I am hoping to move overseas in the next year but I have not yet settled on my preferred destination. I want to bring my two pet dogs Lola and Ellie with me. I am open to any country as I can work from home but a good climate would be nice.
I have heard stories about the process and red tape involved in bringing a pet to a new country so this is a big factor. Please advise me on which countries I should be looking at and any tips that you may have to make the move go smoother?
Jessica Ramesch – IL Panama Editor
Though I think dogs and cats are not too difficult to bring to any of the countries featuring in International Living, I can tell you about Panama. There is quite a bit of paperwork involved when moving an animal from one country to another, as authorities will want to verify the pet’s health, but as long as you do the paperwork things will go smoothly when you travel.
The Panamanian government generally makes it easy for travelers to bring dogs and cats into the country. The easiest way to arrange for this is to contact a Panamanian relocation service or attorney.
If you prefer to handle things yourself, just keep in mind that requirements are subject to change and that you should always double-check with the nearest Panamanian consulate or embassy prior to travel with a pet.
For U.S. to Panama pet transfers, required documentation generally includes an international health certificate, stamped by the USDA State office and then sent or taken to a Panamanian embassy/consulate or Apostille. If you have no authenticated certificate, the pet will be held at the airport in quarantine for up to 40 days, but if you prepare and have your paperwork then your pet can leave the airport with you (you’ll be asked to keep your pet on “in house” quarantine on the honor system).
If you are traveling by air, contact the airline you will be flying with and obtain information about pet transportation. Each airline has its own requirements and guidelines. If your pet is small enough for a pet carrier that fits under your seat, it may be allowed to travel in the cabin with you. Larger pets must travel in the cargo hold. Many airlines have a pet travel embargo from Memorial Day to Labor Day because of the threat of overheating.
On the day of travel, airlines will usually let you wait to kennel your pet until just before you go through the security checkpoints. In the carrier with your pet, include a plastic bowl of ice so your pet can stay hydrated (ice is better than water, which tends to spill). Most veterinarians do not recommend that pets be given any kind of drugs before flying unless the pet has a condition that requires medication. Talk to your vet prior to travel, and if you are coming a long way, consider breaking the trip into two days.
Note that bringing in animals other than dogs or cats is not routine and may require a great deal of added paperwork (especially for birds).
Regarding your other concerns, Panama has excellent internet coverage (you mentioned that you work from home) and different regions offer slight variations on the tropical climate.
Hope this helps.
IL Panama Editor Jessica Ramesch
Suzan Haskins – Ecuador Correspondent
I don’t really know of any country where you can’t easily take your pet (besides some in Europe, such as the UK, that require quarantines).
But if you’re considering anywhere in Latin America, you’ll really have no problems.
I assume you are moving from the U.S. If so, you’ll just need an international health certificate certified by your State Dept. of Health 10 days before you leave. And you’ll need to call the airline and make a reservation for your pets to travel. Be aware that there is typically a moratorium on large pets traveling in the cargo hold from late May-early September when temperatures in the States are normally too hot to allow safe travel in the cargo hold.
Jason Holland – Roving Latin America Correspondent
I can chime in about Costa Rica, where I’m based. I brought my two dogs into the country. It was an easy process. There is no quarantine here, no inspections, or anything like that. If you bring your pet on the plane with the luggage you pick them up at baggage claim no problem.
There is paperwork to present to customs officials as my colleagues have mentioned. You can find information on requirements for Costa Rica here: https://internationalliving.com/how-to-travel-with-pets-to-costa-rica/ and here: https://cr.usembassy.gov/embassy/sanjose/sections-offices/animal-and-plant-health-inspection-service/want-bring-dogcat-costa-rica/.
By the way, some smaller dogs that can fit under the seat can be brought in the cabin.
Some things to keep in mind:
1. Some airlines, especially budget airlines, don’t allow pets at all. Check before you book your ticket.
2. Some times of year you’ll have trouble flying as most airlines won’t take pets if there is anywhere on your itinerary where the temps go above 85 (each airline has its own rule). If you connect through Miami in summer, for example, you might have problems.
3. Some breeds of pet, like pugs and boxers, might have difficulty breathing at altitude so they are restricted or need special permission to fly. Check with your airline.
4. If all else fails, you can hire a special charter service that brings pets into Costa Rica and other countries.
Ann Kuffner – Belize Correspondent
It’s fairly straightforward to move a pet dog or cat to Belize. They won’t have to undergo a quarantine when they enter Belize. But to bring a pet in, a veterinarian in the country of origin must fill out and sign a health certificate, such as the APHIS 7001 International Health Certificate from the United States Department of Agriculture, stating that your pet is in good health. This must be done not more than 48 hours before your departure. A rabies vaccination is also required, and it must be administered between 30 days and six months before departure. You will also need a valid import permit from the Belize Agricultural Health Authority.
