Arriving in Germany with your pets
If you are flying to Germany, check with the particular airlines about its pet policies. While certain airlines or flights might allow small pets in the cabin, many others will insist that your pet travel in an airline-approved travel container. It’s best to refer to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to know more about airline rules regarding pets. Each state in Germany also has its own list of dog breeds that are not allowed to enter.
Basic immigration laws
Puppies and kittens under 15 weeks of age are not allowed to be brought into Europe, as they get their first rabies shot only when they are 12-24 weeks old, followed by a three-week waiting period.
A non-EU individual moving to Germany is allowed to bring a maximum of five animals, but only as family pets, not for commercial purposes.
Only cats, dogs, ferrets, rabbits, guinea pigs and other rodents, horses, turtles or tortoises (if not belonging to a rare species), ornamental fish, parrots, parakeets, carrier pigeons and other kinds of birds are approved as pets by the German Customs Office (Zollamt). If you wish to bring any other kind of animal to Germany, check with the German consulate in your home country.
Pets can enter Germany three weeks after being given rabies shots. Don’t forget to carry the relevant paperwork.
Each pet must also be marked with a microchip or a tattoo.
If you are arriving from a country deemed at high risk from rabies, the pet must go through a Blood Titer Test one month after vaccination and three months before entering Germany.
Each pet must be accompanied by an official veterinary certificate (“Tier aus Nicht-EU-Staat“). The certificate should state the microchip number or the tattoo, vaccination details, and the findings of the blood test, if applicable.
Passports for your pets
European Union pet owners need to carry a pet passport if traveling to an EU member state with their pet(s). These passports can be issued by veterinary practitioners authorized to do so. The passport includes information like the name and contact details of the human parents, description of the pet, microchip identification number, details of vaccinations, and the signature of the practitioner.
Adopting a pet
At any given point of time, hundreds of thousands of animals in animal shelters (Tierheim) are looking for a new home, so if you have decided to adopt a pet, that’s where you should head to. All animals in shelters are vaccinated and possess a passport and a microchip. Some shelters might want to inspect your house to ensure that it is suitable for the pet you wish to take home. Even if they don’t, be prepared to answer lots of questions, as animal welfare is not something that is taken lightly in Germany. Before taking your new family member home, you must complete certain paperwork, submit your identity proof, and pay an adoption fee.
Rented accommodation with pets
Before signing a contract with a landlord, you must specify that you intend to share the apartment with your pet(s). While many landlords will not have a problem with this, some might. Almost all landlords are fine with smaller pets like hamsters or fish.
Dog owners need to shell out a dog tax (Hundesteuer) every year. However, you can get an exemption or a reduced tax if your dog is a service dog or a rescue dog. The tax is not applicable for other animals.
Once you arrive in Germany with your pet or adopt a new pet, register with a local veterinarian (Tierartz) of your choice. The veterinarian will be happy to educate you about all necessary vaccinations.
What every dog parent should know
There are several rules about living your daily life with your dog, but these rules vary from state to state. However, the basic rules are more or less the same all through the country. Dogs are allowed in parks, and they don’t need to be leashed unless specifically mentioned. Many parks have a designated area for dogs to roam and play free. Dogs are not allowed in playgrounds and must be kept on leash in residential and public places. If a dog poops in a public area, it is the dog owner’s responsibility to scoop it up and dispose of it. Not doing so might find the dog owner paying a hefty fine.
Dogs are allowed in public transport and almost all restaurants, cafés, amusement parks, malls, and shops, but not in supermarkets. In some modes of public transport, you might need to buy a discounted ticket for your dog.
Insurance laws for your pet
Insurance for your pets in Germany take care of most bills from the vet. Moreover, in keeping with the insurance-loving nature of Germans, you must subscribe to Hundehaftpflichtversicherung (dog liability insurance). This insurance will cover any damage caused by your dog.