Immigrating to Germany with Pets

As Johnny Cash once said in San Quentin: "A dog is a man's best friend – if he is got nothing else..." Well, these family members are of course to follow you to Germany but you will have some extra red tape to overcome.


I have a dog who will be moving with me (leaving him is not an option, he's like family to me!) and am curious about how to accomplish this. Assuming my dog is healthy and free of diseases; will he have to be quarantined?

No - generally not. Animals don't need to be quarantined if they are properly vaccinated and identified. This all depends on where you are entering from: a rabies free country or countries with a high incidence of rabies The animals must be

  • identified by a clearly visible tattoo or by a transponder. The tattoo will only be accepted as a means of identification until July 3, 2011, and not for movements to the UK, Malta, or Ireland.
  • accompanied by a document proving there is an effective vaccination protection against rabies (inactivated vaccine with an efficiency of at least one international antigen unit according to the standard of the World Health Organization, period of validity of the vaccination protection according to the information of the manufacturer). Your vet will know all about this in more detail. This document is colloquially also called a "pet passport". It will also come in handy when traveling inside Europe.
What kind of papers does my pet need when I want to pick him up from the airport?

You must have a health certificate issued by a veterinary surgeon. This certificate must state that the appropriate vaccinations were given to the animal no less than 30 days and no more than one year prior to arrival date in Germany. The certificate must be issued no more than 20 days prior to bringing the animal to Germany. Your dog or cat will be allowed into Germany if there has been no report or suspicion of infectious illness, and no case of rabies within a radius of 20 km from your place of origin during the previous three months. Importation of other animals is subject to German law and permits must be obtained in advance. When everything is organized for shipping your pet, put a large sign on all four sides of the cage "LIVE PET / LEBENDES HAUSTIER" (best in bold print). Include your pet's name, your name and contact cell phone number, home or hotel address and any special handling instructions. Having your pet's name on the shipping cage enables the attendants to talk to your pet in a more familiar tone, helping to alleviate stress for the animal. Make copies of all papers concerning shipping the animal and put them with your other moving documents (among your hand luggage). The originals of all documents relating to the shipment of your pet must be placed in an envelope and taped securely to the top of the cage. Be prepared to pay import fees in cash in the local currency when you pick up your animal in Europe even if you have paid shipping charges in advance before leaving. Ask your transporting company can prepare a customs clearance that you can get more quickly to your animal. If there is a delay due to any problems with the papers or fees, you will be charged boarding / kennel fees.

Which animals are considered as "pets" on what you're discussing here?

Cats, Dogs, and Ferrets are typically understood as pets. There are currently no veterinarian regulations for the private import of following animals to Germany:

  • Guinea Pigs,
  • birds,
  • rabbits (at most 3 pet rabbits),
  • turtles
Can I have any vet from around the corner sign and stamp the forms?

No. A state accredited veterinarian is required to fill out the forms. The rabies vaccination must occur after identity of the pet has been established. Please note the accredited veterinarian must perform the clinical examination within 24 hours before the movement.

I have done some reading about the required paperwork for importing animals. Can they be in English or do they have to be in German?

They need to be in German. Just take it to your local vet to fill out. The pet must have a serological (blood titer) test performed at least 90 days prior to entering the country. This test must be performed at an approved laboratory.

Get the bilingual form for important pets from the LG2G shop by simply clicking this sentence!

I had my pet micro-chipped at home but the border officer only had a blank face because my pet's chip could not be read.

Well, then this chip seems not to meet the ISO standards (International Standards Organization) 11784/11785 such is expected for identification purposes. This is a 15 digit ISO compliant microchip that operates at 134.2 kHz. If your pet does not have the ISO microchip then you must provide your own scanner. Any USDA certified vet can fill out the bilingual forms and provide you with a health certificate. You then have to express mail the health certificate and enclose a return postage paid envelope! Your certificate has to be completed within 10 days prior to your departure for it to be valid and stamped by the state accredited vet.

Does my dog travel in the cargo area of the plane? Or does he need a ticket? How will he relieve himself on such a long flight?

