Want to take your dog from Canada to the EU but don’t know where to start? Neither did I, but I decided to check out if it was #1) possible? and #2) would I need a PHD in paperwork management? After some research for ‘Non-Commercial Export of Animals’ it turns out it’s not that bad and I lived to tell the tale. The proof being that I’m typing this from Florence with a world travelling dog by my side. And you’ll appreciate the ‘punchline’ at the end of this article…
Order, We Must Have Order
First thing I realized is that there is a very strict order to everything and timing is very important.
Microchipping must be done before vaccinations and only one year rabies vaccines are accepted coming into Europe. Tikka had a three year jab, but alas, had to get a one year before we left. Vaccines must be administered 30 days before travel. From the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) website:’ 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.
A certified vet must verify that the vaccination was administered.
Microchips can be different types, however a ISO standard 11784 rated microchip is preferred as the standard for entry to Europe, otherwise if it is any other type you have to bring your own scanner with you. They sell them here.
Paperwork, Lovely Paperwork
For travelling from Canada to the EU, the paperwork needs to be downloaded from the CFIA and there is lots of information to get you filling things out like a pro. Here is the link for the CFIA – Non Commercial export of animals.
After looking up the country that you LAND in (not your final destination) I downloaded it and printed off two copies. I had an extra in case of any mess ups at the vet. This has to happen within 10 days of travel to the EU. Take the forms plus a printout of the instructions to your appointment, making sure they know why you are there. You need to do a health examination and tell them you need this paperwork filled out. And here is a fun fact. It HAS to be filled out in BLUE ink…no exceptions!
We also got an International Health Certificate from the vet for the airline in case someone asked to see it.
Everything at Tikka’s appt went well, we were in an out in 30 minutes with a vet stamp in the first space of three (vet, CFIA, customs at destination) on the document and were ready for the next step…the ruler!
This part felt unusual as I’m not used to crossing out information on govt forms. It’s required to take a ruler and cross out anything that does not apply to your situation, again in that all important blue ink. These sections determine points such as:
Are you the owner of the dog travelling with you?
Do you have more that 5 dogs with you?
After all that was done it was time to take the papers to the CFIA for a pre arranged appointment – List of offices. I took the papers and $20 and was there only 15 minutes while they put their stamp on the back page, in the second spot.
Once back at my office, I made two copies of all the stamped papers so that I had a spare as well as all her vaccination records, tattoo and microchip certificates. Bring everything with you in duplicate – you will save time if anyone needs a copy of something.
And the CIFA have this handy checklist you can reference.
On Our Way
Was that really all of it? … Do we have everything done? … Is it all correct?… Did I forget anything? I guess we’ll find out 10 hours after our flight and we have a customs officer staring at us.
The big test finally arrived. After months of planning, Tikka, myself and my husband were finally airborne and we were cautiously optimistic about what the EU custom officer had in store for us. We eagerly followed the signs to baggage claim at the Munich airport and before long passport control was in front of us becokoning us forward. And what do you think happened after all the previous months of organizing? Not a DAMN thing!!! They couldn’t have cared less and waved us on without a blink when we told them we had a dog.
My husband and I discussed how surprising that was and figured that customs must be different than passport control and we’d have to show the paperwork after we got our bags. That time came in 20 minutes and there was no indication that we even had to declare having a dog with us. We did what we thought was best and went through the red customs channel in to declare her anyways. A very friendlly customs officer took Tikka’s documents and went away to the back of his office. Ah ha! This will be when we get that last stamp on her papers, giving us closure for a job well done. He returned 2 minutes later and said ‘Ok, enjoy your holiday’. We flipped to the last page and that third space still sat empty – not even a whiff of a stamp.
We took the hint…move on and have a great holiday, which is just what we’ll do. Of course for future travel, we will still follow all procedures as you never know when you’ll have to have everything ready to present to customs with a trigger happy stamp.
Read about the first leg of our road trip in Germany and Austria.