah cats or wolf hybrids are handled through the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency.

Most of these rules are targeting the illegal trade of puppies and kittens in the EU. The health and welfare of these animals cannot be ignored. Bottom line is to be aware of the rules for pets to travel within and to the EU. You can find them here for every country in the EU:


EU Tightens Rules on Pet Travel and Import of Dogs and Cats — 130 Comments

  1. Kay – if you are referring to commercial transport regulations to enter the European Union or transport your pets within the EU, we cannot advise you how to skirt current regulations except to arrange a representative of yours to travel with them. If they are accompanied by your representative, they will qualify to travel under non-commercial regulations.

  2. I won’t be travelling within 5 days of my pets but they 100% are mine and will not be sold etc. How can I get around this???

  3. Odette – if you were in Spain for 6 months, your dog should have an EU Pet Passport reflecting a microchip and current rabies vaccination. You can use that to enter both France and Canada.

  4. We are returning to Canada from the EU. Do we need any new documentation for our dog or can we simply show our Canadian Vet Health Certificate and the CFIA certificate obtained when we left? We were in Spain for 6 months and returning from Spain to Vancouver Canada via France for a 3 day layover. Thanks for confirming. We can not find any clear information on the EU website.

  5. I am flying a puppy from USA to France (accompanied). Because the puppy is under 6 months, does this affect the type of license? I am assuming the license I need is non commercial however because I have purchased the puppy in the USA I wondered whether this affected the type of license/health certificate I need?

  6. Maria – we are not veterinarians; however, we have never heard of a rabies vaccination that has a duration of 4 years, so it is likely that your cat’s rabies vaccination has expired. You needed to microchip your cat before entering the CR, so that should be taken care of. Get your cat a “primary” rabies vaccination (may be one year but your veterinarian should know) and wait for 21 days before entering Portugal. Have your vet enter the vaccination in your cat’s EU Pet Passport.

  7. Hello. This is probably a silly question, but I can?t find the clear answer anywhere. My cat moved from Russia to Czech Republic with me, so 4 years ago, before entering EU, it was vaccinated according to the EU legislation. I am now moving with my cat to Portugal and I?m trying to understand if I need to renew the rabies vaccine. Please advise!

  8. Nenad – you can find regulations to import your dog to over 200 countries here: Crate requirements can be found here: Measuring your dog for a crate can be found here: IATA-compliant pet crates can be found here: More information on the transport of a pet can be found here: Let us know if you need more information.

  9. Where I can find car transport regulations for dogs. Particularly everything in regards to crates/cages. Sizes vs. dog size, type of crates/cages, etc.

  10. Sam – you are correct that puppies must be vaccinated for rabies no sooner than 12 weeks and wait for 21 days before entering the UK from another EU country. It must be microchipped before the rabies vaccination and also have an EU Pet Passport. It must also have a tapeworm treatment between one and five days of entering the UK. The UK is very strict about this. If you or your representative are not flying with or within 10 days of your puppy, then it must fly under commercial regulations. You can find out what they are here under step #5:

  11. Hi, I’m looking at buying a puppy in Germany for import to the UK, to live with me. I’ve read it’s a 3 week wait after rabies vaccination. With the 3 month wait until vaccination, does this mean it’s impossible to bring a puppy to the UK from Germany younger than (nearly) 4 months? Thanks, Sam

  12. Angela – when pet owners travel more than 5 days before or after their pets, then their pets must travel under commercial regulations. Indonesia is not on the list of countries approved for pet import commercially to the United Kingdom. You can ask an agent serving your destination airport if there is an exception. Try searching for one at You can also have someone represent you and accompany your pets during the transport and qualify for non-commercial regulations.

  13. We are bringing our two cats from Indonesia to the UK. We have been told that under the new rules we cannot be in the UK longer than 5 days before the cats arrive. This is a big problem for us as we have booked flights and will be back in the UK 15 days before the cats. It seems crazy that my husband or I will have to fly back to Jakarta to ensure there is only 5 days difference between us arriving in the UK and the cats arriving. Is there any way round this ? Thanks

  14. Mina – in summertime, it is very difficult to find an airline that will fly snub-nosed breeds in the cargo hold. Lufthansa and Qantas flies them, but if not in checked baggage as air cargo – different department. If temperatures exceed 80 degrees anywhere on the route, it is too dangerous for your dog.

