Pets are welcome in Switzerland but there are strict Swiss regulations for bringing pets into the country, especially regarding health and transportation.
If you plan to take a pet to Switzerland, it’s important to check the latest Swiss regulations. Make sure that you have the correct papers, not only for Switzerland, but for all the countries your pet will pass through to reach Switzerland. Be aware that these may differ from country to country depending on where your pet is coming from. Here is the general information you will need when you decide to travel to Switzerland with your pet.
Pet immigration rules for Switzerland
Since 2007, all dogs in Switzerland have been required to carry clearly identifiable and forge-proof chips (transponder) and must be registered with the Animal Identity Service (ANIS). The ID chip contains a unique number as well as a code for Switzerland. This system makes it possible to retrieve data stored in the central databank on the dog owner, dog race, fur colour, age, name and sex. Puppies must be microchipped and registered three months after birth at the latest. Dogs that have chips implanted by veterinarians are also registered by the vet with the appropriate offices in the canton of residence. If you are bringing a dog into Switzerland you must have it registered in the ANIS database by a veterinarian within 10 days of arrival.
Pets moving within Europe can take advantage of the system of European Pet Passports, which is designed for domestic animals. The Pet Passport is a booklet that provides all of the essential information on your pet, including an identification number and proof of all relevant vaccinations. The passport remains valid for the whole life of your pet.
The EU pet passport serves as the certificate of health and can only be issued by a licensed vet. All vaccinations should be kept current by the vet who also needs to ensure that the pet is micro-chipped, has had the relevant rabies vaccine and has undergone a blood test to ensure that the vaccine is present in the pet’s system. If your animal was vaccinated before it was fitted with a microchip, it will have to be vaccinated again after the microchip is inserted. Additionally, if your pet’s microchip is not ISO 11784/11785 compliant, you will have to bring your own microchip scanner.
Animals from EU countries must have a rabies vaccination at least 21 days before entering Switzerland. Dogs and cats younger than three months must have a veterinary certificate, stating that the young animals were kept since birth at their birthplace without contact with wild animals. The certificate is not necessary, when the young animals are accompanied by their mother, from which they are still dependent.
Pets entering Switzerland from a country with a high incidence of rabies must have a Blood Titer Test 3 months prior to departure.
Travellers from EU countries may bring an unlimited number of pets into Switzerland.
Cubs younger than 56 days can only be brought over the border, when they are accompanied by their mother or their foster-mother.
Certain animals can be imported without a rabies vaccination certificate:
- Cats and dogs from rabies-free countries that forbid rabies vaccinations (Australia and New Zealand).
- Puppies and kittens up to five months of age from European countries (except Turkey and the States of the former Soviet Union) or from the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. A veterinary health certificate stating the animal’s age must be produced.
- Cats and dogs traveling through Switzerland by air or rail without a stopover.
- No animal health permits or health certificates are required for animals deemed ‘pets’ according to the definition – except for dogs, cats, ferrets and pet birds from non-EU third countries. They may be imported from all countries.
- No dogs with docked ears and/or tails.
- Number of pets from non-EU countries is limited to five.
- For several exotic pets a husbandry permission is needed. This does not apply for short stays (i.e. holidays) but only if the pet will be living in Switzerland. Before a permit is issued, the cantonal veterinarian makes sure that the required space and care for the animal is provided. Permits are needed for all mammals (livestock species excluded), many birds and some fish.
- The import requirements arising from the laws on conservation on species apply for protected or non-domesticated species even if those are deemed pets.
- Switzerland reserves the right in impose temporary bans aimed at preventing the introduction of animal disease.
There are different regulations that apply when taking birds to Switzerland due to the bird flu alerts that have taken place in recent years. There is a maximum of five birds that can be taken into the country. You have a choice between a 30-day pre-export quarantine or a 30 day quarantine after the birds have been imported. If you have had the bird vaccinated to protect it from avian flu this must have taken place at least 60 days before importation or alternatively the bird can be isolated for 10 days before departure and undergo a test for avian flu after at least three days of isolation. A licensed vet must verify that these criteria have been carried out.
