The Bekins Blog

How to Move Internationally with Pets

January 1, 1970

Pulling off an international move is already a complicated and at times stressful process, especially if you don’t have the right international moving company on your side. The entire process requires a lot of planning and preparation and is overall a huge decision that cannot be done just on a whim. A move internationally requires a lot of different pieces, including your animals.

When you have pets with you, moving internationally can be an even more complicated process, as you not only have to make sure they’re safe and comfortable throughout the entire process, but you need to take into account all of the laws and regulations in place for traveling internationally with animals. However, if you do your research and plan your move with your pet responsibility, you’ll be able to have a successful move and enjoy your new life abroad with your pet. 

What Rules and Regulations are in Place for International Moving with Pets? 

So how do you move internationally with a pet? Moving with a pet out of the country involves a lot more paperwork and planning than moving domestically with your animals, but it can still be done. 

However, a lot will depend on the individual country that you’re headed to. We’ll provide you with a lot of general rules and regulations for international traveling with pets, but make sure to do research into any specific ones that have to do with your specific destination. 

First things first: before you get started with your international move with your pet, make sure you’ve allotted enough time to plan and carry out your entire process. This isn’t something that can be done last minute, and needs to not only account for the transition itself, but needs to give you enough time to get your pet’s vaccines, approval from foreign governments, and even quarantine periods for your pet before you leave. 

Some countries are more strict than others when it comes to allowing animals. Make sure you completely research and know everything there is to know about your new country’s pet import rules so your entire transition goes smoothly come travel day – it’ll save you and your pet a lot of hardship. 

International Pet Restrictions

Research whether or not your destination allows your type of pet, as some countries have restrictions on birds, reptiles, ferrets, and even pit bull terriers. Additionally, look up the guidelines surrounding vaccination requirements, microchipping, and any certifications for travel your pet will need to have performed and signed by your veterinarian. 

If going by a rule of thumb, you’ll want to always make sure that your pets are microchipped and that their microchip is registered to you. A lot of countries require an ISO microchip, which can be read internationally.

You’ll also always want to ensure that your pets are completely vaccinated and have their boosters – especially when it comes to rabies. 

Research whether your pet will also have to quarantine upon arrival in your new country, as quarantine laws differ from country to country. Most are minimal, but some still do exist. Some European countries now just require an EU Health Certificate for your pet in lieu of quarantine. In Japan, your pet will need to be quarantined for 12 hours upon their arrival, and for 10 days after arriving in Australia. 

Certain countries also have quarantine periods before your arrival, which will have to be documented and approved before your arrival. For example, to bring your animal with you to Japan, you’ll have to have your pet undergo tests to determine their natural defenses against rabies (even if they have no vaccines). If your pet is not approved, it will have to stay in your country until it can be tested again. Even if your pet does have its natural antibodies in line with Japan’s requirements, it may need to be quarantined for up to 6 months before entering Japan, as the country is rabies-free and has strict requirements for importing animals. 

Age Restrictions

On top of vaccination requirements and quarantine periods, your new country could also possibly have age restrictions on pets entering their borders. Though these restrictions don’t usually apply to older pets, a lot of countries do require a pet to be a certain number of weeks old to safely travel and relocate to this new country. 

Additionally, for pregnant animals, your pet may not be able to travel depending on how far along they are. For the most up-to-date and accurate information concerning your pet or the restrictions, your new country might have on them, check with a consulate or online guidelines put forward by your new country’s government. 

Consult Your Vet Before Travel

An important thing to think about and consult your veterinarian about before traveling with your pet is not only whether or not its vaccinations and health checks are all official and up to date, but whether or not your pet is in good shape to deal with the stress and hardship of traveling over long distances – especially by plane. 

Talk to your vet and ask them whether or not they have any concerns regarding your pet’s overall health, or just their overall ability to make long flights – especially if they’re going to have to be in the cargo hold. Young, senior, pregnant, or anxious and sick animals, for example, should never be kept in the cargo hold of a plane. 

