Have you decided to move to the Netherlands and want to make sure you can bring the whole family, pets included? Or maybe you have settled into the Netherlands already and are wondering how to go about adding a new four-legged friend to your daily life?

Pets are an important part of Dutch life, with almost half of Dutch households owning at least one pet in 2019. Walking down the streets of any Dutch town or city you are likely to meet dozens of people out on a walk with their dogs (and sometimes their cats), and there are many pet-friendly shops, restaurants, and hotels in the Netherlands. On this page you can find everything you need to know about owning a pet in the Netherlands.

If you require assistance with your pet, or another animal, then you can contact the Leiden region Dierenambulance. This includes if you need to give up your pet, or if you find an animal in need (regardless of whether the animal is a domestic animal or wild animal). If you are in urgent need of assistance, you can call the Dierenambulance at +31 (0) 71 517 41 41

Bringing Your Pet to the Netherlands

If you are relocating from a country within the EU and intend to bring your pet with you, then your pet must have a pet passport and a microchip. The animal should also be more than 15 weeks old, and up to date on its vaccinations. These requirements apply to dogs, cats, and ferrets. For pets such as birds, rodents, rabbits, reptiles, fish, and amphibians, you should ensure that you have the pet's health certificate signed by a veterinarian.

If you are relocating from a non-EU country and intend to bring your pet with you, then you are required to first contact the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA).

Learn more about bringing your pet to the Netherlands

Whether you are bringing a pet into the Netherlands, or planning on adopting or buying a pet once you arrive, it's important to familiarise yourself with both local veterinarians and pet insurances. This is especially the case if you own an exotic pet, as there are certain veterinary clinics that may not have someone working at the practice who is familiar with the care of exotic animals. 

Veterinary Clinics

Although it is also a good idea to ask other pet owners in your neighbourhood what their recommendations are, you can also use the Dierenarts search tool (in Dutch). By filling in your post code you can find the nearest veterinary clinics to you, and the search tool allows you to also filter whether you are looking for clinics that treat house pets or whether you need ones that treat larger animals such as horses. 

Pet Insurances

Although it may seem like a small expense upfront, ensuring that your beloved pet is insured can save you a lot of money further down the line. It is not mandatory to purchase pet insurance, but it is highly recommended as unexpected veterinary bills can be costly. There are numerous pets insurances you can choose from in the Netherlands, with popular ones including PetPlan, HEMA, and Aegon.

Dog Tax

Several municipalities in the Netherlands charge an annual dog tax for households that own dogs. This means that you must register a dog as living in your household on the municipality website. The dog tax increases per each additional dog in the household. Leiden municipality does not have a dog tax, but if you work in the Leiden region and live in another municipality it is important to check the regulations for your municipality 


Adopting or Buying a Pet in the Netherlands

If you would like to add a pet to your household in the Netherlands, there are two main options to consider. You can, for instance, find an ethical, qualified breeder within the Netherlands. Good breeders may be more expensive and have waiting lists, but they will have ensured that both parents of your future pet have good temperament and have undergone rigorous health examinations and genetic testing.

The other popular option is to adopt a pet, usually from an animal shelter or rescue. Adopting a pet means that you have the ability to choose between a variety of ages, breeds, and temperaments from the rescue or shelter, and it is less expensive than buying from a breeder. Rescue animals are in dire need of loving homes, and they also make wonderful pets. Dierenasiel Leiden has an English web page with a list of their currently available animals.

Dierenasiel Leiden's Currently Available Animals

Approved species to have as a pet

Please note that, from the 1st January 2024, the Dutch Government will introduce new regulations on the list of animals that are allowed to be kept as pets in the Netherlands. As a result, many exotic pets will no longer be legally allowed to have as pets, including animals such as hedgehogs and certain species of hamsters. The full list of approved species can be found on RVO's website (in Dutch). If you own birds, reptiles, or amphibians, an approved species list has not yet been released, so it is important to check for any updates on this in the future. All animals that are already owned when the 1st January 2024 regulations come into force, even if they are on the list of banned species, may still be kept however no new animals can be bought or bred.

Things to do with your furry best friend