New rules for travelling with and trading of companion animals in the EU

Private and Commercial movement of companion animals will be facilitated up from 2014

Brussels, 1/VII/2013

After more than one year of discussion, the new Regulation replacing the so-called “pet passport Regulation” for private movement of companion animals such as dogs, cats and ferrets and a limited list of other animals such as reptiles has been published on Friday in the Official Journal of the EU (“OJEU”), as well as an amendment to the live-animals trade directive.

This legal change aims a better understanding of the rules by competent authorities, veterinarians and owners. The legal complexity and lack of enforcement of the previous legislation (has been an obstacle in many cases for serious owners and opened opportunities for non serious retailers) have been rather often undermined.


1.               Non-commercial (private) movement

On 29.12.2014, Regulation (EU) 576/2013 will come into force, replacing the old 998/2003. Reasons of the change are mainly the wish to “ensure that requirements are sufficiently clear and accessible to the ordinary citizen”. Non-commercial movement is defined as “any movement which does not have for aim the sale or the transfer of ownership of a pet animal”.

As the former one, the new Regulation is providing two lists of species in Annex with different requirements, based on susceptibility of the species to rabbies. The first one includes dogs, cats and ferrets and the second Annex includes other companion animals (such as fish, birds, rodents, reptiles)



For travelling with cats, dogs and ferrets, a new pet passport has been created by Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 577/2013. This pet passport may be issued exclusively by authorized veterinarians for animals who are identified (by transponder or tattoo) and properly vaccinated against rabies. The movement of more than five animals will be considered as commercial movement, and will be consequently submitted to requirement of Directive 92/65 (see below “commercial movement”).


For travelling with other companion animals, an identification document will be created by an executive act of EU Commission. This executive act will provide species specific requirements for travelling. Before the adoption of this act, national requirements may apply. That specific requirement may apply to protected species listed in Annexes of CITES regulation and EU Regulation 338/97.  If the animals came from a third countries, extra requirements may be asked such as a rabies antibody titration.

„First of all we welcome lots of urgently needed clarifications for owners of dogs and cats,  competent authorities and veterinarians who have to work with this issue on a daily basis” stated Marlene Wartenberg, Director of the European Policy Office of VIER PFOTEN “the number of five animals is a clear criteria to make the difference to a commercial trade aspect – even with derogations. The fact that only veterinarian professionals can edit the pet passport is a good signal against illegal puppy trade and non serious breeders and retailers. On the other hand we would have preferred that  this Regulation has been adopted as a legislative procedure, which means that stakeholders including NGOs such as animal welfare organisations would have been consulted.”

Critically seen is by the animal welfare organization VIER PFOTEN also the fact that the derogations provided by the Regulation to the rabies vaccination requirements. Indeed the new legislation is providing that in limited cases, non-vaccinated animals may be transported. We are afraid that these derogations may let an open door to illegal movement of animals.  



2.               Commercial movement of cats, dogs and ferrets

Directive 92/65 of trade of live animals has been amended by Directive 2013/31/EU. Up from 29 December 2014, for commercial movement of cats, dogs and ferrets, the Pet Passport will be mandatory, as well as identification of the animal, the anti-rabies vaccination and a veterinary health certificate of less than 48 hours. These requirements are the same as if the animal would come from a third country.

These requirements were already existing in the previous legislation, but previously the health certificate had to be from less than 24 hours.


In general the owner of dogs and cats who want to travel with their animals have clearer rules and these are easier to understand, the legal certainty will increase as the pet passport will be provided by a veterinarian, and the market for illegally bred puppies will have less loopholes with this new legislation. But finally one problem is not solved: when a serious animal welfare organization wants to rescue dogs and cats from a threatening cruel act.



  • COMMISSION IMPLEMENTING REGULATION (EU) No 577/2013 of 28 June 2013 on the model identification documents for the non-commercial movement of dogs, cats and ferrets, the establishment of lists of territories and third countries and the format, layout and language requirements of the declarations attesting compliance with certain conditions provided for in Regulation (EU) No 576/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council