One of the most time-consuming and often frustrating aspects of organizing an international move for your pet is the paperwork. The US has export rules, though they’re minimal, every airline has rules and every destination country has rules. It’s critical to understand and follow all the rules that apply to your pets, to ensure their entry into your new country goes smoothly.
All the documentation serves the same basic purpose – to validate your pet’s health. Nobody wants to transport an animal that might be ill, and no country wants to allow entry to animals that could bring contagious disease or parasites. Therefore, proof of relevant vaccinations is a must.
What vaccinations are needed?
Definitely rabies, no matter where you’re headed. For most foreign countries, your pet’s rabies vaccination must be at least 30 days old but less than one year old. That means if your dog or cat received a 3-year vaccination more than a year ago they will need a booster to meet the timing requirement. You’ll have to provide a signed rabies certificate.
Cats and/or dogs may need additional vaccinations, too, depending on the destination country. Here are some examples of what else you might need:
- Cats must be vaccinated for Feline Panleukopenia Virus (FPV), Feline Rhinotracheitis (FHV-1) and Feline Calicivirus.
- Dogs must be vaccinated for Canine Distemper Virus (CDV), Canine Parvo Virus, Infections Canine Hepatitis and leptospirosis.
These shots must be administered at least 21 days before you apply for your pet’s import permit, but they cannot be more than a year old. The UAE also requires a blood test before moving your pet.
If you’re traveling from the United States to Britain, requirements fall within the Pet Travel Scheme for “approved countries” (European Union countries, the US and a few others). Your pet’s rabies vaccination can be just 21 days old, but it cannot be more than a year old. Pets must also receive tapeworm treatment shortly before travel.
There is a mandatory 10-day quarantine for pets entering the country from the US. At least 180 days prior to entering quarantine, both cats and dogs must have a blood test that shows a “passing” result. Dogs also need additional blood tests. Both cats and dogs must also have other standard vaccinations. If you’re entering Australia from somewhere other than the US, the quarantine requirements will be considerably longer and more complex.
There is a mandatory 30-day quarantine; however if you have followed the required protocol quarantine may be reduced to 10 days. Those protocols include:
- Making a quarantine reservation.
- Testing your pet’s blood for rabies antibodies.
- Standard annual vaccinations – at least 14 days old but not more than a year old.
- Giving each animal anti-tick and deworming treatments just before they travel.
You need more than vaccinations for an international move.
Most countries require a microchip. Some countries specify the chip must be the newer RFID type, in which case if your pet has a different device they will need a new microchip. Again depending on your destination country, you may need:
- A USDA-endorsed health certificate.
- An international health certificate.
- A country-specific import permit.
Plan ahead for your pet’s health and safety.
It’s also a good idea to research before you move (or right away after you arrive) whether there are potential local problems you pet may encounter that cannot be addressed by vaccines.
It’s easy to overlook the fact that indigenous insects, rodents, reptiles, etc. might present problems for your kitty or pup that they wouldn’t have to deal with at home. It pays to be aware.
Start the paperwork process early.
Obtaining some documents can take up to six weeks. First, confirm with your international pet transport company what documentation you will need and the specific timing for each item. They can handle all this for you, if you prefer, which can save you countless hours of online research and phone calls and office visits. Even if you elect to gather the documents yourself, at least you’ll know you’re gathering the right documents for your destination country and the airline(s) your pet will be flying. Learn about the best airlines to move your pet.
Please be aware that this is not the full list of requirements to move your pet and having an animal transportation company in your corner will help you cover all the basics.