Anyone planning to travel with pets should complete the formalities well in advance. The travel regulations for pets are not the same as those governing import and export for commercial purposes.
What you need to know before travelling
Most travellers are unaware of the risks associated with returning from abroad with certain foods, souvenirs of animal origin or live animals.
The rules differ according to the country you are returning from. There are two principal categories: EU countries and non-EU countries.
This and other important information can be found in the current FSVO brochure:
According to the withdrawal agreement negotiated between the parties, imports from the United Kingdom will remain subject to the conditions for imports from the EU until 31.12.2020.
The regulations for animals differ depending on whether an individual is travelling with a pet or animals are being imported or exported for commercial purposes. The information on these pages is intended solely for individuals with pets who do not intend to sell or give their animals to other people or institutions.
What are pets?
Pets are the following animals accompanying their keeper or a person authorised by the keeper. In any case, they must have been personally acquired by the keeper before entry:
- Dogs, cats, ferrets
- Rodents and rabbits other than those intended for food production
- Birds: specimens of avian species other than those referred to in Article 2 of Directive 2009/158/EC.
- Reptiles and amphibians
- Ornamental aquatic animals
- Invertebrates (except bees, bumble bees, molluscs and crustaceans)
The animals may not be sold or transferred to new keepers. Dogs, cats and ferrets and birds are subject to particular animal health regulations when travelling because there is a danger of their introducing diseases from another country.
Non-native wild animals are also kept as pets. This category includes special bird species, reptiles, spiders, scorpions, rodents, corals, fish, wild cats etc. Please take note of the relevant sections below.
Travelling with pets
When leaving Switzerland, the regulations of the destination country must always be observed.
Leaving Switzerland with pets of a protected species
The FSVO issues certificates of ownership to cover holidays or short stays in the EU with pets of protected species. The animal's owner (or a person authorised by the owner) must have the certificate stamped by the customs authority in Switzerland and in the destination country every time a border is crossed with the animal. The animal's return to Switzerland is covered by the certificate of ownership.
The application form (see "More information") for a certificate of ownership must be completed in full, signed and sent by post to the FSVO. Once issued (the fee is CHF 50), the the certificate of ownership is not valid until it has been signed by the animal's owner. The certificate is valid for three years and can be extended after this period has elapsed.
When the owner and animal travel with this certificate of ownership to an EU country for the first time, the EU requires a comparable European certificate of ownership. This is issued by the CITES authority in the first country of destination. The European certificate of ownership must be ordered in good time before the animal leaves Switzerland.
Almost all pets that meet the definition can enter Switzerland from any country without approval from the veterinary health authority or a health certificate. Special conditions apply to dogs, cats, ferrets and birds. Not more than 5 pets may be imported from third countries.
These animals may not enter Switzerland if specific protective measures are in place.
Entering Switzerland with pets of a protected species
Approval is not required for holidays or short stays in Switzerland with an animal of a protected species provided that the animal is travelling with its owner (or a person authorised by the owner) and the owner holds a certificate of ownership.
Both entry and exit must be confirmed on the supplementary sheet by the customs authority. The necessary certificate of ownership is issued by the competent species conservation authority in the country of origin.
Import permit application
Be careful when importing souvenirs made from protected species. Find out about the import restrictions before you return home.
Last modification 06.01.2020