Traveling to the Netherlands from a non-EU country with rabbits, rodents, or reptiles

Are you traveling (back) to the Netherlands from a non-EU country with a rabbit, guinea pig, hamster, or reptile? Read here what you need to consider when coming to the Netherlands.

Which animals does this information pertain to?

This information pertains to:

  • rabbits and rodents, such as guinea pigs or hamsters
  • hedgehogs kept as companion animals
  • ornamental fish
  • reptiles and amphibians
  • invertebrate animals (except bees, bumblebees, mollusks, and crustaceans)

Is your animal a companion animal? Check the conditions

It is important that your animal is a companion animal and that the journey is 'non-commercial'. These are the conditions:

  • The animal is not intended for trade. The purpose of the journey should not be to sell the animal or give it to another owner upon arrival.
  • The animal travels with the owner or the owner makes the same journey within 5 days.
  • The animal is traveling because the owner is traveling, not the other way around.
  • Rabbits (belonging to the lagomorphs, hare-like animals) must not be intended for food production.
  • Animals for the reptile fair are not considered companion animals.

Where am I allowed to enter the Netherlands or the European Union (EU)?

You can enter the EU with your animal at a designated Travellers point of entry. Your pet must be inspected by Customs or the official veterinarian at the first point of entry into the EU.

What should I do upon arrival?

Upon arrival at the airport or ferry terminal in the Netherlands, you should go to the Customs' "goods declaration" with your pet. Customs will inspect your pet and the health certificate, along with any accompanying documents. If you enter the EU via another member state, you should report to Customs there. These can also be checkpoints on the road or at train stations.

If you are traveling to another member state or entering the EU via another member state, you should inquire about the requirements there as well.

What do you need for your animal?

You will need a general health certificate from a veterinarian. This can be your own veterinarian, it doesn't have to be an official veterinarian of the government.

The veterinarian should include as much information as possible about the identification of the animal on the certificate:

  • species, gender, color, age, and any distinguishing features
  • relevant information about the animal's health
  • owner's name and contact information
  • veterinarian's name, contact information, and signature

The veterinarian certifies that the animal is clinically healthy and fit to travel.

The certificate must be issued as close to the departure date as possible and must not be older than 10 days. The certificate can be in English, Dutch, German, or French. Additionally, you should bring a written declaration stating that it is a companion animal and that the journey is non-commercial. You can use our website to find a standard declaration that you just need to fill in and sign.

What should I do if my animal doesn’t meet the conditions for a companion animal?

This means that the animal's journey falls under "commercial" or "trade," even if no money is being earned. In that case, there are different rules that apply. Animals can only enter through a border inspection post where they need to be examined. A border inspection post usually consists of multiple inspection centers. You can view the overview of border inspection posts with inspection centers in the Netherlands and other member states. Reptiles and amphibians (from the United Kingdom) for the reptile fair also fall under this category. In the Netherlands, they can only enter via Schiphol Airport.

You will also need a pet shipper for this. The pet shipper will handle the mandatory pre-notification and make an appointment for you at an inspection center. You can find an overview of pet shippers on the website of IPATA (International Pet and Animal Transportation Association). Also, review the general information about the import of animals from countries outside the EU that fall under trade.

What else should I be aware of?

There may be other rules applicable to your animal, such as laws regarding endangered species and invasive exotic species. You can find more information on the Traveling with Protected Animals page (in Dutch) and on the CITES page. Invasive exotic species are animals that do not naturally occur in the Netherlands and can be harmful to the local wildlife and plants.