Last modified 04.09.2014

Non-commercial imports of dogs, cats and ferrets from non-EU countries

Please note: You can find instructions for browsing all EU-legislation in  “The guidance for searching EU-legislation” on the left margin.

Animals travelling under non-commercial import conditions :

  • no more than five animals per accompanying person
  • its movement must be triggered by the need of the owner to move
  • not intended for sale, conveyance to a third party or commercial activity
  • the animal travels in the same transport vehicle as the person accompanying it; the person accompanying the animal need not be the animal's owner

If the animal is travelling in the same means of transport as its owner and the animal is travelling because of the owner's movement, even if not on the same flight, movement of the animal may be regarded as non-commercial import, provided that the owner, or the person responsible for the pet on behalf of the owner, signs a declaration to designate another person/body to be responsible for the pet during the transportation.

The person/body in question may be the person responsible for the means of transport (the captain of the plane) or a commercial transporter (speditor, freight forwarder). 

The declaration can be found in point II.7 of the certificate model for non-commercial movement.

The person clearing the animal must show a flight ticket or boarding pass of travelling the same trip for the customs.

Import conditions in brief

A summary of the conditions and implications of non-commercial import as described in these guidelines (only the main points are included below, exceptions are detailed in the guidelines):

  • A microchip (or tattoo if put before 3.7.2011) before vaccination
  • Import from countries with a low risk of rabies (countries listed under category A) is only permitted 21 days after the first vaccination
  • For animals imported from countries where the risk of infection with rabies is high (countries listed under category B), a rabies antibody titration is required at earliest 30 days after the rabies vaccination, and at least three months before the animal is imported
  • The echinococcus medication for dogs in force (must contain praziquantel or epsiprantel) 1-5 days prior to arrival
  • A health certificate for non-commercial import issued by an official veterinarian, following the EU's certificate mode
  • If not all import conditions are met at the border, the only options are either to return the dog or have it put down
  • The importer is responsible for all charges resulting from the animal not meeting import conditions at the border

Advice concerning non-commercial transports is available at kolmasmaa at-merkki-kapea.gif : 0 kB

When submitting a question, please provide answers to the following questions to avoid misunderstandings concerning the nature of the transport. Bearing this in mind, you should indicate the country of origin, for example. We only respond to email queries. We try to read the incoming e-mails on working days.

1. To what species does the animal belong: dog, cat, ferret, bird, rabbit, rat, reptile etc?

2. How many pets will you import at a time (total number of all species; if you import 2 dogs and 3 cats, the answer to this question is 5):

a) 6 or more

b)  less than 6 animals, as your personal pets, accompanied by you or someone representing you in the same transport vehicle (e.g. a car, an aeroplane). Import using the same plane occurs if the animal accompanies you in the cabin, or travels in the cargo hold of the same plane

c)  less than 6, where the pet travels without an accompanying person (in an aeroplane cargo hold)

d)  less than 6 intended for sale or conveyance to a third party

3. Is the animal being imported directly or is it being returned to Finland?

a)  Import from one of the Member States or Iceland, Switzerland, Andorra, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino or the Vatican City State

b) Import from a country other than those listed in point 3a, namely a non-EU country

c)  an animal whose country of origin is an EU Member state and which is returning to the EU after visiting a non-EU country

4. The route:

a) by aeroplane with or without connecting flights (connecting flights do not matter if the animal is imported from a Member State and changes plane in a Member State) from an EU Member State or a comparable country listed in point 3a

b) by aeroplane from a non-EU country listed in point 4b, by direct flight (e.g. the US–Helsinki)

c) by aeroplane from a country listed in point 4b, based on a connecting flight in an EU Member State (e.g. the US–Frankfurt–Helsinki)

d) directly from a country listed in point 4b (e.g. by car from Russia to Finland); if your route is different to those given in the examples, please provide free-form comments on this

1. Approved points of entry

Animals must be brought into Finland via an approved point of entry, where the animal must be presented to the Customs for inspection. The Customs inspect the animal’s identification tag and import documentation.

2. Identification tagging

The animals must be fitted with a microchip (or a clearly legible tattoo if put before 3.7.2011). From the July 3rd, 2011, microchip has been the only form of identification tagging accepted.

Importers of pets are always responsible for the readability of the microchip if the pet’s chip does not conform to the required standard. You can check the standard of your microchip from the manufacturer. The veterinary border inspection post at Helsinki-Vantaa Airport has a reader that also reads Avid chips, which are widely used in the USA. If the microchip does not conform to ISO Standard 11784 or Annex A of ISO Standard 11785, the importer of the animal must have a device capable of reading the microchip.

If the animal has a clear tattoo which is made prior to July 3rd, 2011, it does not need a microchip in case it has a veterinary certiface stating that the tattoo is made prior to the date above.

The animal must be identification-tagged before being vaccinated against rabies. The details of the animal’s identification tagging must also be entered in its vaccination certificates.

3. Rabies vaccination

Animals must be vaccinated against rabies according to the manufacturer's recommendations (usually minimum of 12 weeks of age) at least 21 days prior to import with a vaccination that meets the requirements of the OIE standard. Rabies vaccination and revaccination must be performed in accordance with the recommendations of the manufacturer. The previous vaccination must be entered in the animal’s vaccination certificate or pet passport.

The animal must be identification-tagged before the rabies vaccination is administered! The vaccinations given before the animal has been identification-tagged are NOT valid!

The updated list of approved vaccines can be found in the webpage of Jordbruksverket in Sweden. Recombination vaccines are also accepted.

