Relocating to Germany with your pet

Moving with your pet to Germany
shutterstock.com
Updated 2022-11-08 18:48

Traveling with a pet from one country to another can be costly and requires good organization on the basis of detailed knowledge of the regulations and procedures. In this article, you will find information about traveling with your pet to Germany, a country that complies with the EU requirements regarding pets' entry. 

However, you should note that criteria and formalities vary significantly depending on the country of departure and the pet's recent travel history. Therefore, it is advisable to plan carefully and allow enough time to collect all the necessary documents for your pet's travel, following the guidance of an authorized veterinarian and the local authorities. 

Basic requirements to travel with a pet

The following requirements are a rule of thumb for traveling with a pet across borders regardless of the country of origin and destination. 

  • Since the 3rd of July 2011, it has become mandatory for pet owners to tattoo or, nowadays, microchip their pets. The microchip is linked to a unique identification number, and no travel is possible without it. 
  • A health certificate (equivalent to a Pet Passport within the EU), which is issued by an authorized veterinarian, is required in all cases. Besides showcasing the pet's regular immunization, the health certificate should also include proof of vaccination against rabies. 

Good to know: 

The microchip is injected under the pet's skin, and the procedure resembles a standard vaccination.   

Attention: 

Rabies' vaccination must be administered at least 21 days prior to the day of travel to an already microchipped animal in order to be legitimately assigned to the animal.

Traveling to Germany with a pet from within the EU

If you are moving to Germany from an EU country, you will most likely have no issues bringing your pet, as long as the animal is not destined for sale or change of ownership. Generally, the European Union has straightforward regulations regarding pets' travel within its borders, even though there is a limitation of five pets (i.e., dogs, cats, ferrets) per traveler. First and foremost, your pet(s) will need an individual pet passport (Heimtierausweis), which is issued by an authorized — by the member state's law — veterinarian. The pet passport will include details such as the microchip's number, the pet's name, breed, color, age and weight, as well as the owner's name and contact details.

Dogs and cats traveling to Germany must be vaccinated against rabies at least 21 days (minimum time needed to develop immunity) before the scheduled travel date and remain within the period of validity of the vaccination. Since rabies vaccinations can only be carried out after 12 weeks of age, puppies cannot travel before 15 weeks of age. Some rabies vaccines are valid for one year and others for three years, depending on the label. If your pet's rabies vaccination certificate is up-to-date, it will not be quarantined upon its arrival in Germany. If, for any reason, your pet is first traveling to Ireland, Malta, Finland, or the UK, you must also show proof of treatment for tapeworms, a type of parasite that lives inside the intestines. 

Important: 

You can travel with more than five pets for competitions, shows, and sporting events or training for such events. In this case, each animal must be at least six months old, and you must have a registration certificate for the event. 

Useful links: 

Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture

EU Pet Passport

Pet entry into Germany from a non-EU country

The standard entry requirements (i.e., microchip and copy of the vaccination against rabies attached to the health certificate) are also valid for third countries. However, for some countries (e.g., Brazil, Belize, China, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Israel, India, Kenya, Turkey, South Africa, and a few more), there's an additional requirement, which is the rabies antibody titration test. The test must be carried out at least 30 days after the rabies vaccination date and not earlier than three months before the date of travel. For the pet to be allowed to travel, the test must show a titer of neutralizing antibody to rabies virus equal to or greater than 0,5 IU/ml. 

Important: 

The rabies antibody titration test results must be certified by an approved laboratory (an authorized veterinarian who will draw the blood sample should be able to guide you further through the steps) and attached to the animal's health certificate.

Closer to the date of departure and particularly 48 hours before the time of travel, an official veterinarian must carry out a clinical examination of the animal to verify that there are no signs of disease. The Trade Control and Expert System (TRACES), a database for monitoring animals and animal products, will issue a Common Health Entry Document (CHED).

Good to know: 

TRACES monitors all the movements of animals, animal products, food and feed of non-animal origin and plants to reduce the impact of disease outbreaks and allow for a quick response to counter serious risks along the agri-food chain.

It is advisable to organize your pet's journey from a third country via the listed third countries (see Annex VIII in the useful links). Otherwise, there may be additional steps to be taken regarding the transit. If a transit via a third non-listed country is unavoidable, by no means should the animal leave the airport or come in contact with rabies-susceptible animals. 

Useful links: 

List of third countries, territories and zones authorized for the entry of dogs, cats, and ferrets into the European Union (see Annex VIII). 

Traveling to Germany with other pets

If you wish to import in Germany other pets, such as birds, reptiles, rodents, rabbits, or ornamental aquatic animals, you should familiarise yourself with Germany's regulations regarding the importation of these animals. For instance, you cannot enter Germany with more than three domestic rabbits, and if you bring birds from a third country (i.e., outside the EU), you will have to make sure the bird complies with the conditions put in place to prevent the introduction and spread of Avian Influenza (commonly known as avian flu), which infects people in different parts of the world, with the H5NI subtype being particularly dangerous. Therefore, the birds must come from a country that belongs to a Regional Commission of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and will be subjected to a ten-day, or more, quarantine in the country of departure if they haven't been vaccinated against Avian Influenza. On the third day of isolation (or later), the birds will be tested for H5 and H7 types of Avian Influenza. Once the birds are taken to their residence in Germany, they should not take part in shows, trade fairs, exhibitions, or other events for 30 days. Companion birds from Andorra, the Faroe Islands, Greenland, Iceland, Croatia, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino, Switzerland, and the Vatican City State are exempt from the above-mentioned provisions.

Good to know: 

The European Pet Passport discussed above is only issued for dogs, cats, and ferrets.

Important: 

Before considering bringing a reptile, you should check with Germany whether this specific species falls under the protected or endangered species. 

Pet transport to Germany

Make sure to check your pet's travel conditions with your carrier beforehand. Booking is recommended as the number of places may be limited. Animals weighing a maximum of four pounds (about two kilos) are allowed to travel in the cabin, while those weighing more are required to travel in the hold. Remember to bring an emergency kit for your pet in case it gets sea or air sick. Make sure you are aware of all the restrictions posed by the airline with which you and your pet are traveling. For example, some airlines have restrictions on pet travel during extreme weather conditions. Additional restrictions may depend on the dog breed, as some breeds are considered dangerous or have breathing difficulties which may put them at risk while flying. Trains have fewer regulations and allow traveling for free with a small pet in a carrier, while a ticket for a larger dog might be half fare, and the dog needs to be leashed and muzzled. 

Good to know: 

The following breeds (or a mix of one) are not allowed in Germany: Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and Bull Terrier. 

Tip: Start a discussion at Expat.com's Germany forum to obtain information from other pet-friendly expats regarding all the necessary documentation and information for moving your pet to Germany. 

Traveling with your pet across Germany

Germany is a pet-friendly country, and once you are there, traveling across the country with your pet should be quite easy. Pets (dogs in particular) are allowed to travel by public transport in Germany. Train networks, for instance, offer discounted rates for dogs. Some buses don't allow pet transport unless you have a certificate for a service dog. However, you will have to check beforehand with the respective company.

Good to know: 

In Germany, you have to pay a Hundesteuer (dog tax). To understand how much you will need to pay, you can check with the local German authorities.

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.