knowing the law
It is important to be aware of the legal framework for pet ownership in your country including sterilisation, travelling with your pet, identification and registration, microchipping and more!
Identification & Registration
Identification and registration is largely in place across the EU. Except for Germany, Estonia, Finland (applicable as of 2023) and Poland, it is mandatory in all Member States to microchip and store the information related to the dog and the owner in a database. Registration for cats is only mandatory in Belgium, Greece, the Netherlands, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Portugal, Slovakia, and Slovenia. Microchipping and registration are key to proving ownership of a pet and help reunification if a pet gets lost. It also serves as the means to ensure traceability of individual animals and allows to uphold one's rights towards the breeder. Further, registration databases facilitate better control of trade volumes and help monitor animal populations.
There is currently no EU legislation in place that makes the sterilisation of dogs and cats mandatory in the EU. However, legislative initiatives exist in Member States such as Belgium, Germany and Austria where the sterilisation of dogs and/or cats is largely in place, unless the caretaker has a breeding permit. Such legislation may either apply to all animals of the species (i.e. in Belgium all cats above the age of five/six months must be sterilised, with the exception of breeding animals), or to species with outdoors access (i.e. in Austria all cats that may roam must be sterilised) or to animals within regions that apply preventative population control programmes (i.e. in Germany all cats over the age of 6 months must be sterilised, as part of regional population control programmes). If you are unsure about the legal requirements in your country, please consult a local veterinarian for more information.
Travelling with your pet
If you want to travel with your pet and you will cross the border of your country, you need to be aware of the legal requirements. EU rules regulate travelling to and from one of the 27 EU countries, plus Norway and Northern Ireland with your dog, cat, or ferret. With a few exceptions, the rules also cover travels to and from territories outside the EU.
ATTENTION: These rules apply to private journeys with pet animals, wherein no sale of change of ownership is involved.
Your pet will need to
- Be micro-chipped (in line with the technical requirements of Annex II of the EU Regulation on the movement of pets) or have a clearly readable tattoo (only if applied before 3 July 2011)
- Be vaccinated against rabies
- Have a valid European pet passport (for travels to and from EU member states and Northern Ireland), or a passport issued by Andorra, Switzerland, Faroe Islands, Gibraltar, Greenland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, San Marino, Vatican City State or Norway , or be accompanied by an EU animal health certificate
ATTENTION: As of 1 January 2021, EU pet passports issued to a pet owner resident in Great Britain are no longer valid for travel with pets from Great Britain to an EU member state or Northern Ireland.
We recommend researching whether the country you are travelling to/from has any additional rules in place, for instance Finland, Ireland, Malta, Norway, and Northern Ireland require your pet to have had treatment against the tapeworm Echinococcus multilocularis. You can check the detailed rules for travelling from your country on this website, by scrolling down and selecting the country you are travelling from.
Frequently asked questions about travelling with pets in the EU
What happens if a pet travels without their owner?
Normally, pets must travel with their owners. It is however possible to give a written permission to another person to accompany your pet for you if you will be reunited with your pet within 5 days of its relocation. If your pet’s movement is not associated with yours and, it will have to comply with the animal health rules applicable in trade.
What happens if I travel with more than five pets?
Normally, you can travel with up to five pets (dogs, cats, or ferrets). If you travel with more, you need to provide proof that they are all older than 6 months and that they are travelling to participate in a competition, exhibition, or sporting event (by providing proof of participation). If you don’t meet these conditions, the pets need to comply with animal health rules applying to the import to the EU or trade within the EU of dogs, cats, and ferrets.
What happens if I travel with pets other than dogs, cats and/or ferrets?
European pet passports are only issued for these three species. If you are travelling to or from another EU country with any other pets (for instance rabbits, birds, reptiles etc.), you need to check the national rules of the country you are planning to travel to in order to find out about its entry conditions.
Is my hamster covered by the EU pet passport?
NO - It isn't. The EU pet passport is only for dogs, cats and ferrets. If you have other pets, national legislation will apply.
Do I need a permit to travel with an exotic pet between EU countries?
YES - The movement of endangered animal species is strictly controlled. If you want to travel with an animal belonging to protected species, you need a certificate. To find out if you need a permit, check the EU wildlife trade database or contact the CITES authority in your country.
I intend to bring my dog to Ireland where I plan to take up residence. What happens if it does not meet the requirements to enter Ireland?
Your dog may be returned to its country of origin, or quarantined (at your expense) for the length of time necessary to meet the health requirements up to a maximum of 21 days or, as a last resort, your dog may be put down.
I am visually impaired and want to travel from Paris to Berlin by air. Can I bring my guide-dog?
YES - The air carrier must transport a recognised assistance dog in the cabin of the aircraft.