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An Expat Guide To Moving Your Pet To Italy
Before making your move, you will need to make the necessary preparations for your pet to ensure their journey runs smoothly.
The logistics and preparation can be confusing at times and so we have put together a simple guide with all of the information you will need to ensure that your pet is prepared for entering Italy.
Having your pet microchipped in Italy is now compulsory by law. The microchip should meet ISO standards (more specifically, it must be ISO 11784 compliant); the date and number on the microchip should be recorded on your pet’s health certificate.
If the microchip is not compliant with these standards then scanners may not be able to read the microchip. At entry points upon arrival this can cause a significant problem and your pet could be quarantined. Additionally, it is sometimes possible that non EU chips cannot be read be European scanners, so it is possibly worth investing in a small hand held scanner that can read your pet’s microchip in the event that any problems should arise.
If your pet was “tattooed” prior to the 3rd of July 2011 then this is still considered an acceptable form of identification, provided is it clearly visible and that your pet received a rabies vaccination after the tattoo was done.
Animals can be microchipped at fairly young age, though it is advisable to not do so until they are at least 6 weeks old.
Failure to comply with the microchipping standards could result in your pet being sent back or put in quarantine.
Even if your pet is entering from a “rabies free” country, it will still need a rabies vaccination after microchipping. The vaccination must be done more than 21 days before entering the country.
The reason for this is that the EU does not consider any countries to be “rabies free”; all countries will be listed as “rabies controlled” or “high rabies”.
If your pet is entering from a “high rabies” country, your pet must be microchipped then vaccinated. Following a 30 day waiting period your pet must have a rabies “titer test” conducted by a licensed veterinarian. If the results come back with acceptable levels then your pet may enter Italy. However, your pet may only enter after 3 calendar months starting from the date the blood was drawn for the titer test.
It is worth noting that puppies and kittens cannot be vaccinated within the first 12 weeks.
Dogs, cats and ferrets that have already been vaccinated but not microchipped will need to be microchipped and re-vaccinated after the the microchip has been implanted.
(c) Thomas Jarrand on Unsplash
Pets will be permitted to travel to Italy with a current one year vaccine. The three year vaccine is also honoured, provided it was administered within the last year.
“We came from Seattle. We had to chip our dog, updated all his shots, and had the vet fill out the paperwork you need for traveling into another country. We got [this] online from the embassy I believe. No one ever asked for our paperwork on the dog (airline or custom ). The only one that wanted to see the papers was the vet when it was time to update shots.” - Crystal Lindsey, Expats in Italy member.
It is also strongly recommended that your pets receive additional vaccines such as Distemper, Hepatitis, Leptospirosis, Parainfluenza & Parvovirus (DHLPP) and Bordetella (for dogs), and Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus and Panleukopenia (FVRCP) (for cats).
What is the EU pet passport?
The European pet passport allows domestic pets to cross freely between the borders of other EU countries. The document is official and is the same for all countries in the EU. It will be written in both the language of the issuing country and in English.
It will contain the identification number on your pet’s microchip as well as proof of a valid vaccination against rabies.
A pet passport has no expiration date and will not need to be be renewed, it will be valid for the duration of your pet’s life.
How can I obtain a pet passport?
A pet passport must be issued by a licensed veterinarian prior to travel if you are traveling from another EU country. An Italian/EU pet passport can be issued to you upon arrival and registration with your local vet if you are traveling from outside of the EU.
A non-commerical EU health certificate is not required if your pet is traveling from another EU member state. Ensure your vet has updated your EU pet passport.
If your pet is traveling alone from another EU country, it must enter from a licensed premises, the premises must be registered with the governing body of import/export of pets for your EU country. Your vet must update your EU pet passport, and your pet will be required to be accompanied by an Intratrade health certificate completed within 48 hrs.
If either you or your legal representative is traveling with or within 5 days of your pet then you must sign a declaration of non-commercial transport which will state that there is no intended sale or transfer of your pet. The health certificate must be filled in by a licensed veterinarian within 10 days.
If you or your legal representative are not traveling with or within 5 days then your pet must enter through an approved border inspection post, notice for which must be given at least 24 hours in advance. A licensed vet must complete the health certificate within 48 hrs.
The vet must be either USDA or CFIA approved if your pet is traveling from the USA or Canada.
“I moved to Italy in January 2017 with two small dogs. I worked closely with my vet and the USDA to have the forms completed correctly. Lufthansa reviewed the forms as did German customs, I don't know if Italy checked the documents taped to the crate, no one at FCO (Rome) asked to see them but they may have looked at the paperwork before I received the girls in baggage claims.” - Lynn Boles, Expats in Italy member.
Guide dogs for the blind are subject to the same requirements as domestic pets.
So what about birds, fish, amphibians, reptiles, etc?
(c) Sebastian Spindler on Unsplash
Small birds (with the exception of parrots), small fish, common frogs, common reptiles, common lizards (including green lizards), rodents and rabbits can all be brought into Italy from another EU or rabies controlled country providing the following criteria are met:
• No more than five pets accompanied by the owner.
