Congratulations! You have decided to become a dog mom/ dad and are probably very excited about your new family member. But before you fully get lost in the enjoyment of your puppy I will have to tell you about something that is less thrilling - paperwork. Obtaining the proper documentation for your pet is probably the least exciting part of the whole process. However, it is important to register your dog in Germany as it is not only mandatory but can be seen as tax fraud if you do not do so accordingly. The good news is that it sounds harder and more time-consuming than it actually is and this article will show you exactly how to do it.
When should I register my dog?
In Germany, the laws vary with each municipality (Gemeinde). In Berlin, for example, your dog needs to be registered within a month of ownership or birth. Or immediately after you move to the city. In other cases, you can only register your puppy for dog tax when it is three months old or older. So, in other words: Get your dog licensed as soon as possible. The worst that could happen is that you would have to wait until your dog is of age, but that's still better than potentially being accused of tax fraud, right?
How can I register my dog?
The most common ways to register a dog are either online or in person. The easiest option is to fill out the online form provided by the official website of your municipality. You can send out the form via e-mail or to the postal address and within one or two weeks, you should receive the dog license tag (Hundesteuermarke) by mail. If you are in a hurry, the quickest alternative to get your dog licensed is in person. For this option, you need to refer to your local citizens' office (Bürgeramt). (Note that you might have to make an appointment after all.) Once you've filled out all the documents, you will receive your dogs' license tag on site.
Fun Fact: The dog tax was first implemented in Germany in 1809 to reduce the number of dogs and thus decrease the risk of rabies.
What do I need?
In order to get your dog licensed you need to provide the following information:
Your personal information:
- Date of birth
- Tax ID
- optional: bank information (if eligible for tax exemption or relief)
Your dogs information:
- Breed and color of fur
- Age or date of birth
- Date of ownership
- optional: Chip ID (in some federal states you are obligated to chip your dog)
Costs and "dangerous " breeds
As mentioned above, the laws regarding dog taxes are regulated inconsistently. Therefore, the costs will vary as well. Bigger cities generally demand higher taxes than small villages. The taxes you pay for your dog will be either collected annually, bi-annually, or quarterly. I have compiled a list of Germanys ten most populated cities and their dog tax so you can roughly get an idea of what to expect to pay in taxes:
Cost per year:
Furthermore, there is a distinction in breeds. Some dog breeds are considered "dangerous" and might be banned unless your dog successfully passes a character test. Following dogs are classified as dangerous (This also applies to dogs that are crossed with any of these breeds mentioned below):
As well as:
- Staffordshire Bullterrier
- Cane Corso
- Dogo Argentino
- Bordeaux Dogge
- Fila Brasileiro
- Mastin Espanol
- Mastino Napoletano
- Tosa Inu
Under certain circumstances, you can request a tax exemption (Hundesteuerbefreiung) or reduction (Steuerermäßigung). These include, amongst other things, disability, having a rescue dog with proper training, living in a low-income household, or adopting your dog from an animal shelter. However, if you keep a dog for personal reasons, you most likely won't be exempt from paying dog taxes.
For more information regarding tax exemption and reductions or requirements for the ownership of dangerous dog breeds, please refer to your local citizens' office.
So now that you are familiar with the whole process of registering your dog (and are hopefully already on your way to do so), you can finally go back to exploring the world with your new furry friend. Make sure to stick around for future blog posts where you can expect to read more about the importance of vaccinations and how to adopt a dog from another EU country. In the meantime, stay happy and healthy, and pet your dog for me!