  15. Hwayoung – we responded to your email and suggested that you wait for 30 days after the June vaccination to optimize chances for a good titer test result.

  16. Hi,

    I will be travelling from the U.K. to South Korea in August 2017 and will be coming back to the U.K. in September 2017 via Paris with my dog. She had her one year rabies vaccination on the 17th of July 2016 (valid until 17th of July 2017) and UK passported. She had her rabies booster on the 28th of June 2017 and will be again on the 16th of July 2017 to maximise rabies antibody level. Does she have to wait 30 days from her first rabies vaccination (which already is) or booster to have her blood tested?

    It dose not specify on the DEFRA and French embassy website whether they refer the rabies vaccination as primary or booster? Thank you!

  17. George – as long as you are staying on the same airline in and out of Spain, your puppy should transit the country and not need to conform to regulations for entering Spain.

  18. Hello,
    I’m getting two puppys from EU to Mexico, one from Netherlands (8 weeks) and one from Belgium (15 weeks). My flight to Mexico go from Netherlands to Spain and then to Mexico. The stop is only for transit. I wouldn’t pass Aduana check. Does the 8 week puppy is allowed to do that stop?

  19. Brian – assuming that your final destination is the UK, then, technically, because the transport of the pups is for the purposes of rehoming, the transport is commercial, regardless of the number of dogs you import. You can still travel the same way, but the dogs need an additional health check and the transport should be registered in the TRACES system. See the heading HEALTH CERTIFICATES here to explain the differences between commercial and non-commercial travel.

    Also, as of April 1, the UK will be charging VAT for all animals entering the UK commercially. The rule is 20% of the value of the dog plus the transport. In your case, you should be able to prove that you paid nothing for the dogs and drove them to the UK, but this is a new tax and thought you may want to know about it.

    You should not need an agent to import your dogs as long as you follow the commercial regulations.

  20. Hi, I have in the past been bringing rescue dogs back from Bulgaria and re homing them to good loving homes. The most I brought back in one trip was 8. In order to do this I would ask someone in the carpark at Dunkirk if they would accompany me in my van while we bordered the Ferry.The authorities were quite happy for me to do this as it was staying within their guidelines of 5 per person. I am planning another trip later this year and will be taking with me my 4 dogs( which are now my family) as we go everywhere together. For me to bring back more rescues what kind of agent is required and any ideas of costs? I dont charge anything for a dog and I pay for everything myself and as you can imagine it costs quite a lot just to get there and back etc, plus I dont have a job I am on benefits so do you have any suggestions how I can do this on the cheap or just carry on the way I have in the past? thank you. Brian Fawcett… You can find me on Facebook Brian the bus dog rescue 🙂

  21. Hi Michael – you can find regulations for importing your dogs to Finland here and there are links to further instructions and forms if you need them: If you are the registered owner of all 6 dogs, then they must travel commercially. The difference in commercial versus non-commercial travel is listed under Health Certificates on the page.

  22. Planning to travel to Finland with 6 huskies for training on snow with the intentions to race in Sweden next year. What do i need to do?

  23. Iwant to take my pug breed dog 4years old along with me from india to italy…iwant proper appropriate information regarding travel..also suggest me documentation needed for travel and from where should iapply for pet passport and what is the whole expense for this process…
    Iwould be thankful to u…waiting for ur reply..

  24. Where are you leaving from in the US? Likely, Lufthansa or KLM will be a good option as far as route is concerned.

  25. Hello,
    If l want to bring my shih tzu from USA to Germany. Which airline can l take ? Thank you !

  26. Kacia – we are not familiar with animal welfare laws in Germany, but will say that it is advisable to restrain the dogs when traveling for their safety.

  27. Hello,
    We will be travel via Germany to the Euro Dog Show in Belgium. Is it necessary for all dogs to be in carriers (cages) in the car? We will have 7 dogs (2 persons). Thanks!

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