Are you moving to the Netherlands and want to bring your dog, cat, or other pet with you? Or have you already settled into a Dutch house — and now want to make it a home with a furry friend?
Either way, we totally get it! But first, there are a few things that you’ll need to know about having pets in the Netherlands. Let’s jump in!
Bringing your pet to the Netherlands
If you need to get your pet to the Netherlands, bad news: there’s a lot you need to consider. But don’t stress, we’ll break it down one by one.
Your pet (including dogs, cats and ferrets) must be vaccinated against rabies at least 21 days prior to the departure date and no longer than one year. Afterwards, your pet will probably be required to take a blood test to confirm the vaccination.
Do keep in mind that this blood test would mean that you would have to wait for additional months (three in most situations). So it is safer to start as early as possible in order to prevent yourself from rushing last minute.
To find out if your dog will require the vaccination, check out the government website to find a list of countries where rabies is controlled.
All of the pets in the Netherlands (or coming to in this case) must have proper identification. Therefore, you are required to have an electronic microchip implanted in your pet.
Each microchip has an issue number that gives access to all details stored in a European database. This makes it easier for authorities to identify pets and their owners (readable tattoos are no longer accepted since July 2011).
Let’s talk travel
If you are thinking about flying, then choosing the right airline company for your pet is very important. Consider these questions:
- Which airline allows a pet in cabins, or does your pet have to fly in the cargo?
- What are the regulations about the carrier size for your pet?
- What are the company rules for the size and the weight of your pet?
- How much will it cost?
These questions are a must to know before you make your journey to the Netherlands. With many airline companies, one passenger means one pet if you would like to keep your pet with you in the cabin.
However, you can fly more pets if you want to if they fly in the cargo hold. There are also special carriers designed for air travel that fits the rules and gives your pet the most comfort while flying.
Pet passport in the Netherlands
If you intend to bring your pet to the Netherlands (or to any EU country for that matter) from your home country to the Netherlands, it is important to follow the required procedures. Therefore, every pet owner must present their pet’s passport.
Your pet’s passport is both a certificate of health and proof that your pet is protected against rabies and other diseases that are required by the Dutch government. As it is a time-consuming process, for absolute beginners, it is safe to start at least six to nine months before your pet’s arrival to the Netherlands.
The passport should have the following info:
- name of the owner (photo is not necessary),
- your veterinarian’s confirmation about the rabies certificate. All pets should be vaccinated at least 21 days prior to the departure date and the date of vaccination must be clearly stated,
- your pet’s microchip number, and
- other info about your pet such as weight, colour, breed, sex, name.
Note that the above applies to cats, dogs and ferrets. For other animals (except for rabbits, fish and hares) a health certificate from a recognised vet in the country of departure should be presented.
Having a dog in the Netherlands
Who doesn’t love a good doggo? We all know dogs are special, but they are well-regulated in the Netherlands.
Annual dog tax
If you have one or more dogs, be aware that having a pet in the Netherlands means that most cities will charge an annual dog tax (hondenbelasting).
The price for this is determined by the number of dogs you have. It usually varies from area to area.
Apart from dogs, no other animals (such as cats) require registration of tax (yay for Oreo the cat)!
Registering your dog at the municipality
You also have to register your dog with your local municipality (gemeente) and the Dutch Tax Administration (Belastingdienst) upon arrival. The declaration with your municipality has to be done within the first 14 days.
Where can you walk your dog?
The Netherlands is generally pretty open about walking dogs in public spaces, but they’re only allowed off-lead in designated areas. Check the signs, or go to your local municipalities website to find where dogs are allowed off-lead in your area.
Dogs are also allowed on beaches except during the summer months. There are some beaches where animals are allowed on a leash early in the morning or in the late evening.
Last but not least; wherever you go with your dog, you must always clean up after. There are fines for those who don’t.
Owning a cat in the Netherlands
Compared to owning a dog, having a cat is a walk in the park. Cats are very popular in the Netherlands where houses are small (and rat problems plague many cities).
If you’re bringing your cat in from abroad you’ll need a pet passport and a vaccination certificate. Once they’re here they’ll be saying miauw (meow) in no time!
