Moving from the US to Germany with Pets: Your Essential Guide
Moving from the US to Germany with pets is easier than ever before. With the days of quarantines far behind us, it’s relatively simple to move internationally with dogs and cats. That is, of course, if you know the rules. There is a sea of misinformation out there and it’s crucial to be well informed weeks before your furry friend ever sets a paw in the airport. Are you planning to move from the US to Europe with pets? Here is your complete checklist for moving cats and dogs from the US to Germany.
The Value of Planning Ahead
The first thing to be aware of is that you need to start planning at least one month in advance or, ideally, six weeks. Your vaccinations must be done at least 30 days before arrival in the European Union so having this timeline in place is vital. While you might be able to hop on a last-minute flight, there’s just no flexibility with pet travel requirement timelines.
Dogs Banned from Entering Germany
If you are traveling with a dog, the first step is to confirm that it’s not on the list of dogs banned from being imported. There is only a handful so do a quick check of the banned breeds in Germany to confirm you are ready to go.
Choose Your Airline Carefully
Different airlines have different policies on international pet transport so choose carefully. With certain airlines, you might be able to travel with pets in the cabin. For cargo transport, prices can vary significantly, and, sadly, there are airlines with a less than impressive track record of keeping pets alive in transport. Do your homework before you book.
Bring Fido has an extensive guide to flying with pets on a range of airlines. It’s a good reference but it’s definitely best to rely on that official written documentation from the airline. Here are the policies of a few common airline options:
- American Airlines Traveling with Pets
- American Airlines Cargo Transporting Pets
- Delta Pet Policy
- Lufthansa Traveling with Animals
- United Airlines In-Cabin Pet Travel
- United Airlines Pet Travel Prep
Once you have booked your tickets, confirm the reservation for your pet. As always, try to have everything in writing and on hand during travel.
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Be Aware of Weather Restrictions
If your pet is going to be traveling as cargo, be aware of weather restrictions. Generally speaking, if it is under 10°F or above 85°F, pets should not travel in cargo. There is no temperature control in this area and it’s extremely dangerous for pets on planes. Not only is it inadvisable, but it is not allowed by certain airlines.
Keep in mind this affects you not just at your location of departure and arrival but also at any layover locations as well. If you are moving with pets in the summer or winter, plan carefully.
EU Pet Passports
Once you are living in Germany, you will want to consider getting an EU pet passport for any future potential travel. It will allow your pet to easily enter any EU member state and they’re generally a convenient place to keep medical records for years.
It’s a common misconception that you need this document on arrival but that’s not the case. EU pet passports can only be issued by European vets. American vets use official documents issued by the United States government. When you are bringing pets from the US to Germany, you’ll use the US paperwork.
Moving from the US to Germany with Pets
Form 988 is the only document you will need for moving from the US to Germany with pets. This document is paramount and essentially serves as your ticket to entry. For this document, you’ll need a rabies vaccination given at least 30 days before you leave.
Important Note: Have your vet review this document as early as possible. The process isn’t as fast as it might seem. If your pet doesn’t have a microchip, one will need to be inserted before the vaccination. This chip must be an ISO standard 11784 or 11785, which could need to be ordered in advance by your vet. It’s also imperative to know who puts the final signature on the form. In some states, there is only one official vet and you may need to travel in-person to get that signature.
Get Your Pet Comfortable in the Carrier
Double-check the airline’s requirement for pet carriers. Long before moving from the US to Germany with pets, know that your four-legged friends are comfortable in their carrier. Let them relax there at home for at least a couple weeks before the big move.
If your pets aren’t used to travel, you will want to focus on making them at ease in the container. Use treats and toys to make it a positive experience. You don’t want a stressed-out animal that thinks it’s a 12-hour journey to the vet.
Know All of Your Options
Moving from the US to Germany with pets will be a different experience for everyone. Some pets may qualify to travel as service pets or emotional support animals. It’s a common misconception that only blind people use service dogs, but this kind of option can be suitable for a range of conditions. Familiarize yourself with ADA laws on service animals and the latest emotional support animal laws (which change often).
Another option is to use an international pet transport service. This can save you a lot of stress if you choose the right company. To get started, visit the International Pet and Animal Association (IPATA) website to find safe and reliable options.
Smart Planning Tip: Avoid paying for travel documents. Form 988 is the only piece of paper you need to move from the US to Germany with pets and it’s free from the government. Any documents for service dogs or emotional support animals are also free.
Know the EU Pet Travel Requirements
While each country in the European Union has similar pet entry requirements, there are a few variables to consider for layovers. The EU website on pet travel is a prime place to start reading about the process if you have any unique issues or dilemmas not covered here.
If you have any questions as you work through the planning process, contact the European Commission. They will answer your inquiries within a couple of days and are a surprisingly user-friendly resource for any questions about life in the EU.
Expert Tip: You might run into airport and airline staff unfamiliar with pet travel laws. To prevent any surprises or confusion, always save or print reference materials. Have any correspondence with the airline and official government policies on hand during your entire trip. It can be the difference between getting your pet onto the plane in a matter of minutes or facing hours (or even days) of delays.