Manual: Pets

1. Obligation for registration in the AMICUS database, in Bern

AMICUS provides an independent database for pet animals, operating throughout Switzerland.

AMICUS database (fr)

Starting from 1 January 2007, all dogs must be marked uniquely and in such a way as to prevent falsification by implanting a microchip, and they must be registered in the AMICUS database, which is replacing the database ANIS as of 1st January 2016. For dog owners already registered in the ANIS database, no action should be undertaken. Indeed, the ANIS data are automatically recovered by the database AMICUS.

Dogs imported from abroad must be presented to a veterinarian in Switzerland within 10 days following entry into the country. The veterinarian must declare these dogs for registration in the AMICUS database (including the foreign microchip or tattoo number) within the following 10 days. There is no automatic transmission to Switzerland of any data already registered in another country.

The regulations do not require a microchip to be implanted in the case of any dog bearing a perfectly legible tattoo. Nevertheless, tattooed dogs must also be registered in the national AMICUS database (with a declaration made through a veterinarian).

Legislation in force in Switzerland regarding dogs and applicable to members of permanent missions and international civil servants who own dogs

Animal protection

With regard to how to treat and look after one’s dog, the Federal Ordinance, of 23 April 2008, on the protection of animals includes, in particular, the following provisions (see Articles 22 and 68):

  • Dogs must, each day, have sufficient contact with human beings and, as far as possible, other dogs.
  • Those kept in closed premises must be able, every day, to take exercise according to their needs and must, as far as possible, be able to romp in the open air.
  • Those kept tied up must be able to move around in an area of at least 20 m2 (20 square metres) and must not be attached using a choke chain.
  • Those kept in the open air must have a shelter and water available.
  • Anyone looking after a dog must take the measures necessary to prevent the dog endangering either human beings or animals.
  • Treating dogs with excessive harshness, firing shots to punish them, and using spike collars are prohibited.

Requirement to take a course in theory and in practice

In accordance with article 68, paras 1 and 2 of OPAn,

  • Persons who have acquired a dog since 1 September 2008 must be able to provide a certificate of competence (theoretical course) proving that they have learnt how to keep and to handle dogs. Persons who can prove that they already had a dog before 1 September 2008 do not need to satisfy this condition.
  • Persons who became responsible for looking after a dog after 1 September 2008 must, in the year following the acquisition of the dog, obtain a certificate proving that they can keep control of their dog in everyday situations (practical course).

Members of staff of a permanent mission or of an international organisation who hold a legitimation card issued by the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) must attend the courses mentioned above.

Regulations regarding dogs in each canton

Most of the Swiss cantons have regulations about dogs, particularly in relation to looking after dangerous or potentially dangerous dogs (such as bull terriers, Dobermans and Rottweilers). Most of the cantons have drawn up a list of dogs that are considered dangerous or potentially dangerous. 

Members of staff of a permanent Mission or of an international organisation who own a dog are requested to find out about the relevant legislation from the competent authority, i.e. the cantonal veterinary office, in their canton of residence.

A summary is presented below of the situation in some of the Swiss cantons.

Canton of Basel-Land

  • Owners who are not able to exercise complete control over their dogs must keep them on a leash.
  • All dogs must be covered by civil-liability insurance (to be entered into with a private insurance company).
  • There are specific measures in force relating to dangerous or potentially dangerous dogs. The owners of such dogs must declare them to the cantonal veterinary office, which will tell the owner what steps must be taken (requesting authorization for possession of the dog, dog-training requirements, etc.).

Canton of Basel-Stadt

  • Dogs must be kept on a leash during the hours from 22.00 to 06.00 and at all times in restaurants, streets and places with significant numbers of people.
  • All dogs must be covered by civil-liability insurance (to be entered into with a private insurance company).
  • There are specific measures in force relating to dangerous or potentially dangerous dogs. The owners of such dogs must declare them to the cantonal veterinary office, which will tell the owner what steps must be taken (requesting authorization for possession of the dog, dog-training requirements, etc.).

