All you need to know about pet transport to Switzerland
Switzerland is well-known the world over for its beautiful mountains, delectable chocolate and luxury watches. A little less known fact about Switzerland is how incredibly pet-friendly the country is. Dogs and cats are welcome in most tourist places, in hotels, shops and cafés.
International pet transport to Switzerland can be a little tricky, especially if your pet is flying from across the world. If you are travelling to Switzerland on holiday or moving to the country with your pet, here’s everything you need to know about international pet travel to the country.
All pet cats and dogs travelling to Switzerland must have an ISO-compliant microchip. Microchips are tiny electronic chips that are implanted between the shoulder blades of cats and dogs. These microchips are essential for international pet travel, and most countries in the world insist on a microchip before travel. The microchip can be read by an electronic reader, with which one can retrieve details such as your pet’s name and identifying features, age and breed, medical interventions and vaccinations, and your contact details.
While making plans for international pet travel, the first step often is to microchip your pet. Remember to do it before your pet receives their vaccinations. Any authorised vet can help you with procuring and implanting the microchip.
Check your country category
During international pet travel, the rabies status of the country of origin determines the documentation and health tests the pet needs before travelling. Usually, pets flying from countries where rabies is absent or controlled have fewer documentation and tests compared to pets flying from countries where the incidence of rabies is high. Switzerland has classified the countries into three categories based on the rabies status:
- EU member states and other European states and territories: Rabies is absent in these countries. They are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Germany, Denmark, Estonia, Spain, Finland, France, United Kingdom, Greece, Croatia, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Latvia, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Sweden, Slovenia, Slovakia, Andorra, Faroe Islands, Gibraltar, Greenland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino, and Vatican City State.
- Countries with low risk of rabies: In these countries, the risk of dogs and cats being infected with rabies is low. They are Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Aruba, Ascension Island, Australia, Bahrain, Barbados, Belarus, Bermuda, Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba, Bosnia and Herzegovina, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Cayman Islands, Chile, Curaçao, Falkland Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, Hong Kong, Jamaica, Japan, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Montserrat, New Caledonia, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Russia, Saint Helena, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Singapore, Sint Marteen, Taiwan (Chinese Taipei), Trinidad and Tobago, United Arab Emirates, the United States of America with American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands, Vanuatu, Wallis and Futuna
- Rabies risk countries: These countries have a high incidence of rabies, and there is a risk that cats and dogs travelling from these countries could be infected with rabies. All countries not mentioned in categories 1 and 2 are classified under the high-risk country category.
Vaccinations for pets travelling to Switzerland
Pets travelling from category 1 and 2 countries need to be vaccinated against rabies not less than 21 days before the date of travel. The rabies vaccination is considered valid on the 21st day after the completion of the vaccination protocol. Pets travelling from EU member countries and other European nations can present their pet passport as proof of rabies vaccination.
Pets moving to Switzerland from high-risk countries will need a rabies titre test (RNATT) not less than 30 days after the vaccination. A rabies titre test measures the level of antibodies in your pet’s blood to check the effectiveness of the rabies vaccine. Only pets that show a result of at least o.5 IU/ml are allowed to enter Switzerland. The RNATT analysis must be done at an EU-authorised lab, and your pet must wait for three months after the date of sampling before flying to Switzerland.
Health certificate and import permit
Dogs and cats travelling to Switzerland from low risk and high-risk countries need a health certificate certified by an authorised vet. The health certificate must be recent as it is valid for ten days from the date of issue. It must contain the following information:
- Name and identification features of the pet, including microchip details
- Rabies vaccination details
- Rabies titre test details, if applicable
- Details of Echinococcus treatment
- Pet parent’s contact information
If you are flying with five pets or less to Switzerland, it is considered non-commercial transport. You will have to travel into the country within five days of your pet for it to be regarded as non-commercial transport. If you have more than five pets, you will have to follow the regulations laid out for commercial import of animals.
Pets flying into Switzerland from high-risk countries will need an import permit issued by the Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office in Switzerland. These pets can only enter the country at Basel, Geneva and Zurich. You must apply for the permit three weeks before the date of travel.
Special exceptions for bringing your pet to Switzerland
- Australia: Cats travelling to Switzerland from Australia must be accompanied by a certificate authorised by an official vet confirming that the cat has not resided in a place with confirmed cases of Hendra disease in the 60 days before travelling to Switzerland.
- Malaysia: Dogs and cats travelling from peninsular Malaysia need a certificate from the vet stating that the pet has had no contact with pigs 60 days before the date of journey. The document has to indicate that the pet has not stayed in a place where Nipah disease is present in the 60 days before travelling to Switzerland. Pet dogs and cats travelling from Malaysia also need an ELISA test for Nipah virus with the sample drawn ten days before travelling. Only pets with a negative result will be allowed to enter Switzerland.
Travelling with puppies and kittens to Switzerland
Dogs and cats younger than 12 weeks do not need to be vaccinated against rabies if they are travelling to Switzerland from EU countries and countries with low rabies risk. These pets must be accompanied by a certificate stating that the puppies and kittens have not come into contact with wild animals susceptible to rabies.
Dogs and cats aged between 12 weeks and 16 weeks must receive their rabies vaccination before travelling to Switzerland. If their flight is within 21 days of the vaccination, they will need a certificate stating that they have not been near wild animals of species susceptible to rabies before travelling.
Young cats and dogs that are still suckling can travel only their mother has been vaccinated against rabies before the young animals were born. Puppies and kittens that are less than 56 days old must be accompanied by their mother.
Puppies and kittens less than seven months of age cannot travel to Switzerland from high-risk countries because the waiting period after the rabies titre test must be met before the journey.
Banned breeds in Switzerland
Different provinces in Switzerland have different rules for banned and prohibited breeds in the country. It is a good idea to check the rules before making travel plans.
The following dog breeds are prohibited in Geneva unless they are neutered and have no history of aggression: American Staffordshire Terrier, Bullmastiff, Boerboel, Cane Corso, Dogo Argentino, Fila Brasileiro, Dogue de Bordeaux, Mastiff, Pitbull, Presa Canario, Thai Ridgeback, Rottweiler, Matin Espagnol, Matin de Naples and Tosa Inu
In Zurich, prohibited breeds include American Staffordshire Terriers, Bull Terriers and Staffordshire Bull Terriers.
The import of dogs with cropped ears and docked tails are banned in Switzerland. If your dog has cropped ears and a docked tail, you can apply to the customs office before moving with evidence that the dog is part of your household effects or the dog was docked and cropped for medical reasons. Such dogs are not allowed to be advertised, sold, given away or exhibited at a show in Switzerland.
Pets travelling to Switzerland will be subject to examination upon entry to check if all import parameters are met satisfactorily and if the pet is in good health. There is no quarantine for cats and dogs entering Switzerland as long as all import regulations are in order.
Pets travelling from high-risk countries can enter Switzerland at Geneva, Zurich and Basel. If your pet transits through a high-risk country before entering Switzerland, you will need a transit declaration stating that your pet has had no contact with other animals and has remained within the aircraft or airport during the transit period.
Pet travel to Switzerland? Call the pet transport specialists
International pet travel to Switzerland can be complicated and daunting, especially for first-time pet travellers. The rules are complex, and the documentation required is immense. Wrong documentation could mean your pet will spend time in quarantine, or worse sent back home.