If you’ve recently learned (or decided) you will be moving to a foreign country, your mind is undoubtedly swirling with thoughts about what you need to do before you leave. If you have pets, there is even more to think about. But there’s no reason to worry. We’ll help you pull it all together.
Welcome to our five-part blog series about getting ready to move with your pet. We’ll explain what you need to know to smooth the way for your pet’s trip and maintain your own peace of mind, too. In this first article, we look at the big picture. Let’s call it “countdown to departure.”
The most important piece of advice we can offer is start now. Even if your departure date seems distant, it will get here before you know it. And just as with the human side of your move, some of the preparations for your pet’s departure will take time to organize.
What to do first . . . as in, right away
- For many families, an international move is the first time their pet has ever faced an airplane journey. Maybe you’ve heard flying is not a good idea for dogs and cats, or you simply don’t know what to expect. Learning the facts about pet air travel will give you confidence and help you ignore the myths.
- Learn the pet import rules for your new country. Every country has its own set of requirements – some are pretty straightforward, but others are considerably more complicated. You must get your pet’s documentation right, or she could be denied entrance. Every airline has different pet travel rules, too. You may discover that, even after considerable research, you aren’t able to get reliable information about what you need to do. This can be extremely frustrating as well as time-consuming.
- Better yet, call us. Our Starwood pet travel experts deal with these details every day. We know the most pet-friendly airlines and the appropriate government officials, no matter where you and your pet are headed. We can tell you exactly what examinations, vaccinations, tests, and/or paperwork your pet will need.
Why is this a “right now” task? Because if your dog or cat must have a blood titer test (to validate their rabies immunization), it takes months for her blood sample to “percolate” in the lab.
We can also identify the most efficient flight itinerary for your pet. And maneuver around potential barriers if you have multiple pets. We can even handle all the documentation and travel arrangements, taking that work off your shoulders and ensuring everything is completed in a timely manner.
- Make a calendar that shows every pet-related need on your to-do list. With so many other things on your mind, this is the only way to avoid overlooking something important and stay on track with details that are time-sensitive. For example, certain health and import documents are valid only if completed within a specific window of time. Besides, you’ll get a joyful rush of accomplishment each time you cross something off on your calendar.
What to do next . . . as in, as soon as possible
One thing your pet will need is a microchip. If she does not already have one, make that a priority because the ID number must go on all her documentation. Even though her microchip and your contact information are registered with the company that manufactured it, we strongly recommend you sign up with the Global Pet Register as well. This is the only registry that operates internationally. Do that now, before it slips your mind.
Determine what size travel kennel your pet will need, and obtain it. This is important for two reasons:
- Every dog or cat traveling as cargo must be in an IATA-approved crate. These kennels meet stringent requirements for sturdiness, safety, and ventilation. Animals must be able to stand up without touching the interior ceiling (including erect ears), turn around, and lie down normally. Don’t ballpark this, measure your dog.
- The single-most important step you can take to reduce your pet’s potential flight jitters is to familiarize her with this travel crate. It will be her home away from home, so the more it feels like “home,” the calmer she will be. The sooner you acquire the kennel, the greater her opportunities to explore the kennel and consider it her own.
What to do next . . . as in before you depart
Bone up on your new country, especially local regulations and pet-iquette for dogs and cats. Online expat groups can be a great help.
In our next article, we’ll look more closely at your move. What pet-related items should you take from your home to your new one?