Travelling with a pet outside Belgium is subject to rules. This page explains these rules for dogs, cats and ferrets (DCF).
Before planning a trip with your pet, it is important to check that the entry and transit of any DCF you wish to take to another country is permitted and whether certain conditions are prescribed by the competent authorities of the countries of transit and destination. These movements may be commercial or non-commercial in nature:
A movement is considered commercial if it is intended for the sale or transfer of ownership of the animal. Also, any non-commercial movement of more than 5 animals per owner is considered to be commercial. For these movements, therefore, the rules for commercial movements must be abided by. An exception to this are DCF that take part in exhibitions, competitions, sports events, or training sessions for such events. The latter on condition that the animals are more than 6 months old and that the owner or authorized person provides written proof that the pets are registered for the purpose of attending an event, or are registered with an association that organizes such events.
EXCEPTIONAL CIRCUMSTANCES OF ENTERING EU WITH PETS WITH REFUGEES FROM UKRAINE
Dogs, cats and ferrets brought as pets from Ukraine must normally meet the following requirements: they are identified (microchip), they have received an anti-rabies vaccination that complies with the validity requirements, they have undergone a rabies antibody titration test with a favourable result (30 days after the date of vaccination and 3 months prior to the date of departure) and they are accompanied by an official certificate stating that they meet the import requirements.
In emergency situations the legislation (Regulation 576/2013, art. 32) provides that permits can be issued for pet animals that do not meet the above-mentioned import requirements if their owners have applied for these permits prior to the movement of the animals to Belgium.
In light of the alarming situation in Ukraine and in order to prevent additional problems refugees from Ukraine are confronted with when they come to Belgium with their dogs, cats or ferrets, the FASFC is making every effort to adopt a flexible approach in dealing with this emergency situation.
For that reason, until further notice and as an exception, the FASFC has decided to regularize the pets of these refugees, even without prior authorization.
Despite the numerous vaccinations of both domestic and wild animals, Ukraine is still not free from rabies. Therefore it is crucial that pet animals brought into Belgium by Ukrainian refugees are properly regularized and are closely monitored for any possible symptoms of rabies until the end of the risk period (four months after their arrival in Europe).
The symptoms or warning signs that point to a diagnosis of rabies can be found on [the rabies page of the FASFC website].
Some Ukrainian pets will arrive in Belgium without a European pet passport (they might, however, be accompanied by Ukrainian documents) or with a pet passport that provides no proof of rabies vaccination. The approved veterinarians are asked to apply the following procedure in order to regularize these animals:
- identify the animals by means of a microchip or read the existing microchip and issue an European pet passport,
- vaccinate the animals against rabies. This vaccination must be recorded in the European pet passport.
and notify the Local Control Units (LCUs) of the FASFC. The notification can be made using this form (FR / NL) that has to be sent to the LCUs. In addition to providing the required information, the veterinarian must also indicate whether, and when, the animal was vaccinated according to the accompanying documents (a scan or photo must be added) and what regularization actions have been taken.
A rabies antibody titration test may also be carried out at the same time. If the titration result is > 0.5 IU/ml, the animal is considered not to be at risk of rabies and does not have to be kept under observation (see below).
Sciensano has decided to carry out free titration tests for pets accompanying Ukrainian refugees.
The FASFC will pay some of the vaccination costs. These modalities have yet to be determined and will be communicated shortly. However, veterinarians are advised to keep credible proof of each vaccination carried out in this context (a photo of the documents showing the identity of the pet owners for example) which can be attached to the notification sent to the LCUs and can serve as a basis for the reimbursement.
In the foreseeable future, refugees will receive a simple document in Ukrainian explaining the regularization procedure to be followed as well as a reminder with regard to the risk of rabies. If the animals have not been vaccinated against rabies at the time of their arrival, it is also of the utmost importance that their caretakers limit their pet’s contact with people and animals outside of the family circle and monitor their pet’s health and behaviour during the four months following their arrival in Europe. It is also recommended that the dogs, cats and ferrets of the host families in Belgium that may come into contact with the refugees’ pet animals be (re)vaccinated against rabies if the latter did not meet the vaccination requirements at the time of their arrival in Belgium.
Dogs and cats in Ukrainian animal shelters and stray animals pose too great a risk of rabies, both for the people caring for them and for the other animals they may come into contact with. The Member States bordering Ukraine do not allow these animals on their territory and the European Commission also advises against their import. Consequently, the FASFC does not allow their entry into Belgium. The best way to help these animals is to provide material or financial aid to local animal shelters and animal welfare organizations.
Besides the thousands of people who are trying to help, there are unfortunately also others who are trying to take advantage of the situation. That is why the FASFC is asking veterinarians to remain vigilant and to alert the Local Control Units in case of situations that may lead them to suspect illegal trade in animals.