Travelling with a pet animal

For travelling with dogs, cats and ferrets, European rules have been laid down, but not for most of the other  pet animal. In such a case, the rules of the country of destination are applicable.  This is also valid for travelling to and from countries outside the European Union (the so-called 'third countries').

When you think of travelling with your pet animal, check timely all useful information on conditions and procedures in order to avoid uncomfortable situations. Remember that all time periods, such as the validity period of the anti-rabies vaccination, must be strictly observed.

 

Travelling with dogs, cats and ferrets

Since 2004, all EU Member States apply the same rules for travelling with dogs, cats and ferrets. Some Member States, however, impose additional conditions. For travelling to third countries and back, the conditions of the country of destination are applicable together with those for re-entry into Belgium.

    Travelling inside Belgium

    In our country, all dogs must be identified and registered. This must be done before the age of 8 weeks, or before sale or adoption. For this purpose, a microchip is installed by the veterinarian.

    For cats and ferrets, there is no general  obligation for identification, unless you wish to have them vaccinated against rabies. The veterinarian can still carry out the identification process shortly before vaccination and deliver a European passport.

    A first vaccination against rabies is only possible from the age of twelve weeks.

    In case of a first vaccination or 'primovaccination', the validity period does not start before 21 days after vaccination (the day on which the vaccination was carried out is not included).  If the animal receives a booster vaccination within the validity period, the vaccination is immediately valid. Any vaccination outside this validity period is considered as a primovaccination.

    The validity period of the vaccination is calculated according to the instructions of the producer and is mentioned in the passport of the animal.

     

    Travelling from Belgium to another EU country and back

    To travel with your pet from Belgium to another EU country, you must meet several conditions.

    Identification and registration

    Your pet must be identified with a microchip. A tattoo is still accepted if it was carried out before
    3 July 2011 and is still clearly readable. However, it is not valid for travelling to the UK, Ireland or Malta.

    Your pet must also have a European passport. As from 29 December 2014, only the new model is authorised. However, ancient passports issued before that date stay valid.

    Anti-rabies vaccination

    Vaccination against rabies is compulsory. It is possible from the age of 12 weeks, but your pet shall first be identified.  If needed, the veterinarian can still carry out the identification process shortly before vaccination and deliver a European passport.

    The first vaccination or 'primovaccination' must be made at least 21 days before leaving Belgium, because the validity period only starts after this lapse of time.  The day on which the vaccination was carried out is not included.

    The validity period is calculated according to the instructions of the producer and is mentioned in the passport of the animal. If the animal receives a booster vaccination within the validity period, the vaccination is immediately valid. Any vaccination outside this validity period is considered as a primovaccination.

    Additional conditions

    For travelling to the UK, Ireland, Finland and Malta, a treatment against the Echinococcus multilocularis worm is also required. The treatment must be carried out 120 hours at the earliest and 24 hours at the latest before the planned entry into one of those Member States, and must be mentioned in the passport.

    Travelling with more than five animals

    If you travel with more than five animals, you must comply with the regulations on commercial transport. This implies that the animals must undergo a clinical examination and that an additional health certificate, delivered by the Provincial Control Unit of the Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain (FASFC) must be added to the passport.

    By way of derogation the number of pet animals I may exceed five if the the non-commercial movement of pet animals is for the purpose of participating in competitions, exhibitions or sporting events or in training for such events under the condition that :

    • the owner or the authorized person submits written evidence that the pet animals are registered either to attend an event referred to in point (a), or with an association organizing such events;
    • the pet animals are more than six months old.

    Travelling with pets under 12 weeks of age

    Pets under 12 weeks of age that have not been (validly) vaccinated against rabies may not enter all Member States. You will find more information about the conditions in the different Member States on the portal site of the European Commission.

     

    Travelling from another EU country to Belgium

    You will find hereunder the conditions for travelling with a pet animal to Belgium from another Member State of the European Union.

    Identification and registration

    Your pet must be identified with a microchip. A tattoo is still accepted if it was carried out before
    3 July 2011 and is still clearly readable.

    The microchip must comply with ISO standard 11784; it must be based on HDX- or FDX-B-technology and readable using a reader complying with ISO standard 11785.

    The passport containing the identification data must be in accordance with the European model and with the terms of deliverance of the national authority.

