How to bring your pet to Croatia and care for them once you arrive

Happy dog living his best life in Croatia

UPDATED: 9.4.2024.

To bring your pets to Croatia, you must meet specific requirements for pets, which we cover in this post. If you don’t follow them, you may be denied once you arrive at the Croatian border crossing.

If you are denied, your animal may be returned to the country of origin or placed in quarantine, and you will have to pay all the costs. If you can’t pay them, your pet may be euthanized in the worst case.

When bringing a pet to Croatia, they must be accompanied by the owner or a person authorized by the owner. Pets cannot be intended for sale or delivery to another person.

In this article, we cover:

The facts are these…

Which animals are considered to be pets in Croatia?

In Croatia, pets are considered to be:

  • Beskralježnjaci (invertebrates), but not bees, bumblebees, mollusks, and crabs
  • Kunići (rabbits)
  • Mačke (cats)
  • Glodavci (rodents)
  • Gmazovi (reptiles)
  • Pitome vretice/kune (tame ferrets)
  • Psi (dogs)
  • Ptice (birds), but not poultry and birds moved for commercial purposes
  • Ukrasne akvatične životinje/ribice (ornamental aquatic animals/fish)
  • Vodozemci (amphibians)

[Read: Endangered animals you might see in Croatia]

What are the requirements for importing pets to Croatia?

It is possible to import up to 5 pets, including dogs, cats, tame ferrets, and birds to Croatia from non-EU/EEA countries.

You can import more than 5 pets if you meet the following requirements:

  • Pets are imported for the purpose of participating in competitions, exhibitions, or sporting events or for training for the purpose of such events
  • There is written proof that pets are either registered to participate in competitions, exhibitions, or sporting events or for training for the purpose of such events or registered with the organization coordinating such events
  • Pets are more than 6 months old

When importing dogs, cats, and tame ferrets, the following requirements must be met:

  • Pets must be vaccinated against rabies
    • The validity period of vaccination begins with the establishment of protective immunity. It usually occurs on the 21st day after vaccination and usually lasts for one year. However, this period depends on the type of vaccine.
  • Pets must have a valid identification document issued by a veterinarian authorized by the competent authority with vaccination dates
    • European veterinary passport is used when importing from EU/EEA countries
    • EU veterinary certificate is used when importing from non-EU/EEA countries.
  • Pets must be microchipped or clearly tattooed
    • Microchipping must be done before the vaccination against rabies
  • Pets coming from high-risk countries must be subjected to an antibody-neutralization test

Non-vaccinated pets younger than 3 months can be imported from low-risk countries outside of the EU/EEA if the following requirements are met:

  • They possess a valid passport or a veterinary certificate
  • They have lived in the same place since birth and have not been in contact with wild animals that may have been exposed to infection OR they are accompanied by a mother on whom they are still dependent

The import and temporary stay of potentially dangerous dogs of the pit bull terrier breed and their crossbreeds that are not entered in the register of the Međunarodni kinološki savez – FCI (International Kennel Club) are not allowed.

If you are importing up to 5 pets from third countries, documentation and identification inspection will be performed at the Croatian border crossing.

If you are importing more than 5 pets that are not covered by the above-mentioned exception, they will be subjected to veterinary inspection at specific Croatian border veterinary stations.

Ways to import your pets in Croatia

Pets can be brought into Croatia in:

  • Passenger cabin of the means of transport together with the owner
  • Luggage compartment of the same means of transport as the owner in the passenger cabin
  • Separate means of transport
    • Owner must authorize a person responsible for the transport of their pet, for example, a captain of the aircraft or a representative of the transport agency
    • Pet must arrive up to 5 days before or after the arrival of the owner or an authorized person

If you want to import a pet to Croatia from third countries (non EU/EEA member states), keep in mind that you can’t do this at all Croatian border crossings. 

[Read: Available visas and residence permits for Croatia

How to travel with a pet on a plane

Flying with pets is challenging for both you and your furry companion. While it may seem convenient to have your pet accompany you on your travels, navigating airline regulations and ensuring your pet’s safety and comfort can be daunting.

