Taking your dog to Spain: dog laws and entry requirements

What are the rules for travelling to Spain with your dog? / Gtres
What are the rules for travelling to Spain with your dog? / Gtres
5 November 2018, Redaction

If you’re planning on moving to Spain with your dog, or even if you’re just going to spend your holidays there with your four-legged friend, you should be aware of the entry requirements for dogs to Spain. Remember that the Mediterranean coast and central Spain are too hot for most dogs in summer, so winter is a better time to visit. Dogs suffer greatly in the heat, can’t usually go to the beach and don’t have a lot of opportunities to exercise.

Spain is also not an especially pet-friendly country. In general, large dogs are not welcome in tourist resorts. Animals are forbidden in many restaurants, just like in hotels, where small dogs are often allowed in the room for an extra fee, but never in the restaurant or pool areas. Nor will you be able to visit the vast majority of monuments and tourist attractions with your pet.

That said, when it comes to medical care for man’s best friend, you don't have to worry. In the larger cities, there are modern veterinary clinics and even in smaller places you can normally find a vet without any problem. However, it’s useful if you speak a bit of Spanish or if you have a phrasebook handy. In tourist regions, it’s possible to find vets who speak English.

Entry requirements for dogs into Spain

For dogs to be allowed to travel across Spanish borders, the general rules of the EU apply:

  • You must carry a valid EU pet passport.
  • Your dog must have a microchip (or have a clearly legible tattoo from before 3rd July 2011).
  • Your dog has to be at least 12 weeks old when it receives its first rabies vaccination, which must be administered by a licensed veterinarian. The vaccine is valid until the end of the vaccination protection period specified by the manufacturer (1-year shelf life). This is also the case for booster vaccinations, which are considered as an initial vaccination if not carried out within the validity period. The animal must also be clearly identified by a microchip when the initial vaccination is performed.
  • Additionally, entry into Spain must not take place until at least 21 days after completion of the initial vaccination protocol recommended by the manufacturer.

Banned breeds of dog

The possession and importation of so-called “dangerous breeds” in Spain are regulated differently in each municipality and autonomous community. Some specific dog breeds are required to wear a lead and muzzle at all times, such as Pitbull Terriers, Staffordshire Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Rottweilers, Dogo Argentino, Fila Brasiliero, Tosa-Inu and Akita-Inu.

Dogs on Spanish beaches

On official beaches in Spain, dogs are strictly forbidden during the high season in summer. However, many Spanish autonomous communities have designated some sections of beaches as specialist dog beaches where pets are welcome. If you want to take your dog to the beach, find out in advance where you can play without obstacles or hassle with your furry friend.

Transporting your dog to Spain

Most airlines will let even the largest dogs fly away with you on holiday. Big dogs are transported in special cages in an air-conditioned section of the hold of the aeroplane. You have to call ahead to the airline to book your dog's ticket. Be warned that animal boxes are occasionally treated just like any other baggage during loading and unloading, and no special attention is paid to their status as living beings.

Small dogs up to 8 kg can be kept in the cabin if they are booked and paid for in advance. They will need a suitable transport box, which must comply with the airline’s specifications. You will have to put the pet carrier under the seat in front of you, between your legs. During take-off and landing, and for the whole duration of the flight, you will not be allowed take it out of its cage for any reason and it must remain calm, quiet and not disturb other passengers.

If you plan to take a ferry, for example to Mallorca, you should find out in advance about the rules for taking dogs. Dogs are not normally allowed to stay in the car during the crossing, but must remain in cages or transport boxes on deck or on an intermediate deck outside the vehicle. Depending on the route, type of boat and the company, this "animal deck" may not be accessible during the crossing.

What else do you need to know about taking dogs to Spain?

  • You can legally take a maximum of 5 dogs with you.
  • Dogs younger than 15 weeks old cannot enter Spain.
  • When you take your dog for a walk, you should carry bags to collect your dog's excrement. Otherwise, you could face high fines.
  • In Spain there is a general obligation to use a dog belt or harness in cars. If you’re driving, find out beforehand how you should take your dog in the car.
  • In Spain, ticks and lice that can transmit dangerous diseases are widespread in many regions. It is therefore advisable to provide your pet with adequate protection against ticks, and make sure they’re vaccinated against certain Mediterranean diseases such as leishmaniasis.
  • Dogs are allowed in some hotels, but not in many. It often depends on the size and number of dogs. In restaurants, dogs are usually not allowed. If it's a small, quiet dog, some restaurants will let you through with it.
  • Dogs are not allowed on public transport in many cases. On Spanish trains, they are sometimes allowed to travel in a box in the luggage trolley. Dogs are not allowed in public buildings and administrative offices unless they’re guide dogs.
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