Pets are welcome in the Netherlands, but there are strict rules relating to bringing pets into the country, particularly around proving they are healthy and are transported appropriately.
If you plan to take a pet when moving to the Netherlands, it’s important to check the latest regulations. Make sure that you have the correct papers, not only for the Netherlands, but for all the countries you will pass through to reach the Netherlands. Be aware that regulations differ depending on the country you are traveling from. Here is the general information you will need when you decide to move to The Netherlands with your pet.
Pet immigration rules for the Netherlands
Your pet must have an ISO pet microchip, and be vaccinated for rabies and various other diseases at least 21 days prior to travel and not more than one year prior to travel. If your animal was vaccinated before it was fitted with a microchip, it will have to be vaccinated again after the microchip is inserted. If your pet’s microchip is not ISO 11784/11785 compliant, you will have to bring your own microchip scanner.
A USDA (or CFIA) accredited veterinarian must then complete the bilingual Annex II for the Netherlands for endorsement by the USDA or CFIA if traveling from the United States or Canada. If traveling from another country, the Governing Authority should endorse the form for you.
Pets entering the Netherlands from a country with a high incidence of rabies must have a Blood Titer Test one month after vaccination and three months prior to departure.
Unvaccinated pets (dogs and cats only) less than three months old may enter an EU country. There are other, additional regulations. Certain aggressive breeds of dogs cannot enter, for example.
All other pets (birds, invertebrates, tropical fish, reptiles, amphibians, mammals such as rodents and rabbits) are not subject to the regulations on the anti-rabies vaccination but may have to meet other requirements as to a limit on the number of animals and a certificate to accompany them with respect to other diseases. Pet owners should seek further information from the relevant authority of their country and/or that of the destination country.
Airline pet container requirements
The airline generally insists you acquire a special travelling container for the animal with ventilation and room for movement. Label your pet’s kennel carefully and prominently so that it won’t get lost during the transit. Ensure that your pet has adequate food and water for the journey.
The rules for containers for cats, dogs, ferrets and birds flying in the cabin and as cargo were created by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). Read the IATA requirements before you travel with your pet.
Pets in the cabin
On flights of less than ten hours, many airlines allow small cats or dogs in the cabin. 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 must 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.
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 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. They must 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.
EU pet passports
European Union pet owners must now have pet passports when travelling with their animals. The passports include the pet’s microchip or tattoo number for identification, as well as other data such as records of all vaccinations and clinical examinations. When traveling, the pet owner must ensure that the rabies vaccination in the passport is valid or else renew the pet’s vaccination.
One aim of the European Pet Travel Scheme, which covers cats, dogs and even ferrets, rabbits and rodents, is to provide proof that the animal has been vaccinated against rabies, with the passport also setting out details of the pet’s tick and tapeworm treatment. The EU Pet Passport contains the following information:
- Name and address of animal owner
- Description of the animal (breed, sex, age, color)
- Number of microchip
- Date of the rabies vaccination, period of validity of the vaccination, type of vaccine, name of manufacturer and production number
- Address and signature of the veterinarian
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 the things you need to consider when choosing pet insurance are of a major importance:
- Does the policy cover all chronic, congenital, and hereditary conditions?
- Is there a time limit on treatment per condition?
- Is there a dollar limit on treatment per condition?
- Are there flexible coverage options to fit your budget and needs exactly?
- How well established is the company? Are the reviews positive?
You will not need a permit for your dog but most cities charge an annual Dog Tax (hondenbelasting); prices vary on the number of dogs. Dogs must also register with the local town hall (gemeente) and the municipal tax office (Gemeentelijke Belastingdienst) upon arrival, which you can arrange by letter or in person. No other animals, such as cats, require registration or tax.
The Netherlands has a wide network of animal hospitals and vets. As well as appointments, many vets offer a special drop-in time (spreekuur) when you can stop by unannounced for advice or in an emergency. As for health check-ups, your vet will keep you regularly informed with updates.
The Amsterdam-based Pet Travel Clinic (DierenKliniek Europaplein) comes highly recommended. From its beginnings as a small practice caring for mainly cats and dogs, it has gained a solid following among international pet owners. With services available in over five languages, the clinic’s got pet care covered whether you’re already in the Netherlands or planning to make the move.
If you’re reading this, it means you and your pet have made it. Congratulations. Rest assured that while you work, your pets are at play. Or why not let your cats and rabbits loose with the Pet Nanny available across Amsterdam and the Netherlands.
Pet gone astray? Call your local Lost Pet Line (Dierenkwijtlijn) in Amsterdam. If your pet has a chip, you should also report the loss to the National Chip Database.