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How To PCS to Germany with Pets: A Complete Guide

What’s home without your furry companions? Your PCS to Germany may be stressful, and bringing pets can be another obstacle to overcome. But if you plan ahead, your PCS with pets to Germany can be less of a headache.

How to PCS to Germany with Pets

Since 2001, families PCSing to Germany are authorized to bring only two pets (unless you have an Exception to Policy wavier), which can either be cats or dogs. No other pet types are currently permitted by the DoD.

There are, however other ways to get more than 2 pets over to Germany.

Although not ideal, pets could be flown on separate planes. One set could be flown via Patriot Express, while the other(s) fly commercial.

You could have pets flown on separate tickets as well.

For example, if you have 2 dogs and a cat, you will more than likely get authorized to fly the two dogs through cargo/excess baggage on one ticket, and the cat could go in cabin through a ticket connected with your spouse or another command sponsored family member in your party. 

Check with your transportation office for options, and make sure to look at each of your tickets to see how many pets you are authorized to bring, sometimes it’s written right on there!

Need more information about PCSing to Germany? Check out my arrival guide!

While there aren’t any restrictions on cat breeds, there are a few breeds of dogs (as well as their crossbreeds) that cannot enter the country

Category I:

  • – Pit Bull Terrier
  • – American Staffordshire Terrier
  • – Staffordshire Bull Terrier
  • – Bull Terrier.

Depending on where you’re stationed, the individual states also have restrictions on dog breeds.

There are other dogs that may be permitted to enter the country (Category II), but they have to pass a temperament test first. If they pass, they will still need to follow some additional restrictions (more on that in a bit).

Category II:

  • – Alano
  • – American Bulldog
  • – Bullmastiff
  • – Bull Terrier
  • – Cane Corso (Italian Mastiff/Italian Corso Dog)
  • – Dogo Argentino
  • – Dogo Canario (Perro de Presa Canario)
  • – Dogue de Bordeux
  • – Fila Brasileiro
  • – Mastiff
  • – Mastino Napoletano
  • – Mastin Espanol
  • – Rottweiler
  • – Perro de Presa Mallorquin (Ca de Bou)

And keep in mind that you won’t be reimbursed for any of your pet’s travel costs!

Baxter is ready for an adventure! Follow him on Instagram @lil_baxter_boy

Go to the vet

Once you’ve determined that you can PCS with your pet to Germany, contact your local vet clinic. If your pet isn’t already chipped, you’ll need to do that before updating your pet’s rabies shots. And don’t wait on this! If your pet needs a rabies shot, it has to wait at least 21 days before it can enter the EU.

But that’s not all, folks. Your pet also needs a *USDA accredited health certificate issued within 10 days of departure. As if you don’t already have enough going on.

You can download a copy here.

Want to travel with your dog? Check out our list of puppy essentials for when you travel: dtvdanieltelevision.com

Ideally, the clinic knows what steps you need to take for a smooth process, but that’s not always the case. Your vet may tell you that you don’t need it, or that they can’t do it. But you need the health certificate, so make the appointment no matter what, even if you have to do it at another clinic!

Contacting the clinic at your future post is a good idea, too. They will be able to prepare you for what to expect once you arrive.

Learn all about kennel/crate requirements in our Pet Shipper video below! Starting at time stamp – 4:56

International Pet Shipper

Prepare to travel

Airlines (including the Patriot Express) have varying restrictions for how to travel with pets. For example, as of 2020, Lufthansa no longer transports snub-nosed animals in the cargo hold.

Remember: Pet travel expenses are NOT reimbursed by the government. So, whether you’re flying Patriot Express with other military families or commercial airline, it’s important to understand the specific pet rules for your chosen airline carrier.

Not sure which airline to go with? See a list of current commercial pet carriers.

One of the first things you need to do is buy an IATA (International Air Transport Association) certified crate that fits the requirements for your companion’s weight and measurements. Do this early so you have time to crate train your pet in preparation for the long flight.

