Pawprints and Paperwork: Moving to Madrid with Pets

Your kitty deserves to take to the skies too!

Your kitty deserves to take to the skies too!

When we decided to move to Madrid, the most important factor was that our adopted kitty, Beatrice Summer, could come with us. If she wasn’t going, then I wasn’t going either. Eventually, after months of googling, phonecalls and planning, we were ready to board a 9 hour flight from Dublin to Frankfurt, and then from Frankfurt to Madrid with a cranky cat and two even crankier owners.

In this blog post, I’m going to cover how to move with your pets within the EU, and from the US to Spain.

Moving pets within the EU

What does my furry friend need to travel to Spain?

  • Valid EU Pet Passport. Just like people, each pet needs their own EU Pet Passport. Talk to your vet about getting one for your dog, cat or ferret. Some vets charge for it, others process it for free. A photo isn’t necessary but if you’ve got a photogenic pooch or puss, there’s a space for one. The Irish one is 7x5cm (WxH) and the Spanish one is (6×4.5cm (WxH)
  • Microchip. Your pet must be identified with a registered microchip in their neck or shoulder. The number will be recorded in the passport. Once you arrive in Spain, you should register your microchip with a local vet, as the chip registrations are not international, so if your pet goes missing in Spain and is found, the chip cannot be traced back to you.
  • Rabies Vaccination. This vaccine needs to be administered a minimum of 21 days before travel. The date of administration must be recorded on the passport.


How can I transport my fur-baby to Spain?

There are a few different options for transporting your pet. When we travelled from Ireland to Spain with Bee, we flew with Lufthansa and we were really happy with their service. Bee came with us in the cabin for €50. has a great section that details which airlines allow pet travel, along with costs and requirements.

There are a few pet transport agencies that cover journeys by land. Pets2Go and Pet Chauffeur are two companies that I spoke to who transport pets by land. It takes longer for your pet to arrive, but some of these companies allow you to travel with them.

What if I decide to move home again?

Moving home to most parts of Europe is quite straightforward- you just follow the same procedure on the way back, and choose an airline to fly with. The only paperwork needed to enter the UK and Ireland is the EU Pet Passport, but the actual transport of the animal is a lot more difficult. When we were considering returning to Ireland, we spoke to EFL and they managed to put me at ease.

If you are travelling to the UK with a dog, they must be given a vet-administered tapeworm treatment between 24-120 hours (1-5 days) before you enter the UK. Your vet has to record this in the Passport.

Make sure you give yourself loads of time to plan!

Moving pets to Spain from the United States

To move your pets from the U.S. to Spain, you’ll need assistance from a USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) Certified Veterinarian. They’ll examine your pets, and give you a Health Certificate. Make sure that they give you a bilingual form so that it’s valid in Spain, or else just download it yourself.

Once you have the cert, you’ll need to have it stamped and endorsed by the APHIS. To do so, you can either make an appointment with your local APHIS Veterinary Services Office, or send them via mail.

You’ll need to make sure that your pets have an EU accepted microchip, up-to-date vaccinations, as well as the rabies vaccine, just like moving them within the EU.

It can take anything from a few weeks to a few months for the paperwork to be processed, so you need to get the ball rolling as early as possible! The APHIS website has all the information you need, from import and export requirements, to contact details of your local offices and registered vets.

How can I transport my pet?

On flights that are less than ten hours, a lot of airlines will allow you to take your small cat or dog on board as long as its carrier conforms to the airline’s regulations. Airlines are quite strict about the sizes and types of containers that are allowed, both in the cabin and in cargo, so please check with your airline before flying. You don’t want any nasty surprises at the airport!

How can I bring my pet back to the U.S.?

Different states have different requirements regarding the importation of live animals. If you are travelling through different states, or have a connecting international flight, the rules of the first airport that you arrive at, are the rules that you need to follow. Each state requires an International Health Certificate and proof of a rabies vaccine is extremely important.

It is also helpful to get a health cert from your vet within 24 hours of flying, to show the airline that your pet is fit to travel. It’s not a necessity but it is good to have, just in case!

If you’re unsure about moving to Madrid with your pet, we’ll help to make sure that your move is a smooth one. Just pop us an email for more info!

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Posted on Tuesday, May 19th, 2015 by in Your International Move

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