Traveling With Your Pet
A few important guidelines for traveling with your pet internationally
Traveling internationally with your pet is somewhat more complicated than domestic travel. While the basic requirements for containers, health certificates, and age remain the same, international travel usually requires additional documents as it does with passengers.
The first step in planning an international trip with a pet should be to contact the consulate of the destination country for their pet importation requirements. Some countries require a lengthy quarantine, others have more rigid standards than IATAs for container construction, while still others will only accept pets at certain airports. Once you determine which airport you will be flying into, check on national and local holidays during which customs may be closed.
A shipping agent, who specializes in animal shipments, can assist you in planning and arranging transportation for your pet. While you can make all of the arrangements yourself, nothing is worse than having your pet impounded or euthanized because of an oversight or lack of knowledge. Your airline, or veterinarian should be able to provide information on shipping agents. They may also be found in the Yellow Pages of local telephone directories.
Prior to shipping an animal internationally, you should have the answers to the following questions either from the consulate of the destination country, a shipping agent or the air carrier. Be specific as to the species of your pet, requirements may be different for dogs, cats, birds or other animals.
What documents are required to import a pet? Some countries require a health certificate signed by a veterinarian within a specific number of days prior to the shipment. Some countries require the veterinarian to be a government official while other countries will accept a health certificate signed by a registered veterinarian.
Are there any age restrictions (minimum and maximum) regarding importing a pet?
Are any special vaccinations or tests required for the pet?
Are there specific country restrictions regarding transportation of animals? (The U.S. has strict temperature restrictions which limit animal travel, especially in the summer and winter).
Some countries will only accept animals shipped as manifested freight, others will allow pets to travel as accompanied baggage.
Are there any country/local holidays during or around the time of your planned trip?
Is there any indication there may be a strike imminent which may affect the timely transport of your pet?
Which airports have customs and health services available to clear your pet?
Are there any special quarantine requirements for a pet being exported or imported?
Are there any special container requirements, in excess of IATA standards, for transporting an animal into or within the desired country?
Are quarantine facilities available on the planned arrival date and station? Are quarantine facility reservations necessary?
In addition you should check with your desired air carrier and obtain the following information:
What are the carrier restrictions regarding the carriage of animals (quantity, container size - larger containers do not fit on all aircraft)?
Is a change of aircraft necessary to reach my final destination? Will the container fit on all aircraft types in the routing?
How long before departure and where should I drop off my pet?
Verify document requirements and other handling/shipping requirements with the airline, some carriers are more restrictive than the country requirements. (For example some U.S. carriers have restrictions for pug nosed breeds of dogs and cats which are more stringent than the USDA rules. These restrictions vary from carrier to carrier).
What hours/days are customs and health facilities normally open to clear the animal?
Where and when can my pet be picked up?
Can pets be transported as baggage or must they travel as manifested freight?
Are there restrictions for unaccompanied pets (traveling as manifested freight) that are different than for pets traveling as baggage?
Are pets allowed in the passenger cabin? If so what are the limitations regarding size and quantity?
Sometime prior to your trip it would be most beneficial to acclimate your pet to its shipping container. This can be done by placing a favorite toy or bedding in the container and allowing the pet to have free access to the container. The pet should also be acclimated to being confined in the container by closing and latching the door for periods of time.
The container must be of sufficient size to allow the animal to stand in a natural position, turn around, and lie down comfortably. In addition, separate food and water containers, fill-able from the outside, must be secured in the container. Feeding and water instructions, as well as enough food for one meal, must be attached to the outside of the container. A duplicate copy of the feeding and watering instructions should be attached to the shipping documents. The food should be packaged in a strong plastic or cloth bag. Water or ice cubes should be provided to the animal to prevent dehydration.
Tranquilizing animals prior to or during air transport is not recommended. The conditions in an aircraft cargo hold in flight are quite different than conditions on the ground. Some medications which are very effective on the ground may prove to be fatal aboard an aircraft.
By following these guidelines you can be assured your pet will have a safe flight.
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