IATA pet crate size requirements

Small animals will more than likely go in the cabin. Most airlines treat in cabin pet kennels/carriers like carry-on baggage and will be stowed under the seat in front of you for the duration of the flight.

For travelers taking the Patriot Express, your in cabin kennel size must not exceed 20″l x 16″w x 8.5″h. Kennels must be large enough for you pet to stand up, sit down, turn around, and lie down with normal posture and body movement.

All kennels need to provide adequate ventilation on at least three sides.

Soft sided carriers are accepted in cabin only (for Patriot Express), and need to have leak proof/water repellent padded nylon with mesh ventilation on at least two sides.

Kennel Requirements for the Patriot Express

For the Patriot Express, the combined weight of your pet and kennel must not exceed 150lbs. You can see all the associated weight fees (pet + kennel) for the Patriot Express here.

If you have a 2 piece kennel, make sure it’s bolted by metal nuts/bolts as plastic clips are not authorized by many airline carriers. It’s also recommended to secure the kennel door with a zip tie for additional safety.

The bottom of the kennel needs to have several layers of newspaper, shredded paper, cardboard or absorbent material (do not use any hay, grass, wood shavings, sand or soil. And make sure to give your pet proper exercise and potty breaks right before the flight.

A blanket inside the kennel with your scent also goes a long way for anxious pets (and anxious parents ☺️).

Important tip: You can reserve your Patriot Express flight for you and your pets up to 90 days before your report date (RNLTD)

Yes, Baxter has a very plush lifestyle. But if you want to travel with your puppy, a stroller is essential! Follow him on Instagram @lil_baxter_boy

Outside the crate, you’ll need to provide “Live Animal” & “This Way Up” stickers (commercial airlines usually has extras, but ask ahead of time to make sure), a copy of the health certificate, general info about your pet (name, pic, last time fed, feeding instructions, etc), and a ziplock with food.

live animals sticker for your pcs to germany with a pet

You must also provide food/water bowls which can be zip-tied to the door. If you’re using a reversible drinking water bottle, make sure your pet is familiar with using it.

Pro Tip: Use metal/stainless steel food & water bowls (instead of plastic) so your pet doesn’t have the opportunity to chew the plastic out of frustration during the flight. Check out the detachable bowls with clamps or the bowls with hooks.

In order to make sure you have purchased everything for your pet before travel, here’s my “Pet Starter Kit” to keep you organized:

And, of course, don’t forget to buy a pet ticket! The Patriot Express charges anywhere between $100 to 400, and private airlines may charge anywhere between $400 to 2,000.

If pet slots are NOT available for your Patriot Express flight, you have a couple options.

– Your dependents can wait behind until there’s a slot available on a later date.

– You can search for pet shipper options, which is a little more expensive, but some can ship door to door.

– You can fly commercial with an Exception to Policy letter (in order to get reimbursed). Make sure you reference page 19 of the Defense Transportation Regulation (DTR) I-103-19 section d.

Air Mobility Command Pet Brochure (1)
Air Mobility Command Pet Brochure (2)

*Check out all the updated Air Mobility Command (AMC) – Patriot Express pet travel requirements here. If this government website doesn’t cooperate, copy/paste this link: https://www.amc.af.mil/AMC-Travel-Site/AMC-Pet-Travel-Page/

Get Our FREE Checklist!

Arriving in Germany with Your Pets

Once you land, you and your pet will be desperate to reunite (and probably have a bathroom break). But you’ll have to pay the fees first.

Before you collect your pets, a vet will inspect them in quarantine. Afterwards, you may need to pay a fee up to €200 before you can take your furry friend with you.

Registering your pet

Once you arrive in Germany, you need to register your pet with the veterinary clinic on post within 14 days. If you don’t, you won’t be able to secure government-leased or on-post housing.

Starting a pet sitting service is a great way to make money. Learn more about how to start a business as a spouse in Germany!

If you have a Category II dog, you will also need to register with your local Rathaus (town hall) once you have housing. Plus, they must wear a leash and muzzle in public areas. The municipality may also have a tax on your dog (Hundesteuer).

