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How to Prepare a Small Dog for Travel to the EU from the US with a Health Certificate

November 18, 2019

If you are like me, then you love taking your dog along on your vacations, whether long or short. But, the issue with traveling out of the country is you can’t just book a ticket for your dog and are ready to go. The process takes months of preparation. Traveling to the EU from the US will require quite a few steps, but I think they are worth it:

Health Certificate

A health certificate is a form that allows you take your dog or cat (15 weeks and older) into the EU. The EU (European countries) include Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France (including French Guiana), Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

  1. At least 3 months in advance you need to make sure your veterinarian is USDA accredited, and if not, maybe they know someone who is. If your Vet doesn’t know anyone, you can contact your states NVAP Coordinator for a list of Veterinarians near you. The USDA accredited vet should already have the most up to date health certificate, so you don’t have to bring one. The form must be filled out in blue ink and not black because black ink can be photo copied (so to prove it’s original it must be blue). This is very important especially for the UK and if it’s not the correct ink your certificate may be rejected.
  2. Make an appointment at your local APHIS Veterinarian Services Offices well in advance (at least 30 days). See more details in Step #7.
  3. You must get your dog an EU approved microchip, either the 11784 or 11785.
  4. After the microchip is implanted, your pet must get a rabies vaccination (it can be done the same day as long as it’s after the microchip). Rabies shot administered before the microchip is considered invalid. The 1, 2, or 3 year rabies vaccinations are acceptable as long as the vaccination is current and has been administered according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Also, it cost us more money because we had Coco’s rabies vaccination previously with our original vet (who wasn’t USDA accredited) it had to be administered again from a Vet who was accredited even though it wasn’t expired. Make sure you have a copy of the vaccination record at all times along with the health certificate while traveling.
  5. After the primary rabies vaccination, you must wait 21 days before you can enter the EU with your pet. This is the case even if your dog already has the vaccination.
  6. If you are traveling on the same plane with your pet or within 5 days of the pet, then EU health certificate is valid for 10 days after your USDA accredited vet issues it.
  7. Once your vet completes the health certificate, it must then be endorsed by your local APHIS Veterinarian Services Offices within 10 days prior to entering the EU. On the APHIS website there is a checklist of required documents you need before they can endorse the health certificate. You can either schedule an appointment (dog doesn’t have to be there) or mail in the required info. The mail can take a while so I would recommend sending it by Next Day Air, in both directions, just to be safe. We didn’t want to risk mailing it so we drove from Orlando to Gainesville, Florida which was about a 2 hour drive each way. All of the user fees for the certificate can be found on the USDA website. Also, there are different forms of payments (check, money order, credit card, or debit cards) required to pay the fees and they may vary by location. Call your local APHIS Veterinarian Services Office to find out more.
  8. If you are traveling to the UK (England, northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales), Ireland, Malta, Finland, or Norway your dog must be treated for tapeworm. We stayed in Manchester, UK for the first part of our trip and the tapeworm requirement really stressed us out. He had to be treated for tapeworm 1-5 days (given a minimum of 24 and a maximum of 120 hours) before entering the UK which had to be documented on the health certificate. Which means, we had to drive to Gainesville, Fl to get the certificate endorsed only a few days before we left the country.
  9. The EU health certificate is valid for travel within the European Union for 4 months from the time the Vet issued it as long as your dog doesn’t leave the EU and the rabies vaccination doesn’t expire. We were planning on traveling Europe for at least two years so we had to get a pet passport. I will go into detail about the pet passport process in a separate post.
  10. Not only are there health requirements before your dog can enter the European Union, many states in the US also have requirements when importing your pet back home. Select your state on the USDA website to find out more information. We were moving to Chicago, Illnois from Prague, Czech republic so Coco had to see a Veterinarian for Certificate of Inspection (issued within 30 days of traveling) that showed freedom of disease and up to date rabies vaccination. I think we payed only $25 for the inspection and it was very quick.

Up next..Guide to booking a small dog on an airline to travel from the US to the EU

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  1. I knew about the rabies vaccination, but I had no idea you needed to get your dog microchipped for Europe. We have only been able to get as far as Canada, and we only needed the rabies vaccine to get across the border. This is a great, detailed guide, and I’ll be sure to share it with anyone I know who travels internationally with their pet. Thanks for the info Coco!

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