Moving to Switzerland with Pets
Becoming an expat is one thing, but bringing your pet to a different country is another thing entirely! Although it may seem daunting, we have a few tips to make the relocation as smooth as possible for both you and your furry friends. These guidelines are specific to Switzerland and will let you know the process and the documents required.
Let's get started! Advanced planning and organization will help you with the process of relocation so that you can focus on what matters without additional stress for you or your pet. A careful timeline will help you plan when you need to schedule veterinary visits and when certain documents need to be filed.
First of all, you need to decide if you will be travelling with your pet (by air, car or train, depending on your destination country), or if you will welcome your pet upon arrival. The process for each way is slightly different, but the official documents remain the same. Another important decision to make is whether you plan to manage the relocation yourself or use a pet relocation company.
Pet relocation companies can take care of a lot of the bureaucracy and help help lighten your work load during this stressful time. Relocation companies typically provide the following services:
Verifying your dog’s information (microchip, pet passport, vaccinations) and your destination country import regulations,
Providing door-to-door service for your pet, collecting from its current home, through to delivery to its new home (entire export process),
Managing your pet on arrival through document and customs checks before delivering home.
Pre-Move Timeline and Checklist
A Few Weeks Before Departure
The three things you absolutely need are: microchip, pet passport and vaccinations. Check that everything is in order; if not, make the appropriate appointments in advance, and plan accordingly with your home country regulations. You may also have to ease your pet into travelling. This means taking some time to acclimate your pet to the carrier and preparing a travel list (allergies, behavioral issues, medical conditions, special dietary requirements). When moving to Switzerland, it is mandatory to plan and book a Swiss vet appointment within 10 days of entering the country. You can do this online at least two weeks in advance of arrival. I would recommend VetTrust (with over 30 locations in Switzerland).
10 Days Before Departure
This is the time for final preparations. A final veterinary exam prior to your pet’s move is required within 10 days of departure. In this appointment, the vet will fill in the clinical exam page (at the back of the pet passport). This ensures that all routine vaccinations are up to date and that your pet is fit to travel.
Your Pet's Moving Day
Keep in mind that you need the original versions of your pet’s records to for travel on this day. You also will have to fill out a Customs form 18.44. When you arrive in Switzerland, customs will stamp this form, so that you can register your pet properly. If you fly directly to Switzerland, your pet will be checked by Customs at the airport. For further information, please refer to the website: Swiss Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office.
Post Move: Enjoy Switzerland With Your Pet!
Rules and Regulations
Switzerland rates very high on World Animal Protection Index and has many regulations regarding pets. To truly allow yourself and your pet to acclimate to your new home, make sure to familiarize yourself with some of these rules.
This Expatica article explains in detail some of the regulations regarding pets in Switzerland. Some examples are:
If you only have one cat, it must have daily contact with people or have visual contact with other cats. Indoor cats need to have permanent access to at least one room per cat.
Swiss authorities define animals such as rabbits, guinea pigs, and parakeets as social animals. In short, these animals suffer when they are in confinement alone. According to Swiss law, these pets must have companionship with their own kind.
Dogs must have contact with humans daily and also, if possible, with other dogs. They should get daily exercise and go outdoors. You shouldn’t leave a dog alone for more than four hours at a time.
Fun Fact: Switzerland is a very pet-friendly country! You can bring your pet with you on trains and buses, shops and restaurants, and many famous attractions.
For Dog Owners
For dog owners specifically there are additional rules. Dog owners are required to register their pet in their place of residence. You can do this online through the following links:
Basel City: Basel-Stadt formular
Switzerland: Registering your dog in Switzerland
After you register, you will get a reply by email (usually within 2 days) with your AMICUS Pet number.
Then you will need to take your dog to a Swiss vet within 10 days of entering the country. Here the vet will register the dog in the Swiss dog database AMICUS. After that you will receive your AMICUS Pet Card.
Last but not least, you also have to pay an annual dog ownership tax, which varies depending which Swiss canton you live in. When you have paid this tax you will receive a medal for the commune for your dog.
Fun Fact: If you’re looking for a dog sitter or a dog trainer, know that the fee will depend on the size and the breed of your dog!
Dog owners need some room to explore. In Basel you can check to see if your desired neighbourhood is close to some of the parks and forests with our Neighbourhood Guide. There are also rules that govern how you train and care for your dog. Dog owners must use a leash and clean up after their dog. Authorities also recommend dog training for first-time owners (it was mandatory until 2017). Review the dog regulations of your canton here: Cantonal Dog Laws. For more information please see: Swiss authorities manual on dogs.
Lost Pets and More Info
In case of any trouble, you can reach the National Animal Call Center (in German, French, Italian), the largest Swiss database for missing and found animals.
In case of emergency in Basel and the surrounding area, you can call the following number 24 hours a day: 0900 99 33 99 Emergency Pet Service Basel
If you want to know more: Swiss Animal Protection (SAP) and some helpful factsheets about your pet and for pet owners!
I hope this article helps you and your pet settle in Switzerland. Ultimately, thanks to your pet, you will be able to explore the area and connect with new people. Want to know more? Stay tuned for my next article Best Pet Places Basel! Now that you’re all set, welcome & enjoy 😊
Peggy is a French-Luxembourgish entrepreneur living in Basel with her husband and three kids (if her dog counts as one). As a ski lover and passionate traveler, Switzerland is for her a paradise on Earth. Always eager to learn more and meet new people, she enjoys sharing the greatest insider knowledge about the best places to discover and things to do!