Purchasing animals abroad

Information regarding webshops and import

Don't ever buy the proverbial "pig in a poke": If possible, travel to the trader and take a look at the pet as well as its surroundings. Is everything clean and neat? Are the animals kept species-appropriate? Ask to see the mother of young animals.

Check the documents of the breeder:

  • Official breeding license
  • Vaccination certificates of young animals and their mother
  • Confirmation of other veterinary examinations
  • Confirmation of the official notification to the authorities

The animals should reach a certain age before they're being separated from their mother (e.g. for dogs it's eight weeks).

Be careful with online offers

The Austrian animal protection association and the online platform willhaben.at warn against the risks of purchasing animals online. They explain how to recognise fraudulent traders and how to avoid high veterinary costs.

The ECC also handled cases of consumers who became victims of fraud (read more).

You should become suspicious if a trader offers several breeds. Professional breeders normally concentrate on one or maximum two species. The trade should happen at the premises of the breeder, not at a public place.

If you pick up your pet at the breeder's premises or animal shelter, you have the possibility to get to know it beforehand and to collect specific information. The more or less anonymous online order doesn't for you to check if the animals are kept in appropriate surroundings and if young animals are with their mothers for the right amount of time. The long transport from another country aggravates the situation.

From a consumer protection point of view, the online trade can also be problematic, e.g. when the pet is sick and the buyer has to bear high veterinary costs, with no chance of reimbursement from the trader.

It is therefore very important, to check an online offer thouroghly before ordering.

Update, 30.03.2017: The Austrian National Council has agreed on an amendment of the animal protection law. According to it, online advertisments for animals by private persons will be forbidden.

Entry requirements

The law distinguishes between two kinds of pets:

  1. Dogs, cats and ferrets
  2. Other pets like invertebrates (excluding bees, bumblebees, molluscs and crustaceans), ornamental aquatic animals, amphibians, reptiles, birds (except poultry) as well as rodents and rabbits

You have to register the animal (on the website of the international animal chip database). Your vet will handle the registration. At the same time, you can save your dates (name, address etc.) on the microchip. In Austria, you have to pay a fee for your dog, the actual amount varies among the federal states.

Dog, cat, ferret

If you bring a dog, a cat or a ferret from another EU Member State to Austria, the following requirements have to be met:

Animals under the age of 12 weeks:

  • Every animal needs a pet pass as well as a microchip.
  • The animal is not yet vaccinated against rabies, but needs a clearance certificate that confirms that it has lived at the same place since its birth and had no contact to wild animals, as well as that it's mother was vaccinated against rabies before giving birth.

Animals between the age of 12 and 16 weeks, vaccinated against rabies:

  • Pet pass and microchip
  • Confirmation of the rabies vaccination
  • Rabies clearance certification

Source: Federal Ministry for Health and Women (BMGF)

Other pets

During private travels, above mentioned pets are allowed to entry Austria without a health certificate. However, the Ministry draws attention to the fact that the owner is responsible that their pets don't transmit epizootic diseases to other susceptible species (e.g. bird flu). It therefore recommends to get respective information from the local veterinary authority before the journey.

Source: Federal Ministry for Health and Women (BMGF)

Find general information about travelling with pets in this article.


Legal aspects

Animals are considered as "things" by the law. Therefore, you have the same rights like at any other purchase, e.g. two years of legal guarantee. This means that you can report defects to the trader who then has to try to solve it. If that's not possible, you can withdraw from the contract or demand a reduction of the sale price.

Furthermore, if you purchased the pet online, you are entitled to withdraw within 14 days. It is important to read the T&C of the contract carefully. Check whether withdrawal is excluded by delivery (because the contract is "fulfilled"). The ECC advises to be very careful when buying animals online and recommends to rather go to a breeder or animal protection organisation nearby.

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