Relocating with your pet to another country: What you should know
Flying to a different country with your pet cat or dog is not as simple as buying a ticket and boarding the aeroplane; there is an elaborate procedure to be followed. Every country has different regulations which change depending on the country you are travelling from.
International pet relocations involve a series of time-bound steps that must be carried out accurately and precisely, and the whole process of relocation can take from three months to a year depending on the country you are travelling to and the country you are moving from. Every step is critical, and failure to fulfil even a single requirement can have serious consequences such as your pet being denied entry, extended quarantine, or your pet being sent back to the country of origin at your expense.
If you are planning to move with your pet to a different country, here’s what you should know about the process.
The first and one of the most important steps of international pet travel is to implant a microchip in your dog or cat. The microchip is a tiny device that is usually implanted between the shoulder blades of your pet. Most countries require that you microchip your pet before relocating. The implantation itself is quite painless and takes just a few seconds. The microchip contains your pet’s vaccination information, his or her health records, and your contact information. A vet or a customs official can access all this information by scanning the microchip.
The next step in an international relocation is to follow the import requirements of the country that you are travelling to accurately. Each country has different regulations, and they change based on the country you are flying from.
Most countries have categorised the countries in the world into three groups depending on the rabies status of the country. The country categories are rabies-free countries, rabies-controlled countries, and high-rabies countries. If you are relocating your pet to a country in the same category as yours, the process is usually straightforward. Moving between categories, especially from a high-risk country to a rabies-free country, is complicated. An experienced pet relocation company is best suited to help you with the move.
When you relocate with your pet to a different country, you will need to furnish a record of your pet’s vaccinations. Rabies and other core vaccinations such as DHLPP are mandatory for dogs during international travel. If you are moving your pet cat, he or she will need rabies and FVRCP vaccines. Depending on the country, your pet dog might need additional vaccines such as canine influenza, coronavirus, Lyme disease, etc. Your cat might need vaccinations for chlamydia, feline leukaemia, feline immunodeficiency virus, etc. Remember to always keep your pet’s vaccinations current by giving him or her booster shots on time.
Rabies titre test
Several rabies-free and rabies-controlled countries require a rabies neutralising antibody titre (RNAT) test to be performed on your pet. The titre test measures the level of antibodies in your pet’s blood after the rabies vaccination. It is an accurate method of determining if your pet dog or cat is sufficiently immune to rabies.
The rabies titre test is administered one to 30 days after the rabies vaccination, and the result of the test determines whether your pet can enter a rabies-free country. The blood for the analysis has to be drawn by an accredited vet, and it has to be sent to an approved and certified laboratory for processing.
External and internal parasite treatments
Another essential step in pet relocation is the external and internal parasite treatments. Many countries require that your pet receive these treatments before entering the country. External parasite treatment includes treatment for ticks and fleas, while internal parasite treatment includes treatment for heartworm, tapeworms, etc. Your pet will have to receive these treatments before they are scheduled to fly to a different country.
Health certificate, pet passport and import permit
Depending on the country you will be moving to, you will need a health certificate from an accredited vet or a pet passport (especially for those travelling to EU) that describes your pet’s health status and all the medical treatments that he or she has received. Many countries require this certificate to be in a prescribed format. You will have to apply for an import certificate without which your pet will not be allowed to enter. These documents are, and an error would mean inordinate delays in the relocation process or refusal of entry. It is best to contact an accredited pet relocation company to help you with this paperwork.
Different countries have different quarantine regulations, and it usually changes based on the rabies category of the country that you are travelling to and the category of the country that your pet will be travelling from. A few rabies-free countries do not allow pets from high-risk countries to enter, whereas some countries have mandatory quarantine for all animals irrespective of the country your pet is travelling from. A pet relocation company will be able to help you make sense of the quarantine regulations for the country you are planning to relocate to.
Get the right crate
The crate in which your pet dog or cat will travel is another important aspect of your pet’s international relocation. The crate must be of the right size and meet all airline specifications. When you are transporting your pet to a different country, he or she needs to travel in an IATA-compliant crate.
It is critical to begin crate training as early as possible, so your pet associates the crate with a positive place and is comfortable flying long haul in the crate. Place a comfortable bed in the crate and line it with absorbent puppy pads. You can even leave an old t-shirt or blanket inside to comfort your pet.
When it comes to flying your pet, not all airlines are equal. Some airlines have better pet-friendly policies than others and have more experience with ferrying pets across the world. Try booking a direct flight; however, if your pet needs a layover, make sure the next flight is also on the same airline.
While booking the flight, it is best to choose flights that are not during extreme temperature conditions, for instance, the middle of the afternoon in summer or early mornings or late evenings in winter. If you are travelling during a holiday, try to book during less busy hours to make it easier on your pet. If you are not sure about which airline is pet-friendly, it is best to reach out a pet relocation service for advice.
Food and water
Feed your pet dog or cat no later than six hours before the flight and attach a water dish to the door of their crate. Your pet will not be given food or water during the flight, so it’s imperative that water bowls are filled prior to travel to ensure your pet is well hydrated.
Call the experts
Relocating with your pet to a new country can be very challenging; there is a tremendous amount of paperwork and documentation, health tests and vaccinations to be done before you can fly your pet dog or cat. Different countries have different rules, and sometimes, these rules change spontaneously, and without notice. A professional international pet relocation company will manage the entire relocation process and have processes in place for when plans change, flights are delayed or cancelled and weather conditions don’t go according to plan.