Moving to Europe with Pets

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Do you have a move to a European country on the horizon that includes bringing pets along? Organizing pet transport to Europe involves research, preparation, and time.

Though most European countries impose different rules based on where you're starting your journey, they all require that dogs be microchipped before the rabies vaccination. Also, when bringing a dog to Europe, you do not have to travel on the same flight, but you should arrange to fly within five days of your pet if possible.

In the months before your move, discuss your pet's health with your trusted veterinarian and spend time helping your pet feel comfortable with the travel crate. Especially for dogs and cats, if they see the crate as a safe place, they are likely to experience less stress and anxiety during their trip.

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Learn more about the basic requirements for pet relocation to Europe below, or search for your country's requirements here. If you have further questions, let a PetRelocation Specialist walk you through the process.

Regulations for Shipping Pets to Europe

Attention: Precise regulations vary from country to country, so double-check with the appropriate authorities or your PetRelocation Consultant to find the most current and accurate information available.


Each pet shall be identified through a microchip. No other form of identification is acceptable. The microchip should comply with ISO Standard 11784 or Annex A to ISO standard 11785. Most European countries currently accept AVID-9 and AVID-10 in addition to ISO. The microchip must be implanted before the rabies vaccine is administered.

Rabies Vaccination and Certificate

All pets must have an original Rabies Certificate signed by the vet. The Rabies vaccine must be at least 21 days old at the time of the final health exam.

Further details regarding the rabies vaccine:

  • Pets may travel with a current one-year vaccine (known as a “primary” vaccine).
  • Pets may travel with a 3-year vaccine administered less than a year ago (otherwise, it may be considered a booster).

If you have questions, please ask your PetRelocation Specialist about possible exceptions.

It is suggested that all pets have full vaccinations, as well:

  • Dogs: Distemper, Hepatitis, Leptospirosis, Parainfluenza and Parvovirus (DHLPP) and Bordetella.
  • Cats: Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus and Panleukopenia (FVRCP).

These should be valid at the time of import and administered no less than two weeks before the export date for maximum effectiveness.

EU Health Certificate

This will be provided by your PetRelocation Specialist. This is the standard Health Certificate to be filled out by your accredited veterinarian and must be signed in a different color than the certificate's printing (usually blue ink). This certificate is valid for 10 days from the date of issue by the official veterinarian until the date of the checks at the EU point of entry.

For further movements within the EU, this certificate will be valid for a total of four months from the date of issue or until the date of expiration of the rabies vaccination, whichever date is earlier.

USDA Endorsements

The following forms must be sent to your local USDA for their stamp of approval. Please contact your PetRelocation Specialist to learn more about how to manage this.

  • Microchip Implantation Record
  • Rabies Certificate
  • EU Vet Health Certificate

Airline Health Certificate

Your vet should have these in stock. It’s a good idea to call ahead and ask. Your vet must complete this international health certificate within 10 days of departure.

The EU Five-Day Rule

Pet owners must fly within five days of their pet for the move to be considered “non-commercial.” If you cannot meet this Five Day Rule, the move can still be carried out, but it will be considered a commercial move, which increases costs and changes the EU import requirements and timeline.

Please check with your PetRelocation Specialist if you have questions about the EU Five-Day Rule and how to manage your pet’s relocation best.

Additional Details

All original documentation listed above must travel with the pets.

For us to successfully clear customs, we will need the following documents supplied before the pet’s arrival:

  • Copy of pet owner's passport
  • A signed letter of transfer from your company on letterhead
  • A copy of your plane/e-ticket/boarding pass showing your arrival within five days of your pet
  • If this is a military move: move orders, APO address, rank, and office

Your agent may also need a Letter of Authorization, Power of Attorney, or a Proforma Invoice form.

Find more information about individual country requirements here.

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