Additionally, the German government requires that you register your pet with TASSO. Whether you have a cat or a dog, TASSO can help you find your pet in case they get lost!

Buying a dog in Germany can be almost as complicated as PCSing with pets to Germany!

Adopting a Pet in Germany

Unlike the U.S., Germany doesn’t have many animal shelters, probably because they have such rigorous regulations for owning a pet! They don’t take pet ownership lightly, and neither should you. Be sure to discuss the costs and responsibilities with your family before adopting a new furry member.

And if you decide to purchase a pet from a German breeder, make sure you have a trusted third party translate the contract for you.

Ready to adopt your new furry friend? Check out our puppy checklist!

A puppy harness is great for walking your new dog because it won't hurt their trachea when they try to pull you

Pet Passports

You don’t necessarily need a passport for your pet before you PCS to Germany. But if you don’t fly the Patriot Express, some airlines may require it. We recommend contacting your airline to confirm their requirements.

If you plan to travel within the EU with your pet, you will need a pet passport issued by a licensed vet. We recommend contacting your local on-post clinic to find out more information.

Dog Care in Germany

As mentioned previously, the Germans take dog ownership very seriously. For example, while it may be socially unacceptable to leave your pet outside all day in the U.S., it’s against the law in Germany.

And if you leave your dog home alone all day with no one to walk them or play with them, they may develop destructive habits or bark all day. If your dog barks or howls continuously for 10 minutes, it’s considered a noise disturbance. As a result, you could have your dog taken away.

Dog eating ice cream at Eiscafe Dolce Vita

If you bring your dog out in public, they must be well-trained. It’s expected that you wouldn’t bring an untrained dog to a restaurant. If you have any doubt that your dog can’t behave in public, just don’t.

Most restaurants in Weiden are dog-friendly – read more about them!

Looking for a local groomer? Check out Vroni’s Hundesalon in Vilseck!

For information on pet sitters and boarding your pet when you travel (because you will definitely travel), the on-post vet is a great place to start. They have information about boarders throughout the area, as well as pet sitters.

If you’re looking for a local recommendation, check out Dog Paradise aka “Hunde Paradies.” This place has everything you need for your pup – dog boarding, grooming, energy massages, and they even have their own healthy dog food which can be found in the local grocery stores.

Take a look at how much fun our dog had at Hunde Paradies Lienlasmühle…

And be sure to book your boarders or pet sitters in advance! Like, as soon as you buy those plane tickets for the four-day weekend, book a reservation at a boarding facility.

Wilson owns Hunde Kinder, the independently owned doggie day care near USAG Bavaria

Wilson’s Hunde Kindergarten Freihung

PCSing to Germany is stressful for everyone in the family. But it may be argued that it’s most stressful for a dog, who has little understanding of the change that’s happening. Henry Wilson of Wilson’s Hunde Kindergarten says “You have to give a dog at least 3 months to adapt.”

*Update: As of August 2020 Wilson’s Hunde Kindergarten has relocated to Hammerleinsmuhle 5 Freihung, 92271.

Wilson’s Hunde Kindergarten offers dog day care Monday through Friday in Freihung. It’s the only certified dog care center in the town, employing staff who have training in dog behavior and pet first aid.

The space allows dogs to play inside and outside with plenty of toys and obstacles. The staff helps the dogs socialize and adapt to their surroundings. For example, they train them not to bark at people or cars going by.

Make your life a million times easier with a puppy stroller! And also get yourself some great travel swag

Final Thoughts on Pet Ownership in Germany

When you PCS to Germany, seriously consider what it means to be a pet owner while you’re stationed here. If you’re not sure you can give your pet all the love it needs while you’re stationed in Germany, consider re-homing them with family or friends.

And that goes for buying a pet in Germany, too. If you don’t want to board your pet while you travel, or if you have an irregular schedule, this may not be the best time to introduce a new furry family member.

