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International air travel with a dog sometimes requires a pet passport.

Moving to Europe with a Dog

Moving to Europe with a dog can be quite a lot of work. We never considered not bringing Sora along. She’s part of our life at home, and we were determined to make her part of our life on the road.

Knowing that we would need to get started on veterinary requirements for bringing Sora into the European Union, I reached out to our local vet and asked about requirements for her entry.

My preliminary research left me overwhelmed and confused by all of the information. Fortunately, our vet happened to have a travel specialist on staff who could outline all of the details, examinations, and vaccinations required before departing on our trip.

We broke these requirements out into bullet points and divided them into sections of what we did before departing the United States and after arriving into the European Union.

Our first trip was specific to Norway, which has more stringent requirements than other Schengen countries. When we traveled to Spain, they didn’t even bat an eye at her. The majority of these requirements will apply to all EU countries.

Want to know how to fly internationally with a dog? Read our detailed post all about it.

Moving to Europe with a dog requires a ton of paperwork.

What Paperwork Do I Need to Import my Pet to Europe?

  • Implantation and certification of an ISO Microchip. Europe operates on a different frequency from the United States. Only the veterinarian who implants the microchip can sign the required microchip implementation form.
  • Three-year rabies vaccination, which must be done AFTER the ISO Microchip. Both the rabies and the microchip can be done in the same day, but the vaccination must come second. Both must be administered at least 21 days prior to departure.
  • Ten days before departing for the EU, visit your veterinarian for an international health certificate and an EU veterinary certificate. You have 10 days to enter the destination country before the paperwork expires.
  • Make an appointment with the USDA (coming form the US). The international health certificate, the EU veterinary certificate, and the microchip implementation form must be endorsed by a USDA APHIS. You can choose to schedule an appointment with the nearest location or overnighting the paperwork. Visiting is always the safest option. The $37 fee for endorsement may only be paid by check or money order.
  • Norway required an echinococcosis (tapeworm) treatment given a minimum of 24 and maximum of 120 hours before arrival. Along with the other paperwork, the treatment required approval from the USDA veterinarian. Be sure to ask your local vet write the date and time in both your current timezone, and the one to which you’re traveling. This was confusing in our case as neither Pacific Standard Time, nor Central European Time was listed on our forms. With a nine hour time difference, this can affect meeting the requirements for inoculation.
  • Call customs at the final destination airport 24 hours prior to arrival. Not every EU country requires meeting with customs upon arrival. Determine in advance whether you need to make this call.

Steps for Getting Your Pet Import Paperwork

  1. Research the requirements for your destination country. Generally speaking, it’s always the same: rabies, microchip, and health medical certificate. If you’re traveling from a country of high risk rabies to one that is not, then you may need a titer test. You will then have to wait three months after the test date to enter. PetTravel.com helps with initial research. Then go to the USDA APHIS site for export requirements by country. Always double check with the official government websites for animal importing.
  2. Make an appointment with the USDA, if in the U.S. In other countries, schedule an appointment with your respective animal exporting government office. Appointments can fill up so do this at least 30 days in advance. Schedule your appointment no more than five days prior your arrival date. This is because your EU health certificate (step #3) is only valid for 10 days. The official government paperwork is good for four months from the issue date, permitted the rabies vaccine doesn’t expire.
  3. Make an appointment with your local accredited veterinarian. Arrange this appointment no more than 10 days before arrival. We aim for five to seven days in case of a flight delay or an issue with the USDA. Tell your vet that you’re traveling to your destination country and you need your paperwork approved.
  4. Get your EU Health certificate certified at the USDA APHIS.
  5. Enjoy your travel. 

Flying with your dog in cargo? We created a list to help you pick out the right kennel and understand the process.

All of our backs and bike gear upon arrival in Oslo.

Entering the Destination Country

When we went through customs in Norway, we had to enter the “goods to declare” section. There, we met the customs veterinarian who overlooked Sora’s paperwork, scanned for her microchip, stamped a few items, and sent us on our way.

In Spain, we entered as we would whether we had a dog or not.

During our stay in Oslo, we visited a local veterinarian to request a pet passport. This contains the information for all of Sora’s paperwork and vaccinations and speeds entry into the EU. Once you enter Europe, you have four months to obtain a pet passport if you plan on staying there. Our blog post here outlines how to get one once you arrive.

The process is very simple and straight forward if you do your homework in advance. Getting the paperwork and the import papers in your country of origin is the biggest hurdle.

Additional Links:

Steps to Obtain International Health Certificate – USDA APHIS

EU Pet Passports

Pet Travel Rule Changes – 2015

Hopefully this helps outline some of the confusing regulations around bringing a pet from the United States into Europe. Our veterinarian was our most helpful resource. She understood and was familiar with the required documents and vaccinations. Also be aware that rules change constantly, so be sure to check back with individual country regulations regularly.

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Moving to Europe with a dog? This is everything you need to know.

Dave Hoch

Dave finds joy in supporting a vegan, intentional, and spiritual lifestyle. When he’s not jamming out to Phish and reggae, he’s running, volunteering at animal rescues, playing in nature, and being alive.

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