Vanlife with a dog is awesome! Nova has been traveling with me for several years visiting 16 countries so far. She has been accompanying me from the sunlit beaches in Spain to the snowcapped mountains of Norway and many many miles in between. She is my best travelbuddy and I wouldn’t have it any other way. So I wholeheartedly would recommend bringing your pet on your nomadic adventures. But before that you do it is important to get everything in order. Because even though traveling within the EU is fairly easy and straightforward, there are some rules and regulations you need to consider. So let’s talk about a somewhat boring yet very important subject; European regulations!
Paperwork and health certificates
The rules to traveling to the EU are basically the same for every country. If you want to take your dog traveling within Europe make sure you have the following items in order:
- An up to date Rabies vaccination. EU regulation states that every pet has to have an updated Rabies shot. I have been asked to show her vaccination record at the border several times now so make sure you have this in order before you go. If you are vaccinating your dog for the first time, be aware that this has to be done 21 days before arriving in the EU. A rabies shot is valid for three years so once you vaccinated your dog you are good to go for a while!
- A valid European pet passport. It contains the personal information about your pet, vaccinations records and the microchip codes. A pet passport is valid for life and you can get it from any authorized veterinarian.
- Your pet needs to have a microchip. If you are traveling to an EU Country a microchip for your dog is mandatory. Many countries require a microchip for dogs to enter so make sure you are able to show the responder codes and registration in your pet passport if needed. Whether you travel or not, identifying your pet is the responsible thing to do anyway!
- Depending on which country you are traveling to, your dog may require an additional deworming treatment. If you are traveling to Norway, Ireland, Finland or the UK your dog needs to have been treated for worms by an authorized vet no more than 120 hours before entering. The vet will make a note in the passport of your pet so you can show it at the border if needed.
Every country has different laws regarding the transportation of your dog. In most countries your dog will have to be in a crate, behind a barrier in the back or locked in a seatbelt. Especially Germany and France have been known to be very strict about this and to fine violations. I have seen vanlifers built a crate for their dog in the van for that very reason. When I first started out I wasn’t sure what to do about this; my van didn’t have room for a crate that would fit such a big dog and I didn’t have any way of buckling her up otherwise. So I made a place for her underneath the dashboard. I figured that would be the safest option so she wouldn’t come crashing all the way from the back in case of an emergency break or whatever. If I was to build a van myself I would’ve probably built in a crate underneath the bed though. However, I have been traveling with my dog(s) for years and years now and I have never seen any kind of regulation on this matter. But it is good know what you might run into when you bring your dog to a country so you can decide what solution you are most comfortable with.
Ban on dog breeds
Be aware of the regulations/law concerning transportation of certain breeds. In some countries specific breeds are illegal which means that you won’t be able to bring them in your travels. This is different for every country so make sure to check the latest regulations regarding transportation for your breed. If you scroll down the lists you’ll find that it is mostly the pitbull terriers and dogs of the mastiff type that are banned. Some countries will allow you to bring certain breeds but under very specific conditions apparently.
Each country has it’s own laws concerning walking with your dog in public or using public transportation for example. Germany, again, is known for it’s most stringent pet safety regulations in Europe. Across the country, it is strictly forbidden to transport dogs without muzzles on any kind of public transportation regardless of their size and breed. When I was visiting Lake Konigsee I wanted to ride the ferry and the cable car but would only allow me to bring Nova when wearing a muzzle. Some breeds that are considered ‘dangerous’ must even wear a muzzle at all times in several countries within Europe. Again, I have been traveling through a lot of these countries and I rarely see a dog with a muzzle when I’m out in public but it is good to be aware and carry a muzzle with you at all times. Especially if you plan on using public transportation chances are you might need it.
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