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Taking Fido to España

Taking Fido to España

Guiri Guest Janine talks about how life brought her to Madrid. Answering the question “Where are you from?” has never been easy for me … after being born in England and raised all over the United States, I finally decided on a home in New York city with my partner Will and our beagle, Ella.  Earlier this year, we decided to complicate things further and move to Madrid!  An avid traveler, I love exploring new places, tasting different foods and digging through markets and boutiques to find something unique.   Some of my favorite spots are the Cyclades islands in Greece, Machu Picchu in Peru and both the north and south islands of New Zealand.  I am excited about our move to Malasana, Madrid where I’ll be working part-time at my job in Management Consulting, taking much-needed Spanish lessons and taking some time to explore this beautiful city.


When moving to Madrid, many people consider bringing the furry members of their families along for the experience.  As many have commented on this blog, Madrid is pet-friendly and dogs abound in the parks and barrios.  I recently moved to Madrid from New York and while I found a lot of information on the requirements to exit the USA, I was not quite prepared for how to clear my beagle, Ella, through customs after arrival.  But don’t be afraid, while it may take a little time and patience on the day you enter the country, it’s well worth it to have your favorite pet learning the ways of Madrid at your side!

Most airlines in the US have guidelines on their websites on the paperwork, kennel requirements and logistics of travelling with your pet (check these links for Continental, Delta, United and British Airways).  A couple of key things to note:

  • A health certificate from your vet must be dated within 10 days of travel.  Some websites state 6 weeks, but to avoid the extra vet fees, check in with your vet closer to your day of travel.
  • There must be 3 inches of clearance above your pet’s head when they are standing in their kennel.  It’s only 1” for domestic flights, so, you may need to upgrade.  My research found that the Petmate Sky Kennel was the brand used by most airlines and I purchased one online from  Some hub cities do sell kennels if they deem your kennel is too small at the airport; however, availability is not guaranteed and prices are up to 50% more.

Check with your airline to ensure you understand all the rules … I found Continental’s PetSafe staff were helpful and happy to chat to ensure I met the requirements.

Now on to the more challenging and less explained portion of the journey.  Once I arrived at Madrid-Barajas airport, I claimed my baggage and cleared customs prior to picking up Ella.  Luckily, I found a Continental representative in the baggage claim area to ask about retrieving my pet since there were no signs or information readily available (nor was any provided in the US).  The rep provided me with a phone number to call WFS*, the transportation company who handle pets for several airlines.  I was then given very basic instructions on how to reach the facility … luckily, my taxi driver, David, was a lifesaver and helped me navigate the stops required to claim Ella.

So here’s what you need to do …

  1. Head to the WFS office in the Terminal de Carga (Cargo Terminal) … it’s a bit hard to spot since it’s not on the main road when you enter the Cargo Terminal area.  As you drive in, there will be a large Correos (Postal) building on your left.  You must drive past the building, to the roundabout and back down towards the Correos building.  Before reaching it, turn right to a parallel road and from there you should be able to see the sign for WFS.  Unfortunately, there’s not an easy way to get directions, so I’ve marked up the map below to show where the office is located:
  2. Provide your reference number and pay the requisite documentation fees and taxes to import your pet into Spain.  This is an additional Spanish charge on top of what you paid in your departure city.  For my 35lb dog it cost about €70.  Credit cards are accepted.
  3. Next, take the paperwork from the WFS office, to another building a couple of doors down (Centro de Carga Aerea de Madrid) to get them approved and stamped before returning to the WFS office to claim your pet.  Note that you may be asked for proof of travel (boarding pass) by the agent if you travelled on the same flight as your pet.
  4. Once you return to the WFS office they will review your papers and approve for your pet to be released.  Before long, you’ll be happily reunited with your furry little friend.  Be prepared that pickup is on a loading dock, so watch out for moving cargo!

Now it’s time to head off to your new home and start exploring Madrid side-by-side!

Worldwide Freight Services (WFS)

Centro de Carga Aerea, Aeropuerto Madrid-Barajas

Edificio WFS, Parcela 1.2b

28042 MADRID

Tel: +34 91 746 15 80

Fax: +34 91 746 15 92


Dog Grooming in Madrid

Dog Grooming in Madrid

My husband and I couldn’t imagine life without our 5 pound (2 kilo) dog, Abby, and I imagine many of you with pets know exactly how we feel!  Abby made the big move with us to Madrid and has settled in nicely with all the other Madrileno pups walking the streets.

