Entering the European Union with a Small Pet

 

It seems I have been remiss, Dear Reader. Although I have often spoken about entering the European Union (EU), I have not written a basic “101” on what paperwork Canadians and Americans need to enter with their pet.  It’s funny because those are the countries my readers ask about the most! Specifically the United Kingdom (UK), France, Italy, and Germany: all EU members! I also get questions about travelling to Turkey, Ukraine, Norway and Switzerland but they are not part of the EU. I will cover those European countries in a separate post.

Entering the European Union from North America with a small pet is by far the easiest international travel we have done so far. The beauty of the EU is that the forms are now standardized. In fact, every pet entry form for the EU countries is identical but for the language (other than English) used on the form.

Before the Forms, Get Ready to Travel

Before I get into the paperwork, I would like to take a moment to tell you about having your pet ready for travel. There are some things about with-pet travel that do not change—at least not in all the years we have been at this—and apply across the board, no matter the destination. These are the requirements you should meet before you even look into the paperwork. I don’t mind them. They’re are just a part of having (and being) a pet so far as we’re concerned.

  • Rabies Vaccination. Always a requirement. The most important part? The vaccine lot number. The sticker from the vial of vaccine is a key to hassle-free border crossing. Even a simple crossing between the Canadian and U.S. border requires it. So make sure you note that information and keep in in a safe place. We always get a “proof of all vaccines” form (vaccine certificate) from our vet and she just adds the lot number to the form, often next to the rabies line. In addition we save the information in our travel files, next to the bipeds’ passports. You will need this information to re-enter Canada or the United States when you return home. So do not leave home without it!
  • Microchip. I have written about this on the blog. Many countries now require microchipping. No more getting around it. It is super-duper important to make sure you have the 15-digit microchip. The 9-digit chip is more common in Canada and the United States, but it’s no good if you plan on leaving the North American continent.
  • Titre Test. This is new’ish. Over the last three years, more and more countries have required a titre test to prove vaccine levels are adequate in the blood stream. My understanding is that this is, in part, because some nations are skeptical about the standard three-year rabies vaccine we have in Canada and the United States. The downside is that although titre tests are easy to come by, the only lab that is internationally recognized is in the United States. Your vet will know which one. But this means you need time to send the blood work, have the analysis done, and the results returned to you. This can take up to 10 weeks. (And for Canadians, it’s not cheap.) What we do, now that we know, is include the titre as part of our yearly check-up. We always ask for a titre test in any event to avoid over-vaccination. So when the time comes, we get our vet to use that special U.S. lab and ask that the test include measuring the rabies titre, regardless of whether we are in year 1, 2, or 3 of the 3-year rabies vaccine cycle. It costs more but this way, we are always ready. Countries accept the titre results for up to a year.

Why does this matter? Well, just recently we were in Croatia. We wanted to go into Montenegro for a day trip. The problem? Croatia required the titre test to re-enter Croatia from Montenegro (Montenegro not being an EU member). We are lucky someone mentioned it to us because the titre test had not been needed for re-entry to Canada or entry into other EU countries. Had we had the test done and the paperwork with us, it would have been a done deal. Instead, we had to change our plans.

entering the EU with your small pet by Montecristo Travels

THESE are what those lot stickers for the rabies vaccine look like! Note on the left my vet makes a copy of my titer test results for the vaccines not re-given because sufficient amounts are still in my system. By the way this is all you need for Canada/USA border crossings. Also note the BLUE ink.

Now the Paperwork

Now, back to our EU paperwork. You will need the EU form for the first EU country you plan to enter. Remember I said the form is the same for each EU country except for the language of the form. Be sure you’ve got the right form in the right language for the right country!

If you travel within the EU after your first country of entry, you’ll not need any other EU forms. But, do watch out! If you are on a tour of Europe and leave the EU then need to re-enter the EU, you will need the EU form in the language for the country of re-entry. For example, if you are landing in Munich, Germany, then travelling to Denmark, and from there to the Netherlands, you’ll need an EU form for Germany and an EU form for the Netherlands (yep! Denmark is NOT part of the EU). So keep that in mind!

