Commercial imports of dogs, cats and ferrets from non-EU countries
What is commercial import?
the animal travels with no accompanying person
the same person is carrying six animals or more, all individuals of different species are counted
the animal is inteded for sale or forwarded to another person
- the animal is imported for commercial purposes
Advice on commercial movements is available by e-mail from: lentoasema evira.fi.
The pets to be imported must meet the import conditions below (there are 10 import requirements). The importer is responsible for verifying the valid import conditions prior to import.
NB! Import conditions for pets have been amended, and the amendments will apply from 1 January 2012: changes in echinococcus medication time limits and health certificate models.
1. Countries approved for imports
Commercial imports of dogs, cats and ferrets are only permitted from certain non-EU countries. The list of countries allowed for commercial import is on the right column "Countries approved for commercial import, high and low rabies risk country lists" the first list of countries.
For the countries other than those listed ones (e.g. Cameroon or the Philippines), commercial imports are not allowed at all, i.e. to import a pet by air without an accompanying person, even if the pet was originally Finnish and was just visiting one of those countries. However, a pet may still be imported under non-commercial conditions with an accompanying person.
The list of countries approved for imports may change whenever the decisions determining it are amended and importers are responsible for checking whether the country they intend to import from is approved. The countries approved for imports are listed in part 1 of Annex II of Commission Decision 206/2010/EEC or in section 2 of part B and in part C of Annex II of the Pet Regulation 998/2003.
2. Identification tagging
The animals must be identification-tagged with a microchip or a clearly legible tattoo. From the 3rd of July 2011, microchip has been the only form of identification tagging accepted. If the animal has a clear tattoo which is made prior to 3rd of June 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.
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.
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 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 rabies free countries either directly to Finland or via another rabies free 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.
The countries are mentioned in the third list of the right column "Countries approved for commercial import, high and low rabies risk country lists".
The list contains the countries given in section 2 of part B and in part C of Annex II of the Pet Regulation 998/2003 as of 23 July 2012. Importers must always check the status of the import country in the Pet Regulation.
B. Countries where the risk of infection from rabies is high. Rabies serological examination is required in addition to vaccination.
The countries are mentioned in the second list of the right column "Countries approved for commercial import, high and low rabies risk country lists". Countries that are listed only in part 1 of Annex II of Commission Regulation 206/2010. However, importers must always refer to the above regulation to check a country’s status.
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.
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. If the border veterinarian suspects that the animal is younger than the age given here, the border veterinarian is entitled to take the following steps: the animal is referred for further examinations (a rabies serological examination, an age evaluation by a veterinarian etc.), the animal is returned to the country of origin or the animal is put down.
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
The animal must be accompanied by "Veterinary certificate of Annex I: Imports of dogs, cats and ferrets and non-commercial movements into the Union of more than five dogs, cats and ferrets" issued by an official veterinarian or veterinarian approved by the competent authority in the country of origin. The certificate details the animal’s identification tagging, vaccination against rabies, medication against echinococcosis, clinical examination and where necessary, serological examination. The certificate must be completed in Finnish, Swedish or English.
For pets imported from the United States, we kindly ask you to refer to the guidelines on “Accepted authorities in US”.
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 a pet passport with the entries required for importation (parts I-IV and if necessary VII), the pet passport replaces the veterinary certificate.
7. Clinical examination
A veterinarian approved by the competent authority in the country of origin must perform a clinical examination for the animal within 24 hours before shipping, stating that the animal is healthy and fit for travelling to its final destination.
8. Additional national requirements
Starting from 1 January 2012, the additional national requirements of some countries for, e.g., rabies antibodies have changed. For example, Sweden can no longer require a rabies antibody titration. These changes should be checked with the authorities of the country in question before travelling.
9. Safeguard measures
Prior to importation, importers must check whether any EU safeguard measures apply to the import country.
10. Veterinary border inspection
Animals may be imported to EU commercially only via a veterinary border inspection post. A chargeable veterinary border inspection is performed on live animals in the first member state where they are unloaded. There are two border inspection posts in Finland through which live animals can be imported directly from third countries to the EU. These are Helsinki-Vantaa Airport and Vaalimaa road crossing with Russia.
