Guide To Moving To Germany With a Dog

Being allowed to move to another country with your dog is every pet owner’s dream. Just like every other country, when planning your move to Germany with your dog, there are rules and steps to comply with.

Moving your dog to Germany involves a series of steps and compliance with requirements. Your dog will need identification documents alongside a valid vaccination and a health certificate that you’ll present to German customs before being allowed to enter the country.

Moving your dog to Germany can be challenging, and that’s where this guide comes in. It covers everything you need to know about moving your dog to Germany, including the rules and requirements. Read on to find out the costs involved and a step-by-step process to do it right. Also read our guide about owning a dog in Germany.

Can you move to Germany with a dog?

Germany is a pet-friendly country with over 1,7 million dogs. If you’re moving to Germany, you may be curious to know if you can move with your dog.

You can move to Germany with your dog with proper documentation. Generally, all you need are a rabies vaccination, a microchip, and an Animal Health Certificate. An Animal Health Certificate is mandatory if you’re moving your dog to Germany from a non-EU country. 

Regardless of your country of origin, it’ll take you about six months to get all the required documents ready. With proper planning and finances, you can move your dog to Germany in months.

The process of moving your dog to Germany 

Moving your dog to Germany can be challenging when you don’t have prior knowledge. With the step-by-step process below, you’re good to go.

  • Plan on the mode of transport that your dog will use to get to Germany. This depends on the place you’re moving from. If you’re relocating from within the EU, you can drive. When moving from a non-EU country, an airplane is convenient and fast. 
  • Make an airline reservation and review the rules it has concerning dog flights. Note that most airlines require advance reservations for pets.
  • Get a dog carrier from a pet store. Before the departure, ensure that the crate meets the following requirements.
    • It should be sturdy and well-ventilated.
    • It should be made of metal, plywood, solid wood, rigid plastic, or fiberglass.
    • Ensure it’s big enough to leave room for your dog to stand, lie down, or sit.
    • It should leave about 3 inches of space at the top when the dog stands.
    • Food and water bowls should be refillable without opening the crate.
    • It should have an absorbent material.
    • Ensure it has a visible “live animal” sticker written in bold.
    • It should be free from hard objects or toys that can cause injuries to your dog.
    • All holes should be secured using a bolt and a metal nut.
  • Check whether your dog falls in the banned breed category*. If your dog isn’t banned from entering Germany, proceed to the next steps. 
  • Get a microchip or a tattoo identification number. This should be done at least 3 weeks before departure.
  • Vaccinate your dog against rabies between 1 and 12 months before the date of departure. The vaccination must be completed at least 21 or more days before the departure.

*Certain dog breeds are banned in Germany and aren’t allowed for import, including pitbull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier, Staffordshire bull terrier, and a bull terrier and their crossbreed.

There’s a 21-day waiting period from the date of the vaccination before the dog can enter Germany. However, if your dog’s most recent vaccination was a booster shot, there’s no need for the 21-day waiting period.

If your dog is under 3 months, there’ll be no need for a rabies vaccination. However, an inspection is mandatory. 

Other steps to take:

  1. Apply for an EU pet passport or a certificate from an authorized veterinarian if you are moving from a non-EU state.
  2. Do a blood test at least 90 days before the move.
  3. Get a health certificate from your veterinarian 2 to 10 days from your departure date. 
  4. If traveling via a plane, the airline will check the dog’s health within 10 days of departure to ensure it’s fit.
  5. On the date of departure, check whether you have all the required documents.

Ensure that you adhere to the step-by-step process above. Your dog should receive a rabies vaccination after the microchip insertion. If you do the rabies vaccination before the microchip insertion, your dog will require another rabies vaccine shot.

Read this guide on owning a dog in Germany.

Requirements for moving your dog to Germany

Moving your dog to Germany needs proper planning since the preparation can take four to six months. The requirements will depend on whether you’re moving your dog from an EU or a non-EU country. 

If you’re moving from within the EU, adhering to the following requirements is mandatory:

  1. The dog should be 15 weeks old and above.
  2. Your dog should have a valid rabies vaccination. The date of the vaccination should be between 1 and 12 months before entry to Germany. 

Although other vaccinations aren’t mandatory, the following vaccines are recommended if your dog will be boarded before or after the move.

  • Distemper
  • Bordetella
  • Parainfluenza
  • Hepatitis 
  • Leptospirosis
  • Parvovirus 

Your dog should have either a 15-digit microchip or a tattoo ID for identification purposes. You can use a microchip if your dog was re-marked from 3rd July 2011 onwards. If your dog was marked before that date, you’re required to use a tattoo. 

For a move within the EU, the microchip should be compliant with ISO 11784 and be readable using a reader that corresponds to the standards of ISO 11785. Suppose your dog’s microchip isn’t compliant with the ISO 11784 standard:

1. Carry a suitable microchip reader.

2. Inquire from the EU port of entry if they have a reader that can read your dog’s microchip.

3. Request your vet to use a suitable microchip.

4. An identification document called the EU pet passport is mandatory.

The pet passport aims to prove that the dog is vaccinated against rabies and gives details of its tapeworm and tick treatment. You can get an EU pet passport from an authorized veterinary practitioner. The document details the following:

  • Name and address of the pet owner.
  • The microchip number or tattoo identification number.
  • Date of rabies vaccination, type of vaccine, and the period that the vaccination is valid.
  • Name, address, and signature of the vet.

