How to Successfully Relocate with Pets to Switzerland
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How to Successfully Relocate with Pets to Switzerland

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Are you one of the lucky ones moving to Switzerland? Make sure you take your pet along for the ride! Although relocating pets to Switzerland may seem daunting at first, with some preparation and research, it can be a relatively easy process. This blog post will outline some tips and advice on relocating pets to Switzerland so that you can ensure your furry friend has a smooth transition into their new home. Bon voyage!

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Relocating with pets to Switzerland

Spice Ginger, a Bengal cat on his way to his new owner in Melbourne © MovingAnimals


Relocating internationally can be challenging, especially when considering bringing along your furry or feathered family member: “What kind of documentation is required? How long in advance do I need to start organizing? What airline should I book for my pets?”.

There are a sooo many things to consider! 

Switzerland prides itself with some of the best animal welfare laws – but what does that mean for you? Do you need to have special permits for your snakes, do you need to keep guinea pigs or parrots in pairs/groups, do certain dog breeds have stricter requirements or can you import a dog with a docked tail? These are just a few of the many questions that arise when it comes to moving to Switzerland with animals. We are here to assist you with any questions and concerns going along with your upcoming move.

Before your pet arrives in Switzerland, here's how to prepare 

If you are coming from countries with a low risk of rabies, it is essential that you have a current vaccination certificate for your pet, showing that your pet has been vaccinated against rabies for at least 21 days. Dogs and cats entering in hand luggage or as excess luggage from countries at risk of rabies require an import permit. Proof of relocation is essential to avoid VAT.

As long as you have all the necessary documents, your pet's trip to Switzerland should go smoothly! If you're in doubt, do reach out to a pet relocation expert. 

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What Are the Pet Restrictions for Switzerland?

Generally, listed dog breeds breeds may be brought into the country with the proper permit and documentation. However, owners must check with the canton where they will be living to see if keeping these breeds is allowed - in some cantons, and there are no restrictions. In some cantons, owners must obtain a permit or meet other requirements; in some cantons, they are banned altogether. 

Some of the dog breeds that are banned include:

🐕 American Staffordshire terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers, Bull terriers

🐕 Rottweilers

🐕 Dobermans

🐕 Mastiffs, Argentine mastiffs, Brazilian mastiffs, Spanish mastiffs or Neapolitan mastiffs

In addition, Switzerland does not allow the import of dogs with docked tails or ears, and there is a national law prohibiting the import of such animals. Dogs with docked tails or ears may only be taken in temporarily or as part of resettlement. This is only possible if the dog was owned for at least six months before resettlement.


What Are the Quarantine Requirements for a Pet Traveling to Switzerland?

In Switzerland, there is no mandatory quarantine for dogs and cats entering the country, provided your pet complies with all pet transport regulations. However, entering Switzerland, dogs and cats are examined to determine if all import requirements are met and if the animals are healthy. 

The import requirements can vary depending on the type or age of your animals and the country of origin. While adult dogs, cats & ferrets from EU countries can simply enter with a pet passport, microchip and valid rabies vaccination, it becomes trickier when coming from a 3rd country. In this case, an EU veterinary health certificate along with government endorsement becomes necessary. And it gets stricter when you arrive from a rabies risk country, such as Brazil, China, South Africa and many more. In that case, your dog, cat or ferret requires a rabies titer test done at least 3 months prior to entry into Switzerland.

The import requirements for pets for transport to Switzerland include: 

📌 Microchip - All pets must have an ISO-compliant 15-digit microchip to travel to Switzerland. The microchip number must be accurately recorded on all pet travel documents. 

📌 Vaccinations - Pets entering Switzerland from other EU member countries or countries with a low rabies occurrence must be vaccinated against rabies at least 21 days before arrival.

📌 Rabies Titer Test - Dogs and cats entering Switzerland from high rabies risk countries, not on the list must undergo rabies neutralization titer testing (RNATT) 30 days after rabies vaccination. For analysis, the sample must be forwarded to an EU-approved laboratory. The blood test must be performed at least 3 months prior to entry. Only pets with antibody levels of at least 0.5 IU/ml are permitted to enter Switzerland.

📌 Health Certificate and Import Permit - The health certificate must contain information about the animal, vaccinations, health tests, and treatments. Import permits are only required when bringing in pets from rabies risk countries in cabin or as excess baggage. If your pet is booked as manifested cargo, an import permit will not be necessary.

📌 Prohibited breeds - The import of dogs with docked ears and tails is prohibited in Switzerland. Such dogs may not be advertised, sold, given away, or shown at a dog show in Switzerland. The country also prohibits the import of certain aggressive dog breeds.


Does my pet need a passport?