When you transport a pet to Belize, it’s a good idea to get advice from knowledgeable veterinarian in the country—one who has helped several other expats bring in pets. Also speak with the Belize Agricultural Health Authority (website: http://www.baha.org.bz/) to make sure the paperwork is in order before you travel to Belize. The Belizean Embassy in Washington may also be able to help you with information about required documentation. Some local moving companies can walk you through the process.
Keep in mind that Belize has no government quarantine facilities, so you must pick up your pet or make arrangements for someone else to do so. Otherwise, authorities will send back the animal.
The bigger problem I ran into when I moved my 13 year old dog to Belize many years ago was the restrictions of the airlines. Our dog was a bit too large to bring into the cabin, so we had to have her travel in the luggage hold, in the area for pets. The airlines can be quite strict about when they allow pets to fly, based on the weather and outdoor temperatures. So be sure to check each airline’s pet policies closely. Since you have two dogs, you won’t be able to bring both into the cabin, I assume.
Gigi Griffis – Europe Correspondent
Gigi Griffis – Central Europe Correspondent – here.
I actually travel the world with my small dog, and I’m happy to say that it’s a much easier process than I ever anticipated, especially here in Europe.
For health pets coming from the US into most European countries, including IL favorites France, Spain, and Italy, it’s a simple matter of making sure your dogs have the international microchip (a simple out-patient procedure at the vet, which will be required to travel anywhere with your pets), are up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations, and are well enough to travel.
Once you have those things, within five days of travel, USDA-approved vet (you can find a list of approved vets in your area through the USDA itself: http://www.aphis.usda.gov/) will need to fill out some paperwork confirming your pets’ microchips, rabies vaccines, and any other requirements for the specific country you’re traveling to, then you’l take the paperwork from the vet to your local USDA office and they will give it the official stamp and you’re all set to travel!
In Europe, once you arrive in your new home country, you can get what’s called a Pet Passport, which contains all your pets’ vaccination information, microchip details, etc. and allows you to travel across most borders within Europe, so once you are in Europe it’s even easier to travel with your pets.
Once you have your paperwork, the other important thing to consider is the actual travel. If your dogs are small, they may be able to travel in the airline cabin with you to Europe. The rules vary by airline, so you should check into each airline’s policies, but generally they allow one pet per person (so if you want to bring both dogs, you may need to travel with a partner or friend) and up to 15 or 20 lbs weight per pet + carrier. The dogs will need to be in airline approved carriers that fit under the seat in front of you.
If your dogs are over 20 lbs, they will not be able to travel in cabin, so if you are traveling by air they will need to fly as baggage or cargo. There are very specific requirements for this and they vary by airline, so you’ll need to check into them based on who you are flying with.
Finally, if you have big dogs but cannot imagine putting them in cargo, there are a few lesser-known options available, including the Queen Mary cruise liner, which allows you to cruise from the US to the UK with your pets on board. Once in the UK, you could rent a car or take trains and ferries into mainland Europe.
Finally, I’d like to note that the UK no longer requires a quarantine (someone mentioned it above, and it used to have one – but that’s old information). So if you want to pass through or move to the UK, it’s now possible thanks to the PETS Scheme (whose requirements are available at https://www.gov.uk/take-pet-abroad/overview.
Hope that’s useful!
Happy travels from me and my own traveling pooch,
Amanda Walkins – Honduras Correspondent
As Suzan mentioned, it’s quite easy to bring a dog or cat to Latin America, including to the island of Honduras. She also mentioned flight embargoes during the summer months – be sure to confirm with your airline prior to booking to be sure they allow pets to travel in cargo at the time you’d like to go.
For Roatan, you simply need proof of a rabies vaccination as well as a health certificate from your vet back home, signed within 10 days of travel. The documentation is confirmed upon arrival in Roatan, and there is a one-time fee of about $25 for processing the paperwork. It’s really quite simple – I’ve done it myself several times!
If you live in the U.S., traveling back from Roatan with your dog or cat has the same exact requirements, so the vet on-island can complete your health certificate requirements within 10 days of travel.
Hope that helps!
Steven Lepoidevin – Thailand Correspondent
Steve here – IL’s Thailand correspondent.
As with many countries, bringing a pet to Thailand is not that big a problem other then all the paperwork that must be satisfied. Generally speaking, this is just to ensure that the pet is actually owned by the person and that it is healthy and free from any signs of infectious and contagious diseases.It is certainly wise to check with the embassy to find out the latest documentation since rules change frequently.
Although there is supposedly a 30-quarantine on arrival, apparently they generally do not quarantine incoming animals if all the required documentation and vaccinations are satisfied.
When it comes to the logistics of traveling with your pet, I recently read that IPATA should be one of your first online research stops. They are the International Pet and Animal Transportation Association. This is a link to their list of suppliers and goods for pet travel, http://www.ipata.org/suppliers#port%20handlers/facility. Their site has many resources including a page called Find A Pet Shipper, http://www.ipata.org/find-a-pet-shipper. The page offers links to several areas that will help you in your research.
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