The road for the pet is a lot of stress and it is advisable to transport it only in extreme cases. However, traveling with your furry friend or pet is possible. Every year millions of animals travel safely and securely by air. And imagine, giraffes are the only animals that cannot be transported by air!
Today more and more arrangements are made for passengers to take pets especially dogs and cats on a trip. In addition to adhering to the IATA Live Animals Regulations, some countries and airlines have their own specific requirements for the carriage of live animals. This why it is very important that you check the specific procedures that will apply to your pets before traveling with them. In this article, you will find the information to assist you in making arrangements before traveling with your pets.
Common Conditions for Traveling with a Pet
When traveling with your pet, you will need to meet several conditions prior to the trip. Below are the steps to follow before a trip with a pet.
Step 1. Check Destination Rules
Examine the import requirements for animals in each country where you are heading. This is an extremely important point, because different countries have various rules and they change regularly. Some, such as Australia, prohibit the importation of absolutely any animals into their territory without the prior consent of the country's veterinary service.
Step 2. Marking/Chipping
Dogs, cats, and ferrets traveling with their owners shall be marked by the implantation of a transponder (chip) or by a clearly readable tattoo. As soon as you make sure that you can take your pet with you, you need to chip it. This is done in almost any veterinary clinic. The chip will be inserted under the skin with a special disposable syringe. It is a little larger than a grain of rice in size and will not cause any discomfort to the pet. Thanks to the chip, your pet can be easily identified and, in case of loss, returned to the owner.
Step 3. Rabies Vaccine
Although there are various diseases that pet dogs, cats, and ferrets can host, there are none considered more serious than rabies. If you are traveling internationally, the first thing you must do is to find out the rabies classification of the country your pet is leaving from according to the country your pet is traveling to. The World Organization for Animal Health classifies countries as rabies-free, rabies-controlled, or high-risk countries. The European Union has a uniform list of country classifications which is considered standard, but many countries have their own classifications.
Please note: in the rules of some countries it is written that pets need to be vaccinated against rabies only after chipping, otherwise they will not be taken into account.
Step 4. Obtain an International Veterinary Certificate (Health Certificate)
Epidemic animal diseases such as swine fever, avian influenza, or foot and mouth disease are common all over the world, and as a result, there is always a danger of diseases that are a threat to animals being imported. There is a quarantine system that is implemented worldwide for the purpose of preventing the incursion of animal illnesses and diseases - Animal quarantine. This is why the import of live animals and animal products is only authorized with the prescribed health certificates issued after examination by the competent veterinary authorities.
After you complete all the steps for making your pet medically eligible for the trip, you will need to get a pet health certificate. You can get this certificate from an official veterinarian or by an authorized veterinarian and subsequently endorsed by the competent authority.
The health certificate must contain the following information:
- the alpha-numeric code displayed by the transponder or the tattoo
- the details of vaccination against rabies
- the details of the blood sampling (where applicable)
- the details of the treatment against Echinococcus multilocularis (where applicable)
The most unpleasant requirement, which, nevertheless, occurs in the rules of many countries, is castration or sterilization. If your pet does not represent any value for the breed, then to enter some countries it must be sterilized.
Step 5. Collect a Pet Passport
A pet passport is a collection of documents (health, rabies, microchip certificates, import permits, FAVN test results, etc.) that are required for your pet to enter your destination country when traveling internationally. All documents should be issued in your origination country by a licensed veterinarian and may need a government veterinarian to endorse the forms. Any official veterinarian can issue this document following the successful outcome of the identity, documentary, and physical checks performed on the pet.
Step 6. Revaccination
If you want to travel more than once with your animal, you will need to revaccinate your animal regularly. How often your animal needs to be revaccinated varies between the vaccine brand and how it is registered in different countries. When the animal is vaccinated, the veterinarian fills in the data in the passport and notes the validity time registered in the country where the vaccination is given. You must follow the revaccination intervals registered in the passport, which means you must have the animal revaccinated at the latest on the last date of validity stated in the passport.
Where Is the Pet Traveling To?
When traveling with your pet, there may be animal health requirements specific to that destination. Is your pet going to travel within your own country, or will it be traveling internationally? Do you intend to break the journey, or stopover at an intermediate station? What is the pet's final destination?
