Moving pets to South Africa

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Relocating with pets

While this is probably best suited to my personal blog, the information contained here might be useful to someone else at some point, so I’ve added this to the main website.

We’re moving to Pretoria, South Africa very soon. Our cat and dog will be coming with us.

So far, this has been the trickiest of all the pet relocations we’ve done. Certain procedures have to be completed on certain dates. We’ve had to make a dedicated ‘pet calendar’ so we don’t miss a deadline!

Thankfully both animals are micro-chipped, as tattoos are not accepted as pet identification.

In-depth information and links to the official documents can be found here.

Please ensure you read these documents for full information regarding vaccinations and other requirements. This article doesn’t give that information, I’m just giving you an insight into moving your pets overseas.

Importing a pet into South Africa

Apply for a veterinary import permit from the Director of Animal Health in South Africa. To do this, you must:

  • Complete the application form found here. [NB The actual link kept breaking, so I’ve amended it to take you (hopefully) somewhere at least nearby!] There are three options depending upon the quarantine status imposed by the South African law. It mostly depends on which country you’re importing the animal from. Don’t forget to say whether you want the permit posted to you or if you will collect it in person from the office in South Africa (!).
  • Pay for the import permit by direct international bank transfer (the fee for which is higher than the cost of the import permit!).
  • Fax proof of the deposited payment to South Africa.

The import permit and a veterinary health certificate template will then be sent to you. Pay for a courier service to get this to you, do not rely on the postal service from South Africa. See below…

However, the post from South Africa is ‘unreliable’ – you will be lucky to get the permit at all… we haven’t. It was apparently posted at the end of April. It’s now 17th May and it still hasn’t arrived. We’ve had to start all over again, pay another fee and pay even more for a courier to collect the documents from South Africa and deliver them to us here in Berlin.


Nothing else can be done until this has been received. And there is a lot more to do, all of which has to be completed in a specific and tight timescale.

So, assuming this document arrives, what next?


Booster Rabies vaccinations must have been administered within 12 months of the importation. Both animals are up to date with their Rabies vaccinations.

Before dogs can be imported the dog needs to be certified free from the following five diseases by means of blood tests. Even if the disease doesn’t exist in your country. It seems a special dispensation is given to some countries, but not the EU.

  • Brucella canis
  • Trypanosoma evansi
  • Babesia gibsoni
  • Dirofilaria immitis
  • Leishmania

Bloods must be drawn within 30 days of the date of export to South Africa. Dogs may only be imported if all blood results are negative.

The veterinary health certificate has to be completed in English by a veterinarian authorised by the veterinary authority of the exporting country within 10 days of departure.

You can see the problem here.

  • We can’t get the blood tests without the form sent from South Africa.
  • The blood has to be taken within 30 days before the animals are flown from Germany to South Africa.
  • That blood has to be tested and the (hopefully negative!) results returned. How long this would take is anyone’s guess.
  • Only then can we make an appointment with the authorised vet to have the paperwork completed.

So we’re back to waiting for the paperwork to be reissued and couriered all the way from South Africa before anything else can be done.

Oh, there’s more! Us humans have to leave for South Africa from the UK. The animals have to remain in Germany and fly out from here due to the import regulations. The logistics are proving difficult and stressful.

And as Germany isn’t officially free of Heartworm (Dirofilaria immitis) we have to get a course of medication for the dog to continue once we finally arrive in South Africa.

It’s all a bit of a nightmare, really. Will it all work out? Check back for an update!

Raymi in South Africa, taken by the pet relocation agent

Update: All went very well indeed. Our pets arrived in South Africa before we did. The pet relocation agency sent up photos and updates daily. And then they delivered our pets to our door on the day we arrived. A happy start to our time in South Africa!

Kita in South Africa, taken by the pet relocation agent. She seems happy!

My personal recommendation for pet relocation, kennels and cattery in Pretoria is Mooikloof Company (formerly Menlyn Kennels). Kita usually hates kennels but absolutely adored the lovely staff here and often refused to leave!

