How to Prepare for International Pet Travel

International Pet TravelBags packed? Check. Pet friendly hotels researched and reserved? Check. Rex's passport ready? Wait a minute, a passport for your pet? Maybe. We know it takes some preparation to travel with your pet, but if you're planning a trip overseas there are some extra bases to cover in order to be ready. Here's how to make your international adventure with Rex's go as smoothly as paws-ible.

Know Before You Go
If your heart's set on the perfect destination, it's very important to make sure that your country of choice will allow your pet to accompany you. The United Kingdom has a strict quarantine policy for pets arriving from countries that do not fall under their Pet Travel Scheme (if you're coming from the United States or Canada, you do). The Pet Travel Scheme requires that pets be microchipped, vaccinated, tested and certified - a process that takes up to six months. Guam and many islands in the Caribbean also quarantine pets, so it's imperative to determine the country's pet travel guidelines and then contact their individual consulate(s). The country consulates have all of the information that you will need and are generally very helpful. For more information on how to reach embassies and consulates, please visit the US Department of State.

Pet Passport Required
Planning on traveling with your pet to Europe? If you're headed to one of these countries in the European Union, you'll need to have a passport for your dog, cat, or ferret. You can get a passport from your vet, given that your pet's rabies vaccination is up to date. Your vet will also need to complete a health certificate and show proof that all vaccinations are up-to-date. This testing process must begin at least three months before you travel, so plan ahead.

The EU is currently the only place that mandates a pet passport. For more information, the European Commission website contains a comprehensive list of regulations and forms that you will need to be in compliance.

Other Pet Travel Documentation
Most destinations will require an International Certificate of Pet Health or CFIA health certificate. You can get this from your vet or from the embassy of the country you're going to visit. Here are some other things to keep in mind:

  • Find out whether or not your destination requires that your pet's documentation be translated into the language of the country that you're visiting.
  • Some countries, such as Ireland, have additional vaccination and testing requirements, such as tick or tapeworm treatments. Be sure to have this additional information with you if it's required to avoid having your pet quarantined at the border.
  • You may need the original paperwork that came with your pet's rabies vaccination.
  • Get a doctor's letter detailing your need for your service or therapy animal. It's often required in order to get access to places where animals are otherwise not allowed.

It's also important to note that your pet needs to be easily identifiable. If your pet is not currently microchipped, it might not be a bad idea to do it now. Although not all countries require it, the European Union is making it mandatory for all pets coming into their countries starting July 2011. Even if international pet travel isn't in your immediate future plans, microchipping can ensure the health and safety of your beloved companion in the event that the two of you are separated.

Don't be intimidated by all of the documentation and requirements. The key to success is through research and planning ahead. If you never leave home without your pet, a trip abroad shouldn't put a damper on this special tradition.