Before flying with your dog, research your airline’s specific pet policies and costs. Determine if your dog’s breed is allowed in the cabin, and ensure you have the appropriate carrier and equipment. Consider whether flying is the best option for your pet’s well-being.

Flying can be stressful for dogs, particularly those with health or behavioral issues. The cargo hold experience can be distressing for pets. It’s crucial to assess whether your trip is essential for your dog to join or if alternatives like dog-sitting or boarding are better options.

If you decide to fly, here are some tips for you:

  • Consult your vet regarding your pet’s needs and any necessary medications
  • Choose direct flights to minimize stress
  • Be mindful of temperature restrictions, especially for cargo travel 
  • Prepare necessary paperwork, including health certificates
  • Familiarize yourself with airport pet relief areas
  • On travel day, arrive early and follow airline procedures diligently, whether flying in-cabin or cargo
  • Prioritize your pet’s comfort and well-being throughout the journey, and celebrate their safe arrival at your destination

Croatia Airlines’ pet policy

Croatia Airlines is the main and most commonly used company for air travel in Croatia. They allow smaller animals to travel in the cabin with you, but if your pet is larger, they can be transported in the baggage compartment. 

There is a fee associated with the transport of animals, and you can see the requirements and prices for Croatia Airlines here. The general rules about pets on the plane from the IATA website can be found here, and these apply to most airlines.

Does your pet need pet insurance?

Not many people think about pet insurance before traveling, but it can be very useful and cost-saving. If your pet needs any procedure or medication during your travels, pet insurance can save you a lot of money. Pet insurance increases with your pet’s age, as does the risk of traveling with pets.

In Croatia, two insurance companies offer insurance for pets:

  • Croatia osiguranje – view more here
  • LAQO osiguranje – view more here

[Read: How to get travel insurance in Croatia (putno), which you can use to apply for residence]

How to care for your pet when traveling to Croatia

It is important to ensure your pet’s comfort and well-being during travel. Whether you’re embarking on a road trip or flying to a new destination, here are some essential tips to help you care for your pet during travel.

1. Preparation is the key

Before you hit the road or head to the airport, ensure your pet is up-to-date on vaccinations and has any required health certificates. Pack their favorite toys, food, water, and any medications they may need during the journey. Creating a checklist before your trip will help you not forget anything on the day of the trip.

2. Choose the right carrier

Select a comfortable and secure carrier or crate that meets airline regulations if you’re flying, or invest in a pet seat belt or secure crate for car travel. Familiarize your pet with the carrier or crate beforehand to reduce anxiety during travel.

3. Practice traveling with your pet

If your pet isn’t used to traveling, gradually acclimate them to car rides by taking short trips leading up to the travel day. You can use positive reinforcement and treats to create positive associations with traveling.

4. Stay calm

Pets can sense your emotions, so try to stay calm and reassuring during the trip. Speak to your pet soothingly and offer comfort as needed to help them feel safe and secure.

5. Provide rest stops

During road trips, schedule regular rest stops to allow your pet to stretch their legs, drink water, and relieve themselves. Always use a leash or harness when outside the vehicle to prevent escape and injury of your pet.

6. Pay attention to their food intake

Give your pet a small and light meal a few hours before travel to prevent motion sickness. If they eat a large meal before the trip, it can cause them discomfort.

7. Make sure they stay hydrated

Offer your pet plenty of water before and during the journey to prevent dehydration. Use spill-proof travel bowls or bottles and refill them as needed to keep your pet hydrated on the go.

8. Temperature control

Ensure the temperature in the vehicle or carrier is comfortable for your pet, especially during hot weather. Avoid leaving your pet in a hot car, and provide adequate ventilation if traveling in a crate. This is the biggest disadvantage of plane travel for pets because if they are transported in the baggage area it can get really hot in there, and you need to leave them plenty of water in the carrier.

9. Plan for air travel

Research the airline policies and book pet-friendly accommodations in advance if you’re flying with your pet. Check for temperature restrictions and choose flights with minimal layovers to minimize stress.

10. Post-travel care

Upon reaching your destination, allow your pet time to adjust to the new environment. Provide familiar items such as bedding and toys to help them feel at ease in their new surroundings.

