Moving Fido and Fluffy: A Personal Experience of Taking Pets Abroad

A Pet Relocation Story

Our furry friends are a huge part of our family and will often travel with us when we make the decision to relocate to a foreign country.

With a myriad of pet travel schemes, requirements and considerations to take into account, it’s important to understand exactly how you can bring man’s best friend along on your expat adventures. In the past ten years, I’ve moved my two Labrador Retrievers internationally on two occasions. They’ve travelled with me from the UK to Canada, then Canada to Australia several years later. Arguably two of the world’s most travelled canines, I never once considered leaving them behind.

They were part of my family – my beloved companions – and I’d bring them along with me no matter where.


Vaccinations and Microchips

For relocation to Canada, our pets needed to be micro chipped, have their rabies (and other) vaccinations, a blood test to confirm they were clear, and then gain their Pet Passports (further details relevant to the UK are here – https://www.gov.uk/take-pet-abroad/overview). As the UK is rabies-free, the requirements for moving pets to Canada were relatively straightforward.

Pet Transport Services

We used the services of a pet transport company on our international journeys. The dogs were collected from our home the night before we were due to travel and taken by car to the airport kennels. From there, they were boarded on our flight for the transatlantic voyage to Canada.

It was hassle-free and left us to get on with the business of finalising the family move. The company took care of all paperwork and customs clearance, plus kept us advised of any and all veterinary requirements.

Comfort and Smooth Sailing

We had to take into consideration the time of year to travel as some airlines restrict pet travel during the hotter and colder months. We also had to ensure the travel crates could fit into the hold of the plane we travelled on, as there are differences in storage capacity – this meant double-checking with the airline prior to booking our flights.

We were headed to the west coast of Canada, which meant a change of flight in Montreal. With hindsight, we should have chosen a direct flight as it meant the dogs had to come off the plane then be reloaded onto another.

On Arrival

As new immigrants to Canada, we had to take care of our visas upon arrival in Vancouver. Fortunately, it took a while to process our pooches through Customs, as we were also delayed by Immigration and became anxious that our dogs were waiting somewhere to be collected.

One option is to fly ahead of your pets on a separate flight – arrive safely, take care of your visas, then prepare for your pets to land. This ensures that any delay will not impact on them.

On reflection, our international moves have been relatively stress-free and taking our dogs abroad has been well worth the worry or anxiety we may have had beforehand.

It can be traumatic for pets and pet owners alike but by doing the research, planning ahead based on a reasonable timeline, checking with vets, consulates and airlines, then employing the services of pet transport experts, the beloved furry members of your travelling family should arrive safe, sound and ready for their new destination.

Russell Ward is a British expat living on Sydney’s Northern Beaches where he writes about his search for a life less ordinary at www.insearchofalifelessordinary.com, one of Australia’s leading expat and travel blogs. He can be followed on Twitter and Instagram as @russellvjward.

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