How to Take Your Dog to Italy

Jan 09, 2013    /    luna the traveling pooch

So much for a puppy to explore.

Well, we’re officially settled in in Luna’s eighth visited country: Italy. And the super good news is that it was way easy to get her here. Just in case you also want to bring your dog to charming Italia, here is a quick and easy guide to the paperwork and requirements for bringing a dog to Italy:

1. Get her microchipped.
To travel in any European country, you’ll need your dog microchipped with an international microchip. This is an outpatient procedure and is really easy. Luna didn’t even act sore after her microchipping over a year ago. The microchip may need to be inserted before the most recent rabies shot, so make sure to do this step first.

2. Make sure her rabies shot is up-to-date.
You’ll need to have an up-to-date rabies shot that was given at least 21 days before you leave for Italy. If your shot is due after that 21-days-before date, check with your vet. It’s my understanding that you can get the shot early and it won’t harm your dog.

3. Make a vet appointment within 10 days of travel.
To enter Italy, you’ll need a veterinary certificate in English and Italian, which must be filled out by a USDA approved vet. To find out if your vet is USDA approved, you can call the USDA office near you.

The paperwork itself must be filled out within 10 days of travel (in case of flight delays, I always try and do mine within five days).

4. Review the paperwork.
The correctness of your paperwork is vitally important. After your vet fills it out (and before you leave the vet’s office), check the paperwork and make sure everything is correct. Things to watch out for:

  • In Europe, dates are written DD/MM/YYYY, not MM/DD/YYYY. Make sure all dates are in the European format.
  • You’ll need to include a copy of your rabies certificate with your paperwork – make sure you have one printed out and that your paperwork matches up with it exactly (the dates and vaccine type, etc.).
  • Make sure the birth date of your dog matches on all paperwork.

5. Take that paperwork to the USDA to get it stamped.
Finally, you can either mail your paperwork to the USDA office nearest you, or you can walk it in yourself for a stamp. I prefer walking it in (as that leaves no room for mailing errors or time delays). Keep in mind that USDA offices have varying policies from state to state, so your best bet is to call ahead and ask if you need an appointment or if they have walk-in hours for stamping paperwork. You’ll also want to ask what the current fee is and what forms of payment they accept (the first time Luna and I did this journey, our local office only accepted check payments).

6. Keep your paperwork on you while traveling.
Keep your paperwork on hand during your flight. The airline counter agent may ask to see it before checking you in and the customs officials at the Italian airport may ask to see it before letting you through customs.

I also recommend carrying a second copy of the paperwork in another bag just in case.

Buon viaggio!

Italy - 100 locals tell you where to go, what to eat, and how to fit in Did I mention that I wrote a book about Italy?
Experience Italy as only a local could with this unconventional guidebook.

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  • Lucia
    January 2, 2014

    Ciao, ho appena letto questo articolo, e ho alcune domande (non so se potrai aiutarmi).

    Te da dove sei partita per portare Luna in Italia?
    Con quale compagna hai viaggiato?
    Io sto pensando di portare il mio cane, Mars, in Italia, ma non sono sicura se c’e’ bisogno di un Passaporto, perche’ una mia amica che ha viaggiato dalla Spagna in Italia aveva bisogno di un Passaporto, e perche’ il cane era al di sotto di 8KG se lo e’ portato sull’aereo in braccio…

    Se puoi rispondere solo a queste domande mi aiuteresti tantissimooooo!!!! ^_^

    Grazie infinite!

    • gigigriffis
      January 2, 2014

      Ciao Lucia,

      Io non parlo molto italiano, quindi speriamo che capisco le vostre domande – cercherò di rispondere.

      Ho portato Luna in Italia in aereo dagli Stati Uniti e hanno anche portato Luna in treno da altri paesi europei. In Italia, siamo stati in Umbria, Verona, Roma, ecc Dagli Stati Uniti, abbiamo viaggiato su Delta Airlines. In Europa, eravamo in vari treni da varie aziende diverse.

      Se viaggiate con il vostro cane da un paese europeo all’altro, avrete bisogno di un passaporto europeo per animali domestici. È possibile ottenere questo dal vostro veterinario. Si tratta di un processo molto semplice. Per i viaggi in aereo, si potrebbe anche bisogno di un certificato sanitario – è necessario contattare la compagnia aerea per verificare. Se siete in viaggio dagli Stati Uniti, è necessario il lavoro di ufficio (che parlo nell’articolo precedente).

      Spero che questo aiuti!

    • Ellie Frey
      April 10, 2019

      This is supper helpful. I’m trying to go to Italy for 90 days and I want to bring my dog. Are there anything else involving clearing customs coming into Italy besides all the paper work? Is there a cost when you get to Italy. Is it super confusing? My dog is an emotional support dog so she will be on the plane with me.

      • gigigriffis
        April 10, 2019

        Hi Ellie!

        I’d recommend contacting a USDA-approved vet near you to make sure the requirements are still the same (they should be, but it’s been a couple years since I’ve flown into Italy with Luna, so always good to confirm and a USDA vet will be able to give you the up-to-date info.

        There’s no fee in Italy on arrival. Just bring your paperwork and declare the dog to customs by going through the “I have something to declare” line after collecting your bags. Honestly, most times they don’t even look at my paperwork and just wave me through, so don’t stress about it at all. It’s not confusing, though it is always funny that the customs officers are so laid back and easygoing (so much different than US customs!).

