Need expat info for Switzerland?
Pet Immigration to Switzerland
At a Glance:
- Regulations differ depending on the type of pet you have and the country your pet is coming from.
- All domestic animals imported into Switzerland are subject to 8% VAT.
- Every domestic animal imported into Switzerland needs to be microchipped and vaccinated for rabies; make sure this is done in the correct sequence.
- Not all dog and cat breeds are welcome in Switzerland; make sure that your pet is not listed as a high-risk breed in your canton.
Duty-Free Dogs? Paying Taxes on Imported Pets
Domestic animals — cats, dogs, or ferrets — that are imported into Switzerland from abroad are duty-free. However, they are subjected to 8.0% VAT — or GST, which is a goods and services tax – based on the value of the animal.
Don’t Forget about That Microchip!
All dogs, cats, and ferrets imported from abroad to Switzerland need to be microchipped. A microchip is a small identification chip that is inserted between your pet’s shoulder blades. The microchip should be ISO compliant, but if your pet has a different chip, you may bring your own microchip scanner.
Which Vaccinations Does My Pet Need?
All Domestic Pets (Dogs, Ferrets, Cats)
If you are importing your pet from a country that is classified as a “rabies-controlled country”, your pet will need an up-to-date rabies vaccination following the microchip implantation. After these steps, your pet will need to wait more than 21 days before entry into Switzerland.
If your pet has a valid rabies vaccination, but needs to be microchipped, you will have to get it vaccinated again after the chip is inserted and wait 21 days before traveling. In addition to the rabies vaccination, all dogs, cats, and ferrets must be vaccinated against distemper prior to entering Switzerland.
Bringing your pet will be a bit more difficult if you are planning to import your pet from a country with a high occurrence of rabies. If this applies to you, your pet must be microchipped first, and then be vaccinated for rabies. After 30 days following the vaccination, your pet must have a Blood Titer Test. As soon as the blood test has been completed, your furry friend will need to wait at least three months before entering Switzerland — with the test results.
More Regional Animal Disease Precautions
If you are importing your dog or cat from Australia, you need a veterinary certificate assuring that your pet has not been to an area where Hendra Disease has been confirmed within the past 60 days.
Dogs and cats from Peninsular Malaysia need to have an official veterinary document confirming that they have not been in the vicinity of pigs for 60 days prior to importation, in case of Nipah exposure. The Nipah virus may be transmitted by animals, and while it only causes minor illness in pigs, it has been responsible for several hundred severe or even fatal cases of encephalitis in human patients living in the Malaysian Peninsula.
Additionally, you need to prove that they are not from an area that has had Nipah disease outbreaks. Your pet will also need a test for Nipah disease within ten days of traveling to Switzerland.
Do I Need an Import Certificate Too?
Pets Coming from the United States or Canada
If your pet is coming from the United States or Canada, then a USDA or CFIA certified veterinarian must complete a so-called Annex IV form within ten days of your pet’s arrival in Switzerland. This form will allow you to import up to five domestic pets — cats, dogs, and ferrets. After your veterinarian fills out the form, they also need to have the form endorsed by the closest USDA or CFIA office.
In addition to the Annex IV form, you — or the person traveling with your pet — will also need to sign a declaration of non-commercial transport. This is to ensure that there is no intention of selling your pet once it has arrived in Switzerland.
Pets Coming from within the European Union
If your pet is coming into Switzerland from an EU member state, you do not need an Annex IV form, unless your pet has received a rabies booster from outside of the EU after its microchip was implanted. Before you travel, make sure that you have an updated version of your pet’s EU passport. You will most likely have to present your pet’s passport at the Swiss border or airport.
Importing More Than Five Pets
Unless you are attending an animal show or competition, your domestic pets need to meet the requirements listed above. However, your veterinarian must complete the Annex I form instead of the previously mentioned Annex IV form. In addition, your pets must be endorsed by their home country’s governmental agency that oversees the import and export of animals.
If you are importing your pets to Switzerland from an EU member state, then — in addition to the requirements listed above — you need an Intra Trade Certificate and register with TRACES, the EU Trade Control and Expert System.
If your pets are not from a rabies-controlled EU country, you have to enter Switzerland through one of their border inspection posts. If you need to pass through a border inspection post, make sure to notify the border officials 24 hours prior to your arrival.
According to the Pet Travel Scheme, pets traveling alone are usually only allowed to enter Switzerland within five days of their owner’s arrival. However, there are other ways for your pet to come along if this is not possible for you. If this is the case, your veterinarian must verify that you were your pet’s owner in its previous country of residence.
Birds may be imported into Switzerland, but they need to be accompanied by either you or a representative. It is important to know that birds may only enter into Switzerland through the airports at Zurich or Geneva. In addition, you or your representative must have an official import permit.
Amphibians, reptiles, rodents, and rabbits are not required to have a rabies vaccination. However, these animals may need to meet other health requirements in order to enter Switzerland. If you are planning to import an animal that falls into this category, you must contact a government official from your pet’s country of origin, as well as one in Switzerland, to make sure all of the requirements are met.
Lastly, if you are importing an exotic pet — especially a turtle or bird — make sure that it is not listed as a protected animal under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). If it is listed as a protected animal, you need additional permits in order to import your pet into Switzerland.
Importing Cuteness: Kittens, Puppies, and Kits
If you want to import kittens, puppies, and kits into Switzerland that are less than three months old, their mother must also be present. There’s only one exception to this rule: bring along a veterinary certificate ensuring that the animals have been kept at their birth residence and have never come into contact with wild animals.
Illegal Breeds: Make Sure Your Pet is Allowed into Switzerland!
Some cantons in Switzerland restrict certain animal breeds, though it may vary from canton to canton. These restrictions are typically for “high-risk” dogs, but there can also be restrictions on Bengal and Savannah cats. The list of high-risk dogs usually includes the following breeds:
American Staffordshire, Boerboel, Bullmastiff, Cane Corso, Dogo Argentino, Dogue de Bordeaux, Fila Braziliero, Mastiff, Matin, Matin de Naples, Pitt Bull, Presa Canario, Rottweiler, Thai Ridgeback, and Tosa Inu.
If you are worried that your pet is listed as a banned breed, contact your individual canton for more information.
If there is no information available for animal breed regulations in your canton, you will be able to find out more by contacting the Geneva Missions office:
Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the United Nations Office
Rue de Varembé 9–11 (6th floor)
P.O. Box 194
CH–1211 Geneva 20
Phone: +41 (0)58 482 2424
Hours: Monday through Thursday: 8:30-12:30, 13:30-17:30; Friday: 8:30-12:30, 13:30-16:30
We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete.