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Moving to Spain with your pets: Legal requirements

8 min read

  1. What pets are allowed in Spain?
  2. What does your pet need to move to Spain?
  3. Pet-moving requirements by country of origin
  4. Do pets have to quarantine after entering Spain?
  5. Do I need to be with my pet for the journey?
  6. Transport methods for pets moving to Spain
  7. Registering your pet in Spain

Moving the entire family to Spain may mean furry and feathery members as well as human ones. Although this is perfectly possible, you will need to spend some time preparing the right documents, and seeking a suitable specialist transport firm.

man and woman unpacking item from carton boxes with their dog
Allow yourself plenty of time to prepare your pets' move to Spain. Photo: Pexels

What pets are allowed in Spain?

Typical household fluffy friends such as dogs, cats, rabbits and ferrets are all permitted entry. Exotic, wild or poisonous creatures, and certain reptiles are generally not permitted.

Other restrictions that apply include a maximum of five pets at a time moving to Spain with you. They must all be at least 12 weeks old at the time of their first required vaccination, and you will need to allow a further 21 days before they enter the country.

What does your pet need to move to Spain?

In addition to their documentation – as detailed below - all pets, irrespective of their country of origin, will need the following:

Microchip

Your pet must have an internationally-recognised (ISO) microchip, with your contact details listed in it. Some pets who were born before the year 2011 may have a tattoo instead; this is a valid alternative to a microchip, as long as it is still readable.

Rabies vaccinations

You must arrange for your pet to be vaccinated against rabies. If your pet has never been vaccinated against rabies, he or she will need to wait 21 days after the injection before travelling.

For a first-time vaccination, and if your country of origin is not listed in Annex II of EU Regulation 577/2013, your pet will need a blood test after 30 days to check he or she has sufficient antibodies providing immunity against rabies. Where the result is negative, your pet may need a booster and a repeat blood test before being given confirmation that he or she is fit to travel.

Your pet must then wait for three months after the blood test confirms they have the correct level of immunity before they enter Spain.

Animals already vaccinated against rabies in the past will only need their regular booster injections, which should be kept up to date. After a booster injection in an animal habitually vaccinated, they can travel at any time from that day onwards.

Routine vaccinations and free from parasites

Pets must also be free from worms or fleas. You should give your pet worming and de-fleaing medication before travel as a precaution.

They must also have had their standard routine vaccinations, according to their species.

Pet-moving requirements by country of origin

Requirements are different depending upon whether you are moving your pets from an European Union/European Economic Area (EU/EEA) country, or a non-EU/EEA country. British nationals should bear in mind that they are now required to follow the procedures for non-EU/EEA countries, except where they are travelling from Northern Ireland, which is treated as part of the EU/EEA for pet relocation purposes.

Moving pets from EU/EEA countries

For owners of cats, dogs or ferrets, you must obtain an EU Pet Passport for each of your animals. This is a standard document detailing your pet's age, breed, sex, and physical description, and is proof of up-to-date rabies vaccinations. It includes your contact details, and those of the vet who issued the passport. Your pet's microchip code or tattoo number are listed in his or her passport.

Countries and territories outside the 27 EU member States which can issue EU Pet Passports are Northern Ireland, Gibraltar, the Faroe Islands, Greenland, Switzerland, Andorra, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, the Vatican City, and San Marino.

For pets other than dogs, cats or ferrets, including rabbits, hamsters, gerbils, budgies, and fish, you should check the individual rules for your specific animal. They will need an INTRA vet certificate or, for birds, an INTRA-2 certificate. For horses, you need a 'fit to travel' certificate known as 'TRACES' and a registered equine passport. Professional equine transport companies or key equestrian associations in your home country will be able to guide you.

How long is an EU Pet Passport valid for?

An EU Pet Passport does not expire, but you must keep your pet's rabies vaccinations up to date. If you fail to do so, the EU Pet Passport ceases to be valid, and you will have to go through the process of obtaining a new version.

I got an EU Pet Passport before Brexit. Can I still use it to travel with my animals?

No. Even if your pet has a passport and has been a frequent traveller between the UK and Spain, this ceased to be valid from the start of 2021 when Great Britain formally left the EU.

However, if you are a British resident in Spain and have pets living with you, their EU Pet Passport is valid for travelling with you to other EU countries.

Moving pets to Spain from a non-EU/EEA country

In addition to the rabies vaccination and internationally-recognised (ISO) microchip (or tattoo if issued before 2011) as detailed above, pets travelling from outside the EU/EEA will need an EU health certificate. This is issued by an official State vet in your home country, and you will require a sworn legal translation of it into Spanish.

