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Taking Your Dog to Germany

It took me an hour on the phone to make arrangements for Sam to get to Berlin on the same flight as us. I figure other people could profit from the information I've gathered, though of course you should verify for yourself, too, because these things can change.

When we came over from Paris six years ago, we found the airline with the cheapest dog transport and Erik came over a week later than Vigo and I, with Sam. I remember it all having been fairly straightforward and not terrifically expensive. This time, I got our tickets all together first and then called our airline (Continental) to make the reservation for Sam. I recommend anyone taking a dog to investigate costs for the dog between airlines like we did the first time around. It turns out that Continental has a pretty fancy pet cargo service, including climate control so pets can travel in the summer, which is great. The down side is that it looks like it cost us over $1000 to get Sam to Berlin. The pet transport wasn't any great shakes, either. Sam wasn't let out of her box for the entire trip which lasted just under 18 hours. She did have water, but she was pretty miserable.

So, here's the basic information. Our Sam weighs about 60 pounds and is a fairly big shepherd / pointer / maybe poodle.

The Carrier


    * There has to be 3" of clearance from the dog's head to the roof of the kennel.
    * The dog has to be able to stand up and turn around inside it.
    * The kennel has to be ventilated on all four sides.
    * There have to be two dishes attached to the door for food and water.
    * Taped to the top of the carrier should be a note saying what time the dog ate last and a ziploc bag containing a small amount of dry dog food.
    * The floor of the kennel has to be covered with absorbant material like old towels or blankets, shredded newspaper, etc.

Paperwork and Health Stuff

    * The animal cannot be sedated for the trip.
    * The animal has to have either a tattoo or a microchip.
    * A veterinary health certificate, also called an EU Journal, in English and German, is required. This is a form your vet should give you. It's a thing in several copies with carbon sheets inside, like an export form.
    * A rabies vaccination certificate older than 21 days but issued within the past 12 months is required.
    * An international health certificate issued within the ten days prior to the flight is needed. It's not that easy to find the English/German form. Someone at the USDA helped me find a pdf. Don't count on your vet having the right form. You might have to bring your own, like I did.
    * All your paperwork has to be stamped by the USDA. Be sure to get your veterinary visit far enough ahead of time (but not more than ten days!!) so you can get your paperwork to the USDA and back. This part cost me over $50 in Fedex charges because I only found out about it at the last minute and had to scramble. When I got to Berlin, I discovered that the vet at the USDA had forgotton to sign the papers in one spot, so double-check your USDA papers and if you see a missing signature, forge it yourself. Or go back to the USDA to get it signed, but seriously... no one will be the wiser. It's really the stamp that counts. The USDA vet doesn't even see the animal, for crying out loud! But the Germans are in love with the minor hassle and they will give you one if you are missing the tiniest thing.

Complicated stuff

    * Sam has to be at Newark at least two hours prior to departure of our international flight. Since our layover is only 90 minutes, she has to go to Newark on an earlier flight than us.
    * You need to deliver your dog to the cargo handlers three hours before your flight. For us that means 9:30 am in Boston.
    * If the dog is in transit more than 18 hours, she has to have an onsight exam, which costs money of course. Luckily for us, Sam will not be in transit 18 hours.
    * You cannot bring a dog from Germany to the US on a Continental 747 because of weight restrictions. Luckily, we are only taking her one way.
    * The largest kennel that will fit in the plane Sam is taking to Newark is an xtra large. If she were to need a jumbo, we'd be screwed. I think an xlarge will be fine.
    * Cargo can only be officially booked 7 days in advance, but you can reserve a spot for your dog four months in advance. You get a record number and then you call a week ahead of time to get your confirmation number.
    * Berlin Tegel does not take animals on the weekends at all.

Cost

    * The weight cost is calculated for the dog and the carrier. It will be about $1000 for Sam on Continental.
    * There is also a variable per pound fuel surcharge. It's at about $2 now and will be higher when we are ready to leave.
    * Import fee is 50 euros.
    * Handling fee is 15 euros.
    * Customs can charge you whatever they damn well please. Don't complain to Continental about that.

Now that it's all written up, it feels less daunting. I'll have to find someone with a van to take us to the airport.

5 Comments:

  1. carrie said...
    Hi, hope you made it ok We have flown our three dogs to japan and back, and now are relocating to Germany for 2 years. Flying NW, so I hope everything goes ok. It is about an 8 hour flight for us.
    tracy said...
    Cool! How much is it costing you to take your dogs on NW from Japan to Germany? I thought 1,000$ was slightly excessive. That's way more than our tickets cost!
    barbara said...
    Interesting. I had a completely different experience flying my dog from San Francisco to Berlin (Tegel airport) just this past week. I did, however, fly United/Lufthansa. Like you, I got the special form both in German and English, Form 998 (I found it on this website: http://europetraveltips.blogspot.com/) but it didn't have carbon copies (and incidentally, my vet had the form). And I took this form, plus a Department of Food and Agriculture form, and a rabies certificate over to the USDA (cost $24 to process). I arrived at the airport 2 hours before my flight and got everything done at the check-out desk. The lady said it wasn't necessary but I affixed a copy of his forms to the kennel using tape and plastic sheets (see this site for additional things to put on the kennel: http://www.coyotecom.com/germany/basics.html). My dog is also big, so he used an xl kennel, it cost $254. A TSA guy came over and I walked with him to the kennel inspection, and then they went off. I didn't see him again until Berlin (I flew through Frankfort and there wasn't much time between the flights, although I don't think they let you see the dog even if you have tons of time). In Berlin, my baggage claim was in a room right off the plane and I saw them take my dog from the plane and they brought him directly to the baggage claim. I ran over, the guy said "is this your dog?" I said yes and that was pretty much it. I walked out the door into the main part of the airport - no customs, nobody asked to see my passport, or forms for my dog. I thought for sure something was amiss, but hey, I wasn't going to complain and it wasn't like I was sneaking out, I had taken my dog out and with the big kennel and all there was no hiding anything. I have no idea if Germany even knows he is here! I suppose they could have looked at his papers in Frankfort but the plastic sheet was still taped down, so I don't think so. That all said, I am assuming this was an exception and you should be prepared with the paperwork, of course. Hope your dogs make it over alright (if you haven't come over already). My dog was super thirsty, so be sure you have some water with you in case you have a long wait with customs or the animal control (if they in fact exist in Berlin Tegel).
    gutman said...
    Thanks for the great info from all respondents - especially the websites, Barbara! Will be taking my dog from Ft Hood (Killeen, TX) to Frankfurt in Feb '09 and this has eased a few worries....
    Trixolina said...
    Barbara, I'm glad that your dog's trip went smoother than ours. It sounds perfect!

    I had expected them to bring Sam to the baggage claim area, but they didn't. It was very difficult to find out where she was being kept after we landed. It was quite a slog out to the building where the vet was. And then it took quite some time and hassle getting all the papers looked at and signed off.

    They also lost all our other luggage on that flight and we had it delivered about three days later when it finally showed up.

    We just abandoned the dog box at customs. It would have been way too much to deal with.

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