Veterinary services in the Netherlands
Just like choosing a doctor for yourself, deciding on the right veterinarian is also an important step when having a pet in the Netherlands. If you don’t quite know where to start, you can ask neighbours or friends for a recommendation, or search for dierenarts (veterinarian) or dierenartspraktijk (veterinarian practice) on Google.
Is there an emergency?
In case of an emergency, you can contact animal hospitals, emergency clinics, or an animal ambulance (yes, they exist).
When and where to get care for your Dutch pet
If Fido isn’t feeling well, you’ve got options to get them taken care of. Find some of the most useful phone numbers below.
Animal hospitals and emergency in Amsterdam
- Spoedkliniek (night and weekend emergency clinic) (Not a drop-in clinic, call first)
Phone: 020 694 4766
- De Toevlucht Stichting Vogelhospitaal (Bird Hospital), Bijlmerweide 1, 1103 RR Amsterdam Zuidoost. Phone: 020 600 1144
Animal hospitals and emergency in The Hague
- Spoedkliniek (emergency clinic), Het Zicht 61-63, 2543AK ‘s Gravenhage. Phone: 070 366 0701
Animal hospitals and emergency in Rotterdam
- Kralingseweg, Kralingseweg 343, Rotterdam. Tel: 010 450 2916
Dierenziekenhuis (animal hospital), Pascalweg 4, 3076JP Rotterdam. Phone: 010 492 5151.
Animal hospitals and emergency in Utrecht
- Dierenartsen Dienstgroep Domstad, Zamenhofdreef 60, 3562JZ Utrecht. Phone: 0900 33377633
- Dierenkliniek Hoograven, Detmoldstraat 10, 3523GD Utrecht. Phone: 030 288 6469, www.dierenkliniekhoograven.nl
Numbers for Animal Ambulance in the Netherlands
- Amsterdam: +31 20 626 2121
- The Hague:+31 70 328 2828 / +31 900 4035009
- Leiden: +31 71 517 4141
- Masstricht/Zuid-West Limburg: +31 900 443 3224
- Rotterdam: +31 10 415 5666/Dierenambulance Reo +31 10476 875
- Utrecht: +31 30 273 1600 (or +31 6 5477 2700
- Wassenaar: +31 70 511 7772
What to do if your pet goes missing in the Netherlands
Is Mr. Mittens nowhere to be seen? Should Sir Paws-A-Lot have been back from his daily walkabout by now?
Whether it is having a pet in the Netherlands or anywhere else in the world, missing a pet is one of the scariest things that an owner can think of. Here’s what to do.
Use the power of social media
In this day and age, most of us are blessed with one or more social media accounts. In situations like these, using those tools might be crucial. Put the word out about your missing pet online.
Look for local Facebook groups for missing pets or spread the word on your Twitter account. Maybe ask your vet to share it on their social media accounts. Who knows? Maybe someone who comes across your beloved pet might recognise it from your share. Every little bit helps!
Check with your neighbours
Sometimes going old school is the best. Start by asking your neighbours and other local businesses to keep an eye out. Maybe your furry friend is hanging out in your neighbour’s attic or your local shop’s basement.
You might also consider making flyers to hang around your neighbour. Make sure the photo is clear and easy to spot. It is also smart to mention any special features your pet has.
Call local animal shelters
In case the previous tips won’t help. Then maybe it’s time for you to reach out to a few organisations such as animal shelters. They usually have a good database and might be where your pet was taken after being found.
Seek professional help: Amivedi
Stichting Amivedi Nederland is the Netherlands’ official website for the registration of lost domestic animals. It’s a good place to turn for information about shelters. Be aware that if you don’t speak Dutch, you might find it hard to communicate, so asking a Dutchie for help might be a good idea.
Their website is a platform where users can post information about animals they’ve found or create a listing for their lost pets.
Having a pet is awesome (having a pet in the Netherlands is even better) and they are a member of your family, so go and give your pet a hug. Oh, and don’t forget to adopt – don’t shop kids!
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in August 2018, and was fully updated in February 2021 for your reading pleasure.
Feature Image: Free-Photos/Pixabay