Relocating to Germany
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Further Info for Petkeepers
Lots of people proudly regard their pets as part of their family. However, if you would like these special family members to accompany you, you must consider the legal framework for pets in Germany. Our Relocation Guide offers an overview of import rules and other information concerning pets in Germany.
Special Regulations for Specific Dog Breeds
Importing dogs to Germany is subject to further regulations, depending on the breed. German authorities consider some breeds potentially dangerous and categorize them as Kampfhunde (“attack dogs”). Theseoutlawed breeds includepitbull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers, bull terriers, and hybrids resulting from interbreeding or crossbreeding them with other dogs.
This ban may also apply to other breeds that are often considered dangerous, such as mastiffs or Rottweiler. Unfortunately, these regulations differ according to regional or even local rules. You will have to check with the town clerk’s office (Ordnungsamt) in the place where you’d like to live.
Bringing Other Animals to Germany
Regulations for other pets, such as parakeets, turtles, or rabbits, strongly depend on your country of origin. There is no harmonized legislation at EU level, either. These pets usually do not need any special vaccinations. Sometimes, however, you need to have them examined or to apply for an extra import permit (e.g. for tropical fish). The number of such pets you can legally bring with you may also be limited (mostly to three). Moving exotic or rare animals is often subject to international treaties. Please check with your local German embassy or consulate to find out if, for instance, your kids may bring their beloved guinea pigs or an exotic lizard with them.
Living with Animals in Germany
You will easily find a pet shop (Zoohandlung) or a veterinarian (Tierarzt) in most neighborhoods. All supermarkets provide food for dogs and cats, and many shops also offer a variety of accessories, like toy mice, feeding bowls, or kitty litter.
However, you may not bring your dog to places where fresh food is sold. Some restaurants do not allow animals in their premises, either. Usually, there’s a sign at the door to point this out. Such signs often show a dog and have an inscription that reads, “Wir müssen leider draußen bleiben” (“we’ll have to wait outside for our owners”). There are, however, certain exceptions for trained guide dogs for blind people.
As far as your pet’s health and well-being are concerned, most veterinarians in Germany offer high-quality medical services. They can be rather expensive, though. If you own a dog, you will have to find a vet sooner or later: You have to get your dog a rabies booster vaccination on a regular basis. In certain areas of Germany, especially in the south-east, you should also check your dog or cat for ticks. These parasites are very common in these parts and can carry diseases that are dangerous for animals and humans alike.
Advice for Dog Owners
When you take your dog for a walk, the leash is always compulsory. So is cleaning up after your dog. Public parks occasionally provide dispensers with special plastic bags. While it is perfectly legal to use public transport with your dog, you may have to purchase an extra ticket in some places, usually at a reduced price.
You might consider getting liability insurance in Germany for any damages your dog might cause (Hundehaft- pflichtversicherung). Dog owners are held legally responsible for their dog’s behavior. Many communities collect dog license fees (Hundesteuer). The amount depends on the number of dogs you keep. When registering your dog with the local tax office, please ask for the form “Anmeldung zur Hundehaltung” (application for dog owners).
If you plan on renting an apartment in Germany, some landlords might not allow dogs or pets in general on the premises. Make sure to check this beforehand when looking for a place to live.