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Moving with Pets
You and your family are welcome to bring pets to Spain. There are things to consider regarding types, number and sizes of pets. If living in on-base housing, you are limited to a maximum of two pets (defined as dogs and/or cats) with no limit on size. All base housing units are fully fenced, but pet owners cannot leave their pets outdoors full-time out of consideration for neighbors. Dog run enclosures are prohibited in housing areas.
Most Spanish landlords will impose similar limits on pets and may impose size or weight limits. Regardless of the number, if one lives on or off base, all pets must be microchipped and registered with the base veterinary office within 15 days of residency or of obtaining the animal. On-base residents must also register their pets with the housing office within the same 15-day time period. All service member-owned pets must be kept current on vaccinations. Spanish law requires annual vaccines for dogs and cats. If your pet has been administered a three-year vaccine in the States, it must be boostered after one year to be in compliance with local regulations.
Prior to bringing a pet to Spain, it is highly advisable to research costs associated with shipping a pet back to the United States or other international destination from Spain when the time comes for your PCS. Individuals moving to Spain are responsible for the cost of shipping their pet. This expense is not reimbursable. In addition, commercial airline regulations have become increasingly stringent with regard to pet travel to include barring specific breeds for part of the year due to hot and cold weather. Keep these factors in mind when considering a pet while in Spain.
During your stay in Spain you will be required to comply with Spanish law regarding care of animals. This includes registering your pet’s microchip with the Spanish tracking system, which can be done at the Veterinary Clinic on-base or any Spanish veterinary clinic for a nominal fee. You are required to keep a proof of vaccination and microchip with you at all times when walking your dog off base. Other requirements, such as muzzling and leash, may only apply based on where you live or travel within Spain with your dog.
Southern Spain enjoys a temperate climate year-round. Consequently, there are some parasites that flourish in this region that you may not be aware of back in the States. In order to provide optimal protection for your dog, Rota Veterinary Services recommends monthly use of a topical flea and tick preventative, specifically Advantix II. This medication can be purchased at the Veterinary Clinic. This is the only topical medication that provides proven protection against sand flies that transmit the potentially fatal disease Leishmaniasis. For cats the recommended topical medication is Revolution. Pets should remain on flea/tick and heartworm prevention year-round in Spain. The Veterinary Clinic can answer your specific questions regarding parasite control upon arrival.
NAVSTA Rota does not have a pet boarding kennel on base. There are limited facilities available in the surrounding area off-base. The Veterinary Clinic maintains a list of kennel facilities and petsitters. Be aware that it can be difficult to find a kennel that can accommodate large dogs for boarding. It is important to locate an acceptable facility and secure your reservation well in advance if you require boarding for your pet.
Certain breeds of dogs are considered “dangerous animals” under Spanish Law 50/99. This label applies to all dogs of the breed, regardless of past behavior or temperament. Dangerous dogs in Spain include the following breeds and cross breeds: Pit Bull Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Rottweiler, Doberman Pinscher, Argentino Dogo, Fila Brisileiro, Tosa Ina and Akita Inu.
In addition, due to increased security measures on base, German Shepherds, Chow Chows, Boxers, any wolf hybrid and any dog with these breeds in their lineage (crosses) are also considered dangerous dogs. Any other dog that demonstrates an aggressive character, or has been involved in an attack against people or other animals and/or is designated as potentially dangerous by COMNAVACTSPAIN, his designee, or appropriate Spanish government officials, is also considered a “dangerous animal.”
All members of the force or civilian component stationed in Spain who maintain a potentially dangerous animal, regardless of whether they live on or off base, must comply with Spanish registration procedures. The following rules summarize the Spanish law as it pertains to owners of dangerous animals:
(1) License. All owners of potentially dangerous dogs must obtain a license for such an animal from the local city hall within 30 days of arriving in Spain. Failure to obtain a license within the time prescribed will result in the impoundment of the animal and its potential destruction. A license will be valid for a period of five years. Owners of potentially dangerous animals residing on-base shall present a copy of their license to Security. In order to obtain a license, the applicant owner must complete the following requirements:
a. The applicant must be over 18 years old.
b. The applicant must not have been convicted of a crime or have been administratively sanctioned for past violations mentioned in pertinent Spanish law.
c. Have the requisite physical strength to control the animal when walked; dangerous dogs must be leashed and muzzled at all times while in public.
d. Pass a psychological examination from a qualified provider (several civilian clinics in Rota provide this service).
e. Obtain civil liability insurance.
