Our pets go through many stages of life with us, from childhood to graduation to marriage to having children. Sometimes this includes moving homes, and maybe even moving out of the country! Travelling and immigrating with pets can seem intimidating but with the right information it is definitely possible. Pets are our family so remember to take them into consideration if you’re thinking about moving abroad! Here are 4 main points to keep in mind when travelling internationally and immigrating with your dog.
Disclaimer: The information provided here is for reference only. Please contact the relevant agencies or consult a pet relocation company to obtain specific immigration requirements for your pet.
1. Travelling with Dogs
If you are flying with your dog, they can either travel in the cabin, as excess baggage, or as manifest cargo. Each airline and destination country will have different rules and regulations regarding how pets can travel or enter the country, so please check before you plan your move!
Dogs that travel in the cabin must be able to fit under the airline seat in their travel crate, therefore this is limited to small dogs only. They must remain in their crate during the flight.
Dogs travelling as excess baggage must be on the same flight as their human traveller, and are checked-in to the flight at the same location as check-in luggage. Animals are always flown in temperature-controlled, pressurised cabins, however pets travelling as excess baggage may be exposed to outside temperatures during loading and unloading, therefore regulations regarding temperature, dog size and dog breed are typically more strict than manifest cargo. You may also be responsible for picking up your pet and checking them in again if you have a layover or switch to a different airline.
Dogs travelling as manifest cargo can be tracked using an air waybill number so you can know where they are at all times. They do not need to be on the same flight as their humans, giving pawrents the flexibility to settle in their new home before picking up their furry friend. Dogs in manifest cargo are transported in climate-controlled vehicles to and from the airplane, and loaded onto the plane last and unloaded first, minimising their exposure to outside temperatures. The cost for manifest cargo is higher than excess baggage, however manifest cargo staff are trained to handle live animals, making the journey safer! Some countries require all pets entering the country to travel as manifest cargo.
Many airlines will not accept flat-faced dog breeds such as Pugs, French Bulldogs, Shih Tzu, and Pekingese, due to higher health risks during the flight. If they are accepted, there may be extra requirements such as purchasing a larger crate to improve airflow. If you plan to fly with a flat-faced dog, make sure you know what your airline’s requirements are!
Another thing to consider is the time of year. Some airlines will not accept pet travellers in the peak summer months to reduce the risk of heat stroke, or during mid-winter in cold climates to avoid exposure to freezing temperatures.
2. Pre-Departure Preparations
- Before departing, make sure you have the correct documents prepared. As a general rule, all dogs must:
- Be microchipped with a 15-digit ISO 11784/11785 microchip
- Be vaccinated against rabies
- Be up to date on basic vaccinations
- Obtain a health certificate endorsed by the government 5-10 days before departure
- Receive internal and external parasite treatment 7-14 days before departure
Some destination countries will require additional items such as import permits, Rabies Antibody Titer Test (RNNAT), dog license, or a booking at a quarantine facility. Check the specified timeline as some of these requirements cannot be completed too early nor too late prior to departure.
3. Destination Country Regulations
Different countries have different regulations for incoming dogs. For example North America, UK, and Europe do not require dogs to quarantine on arrival, but dogs moving to Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and Taiwan will have to quarantine for a certain time period before being allowed to go home. As mentioned above, dogs entering the UK or Australia must also travel as manifest cargo.
Australia has strict regulations for pets entering the country, and requires negative tests for multiple diseases including tick fever (Ehrlichia canis). Dogs who have ever contracted tick fever in their lifetime may test positive for Ehrlichia canis even after they have recovered, therefore if you plan to move to Australia, make sure you stay up to date with your furry friend’s flea and tick prevention!
Dogs moving to Europe will need to apply for an EU pet passport, which includes their description and details such as microchip number, rabies vaccination record and contact details of the pawrent as well as the vet who issues the passport. In Germany you will need to register for a dog license and pay an annual “dog tax”.
Check to see whether certain breeds are restricted in your country as well!
4. Preparing for Travel
Depending on which country you are moving to, your dog may have to spend an extended period of time in their crate during travel. It is best to begin crate training well in advance so that your dog gets used to staying inside their crate. Whiskers N Paws offers airline approved travel crates in 6 different sizes, helping you find the perfect one for your pet. Remember to confirm any crate requirements with your airline. Learn more about choosing the right crate here!
Always keep the crate a positive place for your dog and never use it as punishment. Provide a long lasting chew or your dog’s favourite treat for them to enjoy inside the crate. Keep the door open in the beginning to allow your dog to move in and out freely, before slowly closing the door for short periods of time.
Travelling and immigrating with your dog may require extra planning, but it is possible! Before adopting a pet, remember that it is a lifetime commitment which means if you are planning on leaving the country you need to plan to bring them with you as well! If you are unsure about what you need in order to bring your dog to a different country, a pet relocation company can help.
Dogs are family, and family means nobody gets left behind.