Passports for Pets
Traveling to Greece

Athens News

Planning to take Fido along with you on your next overseas jaunt? Fallen for a sad, scraggy stray while on holiday in Greece and want to bring him home? The good news is you can. The bad news is that the bureaucratic procedure can be time-consuming, costly and complicated.

The European pet travel scheme requires all pets travelling between EU member states to have a Pet Passport, available from any licensed veterinarian.

Note: Some countries require, in addition to the pet passport, a stamp from a state veterinarian. Check with the embassy of the country to which you wish to take your animal to confirm whether this is necessary. If so, a few days before the animal is due to travel, you must take the pet passport, along with a letter from your own vet stating that the animal has been examined and fulfills all the criteria, to the Veterinary Department of the Athens Prefecture (Mihalakopoulou & Feidippidou sts, 1st and 2nd floors, Ambelokipi, Athens 115 27, tel 210 770 9290; 210775 1829) or to your nearest state veterinary directorate (details from your prefecture) where they will check the passport and issue you with a stamped certificate allowing the animal to travel. Bear in mind that, like all state departments, these offices work only 7.30am-2.30pm.

In order to obtain the EU passport, your pet must first be microchipped (permanently identified with a numbered chip approximately the size of a grain of rice that is inserted under the loose skin in the scruff of the neck and' read' with a scanner). This is done by your vet, who will then enter the chip number in the pet's passport and send a copy of the paperwork to the Athens Veterinary Association as well as giving a copy to you.

Note: Tattoos are accepted in place of the electronic microchip in some countries - the UK, Ireland and Malta are notable exceptions - but the chip is preferable for a number of reasons: firstly, from a humane point of view, its insertion is only as painful as an injection, as opposed to the fierce smart of a tattoo; secondly, tattoos tend to fade or smudge over the years and, thirdly - and perhaps most conclusively - the tattoo will only be considered an acceptable form of identification for a transitional period, after which they will be phased out.

The next step is to get your pet vaccinated against rabies.

Approximately 30 days after the rabies vaccination, your vet must take a blood sample and send it to an EU-approved laboratory to check that the vaccination has taken effect. In Greece, there is only one such recognised laboratory, the Ministry of Agriculture Centre of Athens, 25 Neapolis St, Agia Paraskevi, Athens 153 10 (tel 210-601-0903, fax 210-601-2594, email In order to pass the blood test, the antibody level must be 0.5 or more. The laboratory will send the results by post either to your vet or to you.

As well as the rabies vaccination, it is imperative to keep up the annual booster injections against other infectious diseases (for dogs: canine distemper, canine parvovirus, canine leptospirosis and canine hepatitis; for cats: infectious feline leucopenia, feline immunodeficiency virus). Details of rabies and other jabs must be entered into the passport.

Further information for owners travelling within the European Union:

The EU travel scheme applies to dogs, cats, ferrets, domestic rabbits, rodents, birds (except poultry), ornamental fish, amphibia and reptiles - so long as they are not species regulated by the Convention in International Trade in Endangered Species.

Note: Puppies and kittens under three months old may travel between certain member states without having been vaccinated against rabies or microchipped. In such cases, the animal must still be accompanied by a Pet Passport (with details and date of worming and vaccination against parvo, distemper etc, which can be done from six weeks old). The animal must have stayed since birth in a place without any contact with wild animals likely to have been exposed to rabies, or must be accompanied by their mother on whom they are still dependent. The UK and Ireland do not allow direct entry of unvaccinated dogs and cats. It is advisable to travel with your own car, crossing any seas by boat, rather than taking an aeroplane. As detailed below in the section' For the UK & Ireland' , organising for a pet to fly is not simple. If you insist on flying, check the procedure with the airline before you travel. Depending on the airline, cats and dogs less than 5kg of weight may be allowed on as hand-luggage, but anything larger than a toy-dog will need to travel in the hold.

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