08 February 2011

Italian Train Travel with Your Dog

What if you show up at the train station as you have always done, allowing just enough time to buy train tickets for you and your dog from the self-service machine, validate, and board the train for your destination?  Today, if you are not prepared, you will be in for a surprise.  My recent personal experience can save us all some grief.

Be aware:  There is a new law effective January 2011 regarding your pet traveling on the Italian trains.  It isn't as simple as it once was.  Tickets for your piccolo animale (small animal) are no longer available at the self-service machine.  Now you must stand in line at the train station to buy your ticket or purchase your ticket from a travel agency. Why? Because the new law requires when you purchase your ticket that you show your dog registration certificate.  What is a "dog registration certificate"?  If you have residency or are a citizen of Italy, then the document you need is called "Certificato Iscrizione Anagrafe Canina."  If you are a foreigner traveling from outside of Italy, your dog needs to have a dog passport.  If you have one of these two documents, you will be able to take your dog along with you on your adventure.  But you must remember to carry this document with you when you travel because, if you are asked to produce said document by the train conductor and you don't have it during travel, you will be in for an even ruder surprise.  You will be fined, and you will have to get off the train at the next stop.  Ouch!  You are now informed, and hopefully this will not impact your travel plans.

One.  Mabel has her paperwork.  Before traveling from the U.S. into the E.U., there is an extensive, bureaucratic process to go through before boarding the plane.  The U.S. authorities told me with the documents that were issued to Mabel, she essentially has her E.U. passport and will be given one in Europe. In Italy, the authorities have told me that the U.S. is the governing body that issues the E.U. passport for animals. Does the right hand know what the left hand is doing?

Two.  If you yourself do not have residency, a permesso di soggiorno (permission to stay), or whatever documento (document) allows you to stay beyond the 90-day touristic period, you will not be permitted to register your beloved animal even though your animal has the required paperwork. Mamma mia!

A bit of general information regarding train travel with your dog
Let us assume you have either form of the dog registration certificate and are ready to travel.  
  • Be sure to carry it with you at all times  
  • Keep your dog on leash and carry your dog's muzzle.  The law says the dog must wear the muzzle, but I have seen it enforced one time only.  Be prepared by having it available should it become necessary  
  • A small cat, dog, or other animal in a cage no larger than 70x30x50 cm travels free
  • Espressi (Express), IC, ICN, and Regional trains: a dog of any size with leash and muzzle may travel except between the hours of 7:00 and 9:00 a.m.
  • Ticket for your dog is in second class and 50% of the adult ticket price
  • EuroStar and AV fast trains: animal transport is not allowed without special cage container
For additional and more specific information, go to the website of Trenitalia directly.


  1. Background to this...but in the end, Mabel stayed home and was well-taken care of by a friend.

  2. Thanks, this was very helpful!

  3. I am confused: We are going to Italy for two months with our two small dogs. Do we need anything other than the paperwork the US vet provides us for travel? We are not planning to travel outside of Venice with the dogs.