As a nation of animal lovers, Brits have long been taking their pets overseas to accompany them on their new life abroad. The logistics and stress of getting your cat, dog or other animal around the world can be a daunting prospect, yet it has never been easier to make the leap. We’ve used our extensive experience to bring you our top tips for moving abroad with pets.
Know the Rules
Wherever you are travelling, it is important to do you homework and check all rules and regulations long before your departure date. It can take weeks or even months to ensure all the paperwork, vets checks and travel arrangements are in place. Restrictions also vary wildly from country to country and it can take time to unravel the complicated and onerous import regulations. Government websites local to the country you are moving to will give the most accurate and up to date information, but here is a quick guide to some of the most popular expat destinations:
Moving Pets to Australia
Anyone who has experienced Australia’s strict customs regulations will not be surprised to hear that there are equally stringent rules regarding importing pets to the country. If you are travelling from a ‘Group Three approved country’ such as the UK, you will need to follow all the requirements as explained in the Department of Agriculture’s step-by-step guides for importing cats, dogs or other animals.
Cats travelling from the UK will need a microchip and proof of rabies immunity from a government-approved vet. You can then apply to the Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources for an import permit which may stipulate further conditions on your pet’s arrival such as additional vaccinations or treatments. Your cat will also need parasite treatments and a final health check no more than five days before departure. Once in Australia, your pet will be held in quarantine for at least 10 days, more if any ticks or other signs of illness are found.
If you’re taking your dog down under, you will need to go through the same process with a few additional checks. An approved vet will need to test your dog for Ehrlichia canis, Brucellosis, Leishmaniosis and Leptospirosis within 45 days of departure.
Moving Pets to the USA and Canada
If you and your much-loved pet are moving over the pond, you will need to make sure your pet is microchipped and has a valid pet passport. Your vet will be able to help you through all of this, guiding you through the process of getting the passport and ensuring your pet has all relevant vaccinations.
Rules vary slightly from state to state, but most will require proof of recent rabies vaccination. If you are travelling from a country deemed ‘rabies free’, such as the UK, Hawaii is the only state that imposes mandatory quarantine, although all states reserve the right to quarantine an animal upon arrival if they seem obviously unwell.
Airlines usually allow pets to travel as excess baggage in a heated, pressurised cargo hold. Some airlines restrict travel to certain states at certain times of year due to extreme temperatures that may be dangerous for pets. For more information about moving to USA with pets, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
Moving to Canada with a pet is even simpler. Microchips and pet passports are not required, although you will probably be asked to prove your animal is rabies free upon entering the country. You will also need an International Health Certificate to verify your animal is healthy and up to date with immunisations.
Moving Pets to the UAE
Moving your pet to the UAE is a fairly complicated process and can take months of organisation, however, it is still perfectly achievable for most expats. Like most countries, you will need to get your pet a microchip, pet passport and rabies vaccination certificate.
You will then need to apply for an import permit from the UAE Ministry of Agriculture. In order to obtain an import permit, you must show either a valid residency visa or a letter of employment proving you are eligible to work in the UAE. All animals must be up to date with all regular vaccinations. Cats will need proof of immunisation against feline flu and enteritis and dogs will need to be tested to ensure they are free of ehrlichia and babesia as well as treatment for tapeworms and ticks.
Once all of this is in place, you will receive your import permit and can begin making arrangements to transport your pet to the UAE. Most major airlines covering the area will accept pets as cargo.
Moving Pets to Europe
Relocating your pet within the EU is comparatively straight forward. Once you’ve had your pet microchipped and received your pet passport, you should be able to travel anywhere in Europe. All you then need is a final fit to fly note from your vet and dogs will need a tapeworm treatment 1-5 days before travel.
Most European airlines class pets as excess baggage, but a few will categorise them as cargo. Either way, they’ll travel in a pressurised and heated livestock hold and be perfectly safe.
Don’t Be Afraid to Seek Help
If you’re finding the prospect of organising all the paperwork and travel arrangements a little daunting, there are plenty of people who can help. Pet travel agents offer advice, assistance and comfortable, safe door-to-door travel for you furry (or feathered) friend. Of course, this peace of mind comes at a cost, but if you have any concerns or simply do not have the time to make all the necessary arrangements, a pet travel agent may be well worth the money.
If you are travelling to a lesser known expat destination or have a more unusual pet, a pet travel agent is well worth considering. Companies such as Starwood Animal Transport have experienced staff, from travel consultants to vets, who will help you every through step of your move. Visit their website for some more top tips for moving abroad with pets.
Get Your Pet Microchipped
Whether or not it is an official requirement of the country to which you are travelling, it is still worthwhile microchipping your pet before you leave. It will almost always make the process easier and allow you to return your pet to UK with relatively little hassle. A microchip will quickly help identify your pet and their health records both in the UK and overseas.
As different countries require slightly different microchips, it is very important to check your vet understands exactly where you are going and what is required.
Do the Maths
Moving your pet abroad can be an expensive business and it is important to calculate costs before hand to avoid nasty surprises. From vaccinations, microchipping and vets bills to document fees and transportation costs, it is worth comparing quotes and researching costs well ahead of time.
Keep Your Pet Comfortable and Stress Free En-Route
The journey itself will probably be the most stressful and confusing part of the move for your pet. Aside from checking exactly how and where your pet will travel, there are still plenty of steps you can take to ensure a more comfortable, relaxed journey. Most airlines will allow you to give your pet a familiar blanket or favourite toy to help them feel at home. You can also use pheromone sprays and homeopathic remedies to help keep your pet calm, however full sedation is not usually recommended.
If You Come Home
If you return to the UK, you will, of course, want to arrange for your pet to return too. Providing you have been living in an approved ‘safe’ country and have a valid microchip and pet passport, moving back to the UK is very straightforward. To find out more about bringing your pet back to the UK , visit the Pet Travel section on the UK Government website.
Our pets are an important and loved part of many families. For most who move abroad, leaving these beloved animals behind is unthinkable. Fortunately, technology and veterinary science today allows pets to be transported safely, comfortably and securely almost anywhere in the world. Visit our website to find out more about traveling abroad with your pet.
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