I recently was lucky enough of traveling with my beloved Yorkie Bonbon to visit some friends in Spain. Initially, I was very worried and doubtful. I wasn’t sure if I should leave Bonbon home while I traveled or if I should take him with me. How complex could the procedure be?
I knew there were some permits and paperwork needed. Also, taking your dog to Europe costs money. Not only for the airline dog fees, but also because a microchip, rabies vaccination, and endorsed veterinarian certificate are required. After much thought and research, I decided to start the process.
After all I couldn’t find it in my heart to leave my beloved Bonbon behind. He also had the right to visit Spain!
(I will be posting an article about a trip to Spain and what I noticed about life in Europe with dogs compared with life with dogs in the US)
Spain is part of the European Union so basically, Spain had the same requirements as all the other countries in the European Union. The process of traveling with your dog to Europe is called “non-commercial movement” and it could seem troublesome and complex at first, but if you follow the instructions and get some help from your veterinarian to do the paperwork, it shouldn’t be complicated.
Here is a great site that helped me a lot. You select the country where you are traveling to and it guides you through the process.
– Quantity Limit: You, as the owner of the dog, can travel with up to five (5) dogs.
– Travel Time Limit: The movement (travel) of the dog(s) has to take place up to five days before or five days after you (owner) travel. In other words, you can send your loved one before or after you travel. Also, they can travel the same day you travel.
A dog microchip is a very small transponder, similar to a grain of rice in size, that is implanted around the shoulder area of your dog. This microchip emits a signal with a unique number that identifies your dog. That number is recorded on a database with all the identification details of your dog like name, date of birth, owner’s details, etc. To be allowed into Europe, your dog must have a readable transponder (chip). You can ask your veterinary about it.
Vaccines and Tests
You need to talk with your veterinary doctor to comply with this requirement. The secret for this process is to decide the way in advance the day you want your dog to travel (with or without you) and schedule with your veterinary the vaccination and test dates.
- Your dog needs to be at least 12 weeks old when he gets the shot vaccine. If your dog is less than 12 weeks old he or she may be able to travel without getting the rabies vaccine. You as the owner need to fill up and sign a form stating that from birth until the time of travel, the under 12 weeks old dog has had no contact with wild animals of species susceptible to rabies.
- You can download the form here
Your dog can’t be vaccinated for rabies before the microchip was implanted in him. In case he already had a microchip implanted… it needs to be read by the veterinarian before he applies the rabies vaccine again.
- The vaccine has to be valid (active) for at least 21 days before your dog travels.
Rabies Antibody test
It is important to be aware that there a strict time limits for this test. (This test is not needed if your dog is traveling to Europe from the United States or Canada.)
- Your veterinary doctor has to perform a rabies antibody test at least 30 days after it had received the rabies vaccine and not less than 3 months before the day that your dog will travel.
- The test must measure a level of neutralizing antibody to rabies virus in serum equal to or greater than 0,5 IU/ml (your vet should know about this).
Treatment for parasite Echinococcus multilocularis (tapeworms)
(This only applies if you are traveling with your dog to: Malta, Finland, Norway, Ireland, or the United Kingdom.)
- The treatment must be done by a veterinarian not more than 120 hours and not less than 24 hours before the time of the scheduled entry of your dog.
Health Certificate and Declaration
Health Certificate Issued by Veterinarian
Your dog must carry a health certificate filled and signed by a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) accredited veterinarian. Once it is filled and signed, it has to be validated or endorsed by your local USDA APHIS Veterinary Services Endorsement Office. Remember to contact them in advance since each endorsement office has policies and fees.
Very Important: This health certificate must be issued by your veterinary and validated by local authority within 10 days of the day of travel of your dog. Once you are inside Europe you can use this certificate to travel within European countries for up to 4 months our until the expiration of the rabies vaccine. After that the certificate will not be valid.
I live in Seattle, WA, and decided to schedule an appointment. I took all the paperwork required and paid $38.00 for Bonbon’s certificate. They were super helpful and friendly!
The health certificate must show:
- The complete number of the microchip
- The details of the rabies vaccination
- The details of the rabies antibody (not needed if traveling from Canada or the US)
- The details for treatment for the parasite Echinococcus multilocularis (only needed if traveling to Malta, Finland, Norway, Ireland or United Kingdom)
You can download the certificate here
Owner Declaration Filled and signed by owner
You must declare that your dog is traveling in a non-commercial manner. That means that you don’t have the intention of taking your dog to sell him in Europe, but rather he is your companion.
You can download the form here
You must enter Europe only by designated points of entry
When flying from the US or Canada your dog can only get into Europe through the entry ports shown below:
Check with the airline
Remember to check with the airline for the specific requirements for travel with your dog inside the cabin or in the cargo area.
When I travel and go to airports I get nervous and anxious. Just imagine how your loved one feels during travel time….. they get anxious too, specially smaller breeds like Yorkies. For this reason many veterinarians suggest the use of medication like dog sedatives to reduce travel anxiety. I personally prefer the natural way so I would suggest the use of supplements or Homeopathic preparations.
If they are traveling in the cargo section of the airplane, make sure they are comfortable and warm. Include a blanket or pillow they know and has your smell on it. You can also include their favorite bone, pillow or dog toy.
Here are some useful links of dog travel policies of some of the airlines that travel to Europe:
- American Airlines
- Alaska Airlines
- Delta Airlines
- United Airlines
- Air Canada
- Air France
- British Airways
- Virgin Atlantic
The process and paperwork needed to travel with your dog to Europe may seem complex at first. To be honest, initially, I was worried and overwhelmed, but after reading the forms and getting help from Bonbon’s veterinary everything worked fine.
The secret is preparing in advance. There are strict time limits and validation periods so as soon as you have your airplane ticket, you can start planing together with your veterinary all the steps to follow.
It is important to check with your local USDA APHIS Veterinary Services Endorsement Office. They will be validating the signature of your veterinary and you need to consider that they may need several days of processing time.
If you have any questions or comments about your experience while traveling with your dog you can share them below.