Have you thought of moving to Spain or Portugal with your pet? Are you still maybe not sure of how to properly prepare the move for your beloved family member? What rules and regulations apply when moving a pet? We look a bit closer on the matter in this week’s blog post.
Requirements for Bringing Your Pet to Another Country
The regulations for bringing your pet when you move to another country can be slightly different from country to country. Although, if your cat, dog or ferret is travelling within Europe, here is the check-list over the requirements.
The animal needs to:
- Be marked with a unique ID number.
- Be vaccinated against rabies.
- Have a EU-passport for pets.
You can bring up to 5 pets per person.
Marked with an ID
To be able to bring a cat, dog or ferret to another EU-country (or to a country with EU-regulations) you need to mark your pet with an ID, which normally is an ISO-microchip that the veterinary inserts to the animal’s neck area. If the animal isn’t marked with an ID, you might not be able to pass the security control at the border.
Animals that have been marked with a readable ID tattoo before July 3rd 2011 are good to go and don’t need an additional microchip.
As you might already know, your pet needs to be vaccinated against rabies, which is a dangerous virus that spreads amongst dogs and other animals like cats, foxes, bats and monkeys. Rabies is mostly common in Africa, Asia and North-, Central- and South America. The risk of infection is greater in countries with poor control of rabies vaccination of pets, and in countries with free-roaming dogs.
To make sure your pet is free from rabies it first needs the basic vaccination (one or two shots) which will set the ground for the rabies vaccine. The animal needs to be at least 12 weeks old and be marked with an ID number in order to take the shot against rabies. After your pet has been vaccinated you must wait 21 days after the last shot has been given before you let the animal travel.
Once you get to the destination country, you should look up what the rules for vaccination in that country are as it can differ depending on where you are. When the animal has been vaccinated, the veterinarian will register the information in the animal’s passport.
Be prepared that the rules for how long to wait between vaccinations can vary even from region to region and can therefore have different expiry dates depending on where you are. Always make sure to plan at least 4-6 weeks ahead when taking the animal across the borders. Make sure you get an appointment at the veterinary clinic on time and that you have some extra money for that.
If an animal is revaccinated after the expiry date of the previous vaccination period, the revaccination is counted as a new basic vaccination. In this case, a new waiting period of 21 days becomes the requirement before the animal can travel.
Animals Travelling Alone – Special Requirements
If you and your pet are going to the same place but for some reason you are not travelling together, you should book your tickets within a maximum of 5 days apart from each other. In this case, the animal needs to have three documentations with them:
- EU-passport that shows the ID and the date of the last rabies vaccination.
- A warrant where you state that your pet (name and ID number) may be transported by the agent or shipping company that you hire and that it is not to be sold. Do not forget to put your signature.
- A copy of your own ticket or booking and preferably a copy of your passport.
- The address of the final destination.
How to Travel and What to Keep in Mind
Either way of transportation, count on having to pay some extra fees for the ride of the animal. Some travel companies might not even let the pet come with, so do your research before booking a trip with your fellow pet.
Make sure to plan and book some time ahead since they usually keep a maximum number of pets allowed onboard. Also assure that you have the required documentation for both you and your pet on hand, including the receipt of the payment for the tickets and what they include.
Travelling by Airplane
If you travel by airplane, only dogs and cats are allowed in the cabin (although some airlines don’t allow animals in the cabin at all). Animals travelling in the cabin are counted as hand luggage. The maximum size for the cage or bag is normally 40 x 25 x 23 cm. The maximum weight for the animal and cage together is 8 kg. Other animals must be placed in the cargo area. The cargo area where the animal will be kept is air conditioned.
Keep in mind though, that the cargo staff aren’t obligated to treat the animal cages with more care than the other boxes and things that are moved into the cargo area. It’s really up to the person working at the time if they want to treat the animal cage with extra care or not.
Generally, small pets are allowed to travel within Europe for a little or no cost if they are kept in a carrier. Larger pets need to be muzzled and kept on a leash. Your country of departure might have different rules for when it comes to bringing your pet on the train, so you might want to check beforehand. Although, the rules are the most relaxed among all types of transportation (not including your own car, which might be the preferable way for the animal to travel).
If you for example are moving to one of the islands around Spain or you travel across the sea from for example Sweden to Germany or the UK to France, taking the ferry might be a good alternative. Again, the rules might vary depending on the company, although, normally there is a section with cages for the animals onboard. Depending on the size and weight of the animal, you pick the cage for it accordingly.
You can also keep your pet in a carrier if you prefer that. Here is an example of pricing at the Balearia ferry that goes between the Spanish mainland and the Spanish islands in the Mediterranean Sea.
Remember to always keep your dog leashed and muzzled when embarking and disembarking the ferry, unless you keep it in a cage or carrier. Also keep in mind that passengers travelling with pets are the last to disembark.
Commonly, pets are not allowed on long distance busses, although even here the rules may vary. All the bigger companies like BlaBlaBus (OUIBUS), Megabus, Eurolines and FlixBus do not allow animals.
Getting a Pet Once You are in Spain or Portugal
Perhaps you have already moved to Spain or Portugal and feel like it’s time to get a pet. Adopting a pet from one of the shelters can be a good idea since you don’t have to pay for the animal. And best of all – and you are saving a life!
Although, sometimes you might be required to pay for certain things like for example the costs for microchipping, vaccine shots and castration (which is oftentimes mandatory before the animal can be adopted).
If you decide to adopt a dog or a cat there are a lot of shelters to choose from. Here is a list of shelters in some popular cities and areas followed by popular websites covering different areas:
Mandatory Vaccines in Spain and Portugal
Here follow the rules for mandatory vaccines for puppies and dogs:
- Puppy – 6 weeks old: parvovirus vaccine, distemper and two multipurpose.
- 8 weeks old: polyvalent vaccine.
- 3 months old: multipurpose vaccine booster.
- 4 months old: rabies vaccine. With this appointment for vaccination it is also common to also implement an ID microchip.
- One year old dog: multipurpose vaccines and rabies.
- Every year, once per year: multipurpose vaccine and rabies. Although some Autonomous Communities allow it every two years, the normal is to give the shot once per year.