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Pets in Germany

Lots of people proudly regard their pets as part of their family. However, if you would like these special family members to accompany you, you must consider the legal framework for pets in Germany. Our expat guide offers an overview of import rules and other information concerning pets in Germany.
Dogs are the most popular kind of pet in Germany.

With at least one dog living in every eighth household, not to mention countless other animals like cats, canaries, or rodents, pets in Germany definitely live the good life. Stray dogs and cats are rare in comparison to the many beloved pets in Germany. Most Germans take excellent care of their four-legged or winged companions. However, importing your pet as well as keeping pets in Germany can require a bit of paperwork. Germany outlaws some pets altogether, especially certain dog breeds or protected species.

Please start planning well in advance. Some of the steps necessary for arriving with your pets in Germany may require up to six months of preparation. Make sure to fulfill all of Germany’s imports and customs requirements; otherwise the German Customs Administration can put your pets in quarantine or even return them at your expense.

Pets in Germany: Regulations for Pet Import

Bringing pets to Germany is subject to a broad variety of regulations, some of which stem from European legislation, while others are based on national laws. Some regulations for pets in Germany may even depend on the regional authorities at your final place of residence. Please note that all these regulations may also apply again when you re-enter Germany with your pets after leaving the country for a while.

Regulations for dogs, cats and ferrets fall under European legislation. According to European law, you may bring up to five animals per person travelling. If you want to take more than five pets with you, you have to follow the requirements for the commercial pet trade.

In order to prevent a rabies epidemic, regulations were harmonized across the EU member states in 2003. In a few European countries, which are regarded as rabies-free, exceptional restrictions remain in effect; for pets in Germany, however, standard regulations apply.

Pets in Germany: Moving within the EU

For moving pets across borders within the European Union (for example, from Spain to Germany), expats have to follow the EU requirements below. To import and keep their pets in Germany, owners of cats, dogs, or ferrets need:

  • To have the pet immunized for rabies. Depending on the vaccine brand, repeat vaccination may be required. The complete vaccination must be no older than 12 months and no more recent than 30 days.
  • Pets in Germany should be clearly identifiable by an implanted transponder. A clearly visible tattoo ID is an alternative as long as your pet got the tattoo before July 2011.
  • All pets in Germany as well as other EU member states must have an identification document (“pet passport”). This confirms the vaccination and the chip implant. In an EU member state, you can obtain the “pet passport” at your local veterinarian. To register a pet passport, you have to bring proof of identification, proof of vaccination, and, in some cases, your pet itself.

Pets in Germany: Moving from outside the EU

When arriving with your pets in Germany from outside the European Union, you have to meet the above requirements for moving within Europe. In addition to that, you sometimes have to prove the rabies vaccination’s efficiency. The required blood test needs to be done at least three months before entering the European Union and 30 days or more after the immunization. Your pet doesn’t need a blood test, however, when entering from one of the so-called “listed” countries outside the EU.

These states and territories include Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Hong Kong, Iceland, Japan, Mauritius, Malaysia, Norway, Russia, Singapore, Switzerland, Taiwan, the UAE, the US, and various smaller countries. For a complete list, please see this PDF provided by the German Customs Administration.

If you don’t arrive from one of these countries, your animal has to be tested for immunity against rabies. A certified veterinarian has to do this test. Here you can find a list of authorized laboratories abroad.

Keep in mind that the rabies vaccination must not be older than 12 months. Your pet then has to take the blood test between eleven and three months before your departure. Sometimes, you have to wait up to four months after the vaccination before you can schedule the blood test. So, if you want to live with your pets in Germany, please consider all these time frames and waiting periods.

Moreover, if you don’t set out from an EU/EEA member state, you need a health certificate for your pet. If your veterinarian cannot provide you with the necessary forms, you can download bilingual certificates from an EU website. (Please scroll down to the section called “Document”.) An officially registered or authorized vet has to fill in, sign and issue the certificate for your pets in Germany.


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