Moving overseas with pets

How to move your pets to popular expat destinations

There is no one universal rule when it comes to moving abroad with your pets. For some, the expat life is not complete without taking every single member of the family. However, restrictions and limitations are in place across all countries, including those most popular with expats.

To make life a little easier, we have compiled the key information for three popular expat destinations and how you can secure a life for your pet there safely.

Transporting pets to Australia

Emigrating to Australia with any pet can be a complex process. The Australian Department of Agriculture are dedicated to the biosecurity of the country which essentially means they protect the flora and fauna. Therefore, taking your pet to Australia will require you to follow some stringent conditions.

Owners of fish, reptiles or small mammals will not be able to relocate their pets to Australia. Generally, it is just cats, dogs and horses which get the green light. If in doubt, it is best to check which pets can be imported.

If you pet is on the approved list, your next consideration will be meeting certain health requirements. Your cat or dog must have been vaccinated against rabies at least 180 days before you travel. Once four weeks has passed, your pet will need to have the RNAT test. This must be carried out a minimum of 6 months prior to travel and is proof that your cat or dog does not have rabies.

Finally, you will need to have following paperwork completed:

  • Export permit from the government of your home country
  • Import permit from the Australian government
  • Pre-booking at the Australian quarantine centre

Moving to Spain with pets

Regardless of your pet’s species, chances are they will be able to live a new life with you in Spain. The only limitations in place are against certain dog breeds and health regulations, which protects the animals currently in Spain.

At least 21 days before moving (and no earlier than a year) your pet must be fitted with an ISO microchip. If your pet already has a microchip fitted that isn’t ISO 11784/11785 compliant you will need to purchase the correct scanner to take with you to Spain.

During this period, your pet must also be vaccinated for rabies. However, unvaccinated dogs and cats less than three months old may enter Spain. If you are moving to Spain from a high-rabies country your pet will need to undergo a rabies tier test 30 days after vaccination. This will mean your pet can avoid quarantine.

Pet relocation to UAE

Dubai is a particularly popular expat destination in the UAE, but all countries making up the Arabian Peninsula have high numbers of foreigners. Before moving to the UAE, dog owners must be aware that man’s best friend is banned from public areas and they can only run free in your own garden or designated dog parks. Furthermore, certain breeds that are branded ‘dangerous’ are banned, along with all birds. Tropical fish, invertebrates, reptiles, amphibians and small mammals will need to meet specific requirements and have a health certificate.

If you want your cat or dog to live with you in the UAE, the guidelines are much clearer. Your pet will need a health certificate from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). Also, 12 months prior to travel, the following vaccinations will need to be administered.

Vaccinations for dogs

  • Canine distemper virus
  • Canine parvovirus
  • Infectious canine hepatitis
  • Leptospirosis

Vaccinations for cats

  • Feline panleukopenia
  • Feline rhinotracheitis
  • Feline calicivirus

Both species will also need to receive a rabies vaccination at least 21 days prior to travel. Owners will need to provide proof of all the above when applying for the UAE import permit. Like Spain, all pets should be microchipped and have the correct scanner if needed.

Things to consider

When planning for a move abroad, before even researching the entry requirements of the country for your pet, think deeply about what is most appropriate for them. Your pet’s well-being is paramount and sometimes the stress of being exported can make animals ill. It is imperative that you consider every available option for your pet and weigh up the pros and cons. Many often overlook how something as simple as weather can affect your pet’s quality of life. Therefore, taking your pet abroad is a decision that cannot be taken lightly.

Take advice from a reputable pet relocation company who will have the most up to date information for your destination and advice plus other requirements.

Sponsored article from PBS Pet Travel


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  1. I have a 90 lb Tripod GSD going to Vientiane Laos in August or September depending on the covid issue. Have you shipped in Laos? How long is the shipping time and how much?

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