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Export of dogs, cats, and ferrets to the European Union: commercial movements and non-commercial movements of more than 5 animals

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Please note changes

Please note that the animal health certificate for pets (dogs, cats and ferrets) travelling to the European Union (EU) has changed. These changes are effective December 1, 2019 and apply to pets travelling for commercial purposes and non-commercial movements of more than 5 animals. Any certificates signed by an official CFIA veterinarian dated November 30, 2019 or before will be accepted by the EU until December 31, 2019.

The changes are:

General information

The animal health requirements applicable to the commercial movement (import) of dogs, cats and ferrets exported to the European Union (EU) Member States are laid down in the EU regulations.

Qualifications of a commercial movement

The EU regulations stipulate that dogs, cats and ferrets are considered commercial imports, if the following conditions are met:

  1. they are intended to be sold or transferred to another owner
  2. the number of dogs, cats and ferrets which may accompany the owner or an authorised person during a single non-commercial movement exceeds 5
  3. they are accompanying their owners or an authorised person responsible for such animals on behalf of the owner during their movement however they will be travelling more than 5 days earlier or 5 days later than the movement of the owner

Animals travelling to exhibitions and fairs would be considered a "non-commercial movement" as long as they are not for sale on-site.

Certification requirements

Note 1: Step-by-step instructions on filling out the new veterinary health certificates can be obtained from your local Animal Health Office and is highly recommended.

Note 2: The instructions below are for all EU Member States.

Note 3: The veterinary health certificate for dogs, cats and ferrets entering the EU in a commercial movement (or for the non-commercial movement of more than 5 animals) is available in several languages. The certificate must be completed in English and the official language of the Member State of the first point of entry into the EU. (For example, if a pet destined for Poland arrives via an airport in Germany, the English/German certificate should be used.) View the list of EU Member States, including their respective official languages.

Note 4: Every attempt has been made to ensure that the information on this site is up-to-date; however, countries can change their import requirements without notifying the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). It is strongly recommended that you contact the embassy or official veterinary authorities in the country of destination to confirm that there are no changes, additional requirements, or prohibitions related to certain breeds of dogs or cats. Information about the Movement of pets (dogs, cats and ferrets): import from territories or third countries is also available on the European Union website.

Approved holdings and businesses

The EU requires that all commercial exporters, including individual pet owners who fall into the commercial category, be registered with the competent authority (CFIA). As there is no federal registry set up for this purpose, each District Office and/or Area Office of the CFIA will keep their own list of exporters and issue registration numbers for entry onto the certificate (Box I.11).

Animal identification

Identification is mandatory for all Member States. Before any other procedure is carried out (for example, rabies vaccination), the animal must be identified with a microchip or a clearly readable tattoo (a tattoo is not accepted in the Republic of Ireland). Please note that if a tattoo is used, it must have been applied before July 3, 2011.

The microchip should comply with the ISO standard 11784. If it does not, the importer is responsible for providing a suitable microchip reader. For easy reference, the National Companion Animal Coalition has listed companies that manufacture ISO-compatible microchips.

If the microchip is not ISO-compliant and the owner cannot provide a suitable microchip reader, the EU encourages the owner to contact the officials at the EU port of entry to inquire if they have a reader capable of reading other microchips. It is understood that some readers are able to read both ISO and non-ISO microchip but there is no guarantee that the point of entry will be equipped with such a reader.

Clinical exam

The animal must be examined by a licensed veterinarian within 48 hours of dispatch. Dispatch is defined as the moment when the animal leaves its current place of holding or residence.

Vaccination against rabies

Rabies vaccination is required for entry of dogs, cats and ferrets to all EU countries. Please note that according to EU regulations, a rabies vaccination is not considered valid unless the animal was properly identified at the time it was vaccinated. The microchip or tattoo number must also appear on the rabies vaccination certificate in order for it to be considered valid.

