Thinking of Taking Your Pets Abroad? Here is What You Should Keep in Mind


Vineet Arora was astounded when he discovered that he would have to spend about half of his savings to take his pet dog along when he moved from India to Australia. But he didn’t hesitate much when his bank balance got lighter by $14,000. He, after all, had his Rottweiler right by his side when he landed in the island country in 2015.

Arora is, of course, not the only pet-owner who has done everything short of moving mountains to relocate to another country with their furry friends. And agencies like Airpets make the process easier for them. “People are willing to pay a large amount and sacrifice a lot of time, power and energy to take their pets abroad and Vineet was one of them,” said Varun from Airpets, a UK-based agency that deals with relocating pets worldwide.

Challenges Galore

No pet owner, of course, even thinks of leaving the animals behind when it’s time to move across countries. However, government procedures and quarantine rules make it so difficult for them that many owners start having second thoughts.

Nadine Templer faced a tough time to decide whether to leave her family dog behind or take it along when her husband got transferred to Dubai. Templer, 56, belongs to France and is married to an American. The couple, who had been living in India for almost 20 years, were torn with the thought of having to leave behind or give away their 10-year-old dog named Jade, which was extremely close to their daughter. “Moving from India was already a nightmare but taking Jade with us was quite a task,” Nadine said. “We did it for the sake of the kids and although the American Embassy did almost everything for us, there was still a lot of paperwork, vaccinations and other procedures that we had to go through.”

And just when you think that the struggle is over, with all the paperwork and vaccinations in place, you realise that there is yet another hurdle to be cleared — the airline rules.

 Taking Pets by Air

Natasha Singh with Kiki, her German Shephard

Natasha Singh shudders when she recalls the experience she had with the airlines while she was bringing her dog from Cambodia to India. “My dog, Kiki, is like a child to me, and it was extremely important to for me relocate with my dog. How can you leave a child behind?,” she says, adding that the option of leaving the pet behind is more traumatic than putting it through the air cargo journey. “The pet must be prepared for the travel as it can be a traumatic experience for them, especially if it’s their first travel,” she says. “The process is a little expensive but it’s worth every penny to have your four-legged child with you on the other side of the borders.”

The challenges that Singh, who owns an Indian restaurant in Cambodia, faced were mainly with the airlines. “The staff was very inconsiderate and wouldn’t give a damn about the animals. But I am thankful at the way it turned out for us, as I heard that two dogs had died on the flight a week prior to my journey.”

Varun from Airpets points out that although it is a lengthy procedure, it is not something that cannot be done. The owners just need to make sure that the pets are vaccinated, and they have the vaccination book that is an important document for pets to travel. “Every country has its own set of rules and regulations for an animal to enter it and the cost also differs from one nation to another,” he says.

Dilemmas that Pet-owners Face

While it’s natural for pet-owners to want to relocate with their animals at any cost, there are some who adopt rescued pets and are willing to pay for their relocation from India to the country that they stay in.

Vandana Anchalia, who runs an NGO called Kannan Animal Welfare that rescues animals and re-shelters them, reveals that they often get requests from people who want to adopt the animals and are ready to pay the cost of flying it to their country. However, she also says that they come across many dogs and cats who are left behind when the owners relocate and are not able to deal with the complicated procedures. “Every day, 3-4 people approach us to shelter their dogs or cats because they are moving abroad,” she says. “It is sad, because you just need patience as the process is not impossible. It is definitely worth the trouble rather than leaving behind your pet.”

Archit and his wife with Ammo, their Boxer

There are, on the other hand, people like Archit, a businessman from Noida in Uttar Pradesh, who decided to change his choice of destination just for the sake of his pet. “I and my wife have been looking to move abroad for about two years and our first choice was Australia,” he says. “But since we got to know that the procedure is long and involves a lot of money, we instead decided to move with Ammo, our 3-year-old boxer, to Canada.”

Tough Rules in Countries

Countries have different procedures and rules for a pet to enter their borders. Some of the toughest countries to get your dog/cat/other pets are:

  1. Australia: The most expensive and complicated procedures have been put in place by the Australian government and the immigration services. Taking your petalong to Australia involves tiring and long procedures, and also costs a lot of money. If you are from a third world or a ‘non-rabies free’ country, it could take you about six months to a year to bring your pet along.
  2. New Zealand: The petmust either have been born or raised or lived in countries that New Zealand considers rabies-free for a minimum of six months to enter the country.
  3. Hong- Kong: Birdsmust have an import permit and health certificate to enter Hong Kong. Birds are not permitted to enter Hong Kong from the US, Vietnam, the Netherlands, Korea, Indonesia, South Africa, Ivory Coast or India.

In some European countries, money may not be the issue but the process is time-consuming. To take your dog or a cat to a European country, you first need to get a Titter test, after which there’s a waiting period of three months. You can only take the pet as cargo.

Things to Keep in Mind
  1. Get your petvaccinated from a vet.
  2. Ensure that the veterinary doctor provides you with a Vaccination card, which is a mandatory document for your petto travel.
  3. After getting the vaccination certificate, you need to get an Animal Health Certificate from the Animal Quarantine and Certification Service, Govt of India or from the animals and quarantine department of the country you are in.
  4. Get in touch with the concerned airline about the procedures, charges, and the requirement of a cage for your pet.
  5. Ensure that your peteither travels with you or after you so that you are available to receive it when it arrives.

A set of guidelines has been put up by the Animal Quarantine and Certification Services (AQCS), Government of India, that you can read here.

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