Traveling to a Foreign Country With Your Pet
Whether you’ll be bringing your dog, cat, or other pet to another country permanently, or just on a visit, there are some things you’ll need to know before you do it. Get in touch with the embassy or consulate for that country to find out what kinds of requirements you have to meet, and check online to see if this information is posted anywhere on the Internet. Some animals are not permitted to be imported (such as many pet rodents) and most others will need to follow certain guidelines to avoid lengthy quarantines.
Exporting an animal from the US is likely to require an international health certificate, which can be completed by an APHIS accredited veterinarian. This person will certify the health of your animal, test for problems, and keep a record of the test results for your pet. Make sure you have all completed international health certificates endorsed by a Veterinary Services area office, or they will be invalid. Fortunately, there’s a good chance that your current veterinarian is APHIS accredited, or that he or she knows someone who is. An online search will help you find the VS area office for your location.
There are relatively minimal requirements to export an animal from the US, but they change from time to time, and you’ll need to know the specific health requirements for entry into the country you’ll be visiting. Your Area Veterinarian-in-Charge will be able to let you know what inspections and tests are required, as well as the current regulations. If you live outside the US, you’ll need to look into your country’s certificate format, which may be different and/or more restrictive.
These export requirements change frequently, so make sure you get the current requirements before each and every shipment involving an animal. The most current information can be obtained by contacting the embassy or consulate, not by relying on the information that an exporter, travel agent, or broker might give you.
As of 2002, the PETS scheme covers dogs and cats leaving the US and Canada and heading for the UK and parts of Europe. It can help avoid long quarantine periods if you follow the instructions. To be eligible, you must microchip your dog or cat and have him or her vaccinated against rabies at least twenty-one days before the date of the first rabies vaccination. You must not visit any unapproved territories or countries before returning home. Cats and dogs must be blood tested at least six months before coming back to the country, have a pet passport, and be treated for parasites before coming back.
Space on carriers that take pets is limited and often expensive. It’s a good idea to check in advance before bringing your pet, make sure your pet has a chance to get used to its carrier before the trip, and have the chance to eliminate before entering the carrier. Feed your pet lightly a few hours before the trip, and make sure the carrier is comfortable and easy to move around in. Keep all paperwork in proper order to prevent your animal from being quarantined or returned to the home country.