You can also consult your vet regarding any travel preparations to make for your pet. They might provide you with some anti-anxiety medication for your pet(s), and give you any tips for keeping them calm and comfortable throughout your relocation. 

While you’re at the veterinarian and are getting advice for traveling with pets, as well as any new vaccinations or boosters, make sure to also get physical copies of your pet’s medical records to have with you when you move. Make sure to have copies with you, as well as digitized versions to have on your computer in case you need to provide copies of these records upon your arrival to your new country or your new veterinarian abroad. 

If your pet is on any medications, don’t take it for granted that you’ll be able to find a new vet right away and have all of your pet’s medications good to go as soon as you arrive. Make sure to get several months’ worth of prescriptions for your pet supplied so that you have not only time to find a new vet after your move but so that you don’t run the risk of your pet suddenly running out while you’re in another country and are unprepared. 

Though it might be a long shot, ask your veterinarian if they know of any dependable veterinarians or animal hospitals overseas. Even if they don’t, it’s worth a shot! They can also possibly give you pointers just as to how to research vets overseas so you can find a dependable office to bring your pet to. 

Determine Your International Move Timing

Now that you’re good to go with your pet’s health and vaccinations, it’s time to focus on the timeline of moving internationally with your pet. Just like your own visa process when moving abroad, you’ll also need to make arrangements to get documentation to get your pet to your new country safely. Don’t forget, as we mentioned before, you might have to wait as long as 6 months to move with your pet to countries like Japan, which have stricter pet import laws. 

If you don’t leave yourself enough time to make your move with your pet, you could end up having to put off your entire relocation or will have to leave your pet behind with friends or families until they can either bring it over or until you go can back and retrieve it once the time period of flux has passed. 

Pay close attention to your timeline when it comes to moving internationally with your pet, not only for you but also because you have to follow specific stages with your new country’s government. Account for any possible waiting periods or processing periods for your pet’s documentation. 

Moving Your Pet Internationally

After you’ve completed your pet’s documentation, waiting periods, and everything that goes into the process of bringing your pet with you abroad, it’s time to prepare yourself and your pet for the move itself!

Call your airline and see what their options are for moving with pets internationally. They probably have specific specifications for your pet’s carrier, or for what size of pet is allowed to travel within the cabin without buying it an extra seat (or without it having to go in the cargo hold). Your airline also has additional international travel rules for your pet. Ask about flight layovers or delays and how they’ll impact your pet if it will have to ride in the plane’s cargo hold. Make sure to also ask what will happen in the event of your flight getting rescheduled, or if you miss your flight but your pet has already been loaded on. Ask about your pet’s possible circumstances or the conditions in the cargo hold that your pet might be in. 

As we mentioned prior if your pet is small enough to ride in the cabin of your plane, see what the size requirements are for its carrier. Checking your pet’s carrier and buying a new one is necessary, and make sure your pet will be comfortable in it. Try to create a gradual positive association between your pet and its crate or carrier, especially if it’s not used to having one. This will allow your pet to be safer and more comfortable throughout the international moving process. 

Always make sure your and your pet’s documents are ready to go and on hand for your journey. This includes documentation, rabies or other vaccine records, official letters from your vet certifying your pet for travel, and anything else your new country requires of you to safely transport your pet. Having already done your complete research and prepared your documents, you’ll be able to avoid delays or denials at your flight or customs. 

To make this process a little easier, you can also look into companies that specifically specialize in handling moving pets internationally and who will guide you through collecting all of your pet’s documents and getting them ready for the entire process. 

How to Have a Successful International Move

Now that you have all of the tools you need to move your pet overseas successfully, make sure you also have the right international moving company on your side to allow your household items to have a successful relocation overseas. For all of your international moving needs, Bekin Van Lines will provide you with the best service, prices, and overall international moving experience that you’ll be confident and happy with. 

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