Taking your pet abroad


Taking your pet abroad: Many people want to bring their pet with them on their travels and while that is entirely possible, it does require some planning and preparation. Entry may be refused if the animal is not in good health or the proper steps have not been completed. Quarantine may be required at the owner’s expense. Some countries, especially island nations, may not allow import.

Common Procedure

Microchip – to verify pets identity. All microchips conforming to the ISO standards are easily readable.

Vaccination – Vaccinations range from country to country, but in general every pet older than 3 months must be vaccinated against rabies. The vaccination must be administered at least 21 days before arrival. However the vaccination cannot be older than 12 months from the date of arrival. Dogs may also get full shots for Distemper, Hepatitis, Leptospirosis, Parvo, and DHLPP. Cats may also be vaccinated against Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calcivirus, and Panleukopenia.

Certificate of good health – Issued by a vet after an exam. You will need to get an official form from the consulate or embassy of the country you are moving to. It is often available on-line from the customs website.


Some airlines allow pets to travel in an airplane’s cabin, provided their cage is small enough to fit under your seat. Small birds may also be able to travel in the cabin, but tropical birds such as parrots are usually not allowed.

If your pet’s cage does not fit under your seat, you will have to ship it as checked baggage. Since the outside air temperature also affects the temperature in the cargo bay, airlines may restrict the transportation of pets during certain times of the year. Airlines have special requirements for containers in the cabin and cargo bay. Make sure you get detailed information from your preferred airlines before purchasing a cage or kennel.

Before leaving, acquaint your animal with the kennel or container. Add some familiar toys or some of your clothing items, so your pet has a sense of familiarity during the transport. Sedation of your pet during the trip is generally not recommended and should only be used as a last resort.

A few pet-friendly airlines include: Virgin Atlantic, JetBlue, AirTran, and Frontier Airlines.

There are also pet relocation service that figure out all the details of the move. These services tend to be quite expensive, but take away the stress of doing it yourself.

Country’s Requirements


Quarantine is mandatory for all animals entering Australia. There is only one post entry quarantine facility for dogs and cats, located in Melbourne. Post entry quarantine for dogs and cats is for 10 days. You must apply at least five months prior to departure with the AQIS office. Upon approval, an import permit will be granted.


Pet cats and dogs can be imported into Canada for any period of time without quarantine from any country; however, there are different requirements for cats entering from either rabies-free countries or from those countries that Canada does not consider to be free of rabies.

Pet cats and dogs must be accompanied by a valid rabies vaccination certificate. Canadian Customs does not require you to have a health certificate for your pet, but if the animal is traveling to Canada by air, the commercial airline may require a health certificate.

Ontario Canada has a ban on the import of Pit Bulls.

European Union (EU) Member States (except for Ireland, Sweden and the United Kingdom)

Pet dogs, cats, and ferrets traveling from the US to member states of the EU other than Ireland, Sweden and the UK are required to have a Veterinary Certificate. This certificate must be accompanied by supporting documentation, originals or certified copies, of the vaccination record and, for dogs and cats, the blood test result, both bearing the animal’s microchip number. Blood tests are not required for pets from the USA.

Hong Kong

Quarantine for pets varies from 0-6 months subject to their history and vaccination records. It is much easier to import from a Category I or Category II country. Animals from a Category III country must go through quarantine at the owner’s expense. For importing your pets to Hong Kong, you need to obtain in advance a special import permit from the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department.

It usually takes 5 working days to process the application from the date of receipt of permit fee to the date of issue, subject to provision of all required information. Overseas applicants may nominate a person or agent in Hong Kong to apply for the permit on their behalf to minimize inconvenience and to expedite urgent applications.


Domestic pets like dog, cat, birds, etc. can be brought in, but it is strictly governed. Health certificates must be obtained from a veterinary officer authorized to issue a valid certificate. Dogs must be free from Aujossky’s disease, Distemper, Rabies, Leishmaoiasis and Leptospirosis and cats cannot have Rabies or Distemper.


On arrival in Japan, dogs and cats must undergo import quarantine for a set period to screen out rabies (and in the case of dogs, rabies and leptospirosis). When trying to import dogs or cats, you must submit advance notification of the planned date of arrival, number of animals and other items to the Animal Quarantine Service which has jurisdiction over your intended port of arrival at least 40 days prior to arrival in Japan.


US visitors to Mexico may bring a dog or cat by presenting the following certificates at the border: a pet health certificate signed by a registered veterinarian in the United States and issued not more than 72 hours before the animal enters Mexico; and a pet vaccination certificate showing that the animal has been treated for rabies, distemper, hepatitis and leptospirosis.

Certification by Mexican consular authorities is not required for the health or vaccination certificate. A permit fee is charged at the time of entry into Mexico.

New Zealand

Live animals may not enter New Zealand without meeting specific conditions. A Permit to Import may be required and animals may have to undergo Post Entry Quarantine at a MAF approved facility. If your animal does need to be quarantined you must, before applying for a Permit to Import, contact a quarantine facility in New Zealand to reserve a space for your animal(s). When you book a space the quarantine facility will send you a letter of confirmation, and this must be included with your permit application.


To import your pets you must first obtain an import permit from the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) within 30 days prior to the date of arrival.

South Africa

All dogs, cats, reptiles, primates imported into South Africa need to have been implanted with a microchip.

  • The following documents are required:
  • The original veterinary import permit issued by the Directorate of Animal Health in South Africa. Application to Import Pets to South Africa
  • A valid rabies certificate obtained at least 30 days prior to your departure. This certificate should not have been obtained more than 12 months or less than 30 days prior to exporting. The vaccine used must be a strain of anti-rabies conforming to a potency standard recognized by the World Health Organization.


A veterinary rabies vaccination certificate is compulsory, stating that the vaccination took place at least 30 days and no longer than one year before crossing the border. The 30-day waiting period need not be observed if there is proof of revaccination.

United Kingdom (UK)

The Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) is the system that allows pet dogs, cats and ferrets from certain countries to enter the UK without quarantine. It also means that people in the UK can take their dogs, cats and ferrets to other European Union (EU) countries, and return with them to the UK. They can also, having taken their dogs, cats and ferrets to certain non-EU countries, bring them back to the UK without the need for quarantine. The rules are to keep the UK free from rabies and certain other diseases.

Pets entering the United Kingdom from any country that does not fall under PETS are required to spend six months in quarantine in the United Kingdom.

United States (including US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico but not Hawaii)

CDC regulations govern the importation of animals and animal products capable of causing human disease. Pets taken out of the United States are subject upon return, to the same regulations as those entering for the first time.

The CDC does not require general certificates of health for pets for entry into the United States. However, health certificates may be required for entry into some states, or may be required by airlines for pets. You should check with officials in your state of destination and with your airline prior to your travel date.

Dogs must have a certificate showing they have been vaccinated against rabies at least 30 days prior to entry into the United States. These requirements apply equally to service animals such as Seeing Eye dogs.

Cats are not required to have proof of rabies vaccination for importation into the United States. However, some states require vaccination of cats for rabies.

United States – Hawaii

Dogs and cats meeting specific pre and post arrival requirements may qualify for 5-Days–Or-Less quarantine or direct release at Honolulu International Airport after inspection. Dogs and cats not meeting all of the specific 5-Day-Or-Less program requirements must be quarantined for up to 120 days upon arrival In Hawaii.



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