Posted on 25th May, 2015: Moving abroad is characterised by a lot of paperwork – this application and that form, running around for last minute essentials to pack, and checking and re-checking to make sure you have conformed to all rules and regulations.
Now imagine having to do all of this for yourself AND for your pet animal…
That is what migrating to another country with your pet animal is like. In one word, hectic. But not impossible.
Not without my pet
Indian pet parents are increasingly less abhorrent of the idea of taking their beloved pooch or kitty along when moving to foreign shores. This is evidenced by the boom in number of pet relocation services operating out of India and their phenomenal business growth over the past few years.
In 2013, a Times New Network story explored how pet parents in Gurgaon willing to pay lakhs of rupees to move their pets with them to foreign countries. In this article, the reporter spoke to owners and representatives from pet relocation service providers who reaffirmed her claim. Dr Premlata Choudhary, owner of Delhi-based Petfly had this to say, “We have lots of requests from Gurgaon - from corporate employees who are shifting out of Gurgaon and from expats who are moving back to their country. Most of them tell us that they have become too attached to their pets to part with them. Many expats, when they come here, adopt pets or even street dogs and they want to take them along while they go back.”
Pet your service
In general, they offer assistance with migration of your pet – from documentation to procuring recommendation crates to quarantine and boarding. But these services will cost you a pretty penny.
Varun Sidharth, owner of AirPets, told TNN of how the cost of pet relocation hardly deters pet parents, “We had relocated a Great Dane from Gurgaon to New York, which cost the owner Rs 2.5 lakh. The owner of the species was an expat who didn't want to part with his pet. We have seen that people in Gurgaon own more exotic breeds, and hence when they move out of the city, they take their pet along.”
“I remember a case where a Golden Retriever had to be taken to Australia. However, Australia doesn't allow the entry of Indian dogs directly, since it's a rabies-free country. Indian dogs have to be quarantined before they get an entry into the country. The dog had to spend six months in quarantine period in the US and UK before it was sent to Australia - only after the countries certified that the dog is free from any disease. The owner paid boarding charges when the dog was in those countries. He told us that he was too attached to his pet. The cost ran into lakhs for the entire process to come through,” added Dr Anju Synghal, owner of Pet Care and Surgery, a veterinary clinic in Delhi which provides pet relocation services as well.
Where are you going?
Depending on the country you are moving to, the paperwork required, the quarantine period and other formalities will change accordingly.
The United States of America: You can bring in pet dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, ferrets and pet rodents into the USA, subject to health, quarantine, agriculture, wildlife and customs requirements and prohibitions. Pet birds are subject to a different set of import restrictions, governed by the US Fish and Wildlife Services. It is wise to not only check with the US consulate, but also the state, county and municipal authorities to ascertain the restrictions and quarantine requirements. All animals will be subjected to a health examination at the port of entry in the USA. All pet cats and especially dogs, must carry a valid rabies vaccination certificate, an international health certificate that is not older than 10 days from the date of travel. In some cases, you may need to microchip your animal.
The United Kingdom: You are only permitted to directly ship pets in to the UK from listed EU and non-EU countries. India is not on that list, hence you have to wait three months after getting a rabies vaccine and blood test done for your pet before you can travel to the UK. In case your animal is from a listed EU and non-EU country, you don’t need to wait three months. Other entry requirements include: a microchip, a rabies vaccine, a veterinary certificate from a third country (you may need to ship your pet to a listed country to get this certificate) and dogs require an additional tapeworm treatment certificate. You will need to get your travel route approved by the Department of Immigration, as well as, your travel company.
Australia: You are not allowed to move live animals from India directly into Australia. Their bio-security laws do not permit you to do so. The country has a list of pre-approved countries, only from which live animals are allowed into the country. You will need to move your pet to one of these countries and keep him/her in quarantine there, till Australia is ready to move them into a quarantine centre in the country. This is usually a period of 3-6 months. You will have to bear the costs of the move to, boarding and lodging of the animal etc. during this period. Check general eligibility, procedures and guidelines before you make any bookings etc. Guide and assistance dogs are subject to different conditions.
Caution is key
Most other countries have similar conditions to importing pet animals into the country. Check with the department of Immigrations, Customs and Excise Board, Department of Wildlife and Department of Agriculture of the particular country for all rules and regulations.
- Do not travel until you are absolutely sure of being allowed into the country with your pet.
- This will be a long-duration flight in a crate or carrier for your pet. Get him/her used to it, a few weeks before travelling, by getting him/her to spend some time in the crate or carrier every day.
- Carry all valid identification and a recent photo of your pet, in case you are separated.
- Make sure the airlines is aware of your pet’s dietary requirements, medical history or any other information they may need to take care of your animal during the flight.