Papers for Greece and Switzerland for the Traveling Canine
I am in Bulgaria as this post is being written. I have SO many stories to tell it will be a challenge to keep them all straight!
This trip was not an easy one to plan. Those of you who follow me on Facebook saw that our plans changed more than once and other plans were deferred. We had hoped to go to the Ukraine to see and couch surf with Val. We had hoped to go to Istanbul as well. (In a way, with the current unrest, we are glad that did not work out this time around.)
In the end, we simplified things a lot and chose to travel in Greece and Bulgaria. And what a trip it has been and continues to be!
But before I start to regale you with reviews of the towns, airports, ferries, hotels, food and just general culture, I want to take a moment to talk briefly about the paperwork I needed to come on this journey.
Air Transat could have made our trip easier with their direct flight between Ottawa and Athens. However, Air Transat does not allow any animals except seeing eye dogs (no other service dogs) on their flights. (Get with the program, Air Transat!) As a result, we had to book a series of connecting detours: fly from Ottawa to Newark, Newark to Geneva, and then Geneva to Athens.
Not a big deal, right? Well, actually, it kind of was.
I won’t get into the delays, rescheduling, rerouting and stop-go game that became our actual flight – at least not right now. First, let’s look at what was required to take the flights as scheduled.
Because we were landing in various cities to take connecting flights, we needed a different form for each connecting city instead of just one form to enter Greece.
- We needed a health certificate to enter the US at Newark.
- We needed the form to enter Switzerland because, even if just in transit at Geneva Airport, Switzerland was our first port of entry into Europe.
- And because Switzerland is not part of the EU, we would have to go through customs again. Thus, we needed EU Form 998 to enter Greece. Luckily, Bulgaria is part of the EU so once in Greece, we would not need further paperwork for Bulgaria.
At this point, we were beginning to feel bad for our dear vet, Dr. Clement, who would have to fill out each and every one of these forms. In blue ink. No more than 10 days before our departure date. But Dr. Clement is a rock star and as she always does, she did an amazing job.
But even before Dr Clement could complete the forms, we had to get our hands on the correct forms. That turned out to be a challenge in itself.
A call to the Greek embassy in Ottawa turned up nothing. Several calls and emails went unanswered and Mom was getting nervous. So, Mom called the CFIA office that puts the stamp of approval on the completed forms in the hope they would have the English/Greek EU form 998 we were looking for and that they would be willing to share.
And … they did!
The CFIA office was amazing! So kind and efficient. When Mom explained our route, they even sent the form they had for Switzerland with a suggestion we call the Swiss embassy to ensure that the form was indeed the correct one. Apparently, the form for Switzerland is not a frequently requested form for CFIA so they weren’t 100% sure they had the correct or most up to date version. We thanked the CFIA vet profusely for helping us and did what was recommended: follow up with the Swiss embassy.
What a difference from the Greek embassy!
First of all, when we called the Swiss embassy, we got a person on the line: a lovely lady with one of those impeccable telephone voices. We shared with her our plans and she put us on hold for 2 minutes. When she got back on the line, she asked for our email address, informing us she would send us an email by the end of the day with a link to all the information we needed. We thanked her for her help and just as Mom put down the receiver of her office phone, her iPhone buzzed. The email with the link was already there! Swiss uber-efficiency if ever we saw it! Turned out we had the correct form, but having the link that the Swiss keep updated is a really great nice to have for all of us!
So it was, armed with my forms, filled out by our dear Dr. Clement, that the bipeds and I made our way to the CFIA office. And who should we meet there but the lovely vet who had helped us on the phone! I got to meet her in person! CFIA went over the forms with a fine-toothed comb – fine-toothed like a flea comb! – and after a satisfying STAMP! and STAMP! we paid our fee and were on our way.
I have updated the resource page on my website by adding a PDF of the EU form 998 for Greece and a PDF of the Swiss form as well. Now, Dear Reader, you don’t have to try and track those forms down as I did. You’re welcome!
And, so it was that I had no trouble traveling. Sure, it took a little leg work, but it wasn’t that onerous. The people generally were kind and helpful. And the rewards are well worth it:
Papers for Greece and Switzerland for the traveling canine…There’s nothing like the right paperwork for a smooth entry and a great start to a trip!