Traveling with a pet under any circumstances can be a trying experience, but imagine transporting your Welsh corgi abroad at the same time you're packing up your possessions, moving into temporary housing, enrolling your 7-year-old in an international school and starting a job in a foreign country.
If you're planning to bring your pet along on an international work assignment, don't think it will be as simple as checking Fido with the luggage. You need to plan ahead, do a fair amount of research and perhaps hire a firm specializing in international pet moves to help you safely transport your pet.
Consider the details required for an international pet move: The international database for AirAnimal, a pet relocation company based in Tampa, includes 140 countries, each with its own set of rules and regulations related to admitting pets. These vary from six-month quarantines to documentation for rabies vaccinations and other shots. Moreover, airlines have their own rules, some of them based on the time of year -- pets may be prohibited during summer months.
"It can be a fairly confusing process," says Dr. Walter Woolf, co-owner of AirAnimal and a founding member of the Independent Pet and Animal Transportation Association (IPATA), a trade group composed of 110 companies worldwide.
IPATA member companies offer a variety of services and packages, depending on the country's requirements and the family's preferences. These include:
Woolf, who is a veterinarian, says AirAnimal won't necessarily save people money, but it is likely to save them lots of time. For a dog being shipped to the UK, the cost might be $5,000, he estimates, for services that encompass everything required from a pet's home in the US to the end of the quarantine period, including selecting the quarantine facility, booking a flight and working with an individual's relocation services firm.
- Pick-up and delivery between the airport, quarantine facilities and veterinarian's offices.
- Flight reservations on airlines and schedules best for the pet's well-being.
- Flight kennel sales in accordance with airline and country rules and regulations.
- Certificates and other documentation, such as import licenses and transit permits, needed to assure the health of the pet and have the pet admitted into another country.
Be sure to consider these issues when planning an international move with a pet:
Give Yourself Time
Don't think you will be able to call up your airline a day before leaving for Korea and inform them you'll be bringing a pet. Start researching your particular country's requirements as soon as you know you're moving. At the very least, you will need to have a health certificate from a veterinarian and documentation of a rabies vaccine. If your company is helping you with the move, be sure to inform your relocation specialist about your pet.
Birds often have their own special restrictions when being transported abroad. As for tarantulas, rare fish and other exotic pets, you may want to think again before attempting to transport them.
Is It Worth It?
Kitty O'Neil, a toy designer who lived in Vejle, Denmark, for two years, brought her two cats with her, transporting them as carry-on luggage. While there are no quarantine regulations in Denmark, O'Neil found that pet care abroad was not particularly compassionate. One of her cats became ill and was put to sleep. The vet was not receptive to advice from her veterinarian in the US. "We have very different attitudes towards our animals than other cultures," says O'Neil. "Most likely nothing bad will happen to your pet while you are living abroad, but it can happen."
Returning to the US is much easier. Typically, your dog or cat will simply need a standard set of documents, including documentation of a rabies vaccination and a health certificate from a veterinarian.