Thursday, 16 September 2010

Jet Set Pets

Moving abroad with your pet could be easier than you think...

Source: Ferdi

Once upon a time moving abroad, even for short periods, meant an agonising six month separation from your family pet. Fear of rabies meant that many countries enforced strict quarantine regulations for transnational pooches. For many families, particularly those with young children, these rules made a difficult transition even more unsettling. However, thanks to the introduction of ‘Pet Passports’ this is no longer the case. We came across a really interesting blog post with advice on having a dog in Dubai and thought that maybe lots of expats out there think about buying a cute kitten or an adorable puppy for their new home, or transport a much beloved pet from their old one, but are unsure how to proceed. Thankfully for expat animal lovers there is now a wealth of information and services available on the internet for wannabe jet set pets and their owners.

Before you rush to book the first plane ticket for you are your pet there are a number of things you should consider:

1) Pet passport- these can be quite complicated and expensive to obtain. For expats based in the EU, you can find out on the DEFRA website on things you should be aware of and the procedure for applying for these passports.

2) Local laws - always check local laws because rules vary from country to country. The majority of EU countries allow free movement of animals between EU member states but there are some exceptions. With the right documentation the UK does permit travel from some non-EU countries. Always check before what consequences this might have on taking your pet to other countries.

Local laws are also subject to change so always keep up to date with the latest travel information. For example until recently you could travel with as many dogs, cats or ferrets as you liked within the European Union but that number is now limited to five.

3) Micro chipping your pet is essential and the chip stores information on all the countries to which the pet has travelled.

4) Check what health and safety requirements are needed for your pet in order for them to relocate with you.

5) Vaccinations and blood test – You need to bear in the mind the necessary documentation needed detailing any vaccinations or blood tests your pet has had as these will be important for the authorities

6) Insure your pet- Just as you would buy travel insurance for yourself, make sure your pet is protected if anything goes wrong.

If all this sounds a bit too complicated and stressful, there is a plethora of companies out there that can ease the logistical nightmares of the internationally jet set pet. We've included a list of useful links below. PetAir for example, can take care of everything from booking the flight, to arranging your pooch’s paperwork. With so many companies out there, catering to all different markets, it is worth shopping around for the best fit for you and your pet.

Still feeling anxious?

If you’re still feeling anxious. There are a number of helpful websites and forums that offer advice to owners and pets. Pets and Travel has advice on every type of transport from cars, planes, boats and caravans. The website is also filled with useful case studies of other travellers’ experiences.

Useful websites

Pet travel agents

Pet travel advice

Pet Insurers


  1. good advice, i moved my two dogs to the US last year and it was a lot less stressful than i imagined

  2. I've moved my two labradors from the UK to Canada (Vancouver then Ottawa) and on to Sydney, Australia. I'd agree 100% with the advice and steps here - it really is easier and less stressful for your pets than you'd realise. Cheers, Russell (

  3. We just moved our two cats and a dog from Bahrain to the UK. It is straight forward to do and it's a great shame that more people don't take their pets with them when they repatriate, but I would caution that it's not an inexpensive process and you should plan to do this at least six months before you repatriate, otherwise you could come unstuck by the British requirement of six months proof of Rabies antibodies.

  4. For the expat who knows where they will be over the next 10-15 years (or pet lifespan) the above is great info.
    For those who DON'T know, it can be a minefield, limiting job options and ability to keep the pet.
    I moved to 3 countries with a cat and had to turn down four great jobs in countries that I couldn't bring my pet from should I leave.
    Think very carefully. Easy to start, hard to be stuck in the middle. JMHO as a very seasoned pet loving expat.

  5. My cat and I have lived on four different continents. I have found that the most difficult parts of traveling with a pet are the airline rules. If you are traveling from the US or Western Europe, the airlines will be more restrictive than the veterinary authorities in your countries of travel. You will get different information from ticketing agents than you will find on an airline's website, so it is important to request a written policy from all airlines involved. Furthermore, it doesn't matter what airline's website you book on; you need to comply with the rules of all airlines on which you will be flying. If you are taking your pet in-cabin, you will need to make a separate pet reservation for every leg of the flight operated by a different airline.

    Furthermore, you might be interrogated by an overzealous ticketing agent at the airport about much more than rabies shots. You may get questions about mad cow disease, and what brands of pet food you may have used. It would behoove you to check the USA's most recent pet food recall list (just Google "pet food recall" and look for the FDA website's list). Unfortunately, it is now very difficult to find a brand that is not on that list, so do your research and learn to lie. I have not run in to a state veterinary authority who is even aware of any prohibition along these lines, but they won't be flying you over.

    Oh, and don't even try this with anything but a cat or a dog. If you do, make sure you get everything in writing in the language the airline agents speak. My cat has been referred to as a dog more often than not, but it is best to be upfront. Restrictions on birds are much more severe, and many airlines will not transport rodents or lagomorphs.

    Good information on customs regulations is available on various websites, the best to and from the US being However, if you are traveling from one host country to the next, even if you are just transiting through, if you have to go through customs, you will likely need to know that country's regulations as well. Check every country on your itinerary!

    Good luck! I know I am not the only person who travels alone, and it does wonders for a person's life to bring along a furry friend!

  6. I moved with my dog from the States to West Africa. The hardest part? Getting the airline to agree on how much it would cost.

    Thanks for a great article!

  7. I was unaware of this fact. Thanks for this lovely post.


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