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Relocating Internationally with Pets: A Clear Step-by-Step Guide

Have a four-legged member of your family? There is no reason that they can’t be part of your new life abroad! While Pet Relocation is a challenge, you can make it a smooth transition if you plan ahead. 

For all of the crucial details that you need, as well as some insider tips to make it all easy, here is your step-by-step guide to relocating internationally with pets

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Relocating Internationally with Pets

Moving a furry member of the family can easily be overlooked or at best, with so many other issues to deal with, can slip down the list of priorities. In fact, moving your pet should be a primary consideration; This is because in many cases, long term planning might be required. 

Areas such as health records, vaccinations, chipping your pet, booking the airline space, and possibly quarantine of your pet might need to be addressed and initiated well in advance of organising moving your furniture and belongings

So let’s take a look at what is involved in relocating internationally with your pet.

Check on Entry Requirements

Before you consider moving internationally with pets, it is essential to do extensive research. International pet travel can be far more complicated than you might realise. In fact, it may actually be more complicated to arrange those pet travel documents than your own. Successfully moving abroad with a pet means knowing exactly what the government requires as well as what your chosen airline or other travel company will ask for. 

As you familiarise yourself with the rules, you will quickly see that moving overseas with a dog is different from travelling abroad with a cat (or parrot or any other type of animal). Before you even book your tickets, it is key to know exactly what the requirements may be.

The last thing that you want is to get to the airport and be refused entry onto the plane. Organising pet travel can take weeks and even months so it is not something that you can expect to quickly take care of. If you arrive at the airport without all of your animal travel documents in place, you will be looking at the choice of leaving your pet behind or delaying your trip for an extended, and possibly unknown period of time.

To ensure that the big move day goes as smoothly as possible. Keep reading right here for a look at the steps that you are going to need to take to prepare to move internationally with a pet. Once you know all of the rules and requirements, you can fly through the process with as few hassles as possible.

Moving internationally with a pet

Check with Local Government for International Pet Travel Requirement

The very first step is to check with the government of your destination. One common misconception is that every country requires you to quarantine your pet on arrival. Fortunately, this is simply not the case anymore. In fact, you will find that the majority of countries in Europe, North America, South America, Africa, and Asia do not actually require any quarantine time for foreign pets

If you have the right animal travel documents, you can essentially just walk through the airport without a delay. Be careful to extensively review the documents of your arrival country as well as any country that you may have to pass through during your journey.

What Countries Require Pet Quarantine?

While you can often avoid pet quarantine by having your animal travel documents in order, there are a few counties that absolutely require quarantine. This is especially common when you are arriving at an island that is rabies-free.

If you have the right animal travel documents, you can essentially just walk through the airport without a delay. Be careful to extensively review the documents of your arrival country as well as any country that you may have to pass through during your journey.

At present, the following countries have quarantine requirements: Australia, Fiji, Guam, Hawaii, Hong Kong, Iceland, Japan, Malaysia, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Singapore, and Taiwan.

Do note, however, that these requirements can change at any time. It is also essential to realise that many countries don’t have universal restrictions, but, instead, have pet entry requirements that depend on your country of origin. Be careful to note all layovers when preparing your documents with the government as well as your airline.

Dealing with Authorities

Contacting the Right Government Officials for Pet Travel

We often get questions like: can I take my cat if I move abroad? What are the international dog travel requirements? Whatever the question may be, the answer will always be the same. You absolutely must get confirmation from the local government. An international moving company can guide you in the right direction, but it is imperative to have official confirmation

Before you start planning an international move with a pet, contact the government. For the United States, you will need to check with USDA APHIS. The European Committee oversees the movement of pets into the European Union. Meanwhile, the Australian government, the Canadian government, the United Kingdom government, and the central government of any country, will control the entry of animals into their border.

Keep the details on your phone along with a printed copy in the local language so that you can show any customs officials, airline staff, or airport staff who have questions about your transfer. You never know when you might run into a worker who has never dealt with pets before or isn’t familiar with the latest policies. Rather than debating with them or waiting for them to call a supervisor for clarification, simply show them the official policy and you’ll be able to move on, hopefully, without question or delay.

Moving internationally with a pet

Check with Airline on Pet Travel Restrictions

How can I take my dog on an international flight? Well, the answer depends not just on your origin and destination but also on the size and breed of your dog. Certain airlines may allow you to bring your dog into the cabin in a carrying case if it is a smaller breed. This is commonly true with cats as well. Check with your airline to see what the options are. When you talk to them, get as many details as possible. 

Keep in mind that different airlines have different requirements for pet travel documents as well as for pet travel carriers and other details. It is again essential to be detailed in your planning and keep a copy on hand of the specifics. 

Another key factor is to look at the time of year that you are moving. In many countries around the globe, there are airlines that don’t allow travel during the hottest or coldest months.

That means that relocating internationally with pets can be a completely different experience in March than it would be in February. Make sure to ask about these restrictions and for specifics of the conditions so you can consider your pet’s comfort and safety.

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In Transit

How Do I Move My Dog Internationally: The Transit Alternatives

When you are relocating internationally with pets, bear in mind that airlines are not your only options. There are some incredible pet travel companies who make moving internationally with pets easy. Using a reputable company that knows exactly what needs to be done can save you a lot of time and frustration. Whether that means sending your pet abroad with an international pet transport service or just hiring help getting all of your documents in order, there are some great options out there. 