    Anti-rabies vaccination

    Vaccination against rabies is compulsory. It is possible from the age of 12 weeks, but your pet shall be identified.  If needed, the veterinarian can still carry out the identification process shortly before vaccination and deliver a European passport.

    The first vaccination or 'primovaccination' must be made at least 21 days before entering Belgium, because the validity period only starts after this lapse of time.  The day on which the vaccination was carried out is not included.

    The validity period is calculated according to the instructions of the producer and is mentioned in the passport of the animal. If the animal receives a booster vaccination within the validity period, the vaccination is immediately valid. Any vaccination outside this validity period is considered as a primovaccination.

    Travelling with more than five animals

    If you travel with more than five animals, you must comply with the regulations on commercial transport. This implies that the animals must undergo a clinical examination and that an additional health certificate, delivered by the official veterinarian of the country  of dispatch must be added to their passport.

    By way of derogation the number of pet animals I may exceed five if the the non-commercial movement of pet animals is for the purpose of participating in competitions, exhibitions or sporting events or in training for such events under the condition that :

    • the owner or the authorized person submits written evidence that the pet animals are registered either to attend an event referred to in point (a), or with an association organizing such events;
    • the pet animals are more than six months old.

    Travelling with pets under 15 weeks of age

    As the pet animal must  at least  be 12 weeks old at the date on which the vaccine was administered  after vaccination, and the period of validity of the vaccination starts from the establishment of protective immunity, which shall not be less than 21 days, young animals can only enter Belgium at the earliest from the age of 15 weeks.

     

    Travelling from Belgium to third countries and back

    For travelling to third countries and back, conditions in the country of destination are applicable together with those relating to re-entry into Belgium. So please check all relevant information in timely fashion, not only on this portal site but also on the website of the country of destination. You can also seek information in the embassies.

    Identification and registration

    Since the EU passport is only written down in the language of the issuing country and in English, it is possible that the third country requires a certificate written in their national  language.

    Anti-rabies vaccination

    Mostly, countries outside the European Union only accept one-year validity for vaccination against rabies. A number of countries also demand, in addition to the passport, a distinct certificate of vaccination and a health certificate. You should contact with the embassy of the country of destination for obtaining the right models of certificate (see address list of the embassies).

    Legalisation of documents

    Non-EU countries demand that when cats or dogs are imported, the certificate of vaccination or the standardized EU passport be legalised by an official government-appointed veterinarian.

    In Belgium, the Provincial Control Units (PCU) of the Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain (FASFC) are competent for this legalisation.

    In addition to this, some countries demand that the signature of the authority be also legalized by the Foreign Affairs and/or their embassy in Belgium. For the exact procedures and conditions, you should contact with the embassy of the country in question.

    Re-entry into Belgium from a country that is not a member of the European Union

    When returning from a country mentioned in Annex II of the European regulation 577/2013, the same rules apply as for travelling within the European Union.

    To re-enter Belgium without any problem when returning from a country that does not appear on that list, your pet should undergo a serological blood test on antibodies against rabies before leaving Belgium. The Scientific Institute of Public Health (IPH) is competent for that examination.

    The result of the serological testing must exceed 0.5 UI/ml and remains valid during the entire life of the animal, provided that the validity of the anti-rabies vaccination is not interrupted. This means that your pet must receive a booster vaccination within the validity period of the previous vaccination.

    Anti-rabies vaccination and the result of the serological testing must be mentioned in the passport by the veterinarian before the pet leaves Belgium.

     

    Travelling from third countries to Belgium

    Pet animals entering Belgium from a non-EU country must meet several conditions.

    Identification

    Your pet must be identified with a microchip. A tattoo is still accepted if it was carried out before
    3 July 2011 and is still clearly readable.

    The microchip must comply with ISO standard 11784; it must be based on HDX- or FDX-B-technology and readable using a reader complying with ISO standard 11785.

    Anti-rabies vaccination

    Vaccination against rabies is compulsory. It is possible from the age of 12 weeks, but your pet shall  first be identified.  If needed, the veterinarian can still carry out the identification process shortly before vaccination and deliver a European passport.

    The first vaccination or 'primovaccination' must be made at least 21 days before leaving Belgium, because the validity period only starts after this lapse of time.  The day on which the vaccination was carried out is not included.

    The validity period is calculated according to the instructions of the producer and is mentioned in the passport of the animal. If the animal receives a booster vaccination within the validity period, the vaccination is immediately valid. Any vaccination outside this validity period is considered as a primovaccination.