Once you’ve arrived in Switzerland from a 3rd country, will you need to get a pet passport issued? While for the first four months, the EU-health certificate remains valid for further travels within Europe, you do require a pet passport after that period. While most cats will not travel with their owners throughout Europe after their arrival in Switzerland, you can quickly do a day trip or holidays with your dog to other countries. It is therefore recommended to get the pet passport issued soon after your arrival. And since dogs must be registered in Switzerland, you can get a pet passport issued at the same time when registering your dog. 

Cookie is a Golden Retriever who moved with MovingAnimals from Zurich to Singapore ©MovingAnimals


Is it safe for my pet to travel in the cargo compartment?

Moving Animals moves 99% of animals as manifested cargo – the compartment for animals is heated/air-conditioned and pressurized. The loading position on the plane is depending on the type of aircraft and the size of the travel crate – it can either by safely secured on a pallet or loaded in a separate bulk compartment. Airlines consider live animals as priority, which means the ground handling will arrange for the loading at the latest or offloading at the first possible moment.

If you prefer to have your dog or cat travel in the cabin – know that this is not always possible. Depending on the size of your pet, the airline may have an embargo on carrying pets in the cabin or the country of destination will simply only accept animals arriving as manifested cargo.  

Here’s some fast facts to bear in mind when moving with animals by air:

🐾 The travel crate must meet IATA Live Animal Regulations – which means your pet must have enough room in the crate to stand upright (with min. 5 cm space from top of head to crate ceiling), turn around easily and lie down in a comfortable position.

🐾 A water bowl must be attached to the door inside the crate. MovingAnimals tip: freeze the water, so that it provides sufficient amount and doesn’t spill upon loading and take off).

🐾 A blanket/towel/bedding must be in the crate for comfort and soaking purposes. MovingAnimals tip: include a worn piece of clothing that bears your scent – without zips or buttons.

🐾 Crate training helps to reduce the stress.

🐾 Clearly label your crate (or if you choose a pet relocation company like MovingAnimals, we'll take care of that for you).

🐾 Do not give tranquilizers or sedatives

🐾 Avoid feeding your dog, cat or ferret short before departure (last meal at least 6-8 hours prior) – other animals such as rabbits or birds should always have food available.

🐾 Original documents must travel with your pet(s).

🐾 Should your animal have special needs (i.e. requires special food, is on medication) or has a medical condition – inform everyone involved in your pet’s relocation.

🐾 If possible, book a non-stop flight – if that’s not an option, a pet relocation company like MovingAnimals can help to find the best possible flight routings.


What do I need to know and do before moving them?

The actual move can be very stressful for animals, so it is essential to consider their age. If your pet is old or not in the best shape, it may not be able to handle a long journey. Always consult with your vet before making any decisions.

Consider training your pet or working with an animal trainer or expert to encourage independence and behavior. Most exercise and training involve re-enacting the unfamiliar travel or environment your pet will experience, so they are exposed or oriented.


How much time should I give myself to prepare for the relocation?

The entire pet relocation process can be long and complicated. It is essential to consider the timeline of each step and the gap between them. The pet's stress level is high during moving, so it is necessary to prepare ahead for it.

If you are traveling by air, your pet will be placed in the cargo hold of an airplane. The loading procedure can be the most stressful part of the process. The flight itself is similar to a flight in the cabin. The temperature is controlled, it is pressurized and not very loud. 


Entry into Switzerland

Pets entering Switzerland are examined to determine if all import requirements have been met and if the animal is healthy. There is no quarantine for dogs and cats entering Switzerland as long as all import requirements are met.

Pets from high-risk countries can enter Switzerland through Geneva, Zurich, and Basel.


How can a pet relocation company help?

While in some cases, it is possible to bring along a pet yourself, there’re many advantages to involve a professional pet relocation company.

Moving Animals is above all a team of animal lovers who specialise in freight transport since 1996 and in animal shipping - since 2003. That means nearly two decades of knowledge, expertise, networking and solid connections forged with airlines or local authorities. 

A professional pet shipper will be able to come up with ideas, make the process more efficient or simply clear a pet at the destination much faster. Their experience with shipping animals on different airlines makes the difference when choosing the routing.

A pet relocation company will make sure you have the correct paperwork for the destination country. They can enquire import permits, book quarantine, arrange vet appointments or government endorsements.

And you will have someone to go to that has the answers to all your questions and a calming solution during this time filled with anxietry. 

Moving Animals pet relocation service will arrange every aspect of moving your pet abroad, arranging the paperwork and transportation, educating you on import regulations, and giving you expert insight based on thousands of pet relocations. 


It's all about getting your pets safely at their new home

WIth the help of an expert pet relocation company, you and your pet will travel securely and stress-free, thanks to careful planning and decades of experience. in the end, it's all worth it.


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Other people who have moved with their pets also asked:

How does the cargo compartment look like?

Should tranquillizers be given to my dog or cat?

There’s no direct flight for my destination – is a transit for my pet safe?


Main article photo: Archie, a Bernese Mountain Dog, who moved from London to Zurich together with Marcel Brozius of the MovingAnimals team © MovingAnimals