Moving on your own, with your partner or family to a new country is already an entire project to take care of (hey!, that’s why we do what we do). Moving with pets can be an extra stressful project, so we’ve put our experience to good use into this small guide on how to organise and plan things for a smooth transition.
So, first things first, can you bring your pet to Germany? With the right documents, yes! In most cases, all you will need is for your pets to have a microchip, a valid rabies vaccination, and an Animal Health Certificate.
What are the requirements?
Here is a list of requirements:
According to the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture, the minimum age your cat or dog needs to have to enter Germany is 15 weeks.
The 15 weeks minimum age comes from the fact that dogs and cats must have a rabies vaccine to enter Germany. The first vaccine against rabies can be given to a puppy or kitten after they turn 12 weeks. It takes around 21 days for the rabies immunity to build up. So adding those weeks together, we get to the minimum of 15 weeks of age.
Your pet must have a microchip that conforms to ISO standard 11784 (HDX or FDX-B transmission) and can be read with a reader corresponding to ISO standard 11785 (source). This may sound complicated and very technical, but don’t worry, all you have to do is make sure to give those specifications to your vet before your cat or dog gets the microchip and they will know what to do.
The microchip is mandatory for pets that have been re-marked since July 3, 2011. If your pet was marked before this date, they are allowed to enter the country with a tattoo as long as it is clear and readable.
A microchip is useful not only to find your pet when it gets lost but also to claim ownership if someone else is claiming they are the owners of your furry friend.
If your pet’s microchip does not comply with the ISO standard 11784, you can do one of the following three options:
- Bring a suitable microchip reader with you;
- Call the EU Port of Entry to ask if they have a reader capable of reading your pet’s microchip;
- Ask your vet to implant a suitable microchip
3. A rabies vaccination proof
Your dog or cat must have a valid rabies shot before entering Germany. The rabies vaccination must be injected after the microchip. If your pet gets a primary vaccination, you must wait 21 days after the shot before your furry friend is eligible to enter Germany.
Germany considers a primary vaccination when:
- It is the first shot after the microchip was implanted;
- The previous rabies shot expired before your pet could get a new one
If your pet got a booster vaccination, you don’t need to wait 21 days before you can travel. The validity of the vaccination depends on the type of vaccine. Therefore, you should consult with your veterinarian for further information.
4. An animal health certification (for non-EU countries)
An Animal Health Certificate (AHC) is a legal requirement to take your pet to Germany. The purpose is to keep Germany free from rabies and any other foreign diseases.
The AHC needs to be issued by an official veterinarian. An official veterinarian is certified to perform work on behalf of the government of the country you live in. As an alternative, it can be issued by an authorised veterinarian and then endorsed by the proper authority of the country you live in.
An AHC typically includes information like the pet owner’s details, the cat or dog’s description, rabies vaccination details, and a rabies blood test (if required).
In addition to the certificate, the person travelling with the pet must have a written declaration (that you should write yourself) indicating the pet is entering the country for non-commercial reasons.
The Animal Health Certificate is valid for ten days after the vet has signed it. So make sure to call in advance to organise the appointment, so it fits with your travel plans.
5. Blood test
It is not always required, however, depending on the country you’re coming from, you might need to get this test ready before you travel. You can check out this list. If you can find the name of your country with “rabies antibody titration test” then you will need to get it done. After the rabies vaccination, you need to wait at least 30 days before doing the blood test. Additionally, you need to do the blood test at least three months before entering the EU.
If your pet needs to have a rabies antibody test, it will need to remain in quarantine for 90 days. The quarantine starts on the day your pet’s blood was collected for the test. Quarantine means that your pet cannot leave the country for that period of time.
With all of these done, you should be able to go through the process with no issues. If you decide to bring your pet to Germany, without fulfilling the requirements, your pet will be confiscated by German customs at the airport and placed in quarantine at a local animal shelter.
Now there are also a few other exceptions to these rules, as there are some breeds that are not allowed in Germany, unless you have a special permit for them, which is a long bureaucratic process:
- Pit Bull Terrier
- American Staffordshire Terrier
- Staffordshire Bull Terrier
- Bull Terrier
If you haven’t travelled with your pet before, here’s a list of actions that might make your and their experience slightly easier:
- Book a pet – friendly flight;
- Train your pet to be comfortable in the carrier;
- Be prepared for the airport security check;
- Ask your veterinarian for relaxation medication if needed;
- Feed your pet at the right time;
- Pack essentials for your pet.
Now, there is also the part of handling your pet’s new life in Germany, like finding accommodation that welcomes pets. We have a few successful stories which involved cute pets (see our top picture of Newton & Tillie’s black cats).