How do pet owners travel without them

Animal law


10.1 Legal basis


There is a vast number of national and international regulations on the subject of “traveling with animals”. It is hardly possible for a layperson to find all applicable provisions in a specific case. Because which laws have to be observed in individual cases depends on the species, the country of origin of the animal and the country of destination. If necessary, the provisions of one or more transit countries must be observed. These provisions are not intended to harass pet owners. The following goals are in the foreground:


  1. Animal welfare regulations (as safe and animal-friendly transport as possible);
  2. Animal disease regulations (to prevent dangerous diseases from being spread from one place to another);
  3. Species protection provisions (export and import bans of endangered animal species).



10.2 Holiday trips with animals from Switzerland to EU countries


10.2.1 Principle: pet passport, rabies vaccination and microchip

If you want to travel to or through the EU with your dog, cat or ferret, you need an EU pet passport for your animal since 2004, which is issued by the veterinarian. The animal must also be marked with a microchip or a tattoo (but only until 2011) and vaccinated against rabies in accordance with the regulations. A permit is generally not required, not even for the return journey to Switzerland. Sweden, Ireland, the United Kingdom and Malta will keep their special provisions until mid-2009. As the special provisions of each country cannot be discussed at this point, travelers should find out about such provisions in good time before departure - in the country of travel, on the FVO website or from their veterinarian. It should also be noted that entry and exit regulations can change very quickly, not least because of contagious animal diseases.


10.2.2 Microchip for EU travel with dogs and cats

Since 2004, new regulations apply to traveling with dogs, cats and ferrets in or through the European Union (EU): The animals must be identified by means of a microchip or tattoo (the latter is only valid until 2011!).


10.2.3 New pet passport

Since 2004, pet owners who want to travel to an EU country with a dog, cat or ferret have had to carry an EU pet passport. This contains information about the animal, the owner and all vaccinations and examinations carried out. It also provides information on whether the animal is properly identified and registered. The ID card is valid for the entire life of the animal and can be legally completed by any veterinarian in Switzerland with a practice license.


10.2.4 Rabies vaccination

As before, a rabies vaccination is necessary for traveling with pets. This must be entered in the pet passport. The vaccination must have been given at least 21 days before crossing the border. The 21-day waiting period does not apply to annually re-vaccinated animals. The vaccination is valid for as long as specified by the vaccine manufacturer if the expiry date has been entered in the pet ID card by the veterinarian. If this is not the case, the vaccination is no longer valid after one year.


10.3 Import of pets into Switzerland


10.3.1 Import of pets from EU countries into Switzerland

Dogs, cats and ferrets, if they are considered pets, i.e. not to be used for commercial purposes, may be imported into Switzerland from the EU without a permit and, if accompanied by people, without a border veterinary examination. However, it is required that dogs and cats have to present a veterinary certificate upon entry confirming that they have been vaccinated against rabies. The vaccination must have been carried out at least 21 days before crossing the border. The animals must also be identified with a microchip.

Dogs, cats or ferrets that are less than three months old and have not yet been vaccinated may only be taken into Switzerland if they are traveling with their mother or if there is a veterinary confirmation that they have been kept at the place of birth at all times and have never been in contact with wild animals Were at risk of rabies. If the animals that have not yet been vaccinated are older than three months, an exemption can be requested from the FVO.

Other pets such as guinea pigs, golden hamsters, canaries and aquarium fish can in principle be imported without a certificate, without a border veterinary examination or other formalities. However, customs regulations, import bans and temporary epidemiological import restrictions must always be observed. In this regard, too, it is advisable to inquire with the FVO in good time.


10.3.1 Import of pets from third countries into Switzerland

Dogs, cats or ferrets can only be imported into Switzerland as pets from third countries if there are no more than five animals. It is necessary to mark the animal with a microchip (until 2011 a tattoo is sufficient) as well as a veterinary certificate, which must be issued by the responsible official veterinarian in the country of origin, whereby for the re-entry of Swiss animals it is sufficient if all import conditions are met and entered in this.

In the case of third countries, a distinction is made between countries at risk of rabies and countries with a low risk of rabies. No permit is required for imports from low-risk countries and border veterinary examinations are only carried out at customs on a random basis. In the case of direct imports from a risk country via a Swiss airport, a permit must be obtained from the Federal Veterinary Office at least three weeks before entry and a border veterinary examination is carried out at customs. If the import from a third country takes place by car or train, however, the special permit is not required, as the control already takes place upon entry into the EU.

For other pets, the same rules apply to imports from third countries as for imports from EU countries. In principle, they can be imported without a certificate, without a border veterinary examination or other formalities. Exceptions exist for the import of pet birds that do not come from an EU country or from Andorra, the Faroe Islands, Greenland, Iceland, Croatia, Norway, San Marino or the Vatican. A health certificate is required here, from which it can be seen that the bird was under quarantine in the country of origin, as well as a border veterinary examination.

A maximum of five animals can be imported from non-EU countries at one time. With higher numbers of animals, the stricter rules of commercial imports apply. Customs regulations, import bans and temporary epidemiological import restrictions must also be observed at all times. In this regard, too, it is advisable to inquire with the FVO in good time.


10.4 Pets on the plane


If a flight is planned, various questions must be clarified in advance. The international aviation authority IATA has issued special guidelines for freight forwarding companies and airlines for the air transport of animals, which also contain recommendations for passengers traveling with animals. In addition to the IATA rules, the provisions of the respective airlines must be observed. Since some of them differ greatly from one another, it is advisable to clarify the details with the company in question in good time.


The animals that are mostly transported are probably dogs, cats and small tame animals. These animals can be carried in the passenger car of the Swiss Federal Railways. Depending on their size, they are subject to a tariff or not. However, the animal owner must ensure that the other passengers do not feel disturbed by the animal. If there is a risk that a dog will bite in a crowd, it should be muzzled for the journey. SBB does not transport pets as cargo or unaccompanied.


10.6 Pets on the tram or bus (Verkehrsverbund Zürich)


According to the guidelines of the Zürcher Verkehrsverbund on the fee schedule (as of February 2009), small dogs, cats and similar tame animals can be carried free of charge in bags, baskets or other suitable containers as hand luggage. In all other cases (except for certain working dogs), the reduced 2nd class fare for animals or a NetzPass for dogs (junior) must be purchased.