There are many reasons people move from one country to another. We move for work, for education, for love and sometimes just for a change. For pet parents, it can be tricky to figure out how to import your dog. There’s international laws, long flight-times, insurance and dog safety. Additionally, the tips below can be used for bringing home a dog that you met on vacation. It’s not as easy as putting them into your suitcase and going through security! If you’re feeling stressed about the process of importing a dog, don’t worry. It’s been done many times successfully, and with minimal stress. In no time at all, your dog will be settling into expat life.
Although requirements vary by country, generally your dog should be:
Just as with people, sometimes dogs are too unwell to travel. Before you begin the process of importing a dog, make sure it is physically fit, up-to-date with vaccinations and free of parasites.
Domestic dogs no longer have to be quarantined when entering many countries – including Canada – but rabies vaccination certification is essential almost everywhere.
A few countries are officially rabies free, but the meaning of “rabies free” changes all the time. It’s a good idea to keep your dog protected no matter what.
Veterinary care is a big expense all over the world, which is why most dog owners keep their pets insured.
Is your dog already insured in its previous country? If so, how does international travel affect the policy? Does the insurer’s liability end once the dog is in transit? When it arrives? These are important things to know.
You can set up a new policy before the dog arrives, but there will be time restrictions on what you can and cannot initially claim. Just in case the worst happens (for example, your dog requires care on the first day) coverage can never start too soon.
It’s a lot cheaper to import a dog than you might think, especially if your dog is already insured and vaccinated. There are many ways to transport a dog, but the quickest and most efficient is usually by air. You and your dog can easily travel on the same flight. Many airlines transport dogs daily and are happy to guide you through every step of the process. Make your arrangements in advance, don’t just show up at the airport with a dog. You will likely need to get a crate that fits the airline’s specifications. Pricing and services tend to vary for flying with pets, so be smart and check your options.
Being in a new place can be stressful for dogs, so to help yours settle in, make sure it has lots of things to help it relax. Bring your dog’s favourite toys, blankets and cushions, and try to make its corner of the home smell like you. A t-shirt you’ve slept in or some dirty socks might be exactly what that pup needs to know this is a place where you’re staying together.
Many dogs today are microchipped, and you should make sure the chip is updated when you move. You should also check to see if your dog needs to be registered anywhere else (for example, with local authorities). This can vary by municipality even within countries.
With the stress of moving, figuring out how to import a dog can seem like a big added step. However, with a bit of organization, importing your dog should be no more difficult than travelling with a bicycle. Take care of your dog’s health, get a travel-ready crate and be prepared to spoil them with lots of love when they arrive at their new home.