Canton of Bern 

  • All dogs must be insured. The relevant insurance is known as a civil-liability insurance for dog owners and must be taken out with a private insurance company.
  • On the whole area of the canton, the owner of a dog must always be in full control with his/her animal.
  • In specific places (schools, railways stations, public transport, etc.) dogs must be kept on a leash and in some places dogs are not allowed; controls are made by municipalities (“communes”).
  • Dogs must wear a muzzle if they tend to bite and if the order was given in a particular case.
  • The canton of Bern does not establish a list of dangerous dogs.  

Canton of Fribourg

  • Each municipality (or “commune”) may enact specific rules (such as an obligation to keep a dog on a leash, or prohibiting them access to certain locations).
  • There are specific measures in force relating to dangerous or potentially dangerous dogs. The owners of such dogs must declare them to the cantonal veterinary office (which will tell the owner what steps must be taken (requesting authorization for possession of the dog, dog-training requirements, etc.). These dogs must be kept on a leash in any public areas within the canton.

Canton of Geneva

  • All dogs must be insured. The relevant insurance is known as a civil-liability insurance for dog owners and must be taken out with a private insurance company.
  • All dogs must be vaccinated against rabies (DEFENSOR 3, RABDOMUN, RABISIN et NOVBIVA RABIES).
  • Entry to some public parks is prohibited to all dogs. In certain others parks, dogs must be kept on a leash. (Refer to the information boards).
  • There are specific measures in force relating to dangerous or potentially dangerous dogs (15 breeds). The importation and keeping of dogs belonging to 15 breeds listed and crossovers from these breeds are prohibited. The listed dogs born before 25 February 2008, known of the cantonal veterinary office (SCAV) and of the benefit of a license must be leashed and muzzled by a muzzle type "in basket" from they leave home of their owners.
  • Each 1 April at the latest, all dogs must wear the official control mark of the current year fixed clearly to their collars. Owner may obtain this mark from their commune or, in Geneva, from a municipal police station (see the informative note on dogs tax) by presenting the following documents:

    a) confirmation that the dog has been registered with the AMICUS database;
    b) confirmation of possession of a dog owner's civil-liability insurance for the current year;
    c) vaccination certificate, with anti-rabies vaccine and valid vaccinal protection; for the vaccines DEFENSOR 3, RABDOMUN, RABISIN and NOVIBAC RABIES, validity is 3 years;
    d) confirmation that a theoretical course has been taken or a statement of exemption issued by the SCAV;
    e) confirmation that a practical course has been taken or a statement of exemption issued by the SCAV.

Canton Vaud

  • In any public areas within the canton, the owner of a dog, of whatever breed, must be able to control it, at any moment, by some action or sound. Failing that, the animal must be kept on a leash, or even require to be muzzled.
  • There are specific measures in force relating to dangerous or potentially dangerous dogs, namely American Staffordshire Terriers (“Amstaffs”), Pit Bull Terriers and Rottweilers. The owners of such dogs must declare them to the cantonal veterinary office, which will tell the owner what steps must be taken (requesting authorization for possession of the dog, dog-training requirements, etc.).

List of the Cantonal veterinary offices

Canton of Basel-Land 
Gräubernstrasse 12
4410 Liestal
Tel. +41 (0)61 552 64 64

Canton of Basel-Stadt
Schlachthofstrasse 55
4056 Basel
Tel. +41 (0)61 385 32 24

Canton of Berne
Herrengasse 1
3011 Berne
Tel. +41 (0)31 633 52 70

Canton of Fribourg
Impasse de la Colline 4 
1762 Givisiez
Tel. +41 (0)26 305 80 00

Canton of Geneva
Quai Ernest Ansermet 22
1211 Genève 4 Plainpalais
Tel. +41 (0)22 546 56 00

Canton Vaud
Chemin des Boveresses 155
1066 Epalinges
Tel. +41 (0)21 316 43 43 

Specialist Contact

Permanent Mission of Switzerland to UNOG
Office of Privileges & immunities
Rue de Varembé 9-11
P.O. Box 194
CH-1211 Geneva 20
Tel. +41 (0)58 482 24 24
Fax +41 (0)58 482 24 37