Another potential glitch: the EU forms are only good if dated nine days or less prior to entry. So, if you are on a 3-month trip, exit the EU after a couple of weeks, and then need to re-enter the EU, you may need to find a vet on location to fill out the form for re-entry AND find the appropriate government regulatory agency in that country to have the form validated. Yup, you can understand why we avoid this in our plans!

The Process

So let me walk you through the process. It all sounds very official and full of red tape, but it’s really simple.

Step 1. Get the latest EU pet form.

If I have learned anything in the years of crossing borders, it’s that humans really like to change their paperwork. It changes all the time. Sometimes twice in one year! Really, humans, there’s so much to be said for routine. Anyway, the first thing we always do once our plans are settled is visit the website for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)—it would be the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for U.S. readers—and track down and print the EU form we need. The CFIA has an awesome page on this topic. Scroll down to the bottom of the page where the vet certificates are listed for each country.

What form do you need? Only the form for the first EU country you are entering. What do I mean by that? Well, for example, if I am going to Greece but I have a connection in Munich, I need the form for Germany (printed in German and English). Once you are in the EU, you no longer need paperwork for your dog to travel between countries within the EU. You’re in. It’s like flying internally between provinces in Canada or states in the United States. Just don’t forget my caution: if exiting and re-entering the EU is part of your plans, you will also need the form for the EU country where you will be re-entering.

While on the website, I also call CFIA to book my appointment to have the form reviewed and validated by them. CFIA used to offer a walk-in service but now you need to book your spot. When booking your appointment, allow time for your vet to complete the form and for you to go and pick it up.

Step 2. Complete the EU pet form.

You must not do this yourself. EVER. No exceptions. It’s actually illegal. Your dog’s vet must fill out the form. And no, you can’t fill out the form and have your vet sign it. I repeat, it is illegal to do this. Also, your vet must fill out the form in blue ink. That’s important, dear Reader. It’s how the officials can distinguish between an original and a copy. So please mention in it to your vet. Blue ink!

 

EU form with CFIA stamp

So this is what the EU form looks like when completed! See the fancy red CFIA stamp AND the blue ink? That is it with this you are IN!

My vet at the Carling Animal Clinic, Dr. Clement, is now a pro at completing these forms. She totally knows the routine. I email the form to her and she calls me back when it’s ready for pick-up. It shouldn’t cost much. At pick-up, I mention when I have my CFIA validation appointment and make sure she is available at that time should there be an error and I suddenly need her to re-do a new form. It happened once, and now we know it can happen. CFIA found a small error on a page that my vet signs. So we had to rush back to the vet to have that page re-done. Before leaving the CFIA, we re-booked our return appointment for later that afternoon.

It can all be a little hairy, but it always works out if you give yourself the time. Don’t wait to the last minute to get the form filled out and validated, but remember that the form has to be completed within nine days of entering the country! Whew. Remember my point about routine? We’ve figured out that if we routinely take care of validating the form 72 hours before we depart, we have enough time to run about if we need to, and we also preserve the form’s 9-day life cycle as much as possible.

Step 3. Validate the EU pet form.

I touched on this above, but it’s important, so I’m going to repeat it: Once your vet has filled out the form, you must have the form validated by the CFIA or USDA (or whatever agency does the job in your country). They’ll add a nice official stamp to the completed and reviewed form. No stars for healthy performance or tricks though. There is a small charge for this service so make sure you ask when you call to book your appointment.

If your vet is a novice at completing these forms or your vet doesn’t fill them out very often, let your vet know that he or she can call the CFIA/USDA for help in completing the form. Also, the CFIA website has a fabulous step-by-step guide for vets. Before my vet became a pro at this, she did not hesitate to call the CFIA and have the vet on staff there help her out. It meant peace of mind for us when we went to get the paperwork stamped.

And don’t forget to have your vet on standby should there be an issue. And if there is, re-book with the CFIA/USDA for the next morning. They will always accommodate you in that kind of situation. Again, keep in mind that 9-day validity for your form. I always have my vet sign and date the form for the same day of my CFIA appointment, even if she filled out the technical details a week before.

