Moving to Germany with your pets

Bas

Updated on Nov 06 • 5 minute read

Are you going to leave your pet behind when moving to Germany? Of course not. Is the process different for my cay? Are there any specific rules I need to pay attention to? Let’s dive into the whats and the hows of bringing your pets with you to Germany from abroad.

Bringing your pets from abroad

Bringing your pet from abroad can be a stressful process, both for the owner and the pet! So first of all, make sure you prepare your pet’s trip well in advance and with as much care (or, if you ask me, even more) than your own. In this guide, we’ll focus on some of the more common pets that people bring along, meaning small to medium-sized pets such as cats, dogs or ferrets. If you’re looking to bring something more exotic, like reptiles or arachnids, be sure to reach out to your airline and your local German embassy or consulate.

Preparing for your pet’s journey

There are a number of things you need to prepare in order for your pet to have a safe trip abroad. As I mentioned before, make sure you do this on time, or you run the risk of travelling without your pet or having it being transported on a different flight.

Meeting German and EU regulations

To bring your pet to Germany, you need to meet the proper EU regulations. To make things easy for you, I’ll list these requirements in the order that you need to get it done.

  • Your pet will need to be microchipped,
  • Your pet will need a valid rabies vaccination. For dogs, a rabies vaccine is valid for up to 3 years. To be safe, simply check in with your vet! If a microchip has been placed recently, your pet will need to be re-vaccinated.
  • If everything is in order, you can have your vet fill in the health form known as a ‘pet passport’ (formally known as form 98, filled in in English and German).

Lastly, a big tip: If you’re travelling to Germany via the UK, you’ll be fine, but if you’re entering the UK before travelling on to Germany, you will have to deal with the UK’s hefty pet import regulations. So, save your trip to the UK for later.

Airline regulations and rules

If you’re coming from afar, then it’s likely that your pet will have to travel by aeroplane. This means you’re going to run into a variety of different rules, regulations and price points to get your pet to join you. Make sure you make a reservation for your pet as well as for yourself, as you can’t just show up with your cat in a carrier out of nowhere. Do this as early as possible, as airlines usually limit the total amount of pets that can be on a flight. Keep in mind that bringing pets usually means you need to check in sooner than you would otherwise, so make sure to be on time!

Prohibited breeds

Unfortunately, Airlines have a list of breeds that they will not transport. This can be based on, for example, a dog breed’s reputation for being dangerous and aggressive, known as SoKa breeds (Sogenannter Kampfhund or fighting dogs), which includes pit bull terriers and other bull terriers. Other reasons can be even more tragic because it took the deaths of various pets over the years for airlines to restrict the transportations of vulnerable animals or breeds. In the case of pugs and even some cats, for example, it’s because their overbreeding has led to them having an increased risk of respiratory issues during a flight.

Small animals like cats, ferrets and small dogs

Depending on your airline, some smaller pets under a weight threshold to travel with you in the passenger compartment, as long as you have a suitable carrier. You can’t keep them in your lap, unfortunately, but they will be close to you, under the seat in front of you. The cost of transporting your pet is usually around €250. up to €400, excluding the approved carrier you need to purchase. Check with the airline to check for size restrictions, but the general rule of thumb is that your pet must be able to stand and turn around while in their carrier. As soon as you know which airline you’ll be flying with, go to their website or contact their customer service to find out exactly what the restrictions and costs are going to be. In fact, if you’re able to, it might be a good idea to plan your flight based on your research of which airline will have the best available options for you little friend.

Transporting larger pets to Germany

If your pet can’t be transported in the cabin, then it needs to be transported as live cargo. Yes, I know your German shepherd still thinks he fits in your lap, but unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. Shipping pets as live cargo is usually more expensive, costing anywhere from €300-600 euros. In this case, it’s also up to you to purchase a special airline approved pet transport container compliant with current IATA (International Air Transport Association) regulations for your pet to be transported in. For example, the carrier must be secured with screws, instead of a plastic locking mechanism and food and water containers must be firmly locked in place and fillable from the outside. If you go to an expert pet store in your country, they can probably also help you select a suitable container for your best friend.

Preparing your pet for the journey

First of all, don’t worry, your best friend is going to be fine. In fact, your pet will probably be calmer during the flight than some people are! That said, there are a number of things you need to do to prepare your pet for their trip.

  • Never sedate your pet as I said, they’ll be fine. Sedation isn’t necessary and might even be harmful to your friend. Airlines will also often refuse to transport sedated pets.
  • Make sure your pet is accustomed to its travel container. You can familiarise them with it by putting their food, favourite toys or favourite blanket in it.
  • Make your pet feel comfortable. It’s also allowed for you to add a comfort blanket, a familiar piece of clothing with your scent on it or your pet’s favourite toy in the container to help them stay calm during the trip. Make sure the toy can’t harm your pet or fall out of the container, though.
  • Have a leash or harness in your hand baggage. Airlines might require you to have a leash or harness ready in your hand baggage, so make sure your pet is or becomes accustomed to wearing one.
  • Have any medication for your pet in your hand baggage. If you pet needs medication during the trip, make sure you bring it in your hand baggage and let the staff know beforehand, so they can make any necessary agreements.
  • Remove any collars and leads and muzzles before checking them in to reduce the risk of accidental strangulation during the flight.

And that’s about it, you’re ready for your trip! The rule of thumb is simply to do a proper check of all the requirements by the airline and to start preparing well on time. Have a safe trip!

Pet quarantine

Will my pet be subject to quarantine when we arrive in Germany? In some countries, it might be days or weeks before you’re reunited with your furry best friend, but not in Germany! If you meet the aforementioned requirements of a chip, vaccination and the right pet passport, you can pick up your pet and bring it with you to your new home pretty much immediately!

Owning a dog in Germany

If you’re bringing your dog to Germany, make sure you know about the rules for dogs in the German state you‘re moving to! Dogs must always be registered and in some cases, you’ll have to pay for a dog tax. Additionally, getting dog liability insurance is also a good idea, in case your dog ever decides that your new German friends’ couch is a tasty snack.

Support dogs in Germany

If you have an emotional support or guide dog, it’s likely that the airline will allow them into the passenger compartment without the need for a carrier. Just let the airport know in advance so they can make any necessary arrangements. In Germany itself, guide dogs are well established and respected! You will have no issues bringing them on public transport or into places that would otherwise prohibit a dog from entry.

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