If you would like to have your pet at your side during the entire move, look into the full range of travel options. When it comes to international pet travel, it is important to realise that airlines are the most restrictive option. Travelling by train or ship often means paying just a small surcharge and walking onboard. While it may be a slower option, these options can take many of the issues out of moving abroad with a pet.

Relocating Internationally with Pets: Understanding Restrictions at Your Destination

Before you go, it is important to start looking into the local culture. Moving abroad with pets could mean that you are going to face certain challenges you might not expect. This is especially true if you are moving to a country where pets are less common.

Argentina, Mexico, Brazil, Russia and the USA have the planet’s highest rates of pet ownership with the majority of locals owning parts. Meanwhile, countries like South Korea, Hong Kong, and Japan have far lower rates of pet ownership. In Argentina, for example, you will find that more than 80 per cent of the population has a pet (most commonly cats or dogs) while only 30 per cent of the population have pets in South Korean.

When moving abroad with a pet it is important to know how cat and dog-friendly the place will be. Beyond pet ownership rates, also look at how pets are treated in general. If you are moving overseas with a dog this is especially important. While many countries see cats as pets that spend time both indoors and outside, some countries view dogs as outdoor-only pets.

Moving internationally with a pet

If you are looking to move to a city with a dog, it is important to know how easy it will be to find accommodation that is pet-friendly. If the locals consider dogs to be animals that remain outdoors, it could be difficult to find a flat that accepts indoor animals as it may be seen as unhygienic as bringing a chicken or pig indoors.

The best way to see if pets are widely accepted by landlords is to start searching. Look for websites that allow you to filter by pet-friendly accommodation. Talk with property owners to see if they allow pets. As you are planning, also keep in mind that short-term accommodation can often be less welcoming than long-term options. Generally speaking, you will find that furnished places are less welcoming of pets as there is more potential for damage than with unfurnished accommodation. Do your research carefully and ensure that you know what you’re going to have to contend with within moving abroad with a pet.

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Putting Your Pet First

Considering Every Option: Question to Ask Before Moving Internationally with Pets

While moving abroad with a pet may seem like an obvious choice if you need to be away from home, it is not a decision to take lightly. If you love your pet, that does not mean that he or she should be by your side every single day, no matter what. The question for dedicated loving pet owners to ask is: will your pet be the happiest moving with you? It can certainly be a tough question to consider because it is important to be honest with yourself and fair to your pet.

Think about the entire travelling process and consider accommodation options available on arrival. Be realistic about your plans and the best options for that pet. Consider the health of your pets as well as his or her age. Be aware that if you have certain breeds of pets, they will have to travel in the cargo hold and this can indeed be dangerous.

Animals have died in such situations and you need to be fully informed of the risks. If you have a young and healthy animal, bringing a pet on an aeroplane can be easy and safe. Just be sure to carefully consider all of the options and take the time to debate what makes the most sense for you and the wellbeing of your pet. 

When you are thinking about moving abroad with a pet, keep an open mind. You might decide that moving overseas with a dog makes sense but that doesn’t necessarily mean that your pet needs to leave with you. Ask yourself if it would make the most sense for your beloved pet to stay with friends or family temporarily

While it certainly can be a challenge to find a hotel or short-term let that allows pets, you might have an easy time when you are settled into your permanent home. Look at all of the options and see if it might be best for your pet to join you after a week, month, or year.

Moving internationally with a pet

Create a Timeline for Your Pet’s Travel

Whether you are moving abroad with pets in tow or you are going to move your pet over later, it is crucial to have a timeline. As you are planning with the airline and local government (see above), it is key to ask about the timeline. Not only are there vaccination requirements but there are also timelines that need to be closely followed. From the 180-day waiting period for a blood test to a fit-for-travel examination that must take place less than a week before departure, it is crucial to triple checked requirements. 

Don’t be shy about confirming the timeline across the board with the airline and the local agreement. There is a lot of misinformation out there and regulations change. spend the time to carefully confirm all of the details with an official source.

Pet Carriers

Prepare Your Pet for Travel

On top of preparing your pet travel documents, it is key to think about your pet’s comfort. Moving abroad can be an extremely stressful time for your pet. This is especially true if he or she isn’t used to leaving the house in the travel pet carrier for anything other than trips to the vet. 

As far in advance before you move abroad as possible, start getting your dog or cat comfortable in the pet carrier. Again, try to get those airline requirements for the carrier as soon as possible so you can buy the correct carriers. Keep in mind that your pet will be in there longer than you might realise. Even just a two-hour flight can mean an hour of travel to the airport, two hours in the airport, and another hour to get your definition. That means six hours and likely even longer. For that reason, the airlines tend to require that your pet carrier is larger than you might use for the average 30 min trip.

Generally, speaking you will need something that your pet can comfortably stand up and turn around in. They will typically have size requirements but keep in mind that it is not uncommon for airline staff to stop to actually look at your pet to ensure there is enough room.

If your pet is highly stressed and doesn’t seem to be getting more comfortable with travel, talk to your vet about options. In certain situations for some breeds, a mild sedative is the best option. You should avoid anything that completely knocks your pet out (and airlines typically won’t allow that) but rather opt for something that just slightly relaxes the animal

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