Everything You Need to Know About Moving Cats and Dogs to The EU

So, you’re moving to Europe? Paris! Brussels! Amsterdam! How exciting! We want to make this journey with your best friend, your pet! We have good news: If the import steps are followed correctly there is no quarantine for cats and dogs entering the EU from the United States.  

Take a look at our guidelines below to make sure you are prepared to successfully bring your dog or cat to the European Union.

Time Requirements:

When starting from square one need at least 21 days to plan your pet’s move, but recommend at least a month of preparation time

Vaccination Requirements:

Next, your pet must meet the import requirements put in place by the European Union. If you are doing your own research this could be daunting, but it’s quite simple. Your cat or dog needs:

  • An ISO compatible microchip: This is a 15-digit microchip. If your pet has a non-ISO compatible chip (usually having 9 or 10 digits) it may be feasible to use as well, but if you have time our official recommendation is to get the 15 digit chip to save time at customs clearance upon arrival into the EU. The microchip must come before any of the following steps.
  • A rabies vaccine: after you get a microchip, your pet needs a valid rabies vaccine. This must come after the microchip. You can get this vaccine the same day as your microchip implantation so long as the vaccine is administered after the microchip is implanted.  This vaccine must be at least 21 days old at time of travel
  • Other vaccines: no other vaccines are mandatory for entry into the European Union from the United States, but we highly recommend having your pet up to date on DHPP and Bordetella vaccines (for dogs) or FVRCP vaccine (for cats).

Final Veterinarian Appointment:

For export from the United States to any foreign country your pet must have a country specific health certificate issued by a USDA Accredited Veterinarian. This health certificate then must be sent to your state’s USDA office (or the office advised on the USDA website ) for endorsement.

Estimated costs for endorsement: Up to five pets can be be documented on one international health certificate. If you are traveling with more than five pets, you will incur costs for two endorsements. Currently UK health certificates are $38 USD per endorsement. 

A few notes:

  • Ask your veterinarian if they have the proper USDA accreditation. If your paperwork arrives to your state’s USDA office and it is issued by a veterinarian that does not have the proper accreditation it will be rejected & will cause delays for your pet’s move.
  • The health certificate cannot be older than 10 days old at time of arrival into the EU. Make sure to arrange this appointment in the proper amount of time
  • The country specific health certificates can be found on the USDA website. If the country you are traveling to is a non-English speaking country (Spain, Italy, Greece, etc...) your pet will need a bilingual certificate.

dog in Europe

The good news is, the EU is one of the less stressful destinations since it requires minimal vaccinations, preparation time and does not require a TITER test. However, we understand that the process can be daunting and we would love to help!

Commercial vs. Non-Commercial Pet Travel

Pet owners must travel to the EU within five days of their pet’s arrival in order to avoid the move being labeled as a “commercial” shipment. This is often referred to as the "5-day rule" and is applicable to all countries in the European Union.  If you cannot travel within five days of your pet, you can still send them on a commercial health certificate. However, the timeline will be tighter and a tax will be imposed upon the arrival of your pet. 

Commercial pet moves require a health certificate to be completed (and endorsed by a government entity) within 48 hours of the pet’s departure. If you don’t have a government office (like a USDA office in the United States, for example) nearby you may need to consider having your pet depart from a different city to make the short timeframe work. 

Once your pet arrives in the UK as a commercial movement, you will be expected to pay at least 50 Euros or more depending on the size of your pet Also, the arrival process for a commercial move may take more time than a non-commercial move considering the stricter requirements.

Crate Training and Traveling as Manifest Cargo 

Most families moving to the EU with their pets find flying their pets as manifest cargo to be the safest and most convenient option. This means it’s important to start acclimating your pet to their travel crate early and practice crate training often. If your pet is a very large dog, you may need to have a custom crate built to accommodate their size in manifest cargo.

Estimated costs for manifest cargo airfreight: Manifest cargo flights for pets are based on dimensional weight (or how much space your pet takes up in the aircraft). For international flights, these fees can range from $1,000 USD for a Chihuahua and up to $4,500 USD for a Great Dane.

Need an expert to help plan your pet’s move? Contact us to set up a consultation with our EU pet travel team.


PetRelocation Team


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