The short answer is yes; you can transport a pet to Spain, as long as it’s healthy enough to travel and free from disease. The tricky part is how. There are a few legal hoops that you have to jump through before you pack the removal van, things to consider for the journey, and unique rules and regulations to research at the point of destination.
Before you leave
Microchip your pet: you can either get your pet implanted with an ISO microchip or tattoo a registration number on their ear. Most vets will recognise and offer this service. If you can’t get an ISO 11784/11785 microchip, you will need to take your own scanner. You can look for a qualified vet through the RVCS website, contact the European Board of Veterinary Specialisation or take advice from the American Veterinary Medical Association.
Rabies vaccinations are compulsory for all animals that are vulnerable to the disease, wherever you’re travelling from. The rabies vaccination must be given at least one month before you travel but not more than a year before the departure date.
Depending on where you’re travelling from, you may also need to consider a rabies Titer Test — a blood test taken by a vet which has been tested in an EU approved laboratory. The results have to be negative and the test must be done within three months of your arrival in Spain.
Travel documents: if you’re bringing your cat, dog, ferret, rat or rabbit from inside the EU you’ll need a European Pet Travel Scheme passport signed by a vet. Other animals like fish, reptiles and birds need an import certificate from the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture. To apply for this certificate, you need to provide your details and a description of the pet, as well as registration and vaccination documents where relevant.
If you’re bringing in an animal from outside the EU, you’ll need a non-commercial Health Certificate completed by an authorised vet from your country of origin – and the authorising body differs from country to country.
Other important rules:
The downside is the red tape. Spain is a bureaucratic country. Yes, wage costs can be low, but you need to pay the various taxes and comply with other legal requirements.
- Mammalian pets under 15 weeks old cannot enter Spain as they can’t legally be given the rabies vaccination.
- Spain does not prohibit any dog breeds but does have strict rules about certain types of dogs which apply if you are bringing any of the following breeds: Pit Bull Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Rottweiler, Dogo Argentino, Fila Brasileiro, Tosa Inu or Akita Inu. In these cases, you must register your dog within one month of arrival with the Registro Municipal de Perros Potencialmente Peligrosos (Potentially Dangerous Dogs Register) in the municipality you have moved to. This licence must be renewed every 12 months. In addition, your dog must wear a muzzle when out in public and it must always be on a lead of no more than two metres.
- There is a limit to the number of pets you can import. At the moment the maximum is five, unless you’re competing in an animal show.
Things to consider for the journey
Airlines have specific pet transport requirements. The travel container will need to be labelled clearly so it won’t get lost easily and you’ll need to make sure there’s ample room for moving, sleeping and adequate food and water. If the flight is less than ten hours, some international airlines allow lap-sized pets to travel in the cabin rather than the cargo. In this case, the container for the pet must fit under the seat in front of you and have a waterproof base and proper ventilation. You can find up-to-date information on the International Transport Association website.
Ferries have looser arrangements. They will scan pets on arrival and evaluate the documents, but passengers can keep animals in their cars, in allocated kennel stowage, or pre-book pet-friendly cabins. The choice often depends on both the ferry company and specific ship you’re travelling on. Dogs will usually need to be muzzled, and you’ll need to prove that you’ve got adequate water, bedding and ventilation in your vehicle. PBS Pet Travel specialists provide a list of ferry companies that transport pet dogs on their website.
Not all travel companies are pet-friendly, so be sure to check availability and costs before you book. You may need to book well in advance of your travel date.
If you are driving, ensure you have the correct papers and vaccinations for all the countries and border patrols you will pass through, not just Spain.
When you arrive
Some landlords and community-run property complexes prohibit pets from living in accommodation, so check before signing any contracts if you plan to bring an animal over.
Different Spanish municipalities have different rules regarding dogs, so check with the Town Hall that serves your destination to see if there are any additional local requirements when you arrive. Most require registration of all pets at the local authority’s Animal Registry (Registro de Identificación Animal).
There are vaccinations you could consider if your pet will live permanently in Spain: leptospirosis, parvovirus, hepatitis, distemper and kennel cough are advised for dogs, for example. It’s also worth understanding the pests and parasites your pet might encounter, like leeches, heartworm and ticks. Some parasitic diseases can be fatal, so if you’re not sure, ask your vet before you leave.
Make sure you live close enough to a vet you trust. It’s not difficult to find a well trained, properly certified vet in Spain and many are bilingual. Most animal clinics offer emergency care and there is a range of pet insurance options to keep costs down.
If you’re a UK resident then keep an eye out for changes in legislation relating to Brexit on the European Commission website.
Have you taken your pet to Spain before? How did you find the experience? Would you be interested in talking to us about it, either as a guest blog or on our podcast series? We’d love to hear from you!
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