In today's society, pets are already part of families – in Portugal it is estimated that 43% of families have pets, corresponding to 5.8 million domestic animals. Being Portugal a pet friendly country, the relocation of your pet shall also be planed and it is important to know what procedures to follow.
As part of the European Union, Portugal is governed by the common framework, under which, your pet must have:
- Been micro-chipped (in line with the technical requirements of Annex II of the EU Regulation on the movement of pets) or has a clearly readable tattoo if applied before 3 July 2011;
- Been vaccinated against rabies.
When coming from a country at risk of rabies (ex: African Continent, Brazil, Venezuela, Ukraine, among others), at least 30 days after the date of rabies vaccination, your pet must take a blood sample to check the number of (sufficient) antibodies to the disease in approved laboratories and 3 months must elapsed from the date of blood collection before the animal is allowed to enter in Portugal. Consequently, besides the Identification document (Veterinary Certificate), proof of vaccination against rabies (vaccination bulletin or other), in such cases the blood test result bulletin (rabies antibody titration) shall be brought with you.
It is also important to highlight that it is not allowed the entry in Portugal of young dogs and cats from countries outside the EU (under 12 weeks of age or between 12 and 16 weeks and with rabies vaccination for less than 21 days).
- Received treatment against the tapeworm Echinococcus multilocularis, where necessary;
- A valid European pet passport, when travelling to another EU country or an EU animal health certificate, when travelling from a non-EU country;
- In southern Europe, diseases such as leishmaniasis are common being recommendable the protection with the suitable vaccine.
The European pet passport is a document, which follows an EU standard model and is essential for travel between EU countries. It contains a description and details of your pet, including its microchip or tattoo code as well as its rabies vaccination record and contact details of the owner and the vet who issued the passport. You can get a European pet passport for your dog, cat or ferret from any authorized vet (permitted by the relevant authorities to issue pet passports). A pet passport is valid for life as long as your pet's rabies vaccination is in date.
On the other hand, the EU animal health certificate is another type of document, which contains specific information about your pet (identity, health, rabies vaccinations) and is based on an EU standard model.
If you are travelling from a non-EU country or territory, your pet must have an EU animal health certificate endorsed by an official State vet in the country of departure not more than 10 days before your pet arrives in the EU. The certificate is valid for travel between EU countries for 4 months from this date or until the anti-rabies vaccination expires, whichever lapses first.
In addition, you should also complete and attach a written declaration to your pets EU animal health certificate stating that its relocation is for non-commercial reasons. This declaration is also required if your pet is travelling under the responsibility of a person authorized by you. In this case, your pet must be reunited with you within 5 days of your relocation.
If your pet is a dog of a breed considered potentially dangerous, although its entry is allowed, special regulations are applicable in Portugal, being mandatory to present at the Points of Entry for veterinary control of the animals concerned, one of the following documents signed by the owner:
- Term of liability – if staying in Portugal for less than 4 months;
- Notification of stay– if staying in Portugal for a period exceeding 4 months.
The only exception concern to dogs of the above mentioned breeds whose registration is contained in an officially recognized book of origins (LOP and others), in which case the owners of these animals must present proof (written proof) at the aforementioned Points of Entry for Travelers.
The following breeds and their crossings are part of this list:
- Brazilian Line Dog;
- Argentine Great Dane;
- Pit Bull Terrier;
- American Staffordshire Terrier;
- Staffordshire Bull Terrier;
- Tosa inu.
In what refers to birds, under the assumption that you are coming from a country member of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), your pet shall have his identification document, an official health certificate, issued by the official authority of the country of origin, according to Decision 2007/25/EC and fulfil one of the following requirements:
- An isolation for 30 days prior to travel at the place of departure in a country listed in Regulation (EC) No. 206/2010, or;
- A quarantine of 30 days after entering the Member State of destination, in approved facilities – in Portugal, this quarantine can only be carried out in the Zoo, or;
- Vaccination in the last 6 months and at the latest 60 days before the trip, and, at least once, revaccinated against avian influenza subtypes H5 and H7;
- An isolation period, under the supervision of the official authority of the country of origin, for at least 10 days prior to travel and subjected to a test to detect the antigen or genome of avian influenza H5 and H7.
In practical terms, the entry of a pet in Portugal must be preceded of an Arrival Notice made at the Travelers' Entry Points, made by the owner/authorized person and not by the transport company, at least 48 hours before arrival, in order to avoid any inconvenience, namely the ban on the entry of animals due to non-compliance with established health rules.
To facilitate the process, it is recommendable to legalize or apostille all the relevant foreign documents, and to guarantee the correspondent translation into Portuguese.
Before booking your flight, you shall confirm with the local authorities the validity period of the documents and with the airline company the availability and conditions of transportation as there is a limited number of slots for pets traveling in the plane's hold (more thank 8kg) or cabin and the boxes must comply with the allowed size and weight.
Special highlight shall be made regarding pets coming from United Kingdom. Due to Brexit, from 1st of January 2021 pet passports are no longer valid. The EU has agreed that UK should be given "part two listed" status, allowing pets to travel within its borders providing the owners obtain an animal health certificate (AHC), which confirms that your pet has been microchipped and vaccinated against rabies.
When in Portugal, pets do not need to be quarantined as long as the entry requirements are met. However, please be aware that all dogs, cats and ferrets must be transponder/microchip tagged and registered with SIAC – Companion Animal Information System that integrates the identification of companion animals in a simplified and unified way in a single platform available to everyone, from veterinarians to pet owners. Such registration shall be done by a veterinarian accredited to the SIAC. In the case of potentially dangerous dogs that come from abroad the registration must be done by the municipal veterinarian.
Since 2019, special rules were approved regarding the rights and duties related to pets that ceased to be seen as "things" and started e to be considered living beings with feelings who are deserving of legal protection.
In this regard, important aspects shall be noticed:
- If living in a flat, you must not exceed 3 adult dogs or 4 adult cats and, in no case, 4 animals. Nonetheless, there can be exceptions to this on the express request of the owner, if it is authorized by a municipal veterinarian or by a health decree that can allow a maximum of 6 adult pets;
- Besides SIAC registration, a license shall be requested and renewed annually in the parish services of your residence area;
- If the pet is in common areas or public places, it must be on a lead and wear a collar which identifies it and has the owner's telephone number or address. If the breed is considered violent or dangerous, it must wear a muzzle;
- Pets have judicial protection under the law against abuse and negligence, whereby owners found in acts of unjustified animal violence are punishable with imprisonment or fines;
- They are allowed to accompany you into commercial establishments, which includes shops and restaurants properly marked as "pet friendly" and when accompanied by their owners. The law requires that pets, however, must be secured with a short leash and not allowed to move around freely;
- Non dangerous pets cannot be refused on public transport as long as they are clean, free of diseases and properly secured by means of a leash or proper container;
- During the summer, dogs are not allowed on concession beaches (beaches with flags) but they are allowed on beaches with no lifeguard or in identified dog-beaches, as well as on all beaches during the winter season.
The economy and services exclusively dedicated to pets is a growing area in Portugal, which, in addition to the low cost of living, safety, green spaces and mild temperature, makes it so attractive to all family members, pets included!
For such reasons and many others, Portugal has been experiencing a gradual increase in the resident foreign communities and gathering the preference of investors in view of the various investment opportunities and immigration programs available such as the Golden Visa, the Entrepreneur Visa (D2) or the authorization of residence for passive income holders (D7) which, allowing also the access to the Schengen Space, are the best way to obtain Portuguese and European nationality in the medium term and a more favourable tax regime under the Non Habitual Tax Resident Program (NHR).
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.