Why yes, they DO make Spiderman costumes for dogs!

The rules in Germany are different from the U.S. It can be hard enough for adults and families to adjust to change, but imagine how your pets feel! If you don’t help them adapt, they can develop destructive behaviors.

But there is certainly no doubt how much joy they can bring into our lives!

To learn more about PCS prep, stay prepared with my Ultimate PCS Checklist, or subscribe to the channel for more local insights!

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6 comments on “How To PCS to Germany with Pets: A Complete Guide

  1. Dear dtv Daniel

    Very interesting site. Please allow me to correct some of your statements. There is NO limit of only two pets to a family and that they MUST be only cats and dogs. We ship many pets to EU every weeks. Many families also have Ferrets, Birds, Rabbits, g pigs, hamsters etc. NO problem…
    Lufthansa DOES allow snub nosed pets! They do have a summer months embargo, however. Usually in May to Sept… There are NO shipping kennel rentals that I know of. United had these back in the ’60’s when I first started. Nothing for years… There are NO pet passports available outside the EU. ONLY EU veterinarians can issue these. There is a firm in Ft Lauderdale that sells forms they call pet passports. This is a rip off. BEWARE! Pets with Passports state on their site that Germany once had a 3 month quarantine. Had to be well before 1966 as I traveled all over Europe for 4 months with my mini Schnauzer with NO problem….
    We’ve been shipping pets since 1969. I am a veteran having been stationed in ‘K’ town 1955-56 I am a German occupation troop!! Hope this helps? Best Regards

    1. Hi Jerry, thanks for all the information! The two pet limitation is a USAG Bavaria Housing rule that you can find on their FAQs page, it states, “Q. How many pets are allowed in Government Controlled Quarters? A. In accordance with local policy as well as regulatory guidance, you may bring two
      pets; two cats, two dogs or a combination thereof. This is a strict policy followed by
      USAG Bavaria. Domestic pets are not authorized in Unaccompanied Personnel
      Housing. If a family has more than two pets they must submit an Exception to Policy
      (ETP) for approval for an additional animal. Exotic animals are not permitted.” Sorry if I mislead you with information that doesn’t apply to the K-Town area.

      We also took the information about “not allowing snub nosed pets” straight from Lufthansa’s website, “Information about travelling with snub-nosed dogs and cats.” The wording is a little confusing as they state that they are “no longer transporting these breeds in the cargo, but you will still be able to take your pet in the cabin with you.”

      I appreciate you taking the time to provide all this insight. We’ll continue to look through our blog posts to make sure we’re providing accurate information to the community. Thanks again for your support!

  2. Hey Daniel, I am Tim. I been watching your Youtube channel for lots of good information regarding PCSing to Germany. I really appreciate your time and effort in doing this.

    I have one question, I have never used “Hard Crates” to travel with my dog ( less than 10lbs). But I got an email saying that the German Bus Policy does not allow dogs inside the bus, but has to be in the under compartment with Hard Crates ( they say its climate controlled).
    Have you heard or experienced anything like this? Now it looks like I have to buy the hard crate and take it with us as checked baggage or get one when we get to Ramstein ( wondering if there are purchases available upon arrival ). Any information would be much appreciated! Thank you!

    1. Hey Tim, thanks for the support! Yes, I have heard this, it’s definitely a thing due to German Law. I’ve been reading a lot of comments in the FB group pages (https://www.facebook.com/groups/ProfessionalCommunitySponsors/) where people had to go buy a crate once the plane landed at Ramstein or the AMC terminal representatives had extra crates for folks that didn’t have one. I think your best bet is to buy one beforehand, “hard crate” train your dog, or you can take your chances and wait till you get there. Would you mind sending me the email they sent you about the German Bus Policy? I’m actually making a video right now about Commercial Flight vs Patriot Express and I’d like to show this. You can send it to me at dtv.mailboxx@gmail.com and I will blur out any of your personal information (name, email, unit, etc). Thanks again for your support with the channel, I hope I was able to help you out.

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