Countries are divided into two categories based on the risk of rabies infection:

A. Countries free of rabies or where the risk of infection from rabies is low

For animals imported from countries with a low risk of rabies infection, the first vaccination must be administered at least 21 days prior to import. The 21-day waiting period does not apply to booster vaccinations if the vaccination is administered within the period of validity of the previous vaccination. (NB! The vaccinations given before the animal has been identification-tagged are NOT valid!) A rabies serological examination is not required for imports from the above low-risk countries.

With these conditions the animal must be transported from the listed low risk countries either directly to Finland or via another listed low risk country. If the animal is transported by air or sea, the transport may also go via another non-EU country if the animal stays within the confines of an international airport or is enclosed on board a vessel.

Importers must always check the status of the country of origin in the Pet Regulation. The low rabies risk countiries are listed in section 2 of part B and in part C of Annex II of the Pet Regulation 998/2003 as of 23 July 2012.

List of countries where the risk of infection from rabies is low:

Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Aruba, Ascension Island, Australia, Bahrain, Barbados, Belarus, Bermuda, Bosnia and Herzegovina, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Cayman Islands, Chile, Falkland Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, Hong Kong, Jamaica, Japan, Macedonia, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mayotte, Mexico, Montserrat, Netherlands Antilles, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Russia, Saint Lucia, Saint Helena, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Singapore, Taiwan, Trinidad and Tobago, United Arab Emirates, United States of America (including American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands U.S.), Vanuatu, Wallis and Futuna.

B. Countries where the risk of infection from rabies is high. Rabies serological examination is required in addition to vaccination. 

High risk countries are those, which are listed only in part 1 of Annex II of Commission Regulation 206/2010, but not in pet regulation 998/2008. However, importers must always refer to the regulations mentioned before to check a country’s status.

List of countries where the risk of infection from rabies is high:

Albania, Brazil, Botswana, Belize, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Algeria, Etiopia, Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, India, Kenya, Morocco, Montenegro, Madagascar, Namibia, Nicaragua, Panama,Paraguay, Serbia, El Salvador,Swaziland, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, Uruguay, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and all the other countries which are not listed in these lists in points 3 A and 3 B.


Puppies and kittens: rabies vaccination and rabies serological examination

Rabies vaccination and revaccination must be performed in accordance with the recommendations of the manufacturer. In the case of most vaccines, it is recommended that the animal is over 12 weeks old. The veterinarian administering the vaccine is responsible for complying with the recommendations. Vaccinated puppies and kittens under 12 weeks of age imported from all non-EU countries must be accompanied by a veterinary certificate in Finnish, Swedish or English, confirming that the vaccination has been performed in accordance with the recommendations of the manufacturer. The pet's identification information must be entered in the certificate (chip or tattoo number).

In practice, when importing puppies and kittens from countries with a low risk of rabies infection, the imported puppy or kitten must be at least 15 weeks of age due to the 21 day waiting period. When importing puppies and kittens from countries with a high risk of rabies infection, the imported puppy or kitten must be at least 7 months of age (12 weeks + 30 days + 3 months). The exceptions are those countries which allow the import of unvaccinated puppies and kittens under 12 weeks of age.


4. Rabies serological examination

A rabies serological examination must be performed on animals imported from countries with a high risk of rabies infection.

An approved veterinarian must take a blood sample for examination no less than 30 days after the rabies vaccination and at least three months prior to importation.

The antibody test must be carried out in an EU-approved laboratory (in Finland Evira). The neutralising antibody titre must be at least 0.5 IU/ml. The antibody test need not be repeated if the animal has been revaccinated as recommended by the vaccine manufacturer.

If the animal originates from the EU and a rabies antibody titration has been performed before the animal was taken outside the EU, it is not necessary to wait for three months after the blood sample is taken before the animal is brought back into the EU. However, at least 30 days must elapse between the vaccination and the blood sample being taken. In Finland, the blood sample in such cases may be taken by an authorised veterinarian. The animal must be accompanied by a pet passport with the antibody titration recorded by the veterinarian.

5. Treatment against echinococcosis tapeworms

All dogs must be accompanied by a certificate issued by a veterinarian showing that the animal has received 5-1 days before arrival medication against echinococcus tapeworms containing praziquantel or epsiprantel.

If the animal travels often outside Finland and it has an EU-passport, it may use "the 28 day rule". The animal must get the medication against echinococcosis no more than 28 days intervals as long as it is travelling, and all medications must be marked in the EU-passport by a veterinarian.

The medication against echinococcosis is not required for cats.

6. Veterinary certificate or pet passport

The animal must be accompanied by a veterinary certificate of Annex II: "Non-commercial movement of five or less dogs, cats or ferrets" issued by an official veterinarian in the country of origin (non-EU country). The certificate details the animal’s identification, vaccination against rabies and, where necessary, serological examination and medication against echinococcosis. The certificate must be completed in Finnish, Swedish or English. The endorsement by the competent authority in the country of origin is needed, if the veterinarian is not approved by the competent authority.

For pets imported from the United States, we kindly ask you to refer to the guidelines on the right side links.

The original vaccination certificates (or certified copies of these) must be attached to the veterinary certificate. The original documents must also contain details of the animal’s identification tagging.

If the pet is originally from an EU country and is accompanied by an EU-pet passport with the entries required for importation (parts I-IV and if necessary VII), the pet passport replaces the veterinary certificate, in case the animal has not been rabies-vaccinated in the third country. If a booster vaccination has been given in a non-EU-country, the animal needs a separate health certificate (Annex I), because a non-EU-veterinarian is not allowed to mark any vaccinations in the EU-pet passport.

7. Safeguard measures

Prior to importation, importers must check whether any EU safeguard measures apply to the import country.

(Instruction 18040EN)

Last modified 04.09.2014

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