For many people, their pets are as much a part of the family as any other member. So when considering moving abroad, one of the first questions asked is ‘How can I make sure my pet relocates safely too?’ Focusing primarily on cats, dogs and ferrets, Tony Vullo, Business Development Manager at Crown Relocations, has put together some practical tips to help your entire family relocate together.
Before you leave
Before you set off on your new adventure, you need to ensure your pet matches the criteria of the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS). This will allow your animal to leave the UK and enter an EU based country or registered non-EU countries such as Australia, USA, New Zealand and Canada. You need to investigate whether your pet will be subject to a quarantine period when it arrives and whether you need to carry proof of their latest vaccinations with you.
Step 1 – Firstly your animal will need to have a microchip inserted, so that it can be properly identified at all times.
Step 2 – Your pet will need to be fully vaccinated against rabies. There has to be at least a 21 day wait after having the injection, before the animal is allowed to travel.
Step 3 – Relevant travel documents are a must. This is where you can apply for an EU Pet Passport or an official third country veterinary certificate. This is supplied by your vet.
Step 4 – Your animal has to travel on a PETS authorised route by a PETS approved carrier. It’s important that you choose a reputable company which is able to give your pet the most comfort during the flight.
It’s always worth speaking with your vet before you travel so you fully understand the rules and procedures and time frames and planning well in advance of relocating is essential if you want to take your pet with you.
Will my pet be quarantined?
The countries of the world have been divided into three classifications that relate to pets: rabies free countries, third countries (low incidence of rabies) and countries with high incidence of rabies. Third Countries include all the countries of the European Union (EU) except the United Kingdom which is rabies free. The United States, Canada, Mexico are also considered third countries.
Before your travel, it is important that you are aware of the classification of your country of origin and the rabies classification of the destination country.
Contact your destination country’s consulate or embassy for information about specific requirements that you must meet when travelling with pets as each country has its own rules for entry of animals and you will need to meet the requirements of the destination country. For example some countries require a specific health certificate or import permit and some countries require pets to undertake a period of quarantine on arrival to allow their health to be monitored.
During the flight
Your pet will be kept in the animal hold, an area of the plane which is pressurised and heated. Lighting is limited throughout the journey, to make sure the animals relax and sleep. Carriers are fitted with water containers and food is given to the pets during the flight, but they are not fed immediately in order to avoid soiling the container.
It would be worth giving your pet a familiar-smelling cushion or soft toy to help them settle. Let your pet get used to the carrying container and make sure they can move and stretch in it before travelling.
It is also worth noting that your pet won’t necessarily be able to travel on the same flight as you so check your arrangements before you travel.
Exotic pets and birds
For those pet owners who are traveling with a bird or an exotic pet, (i.e. not a cat, dog or ferret,) it is important to consider both the regulations of your airline and your destination country. You will need a compliant airline pet carrier, whether traveling in the cabin or as checked baggage or cargo. If you are traveling in the cabin, the carrier will have to fit under the seat in front of you, have adequate ventilation, have a waterproof bottom, and be secure. If your pet is traveling as checked baggage or in cargo, you will need a carrier which is in accordance to the rules of the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
Most airlines that accept small pets in the cabin will also accept domestic birds. Your pet rabbit probably won’t be accepted in the cabin of the aircraft but will be permitted to travel in a compliant pet crate as checked baggage. Airlines will not usually accept reptiles either in the cabin or as checked baggage. It may be possible to ship the reptile as air cargo provided it has the proper container, but each airline has different rules.
The important thing to remember is that each airline makes its own rules for the import of birds and exotic pets, and every country with the exception of the European Union (EU) countries, make their own rules regarding the various types of pets. The EU established one set of rules for all member countries except for the UK and Malta, which have more stringent requirements.
In your new home
It’s always worth researching in advance where the local vet practice is, just in case you need to visit. Your new home is going to feel very strange for all the family, so it’s best to keep your pet indoors or on a lead until they are familiar with the surroundings.
Coming back to the UK
If you travelled from the UK on the Pet Travel Scheme you can return on this, although another vaccination against rabies is needed. In addition, dogs must be examined by a vet for tapeworm, which must be carried out between 24 and 120 hours (1-5 days) before re-entering the UK.
For more information about setting up life overseas, head to www.moveoverseas.co.uk/mymove for top-tips, advice and guidance.