(2) Once registered, the owner will need to carry the animal’s identity card and registration documents on their person at all times when the pet is in public.
Interpreters working in the Naval Station Security Department can assist owners of dangerous animals with the registration process. Call 956-82-3225 or 956-82-3246 for assistance.
Requirements for Pet Entry to Spain
As soon you know where you’re moving to, start researching pet entry requirements. Travel to Spain is primarily accomplished using commercial carriers. Ensure your transportation office knows you’re shipping pets to Spain, so they may help make reservations with your airline for you or direct you to the place to make reservations. Airlines charge fees for shipping pets, and this expense is not reimbursable.
Additionally, know that several airlines impose pet embargoes, and will not accept pets when temperature limits are exceeded during any part of your itinerary. Please work closely with your transportation office to avoid any problems while traveling with your pet. Ultimately, travel arrangements for your pet are your responsibility.
Specific requirements for pets entering Spain include:
- Pets are defined as dogs and cats only.
- Pets must be at least three months of age when entering Spain.
- All vaccinations should be given to your pet at least 30 days or more prior to moving.
- Animals must be identifiable either with a 10-digit or 15-digit microchip (ISO 11784/5). Tattoos are not a sufficient form of identification.
- Each pet must have a certificate of health for the European Union, signed by any veterinarian accredited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, under the Veterinary National Accreditation Program (VNAP). Once completed, the certificate must be endorsed by an official veterinarian employed by the Veterinary Services, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). Veterinarians employed by the U.S. military are considered official veterinarians, and a certificate signed by a military veterinarian does not need APHIS endorsement.
- The health certificate is valid for four months or until the rabies vaccine’s expiration date, whichever is first.
- Parts V, VI or VII of the certificate are not required for animals traveling to Spain from the United States or Canada.
- There is no quarantine requirement for entry into Spain.
- Check with your local veterinarian and the veterinarian in the country you’re moving to, prior to your arrival.
General Pet Travel Information
Pet owners are responsible for complying with all required documentation, immunizations and border clearance requirements and should be prepared to pay any necessary fees to obtain them.
All animals are subject to examination by the Customs’ veterinarian at the Spanish port of entry (usually Madrid Barajas airport). Clearance of animals may be delayed after working hours and on weekends.
The passenger must provide an International Air Transport Association (IATA) approved container for the pet. It must be large enough for the animal to stand up, turn around and lie down with normal posture and body movements (some commercial airlines simply require that the animal “be comfortable,” so again, it is wise to check on the particular requirements of the airline you are booked on).
Mark “LIVE ANIMAL” on the container, clearly indicating your name, address, destination and the animal’s name. Include your sponsor’s local phone number on the container and a note in English and Spanish stating whether or not the pet is friendly with strangers.
Refer to the individual commercial carrier website and work directly with the airline to clarify flight eligibility requirements for your pet.
The maximum weight accepted as excess baggage, container and pet weight combined, is 99 pounds for commercial airline flights and 150 pounds on the AMC Patriot Express flights.
Once you arrive and settle in, you may begin planning some trips with your pet. Traveling with your pet within Spain and the rest of Europe, either by land, air or sea, requires a European Pet Passport. This travel document can be purchased at Rota Veterinary Services on base, or at any off-base Spanish veterinary clinic. Be sure to bring your pet passport to all of your veterinary appointments both on and off base in order to update the document at every visit.
Non-domestic pets or exotic pets are not authorized in family housing. They include, but are not limited to snakes and other reptiles, chickens, ducks, monkeys, ferrets, rats and tarantulas. Hamsters, gerbils and guinea pigs are allowed. If renting on the economy, check with the landlord.