pets For Members

EXPLAINED: The new rules on moving to Spain with your pet

The Local Spain
The Local Spain - [email protected]
EXPLAINED: The new rules on moving to Spain with your pet
What are the rules on moving to Spain with your pet? Photo: Xan Griffin / Unsplash

Pets are part of the family for most people, so if there's a move to Spain, there's little question that they'll be joining. Find out what you need to know about bringing your furry friends with, from new rules rolled out in 2023 to vaxes and microchipping.


Moving countries is an exhilarating yet stressful time, with a lot to sort out including visas, housing, jobs and transporting your belongings.

For many who own pets, this includes organising the documents so that they can bring their furry friends with them too. 

Most general rules in Spain apply to dogs, cats and ferrets and for the purposes of this article we will be focusing on these three.

If you’re trying to move with a bird such as a parrot or a reptile such as a pet snake, lizard or turtle, the process may be even more complicated and more documentation will be needed.

READ ALSO: What we know about Spain's compulsory course to own a dog 

The rules on bringing your pet to Spain will depend on whether you’re bringing them from the EU, listed third countries or unlisted third countries.

You see a list of unlisted third countries as classed by the EU which will help you find out which rules apply to you. All other countries not on that list will be known as listed countries unless they are part of the EU.  

Step 1: Microchip

The first step is to get your pet microchipped with an ISO 11784/11785 compliant 15-digit microchip. If your pet already has a microchip that is not one of these, you can bring your own microchip scanner.

Microchips should be implanted by a registered vet in your home country and you should have a document proving it has one.

Spain also accepts animals that have an identifying tattoo, as long as it was given before July 3rd, 2011, and that your pet received a rabies vaccine after it was given.

Step 2: Rabies vaccination

All pets over the age of 12 weeks must have a rabies vaccination in order to enter Spain. This must be administered after it had already been microchipped. If you are coming from a listed non-EU country, at least 21 days must have elapsed after inoculation for the vaccine to be valid.



The general rules for bringing your pets to Spain from non-EU countries

- Your pet must be at least 12 weeks old, as this is the minimum age for vaccinating animals.

- At least 21 days must have elapsed after inoculation for the vaccine to be valid.

- You are not allowed to travel with more than five pets at a time.

- You must ensure your dog, cat or ferret is microchipped.

- The dog, cat or ferret must be vaccinated against rabies.

- Dogs must be treated against tapeworm 24-120 hours before arriving. 

- You must sign a declaration stating that you are not bringing your pet into Spain for commercial purposes.

- You must get an animal health certificate (AHC).

Cats must be microchipped before coming to Spain. Photo: Yerlin Matu / Unsplash


Getting an Animal Health Certificate (AHC)

- You will need to visit your vet no less than 10 days before your trip in order to get the certificate. To be granted the AHC, you will need proof of your pet’s microchipping date and vaccination history.

- AHCs are available as dual-language certificates, so pet owners should ask the vet for a Spanish-language certificate when intending to travel here.

- The AHC is valid for 10 days after the date of issue for entry into the EU and can be used for travel within the EU for a period of four months.

- The certificate is only valid for a single trip to the EU, so if you are planning on travelling back and forth from Spain to the UK for example with your pet, you will need to apply for another certificate.

- AHCs and all the requirements also apply to assistance dogs.

READ ALSO: Can Brits move to Spain with their pets post-Brexit?



Pets from Unlisted Third Countries

As well as all the steps and rules above, those coming from one of these unlisted third countries must follow an extra step surrounding rabies vaccinations.

If you are coming to Spain from one of these countries then you must wait for a minimum of 30 days after your pet has had their rabies vaccine. This must be followed by a rabies titer test - an estimation of an immune response against rabies virus. Depending on the results, you may still need to wait for three months before your pet can enter Spain, in order to avoid quarantine.


Travelling from EU countries

If you are coming to Spain from within the EU, an EU pet health certificate or AHC is not required. You must still follow steps one and two, however, with regards to microchipping and rabies vaccination.

As per the new animal welfare law, dogs, cats and ferrets coming from other countries in the EU must keep their original passport that includes their identification code. This passport cannot be replaced by other identification documentation.

READ ALSO - Resolved: Questions and doubts about Spain's new animal welfare law



New rules per animal welfare law in Spain

In September 2023, Spain’s new animal welfare law entered into force, meaning there are now several new rules that apply to everyone bringing their pets into the country, no matter where they’re from.

- Pets must be registered in the Companion Animal Registry with the owner's data as soon as they arrive. If an animal has not been registered, the owner will be liable to pay a fine and the animal may be confiscated and handed over to a protection centre.

- It is compulsory to sterilise all animals that live outside such as in rural areas or spend time outside unaccompanied, such as in the garden. All cats must undergo surgical sterilisation before they are six months old, except those registered as breeders in the Companion Animal Breeders Registry. Only controlled licensed breeding of animals will be permitted.

- It is mandatory to vaccinate all domestic animals according to the regulations. Find out from your local vet if your pet is up to date with all those needed for Spain.

- The law also obliges dog owners to take out and maintain liability insurance for damage to third parties. The exact type of coverage needed still to be finalised, however. In the case of potentially dangerous dogs, there is pre-existing regulation, dating back to 2002 - and still in force - which obliges the minimum coverage to be €120,000.

RESOLVED: Questions and doubts about Spain's new animal welfare law


Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also