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How to Relocate Your Household & Pets to Germany

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  • Daiki Saito

    When my company decided to send me to Essen, I took a quick look at the local community and said: Please do!

This relocation guide explains how to relocate to Germany, including important information about getting the right visa for your particular situation. It also explores how to relocate with pets, German customs cash limits, and all other key steps of the relocation process.

What does it take to relocate to Germany these days? Well, having some knowledge of the language will help you on your way, as will securing a job before you move. Nevertheless, your relocation could be made more or less complicated depending on the items you relocate with, and if you move with pets. For example, certain “dangerous” dog breeds are banned in Germany, such as English and Staffordshire bull terriers, while there are limits on relocating with items, like cigarettes, cigarillos, and alcohol.

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Moving and Shipping Household Goods

If you are not exactly a “minimalist,” knowing how to move your household items and belongings when you come to Germany will be important. Learn about how to ship your belongings, Germany’s import and customs restrictions, and much more in the following section.

What to Pack When Moving to Germany

Things to Remember

  • Birth certificate: to register as a resident in Germany, you will need this document.
  • Marriage certificate: you must also provide proof that you are married, if applicable.
  • Bank statements: you may need to prove you can financially support yourself in Germany to secure a rental. Read more in our section about Housing in Germany.
  • Recent pay stubs (the most recent three months’ should be acceptable): another way to prove you have sufficient funds to pay your rent. A work contract can sometimes be used in place of bank statements and pay stubs.
  • Proof of education: e.g. certificates, university diplomas; you need this type of document to secure a job in Germany.
  • Proof of health insurance: it is compulsory to have healthcare cover in Germany, so if you are already insured bring your proof. You cannot get a residence permit without it.
  • Medical records: these are important for when you register with a doctor and especially if you suffer from a chronic illness, so you can receive appropriate care.

Customs Regulations for Germany

When you pack your items, you should ensure that they are your personal property and not of a commercial nature. There are also regulations about bringing pets, emissions limits for cars, and other biological checks. Find out more below.

Germany Customs Allowances: Prohibited and Restricted Items

Items You Are Allowed to Bring

  • Household goods, such as bed linen, home gym equipment, tables and chairs, and anything needed for everyday life.
  • Private cars, bicycles, trailers, caravans, and any other vehicle. If you transport an aircraft, you must have proof showing it is registered in your name.
  • Domestic pets, like cats, dogs, and horses. Find out more in the “Moving with Pets” section below.
  • Items required for use in a trade or profession that are portable and for applied or liberal arts, like pottery and jewelry making.
  • Tobacco items: up to 200 cigarettes or 100 cigarillos (maximum 3 grams each) or 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco.

Examples of Items That Are Not Acceptable Include

  • More than one liter of spirits over 22% strength or undenatured ethyl alcohol of 80% or higher; two liters of alcohol and alcoholic beverages 22% or higher; any equivalent combined quantity of the above; more than four liters of non-sparkling wine; or more than 16 liters of beer.
  • Commercial vehicles.
  • Items used in a trade, profession, or applied or liberal arts that are not portable.

Importing Your Car

EU residents can easily bring their car to Germany without restrictions. However, if you intend to import your personal vehicle from outside the EU, you will have to meet certain conditions to avoid paying a 10% import duty and a 19% import VAT (also called import turnover tax or Einfuhrumsatzsteuer).

You must provide proof that you are coming to stay permanently in Germany, and not importing a car to sell.

Proof You Are Moving Permanently to Germany

  • Prove you have permanently left your non-EU country with documents including a job contract for Germany, a termination letter from your former employer, a letter confirming the end of your property lease, documents to prove you have sold your home in your previous country, or a note from your employer stating that you have been relocated to a site in Germany.
  • Show that you are establishing a new residence in Germany by providing a lease agreement on a property in Germany, a statement from your employer in Germany, or proof of registration from your local Einwohnermeldeamt (residents’ registration office).
  • Prove you have been living outside of Germany for a minimum of 12 consecutive months. If you are returning to Germany sooner than 12 months, you must provide proof of why your return is unavoidable.

Vehicle Requirements

  • The vehicle must be registered in your name only.
  • It must be a vehicle that was only used by you in your previous country, for at least six months, proof could be the registration certificate issued in your previous country.
  • You must arrive in Germany at around the same time as your vehicle.
  • In most situations you must keep your vehicle just for personal use during the first year you have it in Germany.
  • You might be able to break the previous two conditions if you have good reasons.

Once in Germany, your car must pass an inspection for roadworthiness, safety, and emissions control. Some cars, especially those from North America, are likely to require modification to meet German standards. For example, headlights, brakes, rust, and tires will be checked.

Home Good Storage

There is a range of reputable companies such as MyPlace or Boxie, that offer long and short-term storage services. They will store your goods in a safe, dry environment, where your items are protected from damage.

In terms of cost, storage prices range from around 70 EUR (80 USD) per month for three square meters to around 380 EUR (430 USD) for 22 square meters of space.

Vaccinations and Health Requirements for Germany

Before relocating, you should ensure your annual flu shot and other vaccinations required for German immigration are up to date. The most commonly reported infectious diseases in Germany are often the gastrointestinal diseases norovirus gastroenteritis, Campylobacter enteritis and rotavirus gastroenteritis, and influenza and chicken pox, which are both preventable by vaccination.

What Vaccinations Do I Need for Germany?

