Information for Ukrainian and Russian refugees travelling with their pet and for people with whom the pet is staying

Due to the emergency situation in Ukraine, the EU has decided to take a flexible approach to the import requirements for pets. These relaxed requirements only apply to pets who have fled Ukraine or Russia with their original owner and are travelling to Europe. This poses risks to our public health, as the pets could carry the dangerous disease rabies. Make sure that the pet is kept in home quarantine. For other individuals and organisations bringing a dog or cat from Ukraine or Russia, the standard quarantine rules apply. Read about how we can reduce the risk of rabies entering our country.

Visiting the vet: important for public health

  • If possible, contact the NVWA in advance.
  • After arriving in the Netherlands, go to a veterinarian as soon as possible.
  • The veterinarian will chip your pet, create a European pet passport and vaccinate your pet against rabies if this has not already been done. The veterinarian will additionally perform a blood test (titre check) 30 days later to determine whether the vaccination against rabies is effective, so you should also make a follow-up appointment with the veterinarian 30 days after your pet has been vaccinated.
  • Make sure that the pet is kept in home quarantine until you receive a positive blood test result.
  • It is also recommended to limit your pet’s contact with other people and animals for three months after the positive blood test result.
  • If circumstances thus far have prevented you from seeing a veterinarian, please still do so!

We will ensure that your pet complies with EU regulations so that you can also continue travelling within the European Union. The costs for chipping, creating a pet passport, administering the vaccination and performing the blood test will be reimbursed.

During this period, an inspector from the NVWA may visit you to conduct checks and offer advice.

How to give prior notification depends on how you are travelling

Please get in touch with the NVWA beforehand, if possible, and provide as much detail on your pet as possible (on such things as rabies vaccinations and chip), the journey and your (actual or expected) place of residence in the Netherlands. This prior notification can be done by the person travelling with the animals and/or by the EU member state of departure.

  • By road: Use this questionnaire to inform us when an animal will be coming to the Netherlands from Ukraine or Russia by road. If you are coming to the Netherlands by car, then head to your (temporary or permanent) place of residence in the Netherlands and make an appointment to see a vet as soon as possible. This is mandatory. Please ensure that your pet does not come into contact with humans and other animals.
  • By plane: Send an e-mail to aas@nvwa.nl to let us know when an animal will be coming to the Netherlands from Ukraine or Russia by plane. If you will be coming by plane, you can report to Customs by passing through the red ‘something to declare’ exit. If your pet does not satisfy EU requirements, the Customs officer will contact an NVWA vet. He/she will assess the risk and if need be take measures to prevent animal diseases being brought in. A flexible approach to this will be adopted, in view of the situation.

What is the blood test?

In order to ascertain whether the rabies vaccine works, a blood test will be done to measure antibodies against rabies. A positive result will tell us that the vaccine is working. The earliest that this test can be done is 30 days after the rabies vaccine was given. There is no test to establish whether your pet has rabies. Your vet will be able to give you more information on this.
The disease is tricky because it can be months after the initial infection before an animal develops symptoms. And yet, despite being asymptomatic, the animal will be capable of infecting other animals and people during this period. Which is why the usual import requirements stipulate a waiting time of three months in the country of origin of the animal following a satisfactory blood test. This condition is being waived for refugees’ pets in these exceptional circumstances.
NB In the case of Russia, this blood test is not required and the home quarantine will be for three weeks following the applicable rabies vaccine.

Do please be aware that the vaccine will only be valid if your pet was chipped at the time of vaccination.

What is home quarantine?

Home quarantine for animals entails the animals being kept indoors. Dogs may only be walked on a leash and preferably muzzled. Throughout the quarantining period, the animals are not allowed to have any contact with other animals and humans, neither in the home nor on the street. Visiting a vet is permitted, however.

Even in the first three months of receiving a satisfactory blood test result it is important to exercise restraint when it comes to contact and to keep a close eye on your pet for possible symptoms. Sometimes there will be other animals in the home and contact will be unavoidable, such as guest families’ pets. In such cases, it would be advisable to get these animals vaccinated (or revaccinated) against rabies.

In excepcional cases it will be necessary for the animal to spend time in official quarantine, as designated by the government. This will be the case if the risk is deemed to be ‘high’. The animal will be picked up from its place of residence and the owner will be informed of what will subsequently happen.