    Serological blood test on antibodies against rabies

    If the country of dispatch appears in Annex II of the European Regulation 577/2013, no serological testing on antibodies against rabies is required.

    For all other countries, the blood test must be carried out 30 days at the earliest after vaccination and three months at least before the trip to Belgium, by a laboratory that has been approved by the European Union. Do not forget to check whether the laboratory's approval is still valid!

    The result of the serological testing must exceed 0.5 UI/ml and remains valid during the entire life of the animal, provided that the validity of the anti-rabies vaccination is not interrupted (booster vaccination within the validity period of the previous vaccination).

    When travelling to Belgium from a country that is not mentioned in Annex II, you must contact the competent authority, in this case the Customs, immediately after entering Belgium. They will check on the basis of the identification document whether all conditions are fulfilled and they may also control the animal by themselves.

    Health certificate

    Maximum ten days before your departure to Belgium, you must ask an official veterinarian to deliver a health certificate. The model of certificate is laid down in Annex IV of the European Regulation 577/2013/EU. The certificate remains valid for four months after the pet's entry into the EU. If a blood test is required, you must be able to submit the analysis report along with the result.

    Travelling with more than five animals

    If you travel with more than five dogs, cats or ferrets, the following additional conditions apply:

    • Within 48 hours before departure, the animals must undergo a clinical examination by an official veterinarian.
    • The official veterinarian of the country of dispatch must deliver a specific health certificate (model laid down by the European Union) instead of the usual health certificate.

    Travelling to Belgium with pets under 15 weeks of age

    Pets under 15 weeks of age coming from a country that is not a member of the European Union are  in any case not allowed to enter Belgium.

    Emergency situations

    In case of an emergency situation such as a natural disaster or political instability urging for repatriation, an exception may be granted. You should therefore send an application to the Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain through import.export@favv.be.

    If an exception is granted, the animal must remain in quarantine until it meets all requirements needed.

     

    Anti-rabies vaccines in Belgium

    The validity period of the vaccination is the one mentioned in the notice in the country where the animal was vaccinated.

    The table hereunder shows the validity period of the vaccination when travelling from Belgium to a country that is a member of the European Union or to Andorra, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San-Marino and the Vatican City State.

     

    Vaccine name

    Laboratory

    Animal species

    Validity period

    Nobivac Rabies

    Intervet

    Dogs and cats

    Three years

    Leptorabisin

    Mérial

    Dogs

    One year

    Rabisin

    Mérial

    Dogs and cats

    Three years

    Rabdomun

    Schering Plough

    Dogs

    Three years

    Cats

    Four years

    Rabigen L

    Virbac

    Dogs and cats

    One year

     

    Travelling with other pet animals

    When thinking of travelling with another pet animal than a dog, a cat or a ferret, you should check the legislation of the country of destination. Rules have been laid down at European level only for a few animal species, among which pet birds.

    For the importation of pet birds accompanying their owners from a country that is not a member of the European Union, the Commission Decision 2007/25/CE of 22 December 2006 as regards certain protection measures in relation to highly pathogenic avian influenza and movements of pet birds accompanying their owners into the Community is applicable. However, the Decision does not apply to the movement onto Community territory of birds accompanying their owners from Andorra, the Faeroe Islands, Greenland, Iceland, Croatia, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino, the Vatican City State and Switzerland.

    In Belgium, there are no specific rules for travelling with other pet animals than dogs, cats and ferrets. However, when the animals come from a non-EU-country, you should submit an application for permission to import to the Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain through import.export@favv.be.

    For travelling with exotic animals, you must also comply with the CITES regulation.

     

    Places of entry into Belgium

    Please find hereunder the list of the places where pet animals coming from a non-EU country may enter Belgium:

    a) Places of entry for non-commercial movements of dogs, cats and ferrets(EU-Regulation 576/ 2013)

    • Brussels National Airport
    • Liege Airport
    • Ostend Airport
    • Brussels South Charleroi Airport

     

    b) Places of entry for commercial movements of dogs, cats and ferrets (and non-commercial movements of more than five animals)

    Border inspection points of the Liege and Brussels National Airports

     

    c) Places of entry for birds accompanying their owners as a pet animal (Decision 2007/25/EC)

    • Brussels National Airport
    • Liege Airport

     

    Contact                                                                                

    02/524.73.17              

    apf.vetserv@health.belgium.be