Rabies testing in animals


The diagnostic services offered by the Swiss Rabies Centre include measuring the rabies antibody titre required for travel with animals and testing for rabies virus as part of rabies detection and surveillance.

Information for owners of dogs, cats and ferrets

Switzerland is terrestrial rabies-free. It is therefore vital to prevent accidental introduction of the virus with dogs, cats, etc. entering Switzerland. In addition to the official vaccination passport, microchipping and a valid rabies vaccination certificate, the owner may also be required to demonstrate a sufficiently high vaccination antibody titre, depending on the countries of origin and destination. Please take note of the country-specific requirements at an early stage! 

Waiting periods for entry into Switzerland from a rabies risk country according to the Pet Travel Scheme:

IVI_Tollwut-beim Tier_01_EN (1)

For example, it takes at least four months from the first rabies vaccination until an animal can be accepted for entry into Switzerland from a rabies risk country. The FSVO keeps a list of rabies risk countries.

Further information is available here:
Crossing the border with dogs, cats or ferrets: The FSVO’s online tool provides the necessary information (Crossing the border with dogs, cats or ferrets).

In addition to rabies checks, there are other requirements to bear in mind when travelling with animals. The FSVO is responsible for issuing permits and for questions concerning the legal provisions (Travelling lling with pets).

Information for veterinary professionals on sample submission and testing

The Swiss Rabies Centre carries out antibody tests in order to check vaccination titres as per international guidelines (Rabies - WOAH, World Organisation for Animal Health).

Test days, duration of testing and reporting

  • The test is to be carried out once a week early on Monday morning.
  • Samples must reach the laboratory by 10 am on Friday at the latest.
  • Results are available on the following Wednesday afternoon and are sent by A-Post priority mail or, if requested, by email.
  • We aim to keep to the above times but delays may occur under certain circumstances (e.g. very high sample volumes, holiday periods, peak travel season, repeat tests due to non-valid results, etc.).
  • Responsibility for compliance with the legal requirements regarding vaccination and sampling lies with the sender. Incomplete, missing or incorrect information will lead to delays. Please also note our general terms and conditions (IVI GTC, German or French).

Sample material, test request form, packaging and dispatch

  • Sample material: 0.5–2 ml of serum from 2–10 ml of native whole blood (without anticoagulants).
  • Each sample must be accompanied by a fully completed and signed test request form (document see below, request form for rabies antibodies tests in animals).
  • Test tubes must be clearly labelled and packaged in a metal or plastic sleeve to prevent breakage.
  • No refrigeration is required for sending by post (including international post).
  • IMPORTANT: For biosafety reasons, samples must not be brought to the laboratory in person but must be sent by post or by courier. And we are no longer able to return samples.

This and further information can be found in the leaflet “Information on the rabies antibody test” (document see below).

Rabies testing in dead animals (suspected cases and surveillance)

  • Please note the following:
  • Send animals as soon as possible (by express mail)
  • Submit whole animals or the head only; do not freeze
  • Animals must be packaged in such a way as to prevent odour emissions and any fluid leakage during transport, i.e. three-layer packaging (document see below, instructions for submitting animals for rabies diagnosis)
  • Please enclose a fully completed test request form (document see below, request form for rabies examination of an animal)
  • Please give advance notification by emailing 
  • Package addres: Institute of Virology and Immunology IVI, Swiss Rabies Centre, z. Hd Sektionshalle, Länggasstrasse 122, Postfach 3001 Bern, Switzerland
  • Results usually follow within two working days; if any follow-up testing is required this will take longer.


In detail

Last modification 07.12.2023

Top of page