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Non-commercial export of dogs, cats and ferrets to the European Union

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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 non-commercial purposes. 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 non-commercial movement of dogs, cats and ferrets exported to the European Union (EU) Member States are laid down in the EU regulations.

What qualifies as a non-commercial movement

The EU regulations stipulate that dogs, cats and ferrets are considered pets, and the non-commercial certificate is to be used, if the following conditions are met:

  1. they are accompanying their owners or an authorised person responsible for such animals on behalf of the owner during their movement. By "accompanying" the EU has clarified that the animal's movement is as a result of the owner's movement to the EU, even if these movements are separate from one another either:
    1. spatially (i.e. the animal travels as cargo on the same flight as the owner), or
    2. in time up to five days earlier or five days later than the movement of the owner (i.e. the animal travels at a different time from the owner, for example with the assistance of a family friend or relative, or by a carrier company specializing in pet transport);

      The EU regulations require that documentary evidence (in the form of a boarding pass or flight ticket) be presented to support the claim that the movement of the animal is the result of the movement of the owner.

  2. they are not intended to be sold or transferred to another owner;
  3. the owner or natural person designated by the owner must declare the conditions (found in a) and b) above), in the appropriate section of the certificate; and
  4. the number of dogs, cats and ferrets which may accompany the owner or an authorised person during a single non-commercial movement either:
    1. shall not exceed five (5), or
    2. may exceed five if the following conditions are fulfilled:
      1. the non-commercial movement is for the purpose of participating in competitions, exhibitions or sporting events or in training for such events; and
      2. the owner or the authorised person submits written evidence that the pet animals are registered either to attend an event referred to in point 1, or with an association organising such event; and
      3. the pet animals are more than six (6) months old.

If any of these conditions are not met, the commercial certificate should be used. 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 are available. Once completed by your veterinarian, the certificate must be endorsed by a veterinarian of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Please contact your local Animal Health Office to schedule an appointment for endorsement, or to ask any remaining questions you may have. A checklist is available to ensure you have the required document and details needed to qualify your pet for movement to the EU.

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 non-commercial movements of five or fewer 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. (e.g., 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) – Non-Commercial Movement From Third Countries is also available on the European Union website.

Pet identification

Identification is mandatory for all Member States. Before any other procedure is carried out (e.g. rabies vaccination), your pet must be identified with a microchip (or transponder) or a clearly readable tattoo. A tattoo is not accepted in the Republic of Ireland or Malta. 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 owner 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 reader.

Vaccination against rabies

Rabies vaccination is required for entry of pet animals 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 administered by an authorized veterinarian. 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. In the case of a primary vaccination, the validity date as recorded on the health certificate should be 21 days after the vaccination. A revaccination (booster) administered during the period of validity of the previous vaccination is valid on the day it is administered, and the date can be recorded as such on the export certificate.

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 and may require a booster within one year.

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.

Some member States may allow entry of animals less than 12 weeks of age which have not received an anti-rabies vaccination or between the age of 12 and 16 weeks old that have received a rabies vaccination but do not yet meet the validity requirements (21 days). In all cases, this authorisation can only be granted if one of the following conditions are met:

  1. the owner or authorised person provides a signed declaration that, from birth until the time of the non-commercial movement, the pet animal has had no contact with wild animals of species susceptible to rabies; or
  2. the pet animals are accompanied by their mother, on whom they still depend, and from the identification document accompanying their mother it can be established that, before their birth, the mother received an anti-rabies vaccination which complies with the EU requirements.

It is the owner's responsibility to obtain the information from the Member State of destination and to show evidence of the lesser/different requirements to the CFIA endorsing veterinarian.

If the movement of the animal involves transit to another Member State before arrival in the Member State of destination, both countries must authorise this type of movement. The EU has provided a listing of 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 CFIA Animal Health office to obtain an official endorsement by a CFIA veterinarian.

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