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Old 11.05.2021, 11:01
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Customs didn't check my dog - am I in trouble already??

Hi EF'ers. I arrived yesterday from the UK (via Amsterdam), flying into Basel with Zola the little labrador. I understand that within the first 10 days of arriving, I must register her with a veterinarian so that they can log her microchip data into AMICUS.

In preparation for coming here, I contacted a local vet to request an appointment. In their response email, they stated the following:

First when you crossed the border you have to pay tax, you get a stamp in the vaccine-book (or other papers). But the stamp is very important.
Then you have to register yourself by the official Veterinary office called Vetrerinäramt. Then you get a ID-Number.
With the ID number and the documents, then you can come to our practice and we will do the registration.



When we landed in Basel, there was nobody from immigration / customs around (presumably because we came from within the EU, Amsterdam) - but this means that I did not pay any dog tax, or get a stamped vaccine book.

My key question is, what do I do? Should I take her directly to the Vetrerinäramt to explain the situation? I'm a bit overwhelmed (and very tired ) and I want to do the right thing, but I'm not sure where to start.

Thank you
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Old 11.05.2021, 11:14
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Re: Customs didn't check my dog - am I in trouble already??

When you go to the vet, ask for a swiss pet passport. This will make life easier as nobody will even look any further.

I have a foreign pet passport* with no stamp and got hassled once in 5 years.

*for the pet, not me
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Old 11.05.2021, 11:18
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Re: Customs didn't check my dog - am I in trouble already??

I've just read the thread about the woman who imported a dog illegally and had it seized. I am terrified.
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Old 11.05.2021, 11:22
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Re: Customs didn't check my dog - am I in trouble already??

Is your dog listed as a belonging you import when moving?

You possibly should have got a stamp to make life easier. Take the dog to the vet once quarantine is done, I assume you must do that first.

The dog story is one in a million and unlikely to impact you.
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Old 11.05.2021, 11:35
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Re: Customs didn't check my dog - am I in trouble already??

First, don't panic.

In the case of the woman whose dog was seized, the dog did not have the rabies vaxx. The puppy was seized because of the rabies law. If you have proof of your rabies vaxx, microchip implanted before the vaxx, and all your entry papers are in order you don't have to worry about on that score.

Were it me, I'd do as Sean Connery suggests - just go to the vet, explain that customs was closed, ask them to issue a passport. If you are uncomfortable going to the first vet, go to another.

Or, call the Veterinärmt and explain the situation, stressing that you have all the necessary paperwork - but no one was available at customs to stamp you in. You can usually find an English speaker at the Veterinäramt, but to smooth things over, do you have a German (or French, depending on where you are...) speaker available to help you with that call?

---

Years ago when I tried to get customs to look at my paperwork with a newly adopted dog they just waved me through, couldn't be bothered to take the time. This was the Basel/France border, by car. In that case, I just went to the vet the next day and they issued the passport, did the necessary. Things have become more stringent since then, but I honestly doubt you'd have trouble.

---

All the best.

---

This likely should serve as a reminder to those arriving with dogs to plan arrivals for the times when customs is open...
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Old 11.05.2021, 11:35
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Re: Customs didn't check my dog - am I in trouble already??

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Is your dog listed as a belonging you import when moving?

You possibly should have got a stamp to make life easier. Take the dog to the vet once quarantine is done, I assume you must do that first.

The dog story is one in a million and unlikely to impact you.
No, she's not listed as a belonging, because all of my belongings are being shipped over by land. She just flew in with me on the same flight. I have all of her paperwork of course, and was fully prepared to go through it all with customs. But they just handed her to me and I walked away. I would have thought if they wanted to check her, somebody would have said something...

I'm not quarantining (my relocation agent has advised that quarantine is not currently required for people arriving from the UK) so I'll give the vets a call.

Thanks for the reassurance - an international move is stressful enough without worrying about my baby being taken away from me
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Old 11.05.2021, 11:38
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Re: Customs didn't check my dog - am I in trouble already??

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First, don't panic.

In the case of the woman whose dog was seized, the dog did not have the rabies vaxx. The puppy was seized because of the rabies law. If you have proof of your rabies vaxx, microchip implanted before the vaxx, and all your entry papers are in order you don't have to worry about on that score.

Were it me, I'd do as Sean Connery suggests - just go to the vet, explain that customs was closed, ask them to issue a passport. If you are uncomfortable going to the first vet, go to another.

Or, call the Veterinärmt and explain the situation, stressing that you have all the necessary paperwork - but no one was available at customs to stamp you in. You can usually find an English speaker at the Veterinäramt, but to smooth things over, do you have a German (or French, depending on where you are...) speaker available to help you with that call?