The animal must have been vaccinated against rabies with an approved inactivated vaccine or a recombinant vaccine. According to EU regulations, a primary vaccination is considered valid if the vaccine is administered according to the manufacturer's protocol and at least 21 days have elapsed between the date of administration of the vaccine and the arrival of the animal in Europe. A revaccination (booster) administered during the period of validity of the previous vaccination is valid on the day it is administered.

However, if a revaccination is not carried out within the period of validity of the previous vaccination, or if the previous vaccine was administered before official identification, this revaccination will be considered a primary vaccination.

Furthermore, if for any reason an animal has been re-microchipped, this most recent identification will be considered the "official identification" and a revaccination for rabies must follow. This would then fall under the EU's definition of a primary vaccination and a resulting 21-day wait period would be required.

Member States may allow entry of animals less than 3 months of age, under certain conditions which are to be defined by the competent national authorities. The competent authority in the Member State of destination should be consulted to determine if the country allows such commercial imports. For contact information to the various member states, please consult National rules applying to entry of pet dogs, cats and ferrets of less than 3 months (non-vaccinated against rabies).

Echinococcus treatment

Dogs travelling to Finland, Malta, the Republic of Ireland, and the United Kingdom require treatment for echinococcus within a period of not more than 120 hours and not less than 24 hours before the time of scheduled entry of the dogs into the EU.

Dogs must be treated against Echinococcus multilocularis using an approved/licensed veterinary product whose active ingredient is Praziquantel, or an equivalent product (an equivalent product is a product authorized in Canada that bears a label claim against Echinococcus multilocularis). A qualified vet must carry out the treatment and record it in the Veterinary Certificate. You must not administer the treatment yourself. Ensure that the veterinarian rescans the microchip to confirm that the number is correct and that the chip is readable.

Contrary to previous requirements (prior to February 29, 2012), this treatment must be administered before the certificate is presented to the CFIA district veterinarian for endorsement.

Additional specific country requirements

It is important to note that at any moment, any country can request that additional requirements be met. It is the exporter's responsibility to verify the import requirements in place in the country of destination.

Malta requires a Pre-Notification Form for Arrival or Transit of Live Animals to be submitted for all animals before they travel. This authorization must be obtained by the exporter from the Maltese authority and has to accompany the animal upon arrival, in addition to the health certificate.

Actions in case of non-compliance following arrival in the EU

The EU Regulations state that when an inspection conducted upon arrival reveals that a pet animal does not comply with the established conditions, the decision can be made to:

  1. return the pet animal to its country of dispatch; or
  2. isolate the pet animal under official control for the time necessary for it to comply with the conditions; or
  3. as a last resort where the return is not possible or isolation not practical, put the pet animal down.

The measures in case of non-compliance are applied at the expense of the owner and without the possibility of any financial compensation for the owner or the authorised person.

For EU animals returning

Please note that only an authorised EU veterinarian can enter information into the EU pet passport. All tests and vaccinations are to be completed before the animal leaves the EU. If a pet animal stays in Canada (or another third country) longer than the validity of the anti-rabies vaccination, a veterinary certificate must be completed with the passport serving as supporting documentation.

Completion of the Veterinary Certificate

Please refer to the detailed instructions for the completion of the certificate by a licensed veterinarian. After completion, it must be endorsed by a CFIA veterinarian (local Animal Health Office).

When presenting the certificate for endorsement to a CFIA veterinarian please take all the supporting documentation along with you: original or certified copy of rabies vaccine certificate, documentary evidence of travel, etc. (A certified copy of a rabies certificate is a photocopy of the original rabies certificate that is authenticated by an original signature of a veterinarian.)

The certificates required are available in the following languages and are available from your local District Office.

Please note that Finland and Malta accept the English only certificate.

Once all the above steps have been successfully completed, and the certificate has been signed by your veterinarian, you may take it to your local Animal Health office to obtain an official endorsement by an official veterinarian (competent authority - CFIA veterinarian).

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