As soon as you know your travel details, contact your local veterinarian to assist with the pet travel process. Factors to consider may include meeting time frames for obtaining a health certificate, updating vaccinations, diagnostic testing, or administration of medications/ treatments.
Many countries have established regulations and facilities for people entering and leaving their territories with pets, in order to make traveling safer and more enjoyable. You can check country-specific rules here.
Below are some examples of possible destination rules to consider while traveling with pets.
The European Union has established a regulation that sets all rules and conditions for pet owners to enter the territory of its 28 member states. The adoption of harmonized rules on traveling with pets has made it easier for EU citizens and their dogs, cats, or ferrets to enjoy the freedom of movement within the Union. This significant step was made possible by dramatic advances made in the fight against rabies. For movement between EU countries or from non-EU countries vaccination against rabies documented in the pet passport or the animal health certificate is the sole requirement for dogs, cats, and ferrets to travel across EU borders, with certain exceptions.
You can bring your dog, cat or ferret into the UK without animal quarantine as long as they meet the rules of the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS). There’s a similar scheme for horses.
You can enter or return to the UK with your pet (cat, dog, or ferret) if it:
- has been microchipped
- has a pet passport or third-country official veterinary certificate
- has been vaccinated against rabies - it will also need a blood test if you’re traveling from an ‘unlisted country’
- dogs may require tapeworm treatment (except when traveling from Rep of Ireland, Finland, and Malta)
Your pet may be put into quarantine for up to 4 months if you do not follow these rules - or refused entry if you traveled by sea.
There are no restrictions on bringing pet rodents, rabbits, birds, invertebrates, amphibians, and reptiles to the UK from EU countries. Pet rabbits and rodents from countries outside the EU must spend 4 months in quarantine, they need a rabies import license.
Canada does not require a quarantine and microchip/tattoo identification for dogs and cats imported as personal pets. Cats do not require a health certificate or import permit. However, dogs under 8 months of age imported under the commercial category must be identified by an electronic microchip.
Also, Canada does not require a waiting period between the time the animal is vaccinated for rabies, and the time the animal is imported into Canada. The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) may refer to any animal presented at the border for secondary inspection by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).
Cats and dogs can be imported to Australia under strict conditions designed to manage biosecurity risks. You will not require a permit to import a cat or dog from New Zealand or Norfolk Island, however, some conditions still may apply.
If your country of export does not appear in the list of Group 1, 2, or 3 countries, you will need to prepare your pet using the non-approved country via Group 2 or 3 countries step-by-step guide.
Before pets can be imported to New Zealand, they need to meet health requirements. Requirements vary for each animal and depend on their country of origin. MPI sets import health standards for pets to prevent unwanted diseases, pests, and animals from entering New Zealand.
To successfully import your cat or dog to New Zealand you need to:
- check that your cat or dog is eligible for import into New Zealand
- cats and dogs must be cleared for entry into New Zealand (Australian cats or dogs only) or transferred to a quarantine facility (all other countries) from either Auckland or Christchurch airports.
- ensure your dog isn't a prohibited breed or type
- note the restrictions around hybrids
- use a pet exporter (recommended)
- book an MPI-approved quarantine facility (for all cats and dogs except from Australia)
- apply for a permit to import from MPI a minimum of 20 working days in advance of the date you require the permit (all cats and dogs except from Australia)
- check inspection times for biosecurity clearance for cats and dogs from Australia
- declare any medication your animal is taking
Dogs and cats imported into Japan must undergo import quarantine inspection. If dogs and cats meet import requirements upon arrival in Japan, the quarantine period will be within 12 hours. On the other hand, dogs and cats that do not meet the requirements will be subject to quarantine at a detention facility of Animal Quarantine Service for the necessary period (up to 180 days). Depending on the results of the inspection, the dog or cat cannot be allowed to enter Japan.
How to Obtain More Information?
You can obtain more information about your intended or current clearance procedures from the competent veterinary border inspection posts, from the animal health authorities responsible for your place of residence, or from your locally competent customs office. Please ask the competent veterinary authority for information about the relevant animal health regulations in a good time.