The health certificate must have been issued within a maximum of 10 days before your pet enters Spain. It remains valid for four months, unless your pet's rabies vaccination falls due again before this time. Once your pet has had his or her rabies booster vaccination, you would need to seek a new health certificate.

You do not need to keep renewing your pet's health certificate once you are settled in Spain. Whilst it continues to be valid, however, you can travel to and from other EU/EEA countries with your pet. Birds moving to Spain from a non-EU/EEA country will need to have been either vaccinated against avian influenza (bird 'flu) at least 60 days before travel, or be tested and isolated for 14 days before the journey starts.

As well as the health certificate, you must make a declaration in writing that your pet is not being moved to Spain for trade or commercial purposes.

Pets moving to Spain from non-EU/EEA countries are required to enter the country at specific locations. These are either sea ports or airports, and there is typically one or more in every province. This is so that the relevant authorities can check all documentation and other requirements are in place. The Spanish government's ministry for agriculture, fishing and food website features a full list of approved entry points.

Do pets have to quarantine after entering Spain?

Pets who have the required documentation and are not showing visible signs of ill health upon arrival do not need to quarantine when they enter Spain, even from non-EU/EEA countries.

Do I need to be with my pet for the journey?

From a legal point of view, you should accompany your pet during travel and at the point of entry to Spain. But if you cannot do so for whatever reason, you can authorise someone else to accompany them. You must make a written declaration that gives this person responsibility for your pet.

If you authorise another person to take this responsibility, you must reunite with your pet within a maximum of five days of his or her arrival.

From a wellbeing point of view, though, you should try to be the one to accompany your pet. Travelling, especially long distance, can be stressful for animals, and they will appreciate having mum or dad with them during this time.

yellow suitcase and a cat in a pink carrier
You should travel with your pet if you can, as this will be a comfort to them. Photo: Getty Images

Transport methods for pets moving to Spain

Depending upon your country of origin, you might be moving your pet to Spain by road, sea or air. If you are travelling by ferry, bus, coach or train, you must check with your transport company whether they allow pets. If they do, they will normally require cats and ferrets to be in closed carriers, and dogs to be on leads; dogs may even need to be muzzled, irrespective of their breed.

No extra rules apply for bringing your pet to Spain in your own car, other than those covering safe pet transport under national road traffic laws in the countries you travel through.

Ferries from the UK require pets to travel in their owners' cars – you cannot bring them on deck with you. Taking a pet by car through the Eurotunnel currently costs an extra €23 per animal, and pets are not permitted on the Eurostar.

If you are transporting your pet by aeroplane, you will need to arrange this in advance and pay the extra fee required. Also, you should check whether the airline allows pets in the cabin or whether they require pets to travel in the luggage hold.

Which airlines are best for transporting pets to Spain?

Major State airlines that have been named as 'pet-friendly' include Air France, Iberia, Finnair, Lufthansa and KLM. These usually allow you to carry your pet on board, especially if they are small, provided you give plenty of notice.

Budget airlines do not normally cater for pets, other than guide dogs, so you should check with them before you book.

Specialist pet transport companies

For peace of mind, if you are unsure about documentation or arranging air, sea or road travel yourself, you could appoint a specialist pet transport firm. As well as providing safe, comfortable and fully-compliant travel methods, these companies will often handle the documentation for you, such as the EU Pet Passport or the EU health certificate. They can also advise you on what to do and who to contact to obtain these documents yourself.

You can sometimes travel with your pet on the same mode of transport, or in tandem along the same route, so your pet can always have access to you if they become distressed. If you are not physically in the same vehicle as your pet, though, you must complete the above-mentioned written declaration giving the pet transport firm responsibility, and ensure you reunite with your furry family member within five days of their arrival in Spain.

Registering your pet in Spain

Once you and your pets have arrived safely in Spain, you will need to register them with a local vet. You should find out where your nearest vets are and seek recommendations before setting off, in case your pets need medical attention on arrival. Vets will not normally need any specific documents from you to log details of your pets, but they might ask for your identification (ID).

Certain breeds of dogs currently considered to be 'potentially dangerous' need to be entered on your town hall register, known as the Registro de Animales Potencialmente Peligrosos. You will be required to complete a form and pay a fee, and to apply for criminal record checks and basic medical tests. Public liability insurance (seguro de responsabilidad civil) is compulsory for breeds of dogs susceptible to registration. Your vet, town hall, or both will be able to explain the process to you.

Now you know how to move to Spain with your 'best friends', you can turn your attention to other aspects of your relocation. As there is a lot to deal with, you might find it helpful to read our Moving to Spain checklist: Key steps to take.

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  4. Moving to Spain with your pets: Legal requirements