I’ve often given her haircuts myself, but after months without seeing a professional groomer it was definitely time for her to get a ‘real’ haircut.

We discovered Pet a Porter shortly after arriving in Madrid and haven’t found another pet store that can compete with their selection of natural pet foods, shampoos, and adorable pet accessories.  It’s a little on the pricey side, but since we don’t dress Abby in fur lined puffy vests it works out okay – ha!  I even found her a new collar for 4 euros, which was perfectly within our student budget.

When it was finally time for her to see a groomer I went in to Pet a Porter and was pleasantly surprised to find that it was 29 euros* (less than what we paid for grooming in Seattle, WA) and the groomer was incredibly thorough and sweet with Abby.  For those of you with dogs, you know that it makes a huge difference to know your furry friend is in good hands!

I would highly recommend Pet a Porter to anyone looking for a place to buy pet supplies or have your dog groomed in Madrid.

Av. General Perón, 22
28020, Madrid
91 556 60 51

*Referred to Apr, 2011

Living with dogs in Madrid

Living with dogs in Madrid

Madrid is a dog friendly city. There have been many people in the IE program who have brought their dogs to join in on the Madrid fun. So we wanted to share a couple points of information for you to consider when bringing your best friend over.

Retiro park: This place can be a dog heaven with plenty of areas to explore. There is also a large dog park on the south side of the park that is fenced in, allowing for that leash to come off. While walking through the park you will need a leash most the day, however before 10am and after 8pm it is allowed to have your dog leash free.  Remember the park’s extended summer hours are from 6am – 12am.

Poop: After walking down a Madrid sidewalk you might be inclined to argue with me, but in fact Spain does have pooper scooper laws. So you will need to pick up after your dog. Small poop bags are available in most parks and are sold in stores as well.

Veterinarian clinics: There are a plethora in Madrid as well as 24 hours services. I’ve heard good things about vets in Madrid and some offer special food for pets which might have allergies or sensitive stomachs.

Microchip: You will need to have your dog microchiped or at least with a clearly visible tattoo.

For overall information on bringing your pet and living with your pet in Madrid check, AngloInfo.

And some further information from the Spanish embassy office on bringing your pets into Spain.

Bringing a pet to Spain

Bringing a pet to Spain

I have two Rhodesian Ridgebacks back at home in the States that we seriously considered bringing to Madrid.  In the end it wasn’t the right move for us, so instead they stay with my parents in San Diego (quite happily). Despite the unfulfilled trip, plenty of research was done prior to our move on what steps needed to be taken to ensure their [non-quarantined] entry.  In addition to our research, I have learned a bit of information from those in IE who did follow through in bringing pets (well dogs in our case) into Madrid.

Luckily the process is not difficult.  With the correct paperwork and shots, you will most likely not run into any issues bringing your pets into Spain. And then once here, you’ll quickly find that there is a dog culture here, so they’re be quite accepted.  I think the only point of difficulty I ran across was dogs, cats or ferrets under 3 months of age are under no circumstances allowed in.

There are many sources online that can assist you in the step-by-step process.  There are even companies out there who for a [hefty] fee will do all the work for you – door to door service. But, in my opinion, this is not necessary as the process is simple enough. There are a few steps of logistics you’ll have to get through as you prepare your pet, the most important of them being the certificate from its Veterinarian which will include the following:

  • Identification of person responsible for the animal(s)
  • Description of origin of the animals(s)
  • Microchip or tattoo number, location and date of insertion.
  • Rabies vaccine information

For simplified information, broken down specifically for those from the USA/Canada and EU, check out SpainExpat. For those from the EU and Norway, you are lucky enough to fall under the blue Pet Pass rule (requiring a blue pet passport documentation) which eased restrictions since 2004. Here is another site that you may find useful. This blue document contains the same information as mentioned in the bullets above and is accepted in all EU nations.

As for flying your pets in, I would suggest you check the rules of your individual airline, as each has varied costs, rules and restrictions.

For information on pet passports, updated rules, pet friendly hotels…etc.  see Pet