Extra tip: Make sure to have contact info on the collar. If your pet gets lost or escapes, someone can reach you, even in a foreign country. 

How to find housing with a pet

Croatia can be considered a pet-friendly country. You can see many pets around cities, and you can always see a pet in a caffe bar or on public transport without anyone complaining. However, finding housing for you and your friend can be challenging everywhere.

Most landlords will allow you to have a pet, especially a small animal, but sometimes, it needs to be negotiated. We can help you find the perfect housing that fits your needs if you contact our relocation experts here.

How to get a Croatian pet passport

Putovnica za kućnog ljubimca (pet passport) is a necessary document if you want to travel with your pet to or out of the European Union, including Croatia. A pet passport is proof that your animal is healthy, and it is used when you travel in domestic transport as well. You should always have your pet passport when traveling with your pet, even if it is traveling by car or public transport.

A pet passport is proof that you are the animal’s owner. It also includes a description of the pet and a confirmation that it has been microchipped and vaccinated against rabies. This vaccination is a legal obligation in Croatia for dogs but not for weasels or ferrets. 

All other vaccinations and health information is mentioned in the pet passport. After vaccination and chipping, at least 15 days should pass before you can cross the border with your pet.

In Croatia, when you take your pet to a vet for the first time, they get vaccinated against rabies and microchipped. You also receive a blue booklet which is a pet passport. You can view how the booklet looks and what information it contains here.

How to find a vet in Croatia

If you are moving to Croatia or traveling anywhere else, it is important to know if there is a vet available at your location. Do research before your trip and save the vet’s contact information in your phone in case of emergency. When you settle in your new home, take your pet to a vet so you can find the right person who will be the best fit for you.

Uprava za veterinarstvo i sigurnost hrane (Directorate for Veterinary Medicine and Food Safety) is a regulatory body for veterinarian practices in Croatia. You can find the list of all vets in the country including veterinarian hospitals on their website available here.

Pets in public areas in Croatia

Pets in Croatia are protected under the Zakon o zaštiti životinja (Animal protection law), which you can find here. This law determines rules on animal care and welfare. However, the law doesn’t forbid animals to access public spaces, and the local government determines if certain areas are off-limits to pets.

[Read: Guide to animal treatment and protection in Croatia]

Croatia is a pet-friendly country, but it is important to understand that your pet can be denied entry to an establishment like a restaurant or a caffe bar. It is up to the owner to determine if their place is pet-friendly or not. 

According to the Zakon o hrani (Law on Food) available here, and the Zakon o higijeni hrane i mikrobiološkim kriterijima za hranu (Law on Food Hygiene and Microbiological Criteria for Food) available here, animals are not allowed to enter areas where food is prepared and sold. 

However, the state left the possibility of regulating the entry of animals into other areas of the hospitality facility, such as the area for serving food, to the local self-government units. The best way to determine if your pet is allowed to enter a restaurant or a caffe bar is to ask the staff before you enter.

Entering a government institution with a dog is not strictly prohibited, but it is also not recommended. Places like Fina or Hrvatska pošta do not have rules on dogs, but they will most probably ask you to leave the dog outside. Sometimes, security might give you a warning if you enter the premises with a dog, but sometimes, your dog will be denied entrance, while on other occasions, your dog will be welcome.

[Read: Hrvatska Pošta – Croatian Postal Office]

Regarding public transport, pets are generally allowed on trams, busses, and trains, but certain regulations exist. Below are some basic rules you must follow in Croatia if you use public transport with a pet.

1. Train travel with pets in Croatia

Pets with a pet passport are allowed to travel by train. Small dogs up to 30cm can be set on your lap or carried in a pet carrier. Dogs larger than 30cm must be on a leash and have a dog muzzle. View all regulations here.

[Read: Guide on train travel in Croatia (including loads of discounts)]

2. Bus travel with pets in Croatia

Most bus companies allow pets onboard, but they must have a pet passport and be in a carrier. It is common to charge a full ticket price for a pet. You must check if pets are allowed on the bus before buying a ticket. For example, FlixBus, which is a very common bus operator in Europe, allows only guide dogs onboard.

