International Moving with Pets

Many moving abroad, you want to take your entire family with you, which can often include the pets in a household. While the process of immigration for people can be fairly clear and straightforward, moving pets internationally will have different requirements for different countries and should be planned well in advance.


One of the first considerations in moving pets overseas is the potential for negative effects on their health. For example, older animals may suffer during air travel, and the risks or impacts should be discussed in great detail with the animal’s veterinarian. Additionally, many countries require specific vaccinations, which some pet owners have chosen not to give to their animals at any other times in their life. This too can cause some detrimental issues and should also be discussed with the veterinarian.


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If health problems are not an issue, the next step is to examine the foreign country’s policies about incoming animals. Each will be different, with some requiring a period of quarantine, or special documents to ensure the animal’s health and lack of transferable disease. Some countries may even require customs fees or duties to be paid on an animal “imported” into the country.


The best location to find out this information is the country’s consulate. Many have agents in major cities, and a quick Internet search may provide all of the necessary contact information.


Once the basic requirements are understood, and the appropriate plans are made, it is a good idea to investigate the flight options for the pet(s). Most airlines will require each animal to be within its own carrying container, and some may not permit them to travel in the cabin. This is not always a bad thing, since a dark and quiet cargo hold may actually be less stressful on the animal’s nerves than a crowded cabin, but this is purely up to you to determine. One incredibly important question to ask about the cargo hold is if it is temperature and pressure controlled. A lengthy, air journey in a freezing and inadequately pressurized hold can easily injure or harm any animal’s health.


If an airline’s policies are acceptable and the pets will be handled with care and in appropriate conditions, the next step is to prepare them for their journey. This may require several weeks of familiarizing them with their carriers. It is really a good idea to do this in advance, since the trip will be even more stressful if the animal is locked inside an unfamiliar plastic container. Many veterinarians recommend that an owner create a sense of happiness and comfort around the carrying container; laying a favorite blanket or towel inside of it and frequently stocking it with hidden toys or treats.


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When the day of the trip arrives it is likely that the animal will require mild sedation, which should be at the recommendation of the veterinarian. The container should also have a comfortable blanket or bedding and the animal, as well as its container, should have clear identification tags and markings. It is important for you to maintain a normal tone of voice when handling your pet in the car and at the airport, and to allow for plenty of time to deliver them to the appropriate loading station.

Advanced planning and preparation are the only way to ensure a successful overseas relocation journey for a family’s pets.

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