Rabies is a viral disease that is transmitted from animals to humans. When symptoms appear, and without immediate treatment, rabies is fatal in 100% of cases. It can be avoided thanks to vaccination. In Belgium, the main threat still comes from the illegal importation of dogs from infected countries.

Preventative vaccination in animals

Certain animals can be vaccinated: 

  • domestic animals (dogs, cats, ferrets)
  • wild carnivores that are rabies vectors (foxes, dogs, raccoons, skunks,…).

The vaccination is mandatory for dogs and cats that are travelling from one European Union country to another (more information: FASFC).

Preventative vaccination in humans

Preventative vaccination is generally carried out at a travel health clinic, but it can equally be prescribed and carried out by a general practitioner.

The vaccination is recommended for people at risk (people exposed through their activities or people who stay in at-risk regions for prolonged periods).

The Sciensano’s Anti-rabies Centre monitors the efficacy of preventative vaccination. You can contact us on +32 (0)2 642 51 11 or by e-mail on

DID YOU KNOW? People who are in contact with animals that are susceptible to having rabies must take precautions when handling unknown animals and wear gloves and a mask when conducting autopsies on animals suspected of carrying rabies. They should also treat wounds quickly.

Rules for bringing a dog into Belgium from abroad

If the dog comes from a European Union country, it must:

  • be over 15 weeks old
  • be identified by an en electronic chip
  • have a European passport
  • be vaccinated against rabies from the age of 12 weeks or older, an immunisation period of at least 3 weeks must follow the vaccination. 

If the dog comes from a country that is outside of the European Union’s borders, it must: 

  • be over 3 months old
  • be identified by an en electronic chip
  • have a health certificate
  • have been vaccinated against rabies since it was 12 weeks old
  • undergo a serological test to check the efficacy of the anti-rabies vaccine.

The blood draw for serological testing must be carried out a minimum of 30 days after vaccination. The animal will only enter Belgian territory after a minimum waiting period of 3 months from the date on which the blood was taken for the immunity test.



Sciensano provides epidemiological surveillance of rabies in Belgium and takes responsibility for diagnosis and treatment following exposure. It monitors the efficacy of vaccines against rabies. The Belgian Official Medicines Control Laboratory (OMCL) of Sciensano, together with the European OMCL network, is responsible for the quality control of the rabies vaccine prior to marketing.

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