Moving to Germany with a Dog or Cat

When immigrating to Germany, individuals are permitted to bring a maximum of five pets with them. However, it is important to note that there are specific requirements and regulations in place for the non-commercial immigration of cats and dogs, which may vary depending on the breed of the pet and the country of departure. These requirements primarily focus on ensuring the health and well-being of the animals.

Essential requirements to move with your dog or cat to Germany

The regulations are in line with the broader animal health requirements set by the European Union for the movement of pets within EU countries.

Moving to Germany with a dog
All dogs and cats entering Germany must have an identification number

One of the key requirements for bringing a cat or dog into Germany from a non-EU country is that the animal must have been vaccinated against rabies. The vaccination should have been administered at least 30 days prior to entry, but no more than 12 months before. Proof of this vaccination must be provided at the border. It is advisable to obtain a form, available in both German and English, from a veterinarian to serve as documentation.

Additionally, all dogs and cats entering Germany must have an identification number, which can be in the form of a visible tattoo or a microchip. This identification number should correspond to the information provided in the examination certificate. It is important to note that microchips should be implanted in pets before they receive their rabies shots. However, exceptions exist for pets that were tattooed before July 3, 2011.

What dogs are not allowed to bring to Germany

It is worth mentioning that certain breeds and crossbreeds of dogs may present specific challenges when immigrating to Germany. Regulations pertaining to these breeds can vary from state to state within Germany.

Note: Please be aware that importing or holding certain ‘dangerous’ dog (category 1) breeds in Germany is prohibited or requires a special permit. On their website the german customs office details these regulations and which breeds are affected. Among these are: 

  • Pit Bull Terrier
  • American Staffordshire Terrier
  • Staffordshire Bull Terrier
  • Bull Terrier

Some states, such as Bavaria, Brandenburg, and North Rhine-Westphalia, also have regulations for a category known as “Kampfhund,” (category 2) which includes the Doberman, Komondor, Kuvasz, Maremma, Pyrenean Mountain Dog, Rhodesian Ridgeback and Rottweiler. While these breeds are not outright banned from import, they are subject to additional requirements, such as a character test, and may face restrictions or licensing fees.

Moving to Germany with a dog
Your pet must be at least 15 weeks old to enter Germany

Some Airlines also restrict air travel for certain breeds that “have unique respiratory challenges due to the anatomy of their noses and throats, and are more prone to risk when under stress or exposed to other environmental changes.” This particularly affects snub-nosed breeds such as Bulldogs, Pugs and British Shorthair or Persian cats.

Importing service dogs, including those categorized as “dangerous dogs,” is generally allowed in Germany. Service dogs encompass various roles, such as security or watch dogs, dogs for disabled individuals, guide dogs for the visually impaired, and rescue and civil protection service dogs. However, specific documentation, including pedigree certificates, vaccination certificates, and character test certificates, may be required to verify the status of the service dog. It is recommended to contact the relevant authorities, such as the local customs office or the central customs information service, for precise information and guidance regarding the clearance procedures for service dogs.

Moving to Germany with pets: Entry Requirements

Generally, pets must fulfill these requirements to be able to enter Germany: 

Age: The minimum age your pet needs to have to enter Germany is 15 weeks.

Microchip: your pet must have a microchip that conforms to ISO standard 11784 (HDX or FDX-B transmission) and can be read with a reader corresponding to ISO standard 11785. (For Pets marked before July 201: a clearly readable tattoo is also accepted).

Rabies Vaccination: Your pet must have a valid rabies shot before entering Germany. The rabies vaccination must be injected after the microchip. In the case of primary vaccination, you must wait 21 days after the shot before entering Germany.

EU: Pet-Passport If you are traveling from an EU country, you will need to present your EU Pet Passport. You can get a European Pet Passport from any authorized vet, and it is valid as long as the rabies vaccination is active.

Moving to Germany with a dog or cat
For some countries, the EU requires an additional blood test

Non-EU: Animal Health Certificate: The Animal Health Certificate (AHC) is a legal requirement to take your pet to Germany from outside the EU. This document is issued by an official veterinarian and proves that your pet is free from rabies and any other foreign diseases.

Non-EU: A blood test 
For some countries, the EU requires an additional blood test to be conducted to ensure the good health of your pet. On this website of the European Union, you can find out if your pet has to get the test done before traveling.

If you are unsure or require ore specific information for your country of departure, you can either check the website of the federal ministry for food and agriculture or contact the local German embassy or consulate.

What happens if your pet does not fullfill the requirements? 

If you fail to fulfill the requirements for bringing your pet to Germany, there are consequences. German customs officials can confiscate your pet, and it will be placed in quarantine at a local animal shelter. The costs for the quarantine will be your responsibility. The length of the quarantine can vary depending on the specific requirements that were not met, and it can last up to six months. It is essential to ensure that you comply with all the necessary regulations and requirements to avoid any issues when bringing your pet to Germany.

Dog registration and Taxes

Dog registration is a mandatory requirement in Germany, and it typically involves obtaining a license for your dog, which requires an annual fee. The registration process can usually be completed at the local Rathaus or communal office in most cities.

However, in some areas, you may have the option to waive the first annual fee by participating in a course to obtain a dog license, known as “Hundeführerschein.” This course includes an exam that tests your knowledge of the rights and responsibilities associated with owning a pet.

How to travel to Germany with a pet
For flights under 10 hours, many airlines allow small cats or dogs to travel in the cabin

How to travel to Germany with my pet?

Transporting your pet to Germany requires careful planning and consideration. The method of transportation will depend on your location and whether you’re traveling within Europe or from a different continent. While driving is an option within Europe, many expats choose public transport or air travel.

Pets are generally allowed on German public transport, often for free or at a reduced fare with a train ticket. Most airlines also accommodate pets, but it’s important to inform the airline during the flight booking process to ensure they can accompany you.

Non-commercial import of pets to Germany is limited to a maximum of five dogs, cats, or ferrets.

When flying, airlines typically require a special travel container for your pet with proper ventilation and space for movement. It’s crucial to label the kennel clearly to avoid misplacement and ensure your pet has enough food and water for the journey.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has established guidelines for approved containers for pets traveling in the cabin or as cargo. Familiarize yourself with these requirements before your trip.

For flights under 10 hours, many airlines allow small cats or dogs to travel in the cabin. Usually, only one pet per passenger is permitted, and a maximum of two pets per cabin. Ensure the pet carrier fits under the seat, has a waterproof bottom, and adequate ventilation. Sherpa, Bergan, and SturdiBag carriers are compliant with airline regulations when appropriately sized.