[Read: Guide on bus travel in Croatia including tips, schedules, and tickets]

3. Boat travel with pets in Croatia

Pets, including dogs, cats, birds, and other small animals, are permitted on ferries and ships, but they must stay on the open deck. Local line travel with pets is free. Owners must ensure their pets do not disturb other passengers or pose any danger. Owners are responsible for their pets’ needs and any damages they cause. 

Dogs, except service dogs, must be muzzled and leashed. Small pets can be carried in bags with specific dimensions and weight limits, and only one pet per passenger is allowed. Small pet transport is free. 

Note: Catamarans do not allow pets, and if a passenger complains about disruptive pets, the owner and pet may be disembarked at the next port without a refund.

[Read: Guide to ferry and boat travel in Croatia]

4. Tram travel with pets in Croatia

Dogs are commonly seen on trams in Croatia, usually on the leash. However, there are rules for tram travel with pets, including that a dog must have a dog muzzle and be on a leash, and small animals must be in a carrier. These rules aren’t often enforced, but you must be aware of them if you travel by tram with your pet daily. View the rules here.

Tram transport is available in two Croatian cities – Zagreb and Osijek. View our guide on public transport in Zagreb here and Osijek here.

Get help bringing your pet(s) to Croatia

Traveling with your fur baby can be stressful. Not only do you have to secure their mode of transportation, but you must also ensure they meet all requirements for entry.

We can help make your pet’s move as smooth as possible! Our bureaucracy & import expert can prepare you and your furry, feathered, or scaled family member for life in Croatia.

What is the cost?

The cost for this consultation and guidance service is 150 euro VAT included (25% tax mandated by the Croatian government).

What is included?

A 30-minute consulting call with our pet import expert, who will give you advice based on your family’s needs – from preparing your pet while still in your home country to knowing what to expect once you get here and everything in between.

Prior to our session, we will confirm with the border you plan to cross to ensure they are processing pets. Sometimes borders listed as pet crossing temporarily shut down. 

You will also receive PDF guides personalized to your pet, including:

  • Information about where and how to find local veterinary services
  • Information about Pet Grooming Salons and how to find them
  • A list of emergency veterinary ambulances in Croatia (24/7 service)
  • Pet food and supplies (including a list of stores in your area)

PLUS, you will receive a Croatian-language pet guide so that you can learn the most common words and phrases while in Croatia.

Ready to book?

To schedule your personalized session, complete the form below.

Consulting – Pet Import

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View our other animal posts

Frequently asked questions

Can I take my pet to Croatia?

Yes, you can take your pet to Croatia after it has been microchipped and vaccinated and after it receives its pet passport. The pet should be at least 105 days old and vaccinated against rabies. After vaccination, there’s a 21-day waiting period before traveling to Croatia.

Does Croatia Airlines allow dogs?

Inform Croatia Airlines in advance if you plan to travel with a pet. Each passenger is allowed one carrier, and the combined weight of the pet and carrier must not exceed 8 Kg. Check out specific requirements in this section.

Are dogs allowed on public transport in Croatia?

It depends on the company. If you are using city transport, certain regulations are explained in this section, but in general, pets are allowed on city buses and trams. However, if it is a privately owned company they might not allow pets onboard.

Are dogs allowed in restaurants in Croatia?

Dogs are allowed only in the area where food is served, not in the area where food is prepared. This depends on the restaurant itself because some establishments do not allow dogs, and you, as a dog owner, must respect their rules.

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Nekomercijalno i komercijalno premještanje u Republiku Hrvatsku pasa, mačaka i pitomih vretica by Ministarstvo poljoprivrede
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Journal Pets by Matea Salopek
Croatia Airlines

Please note: Information provided by Expat in Croatia is only for the purposes of guidance. It does not constitute legal or financial advice in any form. Croatian laws and bureaucratic rules often change, and each personal case is individual, so different rules may apply. For legal advice, contact us to consult with a licensed Croatian lawyer. For financial advice, contact us to consult with a licensed Croatian tax advisor or accountant.

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