Main photo credit: Carole Hallett Mobbs: Our ‘Expat Dog’, a Japanese Shiba Inu called Kita, enjoying the snow in Berlin.

Expatability Chat Podcast

If you’d prefer to listen to me talk about this topic, here is my podcast episode about Moving overseas with pets – complete with another expat pet – my South African cat, Sumi!

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  1. Do the bloods have to be 30days from arrival or just from the date and time of departure, I’m in a sticky situation and this will be the deciding factor. Look forward to any response thanks Sven

    1. Hi Sven,
      You would need to check for yourself as these details were from 2013 and I went with the rules then, from where I was moving from. Rules may well be different now and different depending on your location. There are links in my article to the government sites.
      From a quick Google, I read this – “Blood tests need to be done within 30 days of the date of export to South Africa”
      And this site may help with more straightforward English
      The way I read it is, within 30 days of the date they leave your country.

  2. For anyone relocating pets to SA post 2017 – it’s difficult! Don’t leave it to the last minute. I can confirm that Rabies vaccine has to be administered more than 30 days before travelling. Within 30 days before travel, 5 blood tests have to be done. One of those tests for Trypanosoma evansi can only be done at very select labs – one in SA (Onderstepoort) and one in Belgium. Trying to organise the documentation and the courier to get this one blood test to SA for testing is nigh impossible, as the sample has to be sent refrigerated. We managed to get World Courier to send the sample for us from our vet, cost R20000 ($2000 Canadian)
    The dogs have to start a 6 month course of Heartworm medication on the very same day that the bloods are drawn. They also have to be vaccinated for kennel cough if they are going into a SA kennel after arrival, and be treated with Advantix K9 for ticks.
    The import permit and SA health certificate are being organised for me by the kennel that is picking up my dogs from the airport (Petwings/Keringa kennels) and they will be happily ensconced at Keringa in Kempton Park (near the airport) until we arrive.
    Alta deals with dog import at Keringa, and she can send you a fully up to date document for all requirements for dogs/pets entering SA.
    The dogs also need a vet health certificate from the country they are leaving, so they travel with 2 health certificates, one from export country and one from SA. Usually your pet relocation company can organise the final health cert. Aeropets in Fourways are also very good with pet relocation. Hope this helps.

  3. Wow, wow, wow … I am doing the same as you, we just have learned that we will move to Pretoria in August … it is crazy. The country of export is France. My dog spent 4 yrs in Namibia (he is namibian), 4 yrs in France and 4 irs in Croatia. Actually we are in Croatia and we will spend only few days in France, before going in Pretoria, for another few years, as diplomats. So we have to start the form from Croatia, the Import form, do the 5 tests in Croatia … and do the last vet exams (less than 10 days prior arrival in SA) in France!! Because we have to leave from France regarding to the job. Very difficult schedule!

    Please, how long in advance we may download the Import Form to SA?? Is it possible to do it 5 months prior to our arrival? I think the Fax option should be better than post office. And hope our dog will survive the transport, he will be 12 yrs old in August 2016, an amazing Irish Terrier. Thank you all for testifing here, it encouraged me! 🙂

  4. Relocating is enough stressful thing by itself, but taking your pets with you can make the challenge so much bigger! I am considering that with my husband right now and this article was very useful as it offers insights so you’ll better prepared and know what you’re doing!

  5. Hi,

    I am about to move to Joburg with 3 dogs and was wondering whether you have any Pet Relocation companies you would recommend? Any special tips as well?


    1. Hi Kim,

      I don’t have the details to hand about the relocation company we used as I’m away from home right now.

      As for other tips: double and triple check your paperwork; use couriers rather than the postal system for paperwork: make sure the crates are big enough, hopefully your dogs are happy to be crated otherwise start on that now. It was a stress-free relocation.

      Bon voyage!

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