Import of Animals to the European Union: Tips and Requirements

Author Veterinary Consultant
Reading time 8 minutes
Views 1k
Import of Animals to the European Union: Tips and Requirements

Import of Animals to the European Union

The majority of the European Union's (EU) member-states adhere to a common framework for importing animals into the EU. Several member-states, including Germany and Italy, have their own distinct regulations for the import of animals, and are outlined below. These rules are strict, but are reasonably achievable, and if all conditions are met, you shouldn't encounter any significant difficulties at the borders.

Pre-travel preparation

When traveling to Europe, you can typically bring no more than five animals along with you. Exceptions to this rule apply in cases where pets are being taken for exhibition purposes in competitions or events. To obtain an import permit, you must provide a registration document confirming your pets' participation in such an event.

An animal passport issued by the European Union (EU) is imperative for traveling to EU member-states with your pet. It includes descriptions and details of your pet, including their microchip and vaccine records.

Microchipping. Since 2011, all animals traveling to the European Union must comply with a microchipping requirement. To be admitted to the EU with your pet, its microchip must adhere to the ISO ISO11784/11785 standards. As an alternative, an animal can be identified by a clearly legible tattoo. However, this rule is applicable only to animals born before 2011, due to the fact that microchips have been a mandatory requirement for the identification of newly born animals since 2011.
Vaccination. The date of rabies vaccination cannot predate the installation of the microchip implant. Furthermore, the rabies vaccination protocol requires a three-week quarantine, which means rabies vaccination must be administered no less than 21 days before the border is crossed. To meet the requirements for vaccination, an animal must be at least 12 weeks (84 days) old. The vaccine used must be approved in the European Union. Additionally, complex vaccination, where applicable, must be completed even if its purpose is not to import into the EU.
Rabies antibody test. Since 2014, it is required to undertake a Rabies Antibody Titration Test as a prerequisite for entering the European Union with a pet. The purpose of this test is to measure the effectiveness of the rabies vaccine. Rabies Antibody Titration Tests can only be performed by authorized laboratories, including the NoviStem Laboratory, a leader in veterinary diagnostics. The laboratory also has a network of partner clinics across Russia, which conduct the biological sampling and send the specimens for further testing to the NoviStem Laboratory.
Deworming. It is mandatory to deworm your pet and record the date of the treatment against parasites in their passport. This should be accomplished no later than 24 hours prior to departure.
Veterinary certificate, Form 1. The Veterinary Certificate Form 1 can be issued by any state veterinary clinic. Its validity period is 5 days. The Veterinary Certificate Form 1 is to be exchanged for the International Veterinary Certificate, Form 5a, at any airport. This document allows the import of animals into the EU, as long as it is obtained at least 10 days before the scheduled departure date. The Veterinary Certificate Form 1 permits travel to other EU member states for a duration of up to four months.
European pet passport. To travel throughout the European Union (EU) with your pet, you must have a European Pet Passport, which is only issued by European veterinary clinics. Russian Pet Passports do not meet EU standards and are not necessary for travel within the EU. Alternatively, a valid Veterinary Certificate Form 5a can be issued, but only if the planned stay does not exceed 90 days. A European Pet Passport can be obtained from any European Veterinary Clinic, and is beneficial for those who intend to travel through Europe with their pet.

Customs and Flight

At the airport, upon entry into the European Union (EU), you will be required to complete a veterinary inspection. During this checkpoint, you must present your Veterinary Certificate Form 1 and obtain a corresponding International Veterinary Certificate Form 5a. Furthermore, if you plan to commercially trade animals, you must fulfill the necessary legal documentation for transportation, including a Declaration of Commercial Movement.

A detailed list of requirements for air travel can be found on the official websites or hotlines of the specific airlines in question. General rules:

  • Some countries impose specific age limitations on pets entering the country. For instance, according to Aeroflot's website, pets must be at least 8 weeks of age to be transported.
  • It is acceptable to keep a pet in the cabin as long as they meet the air carrier's requirements. These may include: the pet being held in a secure kennel; 2 pets being housed in the same kennel, provided they are accustomed to living together; and the combined weight of both pets and their kennel not exceeding 8 kg (for Aeroflot).
  • If the transportation involves several animals, only one kennel can be carried in the cabin, while the rest must be placed in the aircraft hold. Note that there is a weight limit of 50 kg (for Aeroflot) for a kennel carrying your pet.
  • When you are planning to travel with pets, remember to make an application on the airline's official website in advance. You can do so by using the contact details provided on the airline's official website.
  • Be mindful that your shipment request needs validation by the air carrier. Once the pet transportation has been confirmed by the airline, the cost should be paid according to the applicable price list. When shipping animals (dogs, birds, cats) via air transportation, it must be done in accordance with the prior agreement between the airline and the traveler.

Additionally, it is important to consider the guidelines for the dimensions, size, and weight of the kennel required for transporting your pet. Particular attention should be paid to the air vents present in the container, as they are essential for providing fresh air to your pet during the journey.


What are the specific countries that have added their own requirements for importing animals to Europe?

In general, animal import regulations are uniform across the European Union, however, there are some exceptions to this, such as:

  • Norway prohibits the entry of certain high-risk dog breeds, such as Staffordshire terriers, Pitbull terriers, etc.
  • Prior to entrance into Lithuania, animals must undergo a mandatory 30-day quarantine after receiving a rabies vaccination.
  • Similar to Norway, Germany also implements restrictions on the importation of certain dangerous dog breeds, with the allowable total number of animals per individual being three.
  • Malta has strict regulations, requiring an import permit from the sanitation-veterinary service of the country, at least 5-6 days prior to departure.
  • Other countries, such as Hungary or Malta, also impose strict regulations. In these two countries, an official permit from their respective sanitary-veterinary services is required to import animals, and must be obtained at least 5-6 days prior to the official departure date.
Useful tips

  • Every country within the European Union (EU) may also stipulate additional requirements for the admission of animals, and verifying these guidelines is crucial before the departure date.
  • If you intend to do a transit flight, it is essential to comprehend entry requirements for the target country and the layover country.
  • For frequent travelers accompanied by their pets, acquiring a European pet passport can ease the process by saving a considerable amount of time.