5. A written declaration confirming that you aren’t moving the dog for commercial purposes.

6. If you’re moving your dog from a non-EU country, you’ll need to fulfill the requirements listed above and others as listed below:

  • You can only bring a maximum of 5 dogs.
  • A blood test that proves the efficiency of your dog’s rabies vaccination. The test date should be at least 30 days from immunization and 90 days before entry into Germany. 
  • A bilingual certificate of health from a veterinarian (English or German). After the vet signs the certificate, it’ll remain valid for 10 days. Therefore, schedule your appointment to fit your travel plans.

Note that you won’t need a blood test for your dog if you’re moving to Germany from the following non-EU countries:

  • Argentina
  • USA
  • UAE
  • Hong Kong
  • Croatia
  • Bahrain
  • Canada
  • Australia
  • Bosnia
  • Herzegovina
  • Malaysia
  • Japan
  • Russia
  • Mauritius
  • Singapore
  • Japan
  • Switzerland
  • Taiwan 

What happens if you don’t adhere to the requirements of moving a dog to Germany?

Since the preparation of moving a dog to another country takes time, you may fail to get all requirements ready because of improper planning. When moving your dog to Germany, you may be wondering what will happen in case you don’t fulfill all the requirements.

If you bring your dog to Germany without adhering to the requirements, you risk it being confiscated at the airport. Your dog will be put in quarantine at a shelter for a duration of one week to six months, depending on the missing requirement.

To avoid such inconveniences, have all the required documents checked before you board the plane. Having your dog in quarantine traumatizes it, and you’ll incur finances. For instance, in Dusseldorf, dog shelters charge €20 per day to dog owners for failing to comply with customs requirements.

Moving from the US to Germany with a dog: what you need to know

When moving your dog from the US to Germany, plan ahead to ensure you have all the required documents. Follow the steps below when planning for the move:

1. Prepare a mode of transport

When moving your dog from the US to Germany, the most common mode of transport is a commercial airline. It will cost between $200 and $600 to ship kenneled dogs in the luggage hold and slightly higher for larger dogs.

Review airline dog restrictions. Different airlines have varying rules and restrictions that apply to dog transportation. It’s necessary to review them before your move.

Although the rules vary with an airline, the common ones include the following:

For flights of less than 10 hours, most airlines like American Airlines allow you to use a cabin to transport your dog. The duration of your flight will depend on the state of the US you’re moving from.
Some airlines restrict cabin usage in first class, business class, premium economy, and emergency sections. This means to carry your dog in a cabin; you’ll need to buy an economy ticket.
Most airlines allow one dog per person or two in the cabin.
Some airlines don’t allow dog flights at forecasted temperatures of above 29.4 degrees Celsius and below 7.2 degrees Celsius.

2. Get a microchip 30+ days before the departure date

3. Give your dog a rabies vaccination

Although the US is a rabies-free country, rabies vaccination is mandatory. The vaccination should be done at least 21 days before the departure date. If your dog has a valid rabies vaccine, you can use it.

4. Get a health certificate from a USDA-certified veterinarian

The certificate needs to be filled out within 10 days of departure.

5. Get a U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) endorsement

Get a U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) endorsement that should be completed within 2 to 10 days of departure. Once your dog has been issued a health certificate, the USDA office must endorse it. It costs $38, and this doesn’t include the cost you’ll incur to mail in the paperwork.

If your dog’s health certificate is filled by a military veterinarian, you won’t need a USDA endorsement. 

Lastly, once your dog gets to Germany, you’ll need to pay €50 for processing at the customs.

Transporting your dog to Germany: how and how much

Before your dog enters Germany from outside the EU, the customs office requires you to present proof of its rabies vaccination. The evidence should be in paper form and written in English and German.

Germany dictates that dogs should have a unique identification number. For this reason, your dog will need either a microchip or a tattoo containing an identification number. This number should match the one indicated in the health certificate.

Before your move, ensure that you have the following:

  1. Proof of rabies vaccination
  2. An identification number through a microchip or a tattoo
  3. A health certificate
  4. An EU pet passport if you’re moving from a non-EU country

Dog shipping costs

The cost of shipping a dog to Germany depends on its size and the country you’re shipping from. The charges include the following:

Freight fees

Airlines charge highly for dog freight because they require extra care. Most airlines charge more for live pets than passenger tickets. For cargo, airlines charge based on the dog’s weight and the travel crate. 

Freight costs are between $400 and $2,000 depending on the airline, location you’re shipping the dog from, size, and weight. It’s cheaper to ship smaller dog breeds like chihuahuas than bigger ones like Great Danes.

Vet services

These services include vaccinations, blood tests, and overall health examinations. Although the costs vary with vets, they range from $75 to €250. 

Travel crates

Whether your dog will be traveling in a cargo-hold or in-cabin, you’ll need to buy a kennel according to your airline’s requirements. Depending on the dog’s size, they cost from $50 to $400. A custom-made crate will cost you about $1,000.

Also read the full guide on how much does it actually cost to have a dog in Germany.

Customs clearance

Once your dog gets to Germany, you’ll be required to pay a customs clearance fee. Some airlines will provide you with this information when booking your dog’s flight. Customs clearance costs €55 per dog in Germany.

Get pet insurance on arrival

Having a dog in Germany means additional responsibilities. For all dog owners, it’s necessary to have pet liability insurance which will cover you and other parties involved if your dog causes any damage to people or subjects. See the best providers in the dedicated article.

Besides liability insurance, health coverage is also vital for your pet. In the end, you don’t want to pay out of pocket when visiting a veterinarian in Germany.

See if Austria is a better fit for you and your dog here.

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