---

Years ago when I tried to get customs to look at my paperwork with a newly adopted dog they just waved me through, couldn't be bothered to take the time. This was the Basel/France border, by car. In that case, I just went to the vet the next day and they issued the passport, did the necessary. Things have become more stringent since then, but I honestly doubt you'd have trouble.

---

All the best.

---

This likely should serve as a reminder to those arriving with dogs to plan arrivals for the times when customs is open...
Thank you meloncollie, this is very reassuring. She has proof of microchip + rabies (in that order) fortunately.

I will ask my German-speaking relocation agent to assist with the call to the vets. I'll update this thread with the outcome so that others can learn from this too.
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Old 11.05.2021, 11:47
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Re: Customs didn't check my dog - am I in trouble already??

OMG, she's adorable. Best of luck!
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Old 11.05.2021, 12:29
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Re: Customs didn't check my dog - am I in trouble already??

You know that person I suggested as a tour guide (although he doesn't know it yet )? He works for the customs office, so I just sent him a message to ask if he has any idea what to do in this type of situation. Probably will respond that it's a different department but it's worth a try.
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Old 11.05.2021, 15:40
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Re: Customs didn't check my dog - am I in trouble already??

I just went through this process - drove across the border but no one there.

- called the customs hotline but everytime got redirected to someone who doesn't answer the phone. In the mean time,
- I registered at the local council
- got the ID-number
- went to the vet.
- the vet however did not want to issue a Swiss Passport until I sort it out with the customs office.

I then managed to speak to the right person at the customs office, and got an email address to send all my documents. I am still waiting for them to respond (its been more than 2 weeks). On the phone, the person stated that they will send me a VAT bill and I also will have to send in the passport to get a stamp.

However, your case is different. The vet, the local council and the customs guy were all concerned about VAT and buying and importing a pet from abroad. However, you are moving here with your lab, you are not buying and importing so my guess is that no VAT applies. In that case and you have all the vaxx done, maybe the vet will simply issue a swiss pass for your lab.

According to the vet, the stamp is very important only if you leave the country. If there is no record that I have properly imported the dog and paid VAT, I may have trouble next time I try to travel back into Switzerland.

As I mentioned, in your case VAT may not be applicable and you also have all the vaccinations done already. I would just ask your vet.
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Old 11.05.2021, 16:25
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Re: Customs didn't check my dog - am I in trouble already??

Ditto the stories of others - we brought in our English Springer Spaniel late at night, no customs people to be found....we had already ensured all her rabies and other shots were in order (coming from the UK), had her English pet passport to hand...

Took her to our local vet within her first week, explained the situation, they checked her over, updated AMICUS, notified our local Germeinde who then sent us the annual registration bill & tag, and no one raised a fuss at any time...she remained on her UK passport throughout her several years living in Switzerland with no issues.

In our case, we had (after a family death) inherited our doggy some years after we'd moved to Switzerland, so arguably she was an "import" rather than a preowned "possession", but neither our vet nor the Germeinde cared. Whilst she was with us, she travelled regularly by car across the French/Swiss borders, and the German/Swiss borders - again, never an issue when the rare border checks were conducted.

Welcome to Switzerland!

Last edited by smileygreebins; 11.05.2021 at 17:26.
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Old 11.05.2021, 17:18
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Re: Customs didn't check my dog - am I in trouble already??

Well, we actually did the same - arrived by plane and went through green corridor. It was a bit of hassle later, but nothing serious. But it is super important to have paperwork in order and all vaccinations, etc.

So, for us the order of actions was:
- Arrived to Zürich
- Completed a form to get AMICUS account
- Visited vet to get a dog registered in AMICUS and make a swiss vet passport as well
- Vet consulted with veterinary and issued a passport
- Later on, got a mail from veterinary to explain how the dog arrived to the country
- So, we sent copies of all documents and the problem with veterinary part was closed, but they asked to handle it with customs
- And finally, we brought the dog, documents and this letter to customs in Zürich airport, paid tax (within Fr. 100) and got stamps in all passports - old one, new swiss one, etc. At that point customs said that a dog isn't eligible for being considered as part of households. And tax has to be paid.

And no consequences afterwards. Just dog tax bills every year.
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Old 11.05.2021, 19:40
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Re: Customs didn't check my dog - am I in trouble already??

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I will ask my German-speaking relocation agent to assist with the call to the vets.
Pity your relocation agent didn't meet you at the airport and assist you.

I hope you can sort this out.
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Old 11.05.2021, 21:04
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Re: Customs didn't check my dog - am I in trouble already??

So my friend from customs said you should be able to get your stamp at any customs place in Basel (there's quite a few there) and that you should not have to pay VAT on importing your dog if you have owned it for more than 6 months (he's been working at customs for a bit too long, methinks...).

