Taking Animals to Italy

It was not a good story. It did not have to be that way though. So because of that I will write of our difficulties in getting our cat paperwork completed.

We read many posts. We checked the Embassy site. We thought we had done it all right. About a month before our move date we took the cats to our vet to have them micro-chipped. The next hoop was to take the forms that we had downloaded from the Italian Embassy site to our vet. This could be done no more than 10 days before our flight out. They filled them all out. We next had to either FedEx these forms to the USDA in Richmond VA to have them certified and stamped and overnighted back to us. Problem was we were moving targets with no address and to assure we could get them done we decided to drive to Richmond with them.

It helped some that we were staying with my sister at that time in Wintergreen Virigina which is 2 hours from Richmond on a very dull but traffic-free interstate.

We presented our forms to the person at the counter. Suddenly I heard. “there is a problem”. Well it turns out that the rule is that the cats have to have rabies shots AFTER they are microchipped. Our vet did not tell us this although she does these forms a lot. The lady must have seen me turn white as a ghost. She says “OK, OK we can fix this”. All we had to do was get the cats rabies shots again and come BACK to Richmond.

Being in an unfamiliar place with only a day and a half to get this done and back to Richmond this was not an easy task. I enlisted my sister who is always good in a crisis. She searched out vets in this very rural part of Virginia. We managed to get a 4PM appointment that day and got the shots. The vet was nearly an hour from my sisters house so we had been in the car for over 6 hours this day and had the prospect of driving back to Richmond the next day. Oh joy!

So we did drive back. We did get all the stamps etc. We are not actually, technically, perfect though. The rule is the shots had to be more than 21 days before we leave and they are more like 5 days. The lady told us we may get our hand slapped that we could quarantine them in our apartment since we were living there and it should be OK. Well, that doesn’t make me feel totally secure but there you have it.

So to anyone out there who is bringing their pet to Italy, here is the proper order. First get your pet microchipped at least 1 month prior to your trip. Personally with hindsight, I think you should just go ahead and do it the moment you know you are going as it is never too early. After that (and at least 30 days before you leave) get a new rabies shot even if they already had one. 10 days or less before your flight download the official dual language forms to bring a pet into Italy from the Italian Embassy website. Take that form no more than 10 days before you go and have your USDA certified vet fill it out. Make sure you have your rabies certificate from the shot about a month ago. Then go find the United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Veterinary Services in your state. Either FedEx all your forms (Italian form and Rabies certiicate) to them or take them to them for certification. Then you should be good to go.

Here are the links to sites with forms or information that is useful.
This is the Italy embassy information about bringing pets

This is the form that your vet must fill out – and the vet must be USDA certified.

This is the USDA site


I have read in nearly every blog that the authorities in Italy never look at these papers but it would just be my luck that that would be the day they did and I didn’t have everything I needed!

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