Montecristo with his EU forms.

All this for little old me? WOW! THIS is my passport to any EU country!

And then …? THAT IS IT! Once you have your validated form, you are good to go! We take photos of the form with our phones so we have a backup. We also make a photocopy and put that in a different bag. Again, just to be safe.

Remember these forms are your pet’s passport! Of course in Europe, that is what they have: an actual pet passport. This concept came from the United Kingdom. It’s a little navy blue passport, complete with mug shot photo! All the information requested on the EU forms are found in the passport. This approach makes it a lot less of a hassle for Europeans. Maybe one day, Canada, as a member of the Commonwealth, will adopt the same pet passport program. It would be nice. But until then, we are stuck with all these pages. But at least now you know how to go about it!

Still have a question? Did I forget something? Let me know in the comments below. And happy travels!

23 Comments on “Entering the European Union with a Small Pet

  1. Thank you so much, for both today’s post and the YouTube potty solution video! I’ve had two of my biggest questions answered today. 🙂 I’m going to speak to Nola’s vet about titer testing at our next appointment!

    • You are very very welcome! share if you can and help others as well. These are the two “biggies” So glad we could be of help!

  2. Wow, how very interesting! I’ve never seen a post like this written, so kudos to you! This is such helpful info! It’s great that many countries require microchipping. The US definitely needs something like that in place. Thanks for sharing!

    • The requirement for now is for visiting pets. They scan and add to the database so if your pet goes missing they know where they might be able to find you. It’s a great system. Of course the biggest issue is that most people that microchip don’t dustup two: register.

    • If he has the 9 digit that just means you will need to travel with your own scanner. They will not have one in Europe. 🙂

  3. This is absolutely amazing information! Those traveling with small dogs should definitely use this as a resource.

  4. Hello Monte: Great information in this page. Thank you. I will love to know about your experiences traveling to Istanbul/Turkey. Ron is in Pakistan and we may need to travel in Turkish Air to Pakistan. KLM does not go to Islamabad. Thank you Monte, for any info you can give us about. Hugs for you and your humans,

    • I have not flown into Turkey. So I am not in a position to help sadly. I know mom lived there as a kid but that doesn’t help either. At least the airline allows in cabin!! “Airline Pet Policy Turkish Airlines. Only small cats, dogs and birds (goldfinches, budgies and canaries) may travel in-cabin in a compliant airline pet carrier. The maximum carrier size is 16″W x 9″H x 22″L. (23x40x55cm cm) Flexible carriers are suitable as long as they will compress down to 9″.” so that is good! Here is the info you need http://www.pettravel.com/immigration/turkey.cfm

  5. This is the first blog post about traveling that I’ve seen that talks about the titre test. SO many great points about the process around titres. And super important people know that the results take ten weeks to come back. I’ve looked into titres in lieu of vaccinations but haven’t pulled the trigger yet – smart of you to do this regularly since you all travel so much.

  6. I would absolutely love to take Henry, Reese, and Jack to visit England! My husband and I lived there for many years. In fact, their feline sibling Charlie was from there. Charlie was a bold soul and travelled to Canada with no issues. A seven hour flight, separated from their people would be too much for these dogs. We travel though – anywhere we can drive.

  7. Thanks for the awesome post! We’ll be traveling with our cat and 6-pound dog for a few years in and around Europe. I am wondering if you have any leads on which airlines allow in-cabin pets from the US to Europe. We are open as to where we fly out of and into, but are hoping to find an airline and country that allow in-cabin transport for the two little ones. Many thanks!!

    • So many airlines and I have reviewed many. We have flown mostly with Delta, some United and absolutely All the airlines from the SkyTeam alliance including our favourite Air France. We have had great experiences with KLM as well. Huge fans of Amsterdam airport – BEST entry point into EU in our opinion. Al Italia has also been good to us as well as Lufthansa.

  8. Pingback: Our Round Up for Travelling With a Small Dog!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.