Rules for accepting pets from Ukraine into Europe

Pets of refugees from Ukraine

09 / Mar

Of the millions of refugees from Ukraine, a large part is fortunately able to bring their pets to safety.

Anyone who has ever travelled with a pet knows how many rules there are in order to take your sweetheart to another country. For countries outside the EU there are stricter rules than for countries within the EU. Therefor Ukraine has to deal with stricter rules, but given the emergency situation in the country, Europe is doing everything possible to make the admission of these pets as smooth as possible.

What are the entry rules for pets from Ukraine?
Ukraine is the only country in Europe where there is still a high incidence of rabies, especially in the eastern part of the country. In the past 25 years, among the more than 44 million inhabitants of Ukraine, 63 cases of rabies in humans have been reported (including 24 cases caused by dogs and 22 by cats). By comparison, in mainland Spain there has been one official case of rabies since 1978 (from a dog from Morocco).

Europe is therefore cautious about accepting animals from this country, but wants to facilitate the arrival of these pets in the safest possible way given the emergency situation in which the country, the Ukrainians and their animals find themselves.

European legislation applies to travel with pets (European Regulation 577/2013). This stipulates that for the animals from Ukraine, as a non-EU country, normally the following rules apply:

  • The pet must have a microchip;
  • The pet has been vaccinated against rabies;
  • A rabies antibody test must have been carried out at least 30 days after vaccination and three months before travel;
  • An import certificate has been issued for the pet, or in the case of reintroduction, a passport with proof of vaccination and the antibody test;
  • Dogs, cats and ferrets younger than seven months are not allowed to enter the country.

In Spain, it is mainly the responsibility of the Official Veterinary Services of the Autonomous Communities to take the necessary measures to ensure that the arrival of Ukrainian refugees with their pets is as smooth as possible and at the same time to limit the risk of spreading rabies. Therefore, a protocol with the following rules for pets from Ukraine has been introduced:

  • If the pet does not have a (readable) microchip, he or she will receive one upon arrival in Spain;
  • Rabies vaccination:

1. If the pet has been vaccinated in Ukraine, blood is taken to see if antibodies for rabies are detected. If the test is negative, the pet will be vaccinated again and will have to stay in “home quarantine” with the owner for 3 months after the test. If the test is positive, it is repeated after 30 days while the pet has to be quarantined at an external site. A revaccination also takes place 2 months after the previous vaccination with a new antibody test 30 days after the second vaccination. If the second test is also positive, quarantine takes place at the centre for a maximum period of 6 months from the first blood collection.

2. If the pet was vaccinated on arrival in the EU, a blood test will be done if the vaccination was given more than 30 days ago. If this is not the case, the pet must first go to a quarantine centre until those 30 days have passed. If the test is negative, the pet is allowed to go into “home quarantine” with its owner for up to three months from the date of the test. If the test is positive, the pet is re-vaccinated and action is taken as in point 1.

3. If the pet has not been vaccinated, it is first vaccinated and will spend 30 days in a quarantine centre. After 30 days, blood is taken. If the test is negative, the pet will stay in a quarantine centre for three months, but if the test is positive, it will be vaccinated again after two months and proceed as in points 1 and 2.

The antibody test is carried out free of charge. If the shelter in a quarantine centre cannot be paid for by the owner, the Directorate General of Animal Rights can be contacted: