Driving Through Switzerland with a Dog

03/06/2013 - 11:50


[It loaded before I could put any text in it!] We're soon to get a dog.  Eventually we intend to drive down with it to Italy for longish holidays.  Normally, when driving down, we go through Switzerland Has anyone driven through Switzerland with a dog? If so -  are there any special requirements/pitfalls/tips for getting through Switzerland? [I know all about pet passports, rabies Jabs etc etc, so would appreciate details of first hand experiences] Many thanks, 

Hi Alan We drive the same route as you through Switzerland and have had no one ask re any pets, nor indeed is there any signage. The only time we have been stopped was with the van and we were asked if we had any chocolate or penknives, bless. I guess as the border is largely open, they accept the same requirements as the Schengen area. The pet passport should be more than enough. Charlie

Thanks Alan for raising the topic and Charlie for the answer. We normally go to Italy from Spain through France with our dog. Never had any problems. Lately, we were thinking about going through Switzerland in order to visit some other areas further north. I have been reluctant to do it as our dog is 17 years of age (although in perfect health) and I do not want to have any problems with her. You have given me some peace of mind.

On our journey from Cambridgeshire to Rome we would stop in Switzerland because it was very easy with our dog. He was allowed to stay in the hotel room with us and there were always bowls of water available outside cafes and pubs. Never raised an eyebrow at the border and no-one ever asked for any dog documentation. The Uk customs sometimes checked he was comfy etc on the way out - just a chat. The biggest hold up was always getting back into the UK.

In reply to by alan h

Can't comment on FB's experience, but it usually takes us about 10 minutes. Just depends on timing I guess. The check these days is quite perfunctory. One other point, the Accor hotel chains all take dogs, there is usually a nominal charge which may or may not be levied. Charlie  

I'm sure there's much about this in other forums....however when we returned from Italy last Summer with our Norfolk Terrier it was evident that there are many things that could trip you up when being inspected at the Eurotunnel Terminal in Calais. Our vet in Chiusi had 'helpfully' left the exact time of her inspection blank on the pet passport - but when we arrived at Calais the officer said that we would have to wait until midnight in order to ensure that the inspection had indeed been carried out within the right time window.  We then had to contact the vet in Italy out of hours and get them to fax through the confirmation of treatment AND also find a vet that was open in Calais and have a reinspecton/re-endorsement - very stressful! The couple behind us were also refused because although the form had been correctly completed and stamped by the vet, there was no squiggle or signature above the stamp. Same story - urgent faxing back and forth and a further check by a local vet in Calais that was fortunately open. So the message is to be quite obsessive about checking absolutely everything which has to be completed on the pet passport and also ideally be at the ferry terminal / eurotunnel terminal during normal working hours - not in the evening or at night in case anything needs to corrected. But good luck - it's lovely having a furry friend on holiday!

As Robbie said; DO expect trouble at the Pet Control at Calais. Besides it all being manned by French Ars*holes, who's sole purpose seems to be disrupt/upset/annoy people traveling back to the UK with dogs. Unless every detail of your Pet Passport is squeaky clean, with every signature, date and stamp perfectly legible they will find a problem with it and either make you wait, say you have to get faxed clarification from your local vet who carried out the procedures (obviously difficult if you are there out of hours) or find some other lame excuse to be objectionable and annoying. I have witnessed this several times ourselves and have also been subjected to it as well as they were going to prevent one of our Labs going through all though the paperwork is identical to his brother who they said was OK. As a tip if anything like this happens, start crying (difficult if you're a male) and demand to see the 'Supervisor', this did the trick fro us and and another friend of ours. We now no longer take the dogs back to the UK and they stay with our daughter heer in Italy if we go back. Good luck and be prepared.

I emailed the Swiss Embassy yesterday - this is their response;- "Thank you for your query of yesterday afternoon. Please see below further information about importing pets to Switzerland:   Puppies / Kittens less than three months

  • “A veterinary certificate declaring that, since their birth, the young animals have been kept at their place of birth and had no contact with wild animals. The certificate is not necessary if the young are accompanied by their mother, on which they are still dependent. Puppies younger than 56 days may only be brought into Switzerland if they are accompanied by a mother or a wet nurse”
  • “Microchip (ISO Standard 11784, which only contains digits as identification code)
  • Official EU pet passport “

Dogs / Cats over three months

  • “Microchip (ISO Standard 11784, which only contains digits as identification code)
  • Official EU pet passport “
  • Up to date vaccinations (rabies!) Protection against rabies Have your animal vaccinated at least 21 days before entering Switzerland. If a booster vaccination has been given within the validity period of the first vaccination, the waiting period does not apply

If needed you will find further information on the Federal veterinary office (FVO)website: http://www.bvet.admin.ch/themen/01614/index.html?lang=en. If you have further questions please contact the Federal veterinary office (FVO) directly: Tel +41 (0)31 323 30 33 info@bvet.admin.ch   " ....so it looks as if getting back into the Uk will be the worry

We have had absolutely no trouble with our weimeraner dog either in Switzerland or coming back in Calais.  Drove straight through the border in Switzerland and only a quick check through in Calais.  We have a good vet in Italy who deals a lot with with pet passports so perhaps that is the key to a swift exit to the UK.

We always use your route through Switzerland Alan and have never had a problem with the dog.  Even when they have asked to look in the car, they have just ignored the dog and asked about other things.  Getting back into the UK we always use the ferry from Calais and have only once had any problem.  Usually they are checking the paperwork while we swipe the chip with their machine and it only takes a couple of minutes - all done at the normal checkin queue.  However, when travelling on his own my husband once had a problem because the vet had signed a line below the stamp and not next door to it.  They had to get approval, and then forgot my husband and dog!  It delayed them but not beyond their 'window'.  Our vet always asks what time and date he wants us to put on the passport.  He thinks the whole thing is a complete farce and will do whatever we want.  However, because it is postdated it means we can't get a proper invoice! Last autumn we brought our new dog back to the UK for the first time (we got him in Italy).  He was about 9 months - choc lab sourced from this site!  He coped with the journey (24 hours) to the port and the crossing (2 hours) with no problem at all, just took it all in his stride - we are very proud of him. Hope you have years of happiness with your dog going to and from Italy.  If you are in an area prone to ticks we found that a Scaliber collar is the best way to control them on our dog.  These are easy to get on the internet in the UK.

I drove down on Wednesday. England was bloody awful as they had "Operation Stack" in place. Which apparently means they close the M20 and stack lorries on it to prevent them clogging the ports. As most of you will know, Europe stacks lorries all the time, using specially designed areas off the motorway, or at least only using one lane. In England they haven't the sense to do any of that so you are taken through a tortuous detour, badly signed, which costs an hour.   The French motorways were as bad or worse, with massive lines of lorries parked up throughout northern France. On the (possibly) A26? there was a 26 kilometre blockage. Fortunately we had just passed an exit so were able to reverse back off the motorway and rejoin near St Quentin about an hour and a half later. I don't know if the problem was snow, or yet another strike - you can never tell in France. The worst of that was that we normally come via Belgium, but as I didn't feel great when we set off, we opted for the more expensive French route to save time and fuss. Drat and double drat. We got to Nancy eventually, in the freezing cold with snow forecast. Had a lovely beer or so and an excellent Japanese meal. Next day it was sub-zero and snowing but perked up later and we had a trouble-free run through Switzerland down to Lugano, which is where we leave the main road.  I'm guessing that northern France is probably clear by now, but don't know for sure. Further south is well OK.

Whereas the other day it was lovely here, it's now snowing quite heavily. Normally we don't get snow at lake level but it is settling so I'm guessing that elsewhere in the area - away from the lake - it's probably pretty poor conditions for anyone intending to drive near Como/Lugano area.