• Animals must be transported in compliant pet carriers.
• Animals are accompanied with the necessary health certificate issued by a licensed veterinarian within 48hrs.
• Said certificate MUST include a description of the animal, the animal owner’s information and destination address.
Pet birds may ONLY enter at Rome Fiumicino Airports or Milan Malpensa Airports. Notice must be given in advance of arrival and the bird/s (up to 5) must be accompanied by a sanitary/health certificate.
Advance preparation is key when relocating a pet bird, due to the fact that some of the necessary paperwork can take up to six or seven months to obtain!
Your bird will also need a detection test for avian influenza and Newcastle disease carried out one to two weeks prior to travel; there may be additional requirements which you will need to check with your local authority.
In the case of animals such as parrots and turtles, you will need to provide verification that the animal is not an endangered species and is not protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). If this is the case, additional permits will need to be applied for.
(c) Lacie Slezak on Unsplash
It is generally advised to have a microchip and a leg ring for your pet bird as forms of identification.
For importing five or more pets, animals must meet the aforementioned requirements. A commercial EU health certificate must be obtained as opposed to a non-commercial health certificate and endorsement from the government agency in your country that handles the import/export of animals and pets.
Entry must be via an approved border inspection post with at least 24 hours’ advance notice given prior to arrival. If you are traveling from another EU member country then you must provide an Intratrade certificate.
What are the logistic options for moving your pet to your new home?
There are three main methods of transit, some of which will be more applicable to crossing from other EU countries:
By air - For air travel unaccompanied pets must enter Italy by air via an international airport such as Bologna, Milan or Rome.
By road - It is possible to transport your pet via road (providing they have all the required documents) although this option is more often used by pet couriers and agencies.
By boat - If you are planning on transporting your pet by ship or ferry then notify the company in advance. Requirements may vary between companies, with some insisting that pets are kept inside vehicles whilst on the boat, while other companies may allow pets to be kept in cabins.
“We travelled from the UK by car, stayed in dog friendly accommodation and had a great trip over with one very happy Pooch . When returning back for a visit it's a quick trip to the vets over here for a blood test and a worming tablet a few days before we depart.” - Carole Wide Doughty-Howard, Expats in Italy member.
Airline pet policies
Check well in advance with airline companies what their pet policies are. Some companies may allow pets to travel accompanied in the cabin and others may not. There may be various requirements and restrictions for animals traveling in the cargo hold so it is always best to check before booking your flight tickets.
Airline compliant pet carriers
If your pet is traveling by air it is best to check the individual airlines policies and requirements for pet carriers as specifications may vary between airline companies. As a general rule of thumb, the crate must be large enough for your pet to stand up, turn around and sit down in, as well as providing adequate ventilation.
Transport agents for pets
A good alternative to organising the transit by yourself is to employ an agency to make the arrangements on your behalf. This is thoroughly recommend if you are transporting multiple pets.
“We brought our dog over from the UK two years ago. Our vet organised her passport and got her vaccinations. I used a great transportation company called Thompson Pet Transport. Could not fault them. They are also connected to a Greek pet rescue charity so really love animals. Cost less than flying and we felt less stressful for our dog. Made the process easier for us!” - Kathryn Shannon, Expats in Italy member.
So you’ve all arrived safe and sound, what next?
Register with a local licensed veterinarian as soon as possible to have any required forms filled in and organise an appointment for vaccinations to be updated.
(c) Nirzar Pangarkar on Unsplash
If you have traveled from outside of the EU, request an Italian pet passport.
“It's really important for USA/non EU dogs to see a vet in Italy and have them fill out all the Italian paperwork - then you receive an EU passport for dog. We were walking in a park, and the Italian zoologico police stopped us, and scanned his chip. If he hadn't been in the Italian system, they give fines and can quarantine dogs. So even though they didn't check all his paperwork at the airport, it’s important to complete the entire process.” - Lena Grace, Expats in Italy member.
You may wish to have some further vaccinations for your pet that were not on the requirement list for entering the country.
“Visit a vet you will use regularly asap, you may have everything up to date on arrival but there are a couple of other things in Italy you'll probably want to vaccinate against. Heart worm etc, and look for a good tick treatment.” - Chris Buxton, Expats in Italy member.
“We arrived in Italy on February 16 and took our cattle dog to a local vet this week. We learned a lot on that visit including info on a mosquito transmitted parasite that we are not familiar with. Our Bella will be getting vaccinated for it once mosquito season starts. It's nice to know that we have a vet to go to if she gets sick or hurt.” - Lynne Bell, Expats in Italy member.
“The vet highly recommended a collar to protect him from sand fly bites, mosquitos and ticks, it's called Scalibor.” - Carole Wide Doughty-Howard, Expats in Italy member.
We hope that this guide provides you with the information to make your pet’s transition to Italy as smooth as possible!
Have you moved your pet to Italy? Share your experiences in the comments!
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