How to Bring Your Pet to Europe

by Audrey
Audrey and Rambo

So, when I first decided to move to Finland, the first thing that came to mind was, how am I going to bring my Rambo with me? Let me start with, this is no easy task! So I thought I’d share the process and some tips.

Steps to bring your pet to Europe

  1. Get IATA approved container for travel – I bought this SportsPet crate from Amazon along with this crate pad. (Make sure you follow the IATA instructions for taking measurements, if in doubt, get the bigger size!)
  2. ISO Compliant Microchip
  3. Rabies Vaccination & 21 Day Waiting Period – Make sure to bring original copies of vaccination certificates
  4. Get an EU Health Certificate up to 10 days prior to arriving in Europe by USDA accredited veterinarian. The vet can provide this for you but make sure they fill out the one for the correct country. Mine filled out one for Portugal instead of Finland, so when I went to get it endorsed by the USDA, they noticed it was for the wrong country so I had to go back to my vet and get the correct one filled out.
  5. Get EU Health Certificate endorsed by local APHIS (USDA) – Because of the tight schedule, if there’s not one near you, you’ll most likely need to mail it overnight and provide an overnight return envelope to get it back
  6. Tapeworm Treatment 1-5 Days Prior – This is only for Finland, Malta, Norway, and Ireland. Any vet (doesn’t have to be USDA accredited) can provide this treatment which can be added to the EU health certificate after it is endorsed by APHIS USDA.

More Information:

Additional European Commission Requirements

Just when I thought I had all the requirements down, I found out that Finland’s Food Authority (their equivalent of our USDA) had a few additional steps. Below are the additional requirements for importing an animal (dog, cat, ferret) from USA to EU (Finland specifically) that I obtained from the Finnish Food Authority. Note that the requirements are different if you are shipping your pet on a separate flight outside of 5 days within your own flight. By the way, if you email them at, they’ll respond quickly and are super helpful! Funny story, gmail labels that email as “Ruoka Lentoasema”, so I started with “Hi Ruoka”. I had copied Kimmo on the email and found out that translates to “Food Airport”, so I basically said “Hi Food”. Kimmo got a kick out of that, and I’m sure the rep did too!

  • Owner’s declaration on the non-commercial nature of the movement – Here’s the form
  • Border inspection in the first EU-country the animal enters EU territory. 
  • They also recommend that you repeat the Tapeworm medication within 28 days of your arrival in Finland.

More Information:


Normally it costs 300 euros to bring your pet on board Finnair. In order for your pet to ride in the cabin the total weight of the pet and container cannot exceed 17 lbs (8 kg). If your pet is over that weight, then they go into an air-conditioned area of the hold of the aircraft. The hold area is basically a separate part of the baggage cargo that is air-conditioned, with no light, and personnel. Finnair only takes 1 pet per flight for this and keep in mind if your animal is in distress, there is no way to know. This can be dangerous for short-nosed breeds as they often have trouble breathing. If your pup is over a certain weight, or you won’t be on the same flight, then you’ll need to ship the dog via Cargo service, rather than a standard flight.

Rambo is my ESA animal, and in this case he is treated as a service dog who can remain in the cabin with me, without a pet carrier. There is also no fee for service animals, so the €300 cost does not apply here. Finnair recently started doing direct flights from LAX to Helsinki, which helped tremendously because LAX has pet relief stations. My vet recommended I give Rambo a Benadryl before the flight, which helped him sleep through most of the 10 hour flight. Finnair also gave me a row to myself since it was not a full flight, which gave Rambo more room to lay across the floor. Although Helsinki airport does not have a pet relief station, it is a smaller airport, and the customs check for Rambo’s paperwork was quick and easy, so as soon as we got outside of the airport, he was able to go potty outside. All in all it was a very smooth process.

More Finnair Pet Policy Info:

Important links

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X April 29, 2019 - 4:29 pm

Had to google ESA! Very interesting! Such a great idea. Wondering why we don’t have this kind of system in northern Europe where people are most likely to be depressed… this is something that could work in Finland too! Maybe some day… So sad that Finnish are too afraid of dogs and allergies and so ridiculously keen on their idea of hygiene…:(

Audrey April 29, 2019 - 4:39 pm

Yes, I definitely think I will need my dog during my first winter in Finland!!! I’m lucky that my new job in Helsinki is dog friendly and allows us to bring our dogs every now and then, so I plan to have him by my side whenever possible. He has definitely provided immense emotional support for the big move here as well. It’s amazing how good animals can make you feel.

Name January 12, 2020 - 10:43 pm

Update to your blog there are now two pet relief areas at Helsinki (HEL) airposrt.

Audrey January 13, 2020 - 12:01 pm

Oh that’s great to know, thanks!!!

Tactical Dog Backpack March 17, 2020 - 9:58 pm

This is a useful article. By studying this, I can enrich my knowledge.
Your idea is really outstanding. Thank’s to share us such a significant matter.

King regards,
Mead Griffin


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