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News > Prepare early: new rules for pets traveling to the EU
Prepare early: new rules for pets traveling to the EU
Make travel with your pet easier this PCS. (Courtesy photo)
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Prepare early: new rules for pets traveling to the EU

Posted 3/1/2012   Updated 3/1/2012 Email story   Print story


by Chris McCann
JBER Public Affairs

3/1/2012 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- New rules on bringing pets into the European Union can have a major impact on service members and families moving abroad, starting immediately.

The EU is tightening restrictions on the importation of animals, which means service members traveling abroad need to bear some things in mind.

Dogs, cats and ferrets are required to have a microchip which is ISO-standard 11784 or 11785.

If an animal's microchip is not in compliance, the person bringing the animal must provide an appropriate microchip reader, said Army Capt. Reid Katagihara, chief of the Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson veterinary service branch.

"The biggest thing is that the animal's rabies vaccine has to be up to date," Katagihara said.

Even if the pet is fully vaccinated, if the rabies vaccine was given before the microchip was implanted, it is not valid.

The vaccine is not counted as valid until 21 days after it is administered - meaning service or family members who are planning to make a permanent change-of-station move need to allow at least that much time before arriving in their new country.
Invalid documentation or microchipping can be cause for EU authorities to confiscate and euthanize the animal, Katagihara said.

"Contact your veterinarian immediately when you get PCS orders to another country," Katagihara emphasized. "Countries have different requirements, and you might need about eight months to prepare for a PCS to Japan."

Several kinds of microchips are in use, Katagihara said, and many are not compliant with the EU standard.

Humane society and shelter chips are often not compliant - and a reader can be very expensive, usually more than $100 and sometimes up to $600.

Vaccination records are just some of the information stored on the chips, and while all pets on JBER-R are required to have a chip, that policy isn't yet standard on JBER-E, which Kataghihara said can complicate the issue.

For those going to Finland, Iceland, Malta and the United Kingdom, a health certificate is valid for up to five days - meaning it needs to be done almost last before leaving.
For the rest of Europe, certificates are valid for 10 days.

"There's definitely a lot of complications involved," Katagihara said. "It can ruin a lot of people's plans. But it's part of our job as Soldiers and Airmen - we do get stationed overseas."

Numerous changes to EU policy have occurred recently; there are new bilingual health certificates which veterinarians must use.

Fortunately, many health certificates must be endorsed by a Department of Agriculture veterinarian, who is up-to-date on changes.

Any accredited veterinarian will have the proper certificates as well, so a visit to the JBER veterinary service is not required.

"Definitely, the doctors know about the changes," Katagihara said.

However, if someone brings hard-copy PCS orders to the JBER clinic with their pet, the health exam fee is waived.

Vaccines and certificates still require a small fee.

For more information on the new USDA requirements, visit

To contact the JBER veterinary clinic, call 384-2865.

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