Bringing pets into Germany

Importing pets into Germany

(from the U.S.)

Bringing pets into Germany

Pet travel from the U.S. to Germany

When I decided to move abroad I realized there would be a lot of things I needed to work out, but none more important than what I needed to do for my pets. I knew they were coming with me without question, so I needed to learn what the steps were to bring them overseas with me. 

The steps vary based on the country you are moving to, so be prepared to do some research on your own as I can’t cover every rule for every country regarding importing pets. 


When I first moved abroad I was going to a Middle Eastern country with extremely strict animal import rules, plus, because I was moving in the summertime my dogs couldn’t come until a few months after I left because airlines won’t fly with pets in cargo during the hot summer months. I determined that the safest thing for me to do in regards to bringing my pets with me was to hire a pet relocation company that knew all the rules and did a “door-to-door” relocation service. These companies are truly helpful and do all the work but the cost is very high- it cost me close to $10,000 to import my dogs to the Middle East, and a coworker of mine used a company to relocate their three cats and the cost for their cats was close to $6,000. 

Thankfully because this blog is about relocating to Berlin the costs and amount of work involved are nowhere near as intense as what I faced five years ago. 


To import your pets into Germany, these are the steps you need to take (remember that these steps only cover dogs, cats and ferrets); you need to start this process at least 21 days before you travel with the pets. 

A maximum of 5 pets (dogs, cats or ferrets) may be carried per person when travelling. The pets must not be destined for a change of ownership. 

First, you should go to your regular vet and learn whether they know the paperwork and rules for importing pets to Europe. Some vets are familiar with this and some aren’t, so if your vet isn’t familiar they should be able to refer you to one in your area that is able to assist. 

If you are in possession of an EU Pet Passport issued by a veterinarian in the EU, you can find more details on the required paperwork here. That passport cannot be issued in the U.S.

If you don't have the EU Pet Passport, the required paperwork for entry of your pets into Europe is the health certificate and it needs to be filled out by the vet and stamped by the local USDA office. That certificate is basically valid for travel within the EU for up to 4 months from the date it is issued by the USDA Accredited Veterinarian (as long as the rabies vaccine does not expire).

The two things your pets need to enter Europe is a rabies vaccination and an EU-compatible microchip; the microchip must be an ISO 15-digit chip. This is crucial: your pet must have a rabies vaccination AFTER the chip is placed and AT LEAST 21 days before your flight departs (this has to happen even if your pet already has a valid rabies vaccination). 

Ban on entry and transit with puppies and kitten under 15 weeks of age.

Now, at this point, my personal knowledge of bringing pets from America to Germany ends because I used the pet relocation service, but I did research and learned that the health certificate needs to be filled out only 10 days before your departure. Then the certificate needs to be either mailed or taken by hand to the local USDA office; within ten days of the USDA certification you have to enter a European country, so this is a very tight timeframe that you have to work within.  


Another document that you might be asked to provide at the German border is a written declaration stating that you aren't bringing your pets to Germany for a commercial purpose; so the pets must not be destined for a change of ownership. 

Along with these documents, you need to also contact the airlines and learn what the requirements will be and the costs included; depending on the size of the pets they might be able to travel in the cabin or, you will need to get airline approved pet carriers for them to travel in the special cargo section. The airlines all have different allowances and restrictions regarding pet travel, so you need to contact them and learn the specifics of the airline that you choose to for your travel.  

Once you’ve learned the airline rules and follow the steps that they require, and you have all of the documentation in hand, you and your pet are ready to travel.

For more details about relocating your dog from the U.S. to Germany, visit this website.


I will include more information regarding the day of travel in the next blog post.

One last thing, it is highly recommended to get dog liability insurance once in Germany. The so-called Hundehaftpflicht will cover all damages caused by your dog to someone else's property, including injuries. It will also cover you if you get injured by other people's dogs, but the owner of that dog doesn't have any dog liability insurance. Also, you are required to provide proof of dog liability insurance when renting an apartment in Germany. 

By German law, it is mandatory to have a dog liability insurance in Berlin, Hamburg, Niedersachsen, Sachsen-Anhalt and Schleswig-Holstein. In other states, it will depend on the dog breed.

Also, bear in mind that veterinary costs (Tierarzt Kosten) in Germany could be quite expensive. The price depends on the type of treatment and also on the specie of the animal. For example, a 
cat or dog surgery would easily cost thousands of euros. So be prepared and take out pet health insurance to avoid unexpected surprises! I can recommend this pet health insurance that I also signed up for. Your pet deserves it! :-)

Tres C is an American who’s lived and worked all over the world and who has traveled extensively. She moved to Berlin in July 2017 with her dogs; she’s excited to share her hard-earned knowledge about relocating to Berlin through her writing on this blog.



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