That depends on the size of your dog and on the airline. Different airlines have different rules so check with the airline first. In general, though, you will have to check the dog in as baggage and he/she will go in the cargo area. Unless you have a very small dog that could fit in a carry that can go under the seat. Again though, different airline have different rules. Also, be aware that some (especially the U.S.) airlines have embargoes on shipping pets in the summer between sometime in May and September or October. Also, the airlines require a health certificate issued by a veterinarian. Usually, the airline wants the health certificate to be right before the animal is to fly. Typically, no more than 10 days before the flight. As always when dealing with different companies, though, check with your airline.

Get the bilingual form for important pets from the LG2G shop by simply clicking this sentence!

Unforntunatly, I have to send my pet unaccompanied ahead of my departure. What rules apply to my situation?

If your pet is traveling on a different flight than yours, you will need a veterinary certificate for commercial movements. You will also need to provide a journey declaration, a declaration of transportation, and a feeding regimen.  There is no special form for the feeding plan.  All you need to do is to prepare a document labeled "VERSORGUNGSPLAN" (German for feeding regimen) at the top of the page, list the food and environmental needs, e.g. temperature, for your pet. To be on the safe side for your pet, it will be best to have this bilingual. Click to access free online dictionaries. Don't forget, Germany has adopted the metric system - do apply that! While most persons on the airport will speak at least some English, they will be absolutely lost with °F! Just click on this sentence to be led to a conversion site.

How will my dog relieve himself on such a long flight?

Basically, you need to fill the dog carrier with lots of newspaper, or something else like an old blanket as an absorbent. They don't have a chance to get out of their cages, unfortunately. You will have to clean both the pet and the carrier when you get to your new home. The cage has to fit the animal. If it is too large, then the animal can be bounced around during any turbulence. We thought everything was OK. However, when your plane is to land in another country first and then maybe take the train to Germany, this will not be more relaxing but more costly! Every country has its own requirements for letting pets enter. This means that the Dutch have different requirements than the Germans and so we had to wait for over four hours while the customs officials called in their own vet and we had to pay a huge fee for all of this. I hope it helps. The cost of shipping a pet (from $250 and up) depends on the size of the pet and travel cage. Your veterinarian or a pet store in your area can provide some advice on the cage size and whether or not to medicate for the trip.

How do I best prepare my animal for the trip?

Your pet should not be fed less than four hours before the flight and should not be given water two hours before the flight. Dogs should be walked immediately before boarding the flight and not put in the kennel until necessary. Include your pet's favorite toy or blanket in the shipping cage. If you are planning on taking more than three pets you must obtain an import permit before your arrival in Germany. The rules are very strict.

As if relocating ourselves was not already enough, our parent pets recently gave birth to cute little puppies and kittens. Can we bring them with us?

If you intend to bring an accompanied kitten or puppy into Germany that is not older than 3 months, you will need to purchase an import permit from the state authority of the future domicile and the state authority of the port of arrival - when both are in different federal states of Germany. The following PDF List of State Authorities (in German only) lists the various state authorities (Landesbehörden) that you will need to contact for the import permit. Please follow the state authority's instructions.

My dear Pitti, pitbull terrier, was refused entry to Germany! Darn, how do the heck do I now get him in? I don't want to leave him behind.

Sorry, but you will have to make up your mind if you leave your pitbull behind and travel alone or not. This breed is banned in most European countries. Certain breeds of dogs have been declared dangerous and are required by law to be registered in many European cities, towns and villages. The dog will be "attitude" tested and some breeds will have to be muzzled at all times merely due to their size, or if they have a history of jumping and/or barking at people in a threatening manner, or have been known to chase and kill other animals. Owners of any of such dogs must be over 18 years old, be able to hold back the animal, possess a dog-handling license, provide proof of no criminal record, provide proof of liability insurance for the dog, assure that the dog is kept in an area where it cannot escape, and always have the dog muzzled and on a leash in public. Breeding of the above dogs is prohibited. Beginning in 2002, owners of the above dogs must have a microchip identification tag implanted under the animal's skin.

Which dogs are considered as fighting / combat dogs?

Dogs can already be considered as dangerous when they belong to the list below or when they are overaggressive due to a lack of correct training, have repeatedly attacked persons or other animals without themselves being attacked. Going by race, typically certain dogs are considered as dangerous.

Recommendation to other external sites:

Flying with your pet on LinkedIn

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