How to prepare your pet for travel

Are you taking your loyal four-legged friend on a trip? Or are you bringing an adopted animal from abroad to Belgium? Make sure you're well-prepared before you both cross the border.

Travelling with pets from Belgium 

Travelling with your pet? Make sure your pet has a valid EU pet passport and an identification chip. You must also have your pet vaccinated against rabies at least 21 days before departure. Make sure you visit your vet well in advance. 

Travelling with pets outside the European Union is a little more complicated. It is best to contact the embassy of the country you are travelling to. They will be able to advise you of any additional requirements. 

Travelling with animals from a non-EU country

You may come across stray animals on your holiday and, as an animal lover, you may be tempted to take a stray dog or cat home with you. However, you cannot simply bring stray animals into Belgium. Strict EU rules apply, even if you come from another EU country. So have a look at this checklist first. 

  • EU pet passport or EU health certificate. Note that an EU pet passport is only valid if your pet has been in the EU before. Does your pet need a rabies vaccination outside the EU? Then you will need a health certificate. 
  • Owner's declaration. 
  • Are you travelling commercially with pets? You will need a special certificate. The dog or cat can only enter Belgium via customs. Check the rules for commercial transport of dogs and cats

Check here all the details per country of departure. 

Your pet must be microchipped. The chip number and date of implantation must be clearly stated on the EU health certificate or EU pet passport. 

The animal must be vaccinated against rabies. And must be at least 12 weeks old when it receives the rabies vaccination. Other vaccinations are not mandatory, but are recommended. Read more on the European Union's website. 

Check if the country you are traveling from is listed on this web page of the EU. Is the country listed? Then it is a low-risk country for rabies. If the country is not listed, then it is a high-risk country for rabies. In that case, you need an additional blood test. 

Additionally, you can also hire a customs agent specialized in animal transport. They can help you ensure your pet's journey goes smoothly. 

What if my pet does not meet the requirements?

If your pet does not comply with EU regulations, travelling to Belgium is unfortunately not an option. If upon arrival it is found that your animal does not meet the regulations, it will be handed over by customs to the Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain (FASFC) and transferred to the Animal Care & Inspection Center, the border inspection post for animals. At that point, the FASFC will decide on the next steps, but one thing is certain, all costs for the stay and return will be your responsibility. 

To avoid stress for your animal, it is crucial to prepare well for the trip. Make sure your pet meets all the requirements before travelling to Belgium. 

FAQs about travelling with pets

Guide dogs and assistance dogs are welcome on board, but please inform your airline in advance. For some animals, you will need a certificate; your vet can give you more information. 

Depending on its breed and size, your pet will travel either in the cabin or in the cargo hold. Make sure your pet is always in a sturdy crate or carrier that is large enough. Give your pet a few days to get used to it before you travel. 

What else do you need to know about the crate? 

  • Your pet should be able to stand up and lie down easily inside it. 
  • Wheels? They should be removed, unless they have brakes. 
  • Place an absorbent cloth on the bottom. 
  • Make sure there is good ventilation on three sides. 
  • The box must be strong. At the airport, they will add extra zip ties, but you can easily remove these after the flight. 
  • Attach a label to the side of the crate with your pet's name, passport details, and possibly feeding instructions. 
  • A cloth with a familiar scent will make the crate more comfortable. 
  • You may also attach a water bottle with a drinking spout. 

Note: Each airline has its own regulations. Please check with them.