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Importing Your Pet

Italy - Importing Your Pet

Italians are generally tolerant of pets, and long-term rental accommodations rarely restrict or ban them. Most cafes too do not restrict patrons with pets. However, there are certain rules and regulations that expats should be familiar with if they intend to bring their pets along with them. One important consideration is if one is passing through other countries on the way to Italy - it is essential to find out about and make arrangements for the documents required by those countries too.

The first step in the process of importing your pet to into Italy is a visit to the vet, so that the pet can be implanted with a pet microchip, which will be used for identification. The microchip will need to be a 15-digit chip that is ISO standard 11784/11785 compliant. If a pet has a microchip that is not ISO standard 11784/11785 compliant, the owner is required to attach a suitable scanner securely to the top of the travel crate.

Italy is a member of the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS), which means that any pet from a member country can travel into the country easily, without the need for a lengthy procedure. Under this system, each pet is issued a Pet Passport, which is an official document that records the animal’s health and medical information. Only a licensed vet can issue the passport, and in order to obtain one, your pet will need to:

Be implanted with a microchip
Receive a vaccine against rabies
Undergo a blood test to confirm that the vaccine is in their system

Earlier, a number of dog breeds were banned in Italy, while many others had restrictions placed on them. Rottweilers, mastiffs, and several other breeds needed to be muzzled when they were out in public, and if the owner failed to comply with the law, the animal could be put down. In recent years however, a few European countries have repealed their bans on certain dog breeds, and instead they have started to focus on the importance of responsible owner behaviour. Italy has recently joined this growing list of countries, and has struck down its breed-specific bans. According to the new laws, the owner is responsible for his/her pet’s behaviour, and needs to take adequate measures if the dog poses any threat to the general public.

Italy has its fair share of stray animals, but it has always taken great precautions to stamp out rabies. In fact, the country has been designated a rabies-free jurisdiction by the World Organization for Animal Health. If an owner and pet are travelling from a rabies-free country, the pet will need a rabies vaccination no less than 21 days and no more than 11 months from the day you enter Italy. On the other hand, if an owner is from a country with a high incidence of rabies, the pet will need to be implanted with a microchip, and only after that can the vet administer the vaccine for rabies. The owner then has to wait for 30 days, and then take the pet for a follow-up blood test, to ensure that there is no risk of rabies.

Apart from cats, dogs, and ferrets, pet owners may also bring other pets, such as invertebrates or reptiles, birds (though not poultry), and various mammals – including domestic rodents and ornamental tropical fish – into the country. If your pet is a turtle or a parrot, you may not be able to bring it into the country if it is protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITIES). An owner cannot bring more than five animals into the country, and all animals must be transported in a compliant pet carrier. Each animal must also have a health certificate that has been issued by a licensed veterinarian within 48 hours of their entry into the country.

When a dog is three months old, it needs to be registered at the Anagrafe Canina, which is the local dog bureau. Italy had a “dog tax’ in the past, but pet owners got around this by simply claiming that their pets were working animals, and the tax was eventually abolished.

Many municipalities provide identification tags at the time of registration, but it is not necessary for a pet to wear them. However, it is always wise to have a tag with the owner’s name and number attached to a dog’s collar.

Most pet stores have a variety of wet and dry food brands, and they also carry generic supermarket-brand food. Depending on where they are located, owners may have trouble finding pet supplies, especially if they have an unusual pet – such as a snake or lizard. For those with cats and dogs however, pet stores stock all the regular supplies – from leashes and muzzles to squeaky toys and scratching posts.

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