To make sure you are allowed to enter Germany, you should have the following vaccinations:

  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Rabies
  • Meningitis
  • Polio
  • Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR)
  • Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis)
  • Chickenpox
  • Shingles
  • Pneumonia and influenza

Compulsory Measles Vaccination

From March 2020, the German government are introducing a law to make the measles vaccination compulsory for all children who attend school or kindergarten after an increase in cases of the disease. If you refuse to have your children vaccinated, you could be fined 2,240 EUR (2,500 USD) and your children could be banned from school or kindergarten. This means it is a good idea to have your children vaccinated before moving, and to have the vaccinations complete before they start kindergarten or school.

Before the measles vaccination was available in the 1960s, around 2.6 million people died every year from the disease. In 2017, that number was down to 110,000 deaths. There were 501 recorded cases of measles in Germany between January and the middle of October in 2019, so if your child is vaccinated, there should be no need to worry.

Health Requirements for German Immigration

To meet Germany’s immigration vaccination requirements, remember to ask your doctor if you still need to get vaccinated against Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, or rabies.

For most people, these are not crucial. Rabies is present in some bats in Germany, so if you are working with animals or spend a lot of time outdoors (or around bats), you should get the rabies vaccination.

Furthermore, although tetanus and diphtheria are uncommon in Germany, it is recommended that children from eight weeks to eleven months old are vaccinated against them. This not only protects your children, but it also ensures that these infectious diseases do not spread in Germany.

Connect with like-minded expatriates

Discover our welcoming community of expats! You’ll find many ways to network, socialize, and make new friends. Attend online and in-person events that bring global minds together.

Moving with Pets

With at least one dog in every eight households, moving to Germany with pets should be a relatively easy process. Stray dogs and cats in Germany are rare and most animals are well-cared for. However, taking your cat, dog, or other pets to Germany requires paperwork. Some pets are outlawed, especially certain dog breeds and protected species.

Can You Bring Pets into Germany?

You can bring pets into Germany, but it is important to start planning well in advance. Some of the necessary steps may require up to six months of preparation.

If you do not fulfill all of Germany’s imports and customs requirements, the German Customs Administration can put your pets in quarantine or even return them to your previous country of residence at your expense.


If you plan to move from the UK to Germany with pets, the government has warned that after Brexit the process, including giving your pet a rabies vaccination and a blood test, could take you at least four months. It is recommended you contact your vet for the latest advice at least 16 weeks in advance of your move.

After Brexit, the EU’s Pet Passport scheme will no longer be open to UK pet owners and their pets.

Pets Relocation to Germany: Regulations for Import

Some regulations for pets in Germany may depend on the regional authorities at your final place of residence. Please note that pet passports must be renewed every two or three years depending on which rabies vaccine the pet received.

To transport your pet via airplane, you must use a suitable, well ventilated travel container that gives the animal enough room to move and lie down. View the International Air Transport Association’s pet relocation regulations and requirements for information on travel containers before you attempt to travel with your pet.

Taking your dog, cat, or even your ferret to Germany is controlled by European legislation. According to European law, each person traveling may bring up to five pets. If you want to take more than five pets with you, you have to follow the requirements for the commercial pet trade.

Pets in Germany: Moving within the EU

To import and keep their pets in Germany, owners of cats, dogs, or ferrets may have to fulfill immigration vaccination requirements. Here are some more things you must know:

  • You must have your pet immunized for rabies. Depending on the vaccine brand, repeat vaccination may be required.
  • The complete vaccination must not be older than twelve months and no more recent than 30 days.
  • Pets in Germany should be clearly identifiable by an implanted microchip. A clearly visible tattoo ID is an alternative, as long as your pet got the tattoo before July 2011.
  • All pets in Germany, as well as other EU member states, must have an identification document or “pet passport.” This confirms the vaccination and the chip implant. In an EU member state, you can obtain the pet passport at your local veterinarian. To register a pet passport, you have to bring proof of identification, proof of vaccination, and in some cases, the pet itself.
  • The whole process of getting a pet passport for a dog, including microchipping, the rabies vaccination, and the passport application costs 177-295 EUR (197-328 USD) while for a cat it costs 30-59 EUR (33-66 USD). For ferrets, the same process is 105-197 EUR (117-177 USD).

Pets in Germany: Moving from Outside the EU

  • When arriving in Germany with pets from outside the European Union, you have to meet the same requirements mentioned above. In addition, you sometimes have to prove the rabies vaccination’s efficacy.
  • You also have to show proof that your pet had a blood test at least three months before entering the European Union and 30 days or more after the raboes immunization. However, your pet does not need a blood test when entering from one of the “listed” countries outside the EU. For a complete list, please visit the European Commission website.
  • If you are not coming from one of these countries, your animal has to be tested for immunity against rabies. A certified veterinarian from authorized laboratories has to do this test.
  • Keep in mind that the rabies vaccination must not be older than twelve months. Your pet then has to take the blood test between eleven and three months before your departure. Sometimes, you have to wait up to four months after the vaccination before you can schedule the blood test.
  • If you do not set out from an EU/EEA member state, you need a health certificate for your pet. If your veterinarian cannot provide you with the necessary forms, you can download bilingual certificates from an EU website. (Please scroll down to the “Document” section).
  • An officially registered or authorized vet has to fill in, sign, and issue the certificate for your pets in Germany.
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