Moving to Europe with a dog can be quite a lot of work. We never even 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 that would be required of Sora 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.
Note, our trip is specific to Norway, which has more stringent requirements than other Schengen countries, but will also apply to EU countries. Also, it’s worth noting that the EU policy changed on December 29th, 2015 to reflect more specific rules with pet passports, minimum ages, border inspections, etc. For more information, you can read more here.
What Paperwork is Needed to Import my Pet to Europe?
- Implantation and certification of an ISO Microchip, which is readable in the EU and on a different frequency from those given in the United States. Only the veterinarian who implants the microchip can sign the required microchip implementation form.
- 3-Year Rabies Vaccination, which must be done AFTER the ISO Microchip. Both can be done in the same day, but the vaccination must come second, and both must be administered at least 21 days prior to departure.
- At least ten days before departing for the EU, Sora had to visit our local veterinarian to receive an international health certificate and an EU veterinary certificate. We then had 10 days from the date of the exam to arrive in Oslo. If we had failed to arrive within this timeline, she could have been denied entry into the EU.
- The international health certificate, the EU veterinary certificate, and the microchip implementation form then had to be endorsed by a USDA APHIS. We had the option of scheduling an appointment with the nearest location in Tumwater, WA (two hours from Portland) or overnighting the paperwork. Further, the USDA vet requires a $37 fee for endorsement, which must be paid by check or money order.
- In addition, since we were traveling to Norway, they required an echinococcosis (tapeworm) treatment given a minimum of 24 and maximum of 120 hours before arrival. This was performed by our local veterinarian and, along with the other paperwork, 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 9 hour time zone difference, this can affect meeting the requirements for inoculation.
- Twenty-four hours before arriving in Oslo, we had to call customs at the airport and indicate that we were arriving with a dog from the United States. There, we would meet the country veterinarian at customs once we arrived in Oslo. In other EU countries, you may not need to provide an advanced call. In fact, this was the only country to require this of us.
Steps for Getting Your Pet Import Paperwork
- 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 and have to wait three months after the test date. We use PetTravel.com to do our initial research. Then you can go to the USDA APHIS site for their export requirements by country. Always double check with the official government websites for animal importing. You can typically Google this.
- 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. You should have your appointment no more than 5 days before your arrival date in your destination country, this is because in Step #3, you’ll need an accredited veterinarian to approve your EU health certificate, which is only valid for 10 days. Your official government paperwork is for up to 4 months of the date of issued by the USDA as long as the rabies vaccine doesn’t expire.
- Make an appointment with your local accredited veterinarian. This appointment should be no more than 10 days from your arrival. We always try for 5 to 7 days in case our flight is delayed or we have an issue with the USDA. Tell your vet that you’re traveling to your destination country and you need your paperwork approved.
- Get your EU Health certificate completed at your local accredited veterinarian.
- Get your EU Health certificate certified at the USDA APHIS.
- Enjoy your travel.
Upon arrival in the European Union:
When we went through customs, we had to enter the “goods to declare” red section. There, we were met by the customs veterinarian who overlooked Sora’s paperwork, scanned her for her microchip, stamped a few items, and sent us on our way.
During our stay in Oslo, we took the time to visit a local veterinarian there and obtain a pet passport. This contains the information for all of Sora’s paperwork and vaccinations and speeds up the process of crossing borders throughout the EU. Once you enter Europe, you have four months to obtain a pet passport if you plan on staying there.
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.
Hopefully this helps outline some of the confusing regulations around bringing a pet from the United States into Europe. Our most helpful resource was our veterinarian, who 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.