If you want to be absolutely sure to get it right, he said you could get in touch with the proper customs department, which is located in Brig for some strange reason. Thankfully, they have phones and email, although I'm not sure if English is spoken.

Eidgenössische Zollverwaltung
Kompetenzzentrum Heimtiere
Zoll West / Lokalebene Oberwallis
Bielstrasse 1, 3902 Brig-Glis
Tel: +41 58 469 39 61
Email: KoHe@ezv.admin.ch

But according to him, if you have done everything else properly, you should be able to just rock up at customs with the dog. And he said that if anyone is in the situation of nobody being in the normal customs area at arrival, they should go through the red doors instead, as you do when you have something to declare. There is normally somebody present in that section. But as Meloncollie mentioned, timing your arrival with what can be considered normal business hours is certainly advisable.
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Old 12.05.2021, 10:12
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Re: Customs didn't check my dog - am I in trouble already??

Thank you everyone! I'm a lot less panicked today, thanks to some sleep and all of your super helpful replies.

This morning, I rang the Basel-Stadt Veterinary Office and explained the situation. I was told to complete the registration form on the Hundkontrolle Basel-Stadt website, and they would come back to me with guidance on next steps.

I've done the form and gotten confirmation that it was submitted successfully, although I'm not entirely convinced it was the right registration form as it indicated 'seller information' which doesn't apply here... so we'll see what the response is, I guess. It also asked whether I have personal liability insurance, I will add that to the list of things I have to look into

I don't care what it costs and I will chalk this up to one of many learning curves I'll experience during this transition to Swiss life, I am just 1000% relieved that I won't have authorities arriving at my door to take my little best friend away from me
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Old 16.05.2021, 18:57
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Re: Customs didn't check my dog - am I in trouble already??

How's it going? Did you get it sorted?
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Old 19.05.2021, 22:24
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Re: Customs didn't check my dog - am I in trouble already??

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I just went through this process - drove across the border but no one there.

- called the customs hotline but everytime got redirected to someone who doesn't answer the phone. In the mean time,
- I registered at the local council
- got the ID-number
- went to the vet.
- the vet however did not want to issue a Swiss Passport until I sort it out with the customs office.

I then managed to speak to the right person at the customs office, and got an email address to send all my documents. I am still waiting for them to respond (its been more than 2 weeks). On the phone, the person stated that they will send me a VAT bill and I also will have to send in the passport to get a stamp.
Don't want to hijack itsjess' story, but I should give an update on my situation after my earlier post:
- after a second email to the customs office, I finally got a terse email response to call this lady back on a direct line number.
- She gave me a lecture for bringing in "some dog from Romania". My dog is from a reputable breeder in Germany with a pretty long family tree so I asked if she has actually read my email and seen all the documents I attached. She didn't really bother answering that.
- I not only have to pay the VAT, but will also be fined Fr.400 for not declaring the pet at the point of entry. I pointed out that I pro-actively tried to call them before and after the entry, was bounced around during the calls and no one answered their phone or if someone did, didn't know the answer, sent 2 emails, have all the documents and followed all the procedures to the dot, and in the end I still get a fine because the customs officer maybe went to answer the call of nature when I cross the border? She didn't care. She dared me to challenge this as it will only end up costing me more. I pointed out that I could have simply done nothing, or I could have driven back to the border and done the process correctly - she said yes, I could have, but she already opened a case no. for me so it is too late for that.

I'm waiting for the written correspondence to see if I will get more clarity.
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Old 19.05.2021, 22:38
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Re: Customs didn't check my dog - am I in trouble already??

She sounds like a charmer. Maybe try calling back at a different time of day and see if you can discuss your case with a different agent at the same location?
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Old 19.05.2021, 22:38
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Re: Customs didn't check my dog - am I in trouble already??

maybe she gets laid before the dog from Romania gets processed....

To be clear, I've been hassled by the Swiss a few times because mostly, and not due to design nor intent, I have crossed the border with a dog (registered to my other half hence "a dog") in the car and the bored Swissie has asked for papers. If I don't have them, I recommend they call the vet to confirm the vaccinations are current.....where it becomes more annoying and funny is if I do since the papers are EU and, as I found after 5 years, a stamp might be missing.

Papers are important but I would not go chasing on a Swissie-non-present situation too hard. And I expect the paperwork will cost them more effort than a phone call and you see nothing.

For pet owners, do have proper vaccinations done and have your paperwork. This can be annoying and I do believe a bored Swissie at the border might give you more attention than you need or deserve. I also believe what happens at the border depends on your attitude. Also I can confirm I will stop responding to officials when they ask open questions and expect me to incriminate myself somehow...
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Old 19.05.2021, 23:53
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Re: Customs didn't check my dog - am I in trouble already??

Here's the thing with "Swissies": they can smell pompous, self-important expats from a mile away and like to take them down a notch whenever possible.
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