  • Hugh Swingle
    April 30, 2014

    I have a couple of questions. Did you have to visit a vet in Italy to get any kind of certificate to leave the country or enter back into the US?

    Have you traveled to Germany with your dog before? We will be staying one night in Germany on our way back to the US and are a little concerned about going from Italy to Germany for one night?


    • gigigriffis
      April 30, 2014

      To return to the US from Europe, all you need is your rabies certificate (and anything the airline you’re flying with requires). No vet visit required.

      Going to Germany from Italy should be easy. Just make sure you have your paperwork that you entered the EU with…it should be good for up to three months of travel within the EU (you can double check that with the USDA-approved vet who is going to do your paperwork). Luna and I travel around the EU and cross borders all the time. I’ve never had a problem.

      • Hugh Swingle
        May 1, 2014

        Awesome! Thanks so much for the info!

        • gigigriffis
          May 2, 2014

          No problem!

  • Rachel
    May 20, 2014

    We are moving back to Italy, I am Italian and my husband is American…I looked at the sheet you linked to, and I don’t understand all the parts. On the first page, who is the “cosigner” and “cosignee”?
    Who fills out the sections II a “Certificate number?” What certificate is it? What about I.17 “CITES?” I am worried my vet won’t understand these things. Is there a page just for the USDA or do they just stamp somewhere else at the end and all the info is to be completed by the vet?
    I am very worried, this sheet is confusing to me. Some of the words in Italian are different than the translations and I don’t know what is correct. If you could let me know how yours was completed I would be so grateful! Love your blog! :)

    • gigigriffis
      May 20, 2014

      Hi Rachel!

      A USDA-approved vet will be familiar with the paperwork, so he should know how to fill it out (so don’t worry!). Just make sure your vet is USDA-approved before you set up the paperwork appointment (if he isn’t, you’ll need to use one that is).

      The USDA stamps every page of the form, so there’s no special spot for it (and they’ll know what they’re doing; they’re used to it).

      I will see if I can dig my form up when I get home and answer your questions more fully, but I am sure any USDA-approved vet is very familiar with the forms, so don’t worry too much. :)

    • gigigriffis
      May 20, 2014

      Okay, I pulled out my paperwork:

      Consignor and consignee are the addresses/person who is exporting (sending) the dog and the person receiving the dog. If you are both, your name, address, etc. in the states would go in the consignor space and your name, address, etc. in Italy would go into the consignee space.

      The certificate is something the USDA fills in, I believe.

      Cities is a field they don’t use.

  • Vanessa
    June 20, 2014


    Thank you so much for this useful information! I am traveling with my small dog to Italy for 10 days this summer and had a quick question. The USDA website says that you need an export certificate from a veterinarian to travel from Italy to the US with an animal. If that is the case I don’t think I will take him with me but from what I understand you didn’t have to do this, did you?


    • gigigriffis
      June 20, 2014

      We traveled back to the US from Europe with just Luna’s rabies vaccination papers from the US. That said, we didn’t fly directly from Italy and it’s possible the regulations have changed. The best person to ask will be your local USDA-certified vet.

  • beverly
    October 8, 2015

    Can you please tell me what airlines fly to Italy from ny that i can take my 5 lb dog? What necessary papers are needed and shots?
    Thank you

    • beverly
      October 8, 2015

      thank you. Any great dog friendly hotels in Bologna?

      • gigigriffis
        October 8, 2015

        I don’t have any hotel recommendations (we didn’t stay in Bologna), but you should be able to search online (try Googling pet-friendly hotel Bologna or try finding an Airbnb apartment and asking the owners if they’ll take a small dog.

    • gigigriffis
      October 8, 2015

      Hi Beverly,

      I don’t have a full list of airlines that fly to Italy. Your best bet is to do a search, find the flight you want, and then check the airline’s policies about pet travel. You can find some great charts of pet-friendly airlines at

      The papers and shots are all the things listed in the post above. Nothing more or less. :)


  • Nick
    May 30, 2016

    Hi Lucia,

    Do you need special paperwork leaving Italy with your dog? I was reading a special certificate (export) is needed beyond what is required for entering the country

    • gigigriffis
      May 30, 2016

      Hi Nick,

      It depends what country you are going to from Italy. You’ll need to look up requirements for the country you’ll be entering from Italy.

  • Mindy Chon
    January 1, 2018

    Hi Gigi,

    I stumbled upon your site after google bringing dogs to Italy. We are thinking of bringing our little pooch to Rome, Venice and Dolomites. Did you have any issues bringing your dog into places such as museums, trains, supermarkets?

    Thanks! Mindy

    • gigigriffis
      January 2, 2018

      I haven’t tried to take Luna into museums (I rarely go to them myself), but check out – I think she is more of a museum buff than I am. Trains are easy – dogs are welcome. You just need to ask about the policies (some train companies will charge a small fare; some require the dog to ride in a carrier; etc.). Grocery stores do not allow dogs; I just leave Luna at our apartments/hotels when I need to make a grocery run or, if we’re hitting a grocery store on our way back from something and have Luna with us, I have Chad hold her outside while I run in. When I was solo, I just circled back to the apartment to leave her and then went back to the store.

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