The importer or the importer’s representative must make prior notification of the consignments to be imported to the veterinary border inspection post no later than one working day prior to importation by completing the first page of the Common Veterinary Entry Document (CVED) in the TRACES-system. In addition the importer must contact the border veterinarian for settling the time for inspection.
The TRACES-system is complicated, and enough time should be reserved for registering and training to use the system. TRACES services provided by forwarders may also be used. Also the border veterinarian may make the TRACES-notification in advance for private pet importers for fee of 50 euros.
Veterinary border inspection fee:
The inspection fee for dogs, cats and ferrets during working hours (Mon-Fri 8 am – 3.45 pm) is 96 euros/animal. Outside working hours, the following supplements apply: from 4.15 pm to 10 pm +50% and from 10 pm to 8 am and on Sundays and public holidays +100%. The fee is charged by Finnish Customs along with other customs fees (details of customs fees are available from the customs advice line on 09 6141).
Importers should be aware that veterinary border inspection posts do not operate an out-of-hours service; in such cases importers must themselves make an appointment with an authorised border veterinarian well in advance. Inspections during working hours must also be agreed in advance by telephone, and no later than in the previous working day.
It is highly recommended to ask for the veterinary certificate to be faxed or e-mailed so that it can be checked in advance (this can be requested well in advance, e.g. three weeks prior to importation, veterinary inspection within 24 hours prior to dispatch can be added later). It can be faxed to the border veterinarian for inspection to +358 207724336 or e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Importers must telephone themselves (tel. +358 50 3371893) to ask if there are any omissions that can be rectified prior to importation. Importers should be aware that they are liable for all costs incurred when animals do not meet the requirements at the time of importation!
Instructions for animals to be inspected at Helsinki-Vantaa Airport:
The veterinary border inspection post is situated in the Finnair Cargo Center (Rahtitie 1), access via security control at door 13.
Generally border inspection can be performed about one hour after the aircraft lands.
Be there early enough, it takes a while to collect all needen papers
Go to take a visitor card from the security desk when entering the cargo area
Go to Finnair Customer Service to catch the papers
In case the flight company uses Service Air (for example Aeroflot), you must collect the papers from Service Air Cargo Center (Rahtitie 3). Ask them to move your animal to veterinary border inspection post.
Go to the cargo terminal security control at the door 13 and ask the security guys to take you to the veterinary border inspection post.
after the border inspection go to the customs (you get instructions from the vet) and back to the Finnair customer service when you get your animal.
Documents required at the Vaalimaa border inspection post for commercial movements of dogs, cats and ferrets from non-EU countries
The protection of dogs, cats and ferrets during transport in connection with commercial activity is governed by Regulation 1/2005 of the Council of the European Community and the Animal Transport Act (1429/2006). Anyone transporting dogs, cats or ferrets in connection with commercial activity must have a transporter authorisation. Russian-speaking operators can get more information on how these are granted from the Estonian authorities ( http://www.vet.agri.ee/, e-mail vet vet.agri.ee, tel. 605 1710, fax 621 1441). Links to the Animal Transport Regulation and the transporter authorisation are given in the section Transport of horses from countries from outside the EU – animal welfare. Click here for instructions on how to get a transporter authorisation in Finland.
IN ADDITION TO THE ABOVE MODEL HEALTH CERTIFICATE, the transporter must present the following documents to the border veterinarian at the veterinary border inspection post:
1. A copy of the long journeys transporter authorisation (which may be held jointly by several persons), which allows the carriage of animals on journeys of over eight hours (document in accordance with chapter II of Annex III of the Animal Transport Regulation, link in the margin of the entry on the transport of horses above)
2. A certificate of approval of means of transport by road (document in accordance with chapter IV of Annex III of the Animal Transport Regulation)
A transport document, containing the following information:
a) origin and owner of the animals
b) place of departure
c) date and time of departure
d) intended destination
e) anticipated duration of journey.