There are separate provisions relating to the conservation of species that apply to protected or non-domesticated species. Imports of birds that have been caught in the wild are not allowed.
Exemptions: import without certificates
Neither animal health permits nor certificates nor veterinary border inspections are required to introduce up to five pet birds – except those caught in the wild – from the following third countries:
- Faroe Islands
- San Marino
- Vatican City State
For other types of animals such as guinea pigs, hamsters, rabbits, rodents, aquarium fish and reptiles, you simply need a certificate that states that the animal is in good health. An import permit and veterinary certificate is required for certain domestic animals such as horses, parrots, turtles and ferrets. You can download forms from the FVO site.
Additionally, horses need a horse passport. The person or company transporting the animals needs to have an export licence that must be presented to the transportation company. The horses should be micro-chipped and, as with all other types of animals, proof will need to be presented that they are in good health.
Another important issue is pet insurance. Pet insurance can cover much of the expense of unexpected vet bills in case of an injury or illness, so there are several considerations when choosing pet insurance:
- Does the policy cover all chronic, congenital and hereditary conditions?
- Is there a time limit on treatment per condition?
- Is there a financial limit on treatment per condition?
- Are there flexible coverage options to fit your budget and needs exactly?
- How well established is the company? How is it rated?
Airline Pet Container Requirements
The rules regarding approved types of containers for cats, dogs, ferrets and birds flying in the cabin and as cargo were created by IATA, and for the most part have been accepted by the world’s airlines.
Pets in the cabin
On flights of less than ten hours, many airlines will allow small cats or dogs to be taken with the passenger in the cabin (except travel to the UK and Hong Kong). Generally, the airline will only allow one pet per passenger and a maximum of two pets per cabin. The container for the pet must fit under the seat in front of you and have a waterproof bottom and adequate ventilation. The Sherpa, Bergan and SturdiBag pet carriers are all airline compliant as long as the carrier is the proper size for your pet.
IATA Pet Crates Requirements
Your pet must be in an IATA compliant pet crate and meet certain other requirements. It is considered best to have only one animal per container, but the IATA rules state that two animals can share the same container if the animals are less than 14kg (30lbs) and are of the same species.
If you are purchasing a container, make sure that it meets these minimum requirements:
- The container must be large enough for the animal(s) to stand, turn around, and lie down.
- The kennel must be made of a sturdy plastic.
- The container must have a secure, spring loaded, all around locking system with the pins extending beyond the horizontal extrusions above and below the door.
- Although this is not an IATA requirement, many airlines are now requiring steel crate hardware instead of plastic fasteners. We would recommend that you use this hardware on your pet’s crate to be sure there will be no problems.
- Both water and food bowls must be attached to the inside of the front door and be refillable from the outside of the container without opening the door.
- The container must have ventilation on all sides for international travel and three sides minimum for domestic travel.
- The Container must have LIVE ANIMAL stickers on the top and sides in letters at least one inch tall.
- NO WHEELS. If the container has wheels, they should be removed or taped securely so that the kennel cannot roll.
- The container must be identified with your pet’s name and owner’s contact information. The best way to do this is to attach your pet’s information to the outside of the crate.
- Make sure to attach an extra copy of your pet’s health certificate to the container.
Keeping your pet in Switzerland
Generally, dogs are allowed on Swiss trains, although the conductor can require that your pet travel in the baggage car if it barks or snarls at the other passengers. You will need a half-fare second-class ticket for your dog, regardless of whether you are travelling first or second-class.
Smaller shops are dog friendly, with the conspicuous exception of food stores. There are usually tie-ups outside and you can also see a water bowl for dogs outside a butcher shop or grocery store.
In public places you must keep your dog on a leash. You are also required to clean up after your dog. Therefore carry plastic bags with you, or use the disposal facilities in many public parks.
Dog licence fee in Switzerland
All cantons and/or communes charge a dog licence fee, which varies from commune to commune. In most cantons, reductions or exemptions are made in certain cases (for guide dogs, dogs trained in rescue operations, etc.).