While moving to Europe may provide many exciting opportunities, traveling overseas with your furry friends can often seem a bit overwhelming when confronted with the myriad descriptions of import requirements, quarantine timelines, airline regulations, and other flotsam floating along the currents of the web. Fortunately, traveling with your pets can be a simple, stress-free, and sometimes fun process, as long as you take the time to plan ahead and understand the intricacies of the import/export process.
To begin, realize that advance planning is crucial. International relocations for pets, just like their human counterparts, require months of advance planning and careful attention to paperwork and details. Find your resources early and figure out how to best utilize them. In the long-run, information is your best friend when it comes to pet relocation, and preparing a timeline will help to take the stress off both your and your pet’s shoulders.
Here are some tips that will help to make your pet’s trip as safe and comfortable as possible:
Crate Training – Perhaps the most important step in the entire process. By acclimating your pet to its travel kennel well ahead of the travel date, your pet will feel comfortable in its soon-to-be travel environment. Not only do travel kennels serve as a means to protect your pet physically, but emotionally as well. The more familiar your pet is with its travel kennel at home, the more it will be used as a “safe zone” during travel.
Airline Selection – What may often appear to be the best route of travel for you is not always the best route for your pets. Very few airlines implement complete “pet-safe” programs, so it is very important to do your research and ask which airlines are most pet friendly. “Pet-safe” policies include, but are not limited to, making sure your pets are always climate controlled, never leaving them out on the tarmac, and making sure they are the last ones on the plane and the first ones off. In addition, a majority of airlines only accept live animals within certain outside temperature constraints, so seasonal traveling can often prove difficult. By using a “pet-safe” carrier, these climate restrictions can be easily avoided. When traveling to Europe, we recommend Continental, KLM, British Airways, and Lufthansa Airlines, all of which have excellent pet programs in place.
Import Requirements – Pets moving into the EU fall under the jurisdiction of Commission Regulation (EC) No 998/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council. In summary, with the exception of the UK, Sweden, and Norway, EU import requirements for all dogs, cats, and ferrets are as follows:
1) Microchip: Each pet shall be identified by means of a microchip. No other form of identification is acceptable. The microchip used should comply with ISO Standard 11784 or Annex A to ISO standard 11785–otherwise the pet will need to be sent with its own scanner attached to the top of the crate.
2) All animals need to have full vaccinations:
Cats: Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus, Panleukopenia (FVRCP), and Rabies within the last 12 months or a minimum of 4 weeks before arrival.
3) EU Vet Health Certificate (Form EC#: 998, available from PetRelocation.com) – This is the standard health certificate to be filled out by your accredited veterinarian. Although this certificate is technically valid for 4 months, it is recommended to be completed and endorsed by the USDA within 10 days of travel to avoid any customs issues upon arrival.
4) Government Endorsement (USDA when departing from the United States): The below referenced forms:
Microchip Implantation Record
EU Vet Health Certificate
5) International Health Certificate: Your vet should have these in stock. It’s a good idea to call ahead and ask. This is an international health certificate that needs to be completed by your vet within 10 days of departure. Depending on the logistics of your particular pet relocation and the specific health certificate being used (APHIS Form 7001 when departing from the United States) an additional USDA Endorsement maybe required on this health certificate.
6) All original documentation must travel with the pets.
International Pet Relocation Services – There are many full service pet relocation agencies available worldwide that are able to facilitate all of your pet’s travel arrangements. Services can include residential pickups and deliveries, flight bookings, airport check-in, customs clearance and import handling, assistance with health documentation, and anything else you or your pet might need. These services make life much easier, but with the service come added costs.
As can be seen above, many variables need to be carefully accounted for when relocating your pet to Europe. While daunting at times, if taken piece by piece, your pet’s move can be a snap. Just remember to plan accordingly and enjoy your new home!