Travel Advice

How to move internationally and take your pets with you

Are you making a move internationally? Got pets you want to take with?

Many of you know that at the end of 2014 I made the big move from Australia to the UK. Prior to the move, planning and scheming aside – the biggest questions on both my husband and my lips were: “Shall we take Kitty and Angel with us?”

Kitty and Angel are our two beloved cats, and besides our immediate families, they are our two precious things in life.

Kitty, 10, have been with me since she was 3 weeks old, found by my cousin in a factory as a tiny stray and she has since become a piece of me.

So there was no way, no way, I was leaving her behind. And Angel, younger but no less an important part of our little family simply needed to follow her big sister.

So, we decided to take the cats with us on our move internationally.

The next question was: how?

Don’t like being in cages, but it had to be done… sorry babies.

Move internationally with pets requires a bit of research

Australians would know the strict customs rule on bringing in live animals into Australia. Heck, even Johnny Depp didn’t get any exemptions. There are health and quarantine requirements that need to be met and pets are often locked away in cages for up to 6 months: no one wants that for their pets!

Pet import requirements for the UK – Checklist

Thankfully, most of the world doesn’t have such strict requirements, and for the UK, as long as the pets are healthy, have no/protected from rabies, all paper work are filled out and are travelling through approved means, then they are welcome to the country!

That’s seriously almost as much paperwork as my own visa application!

Armed with this information, I began researching what was required:

  • Pets must be micro-chipped [check]
  • Pets must be vaccinated against rabies [check]
  • Pet to be blood tested to prove vaccination applied [check]
  • An official vet certificate of health provided [check]
  • Declaration signed to indicate pet/s are not imported for sale [check – no way!]
  • Use an approved transport company on an approved route
  • Pets can only travel 30 days after the vaccination blood test above

So, the first 5 points above were easily done. However what’s approved transport company? Not to mention I had to wait 30 days to ship the cats.

Choosing the most comfortable flight option for your pets

For pets it is the best to choose a route that is going to be the fastest with the least transit time. And for reference, from my travel agency experience – this is with Emirates or Qantas through Dubai.

Dubai airport - source: GFDL-1.2
As it turned out the most fastest route to Europe from Sydney was through Dubai (Image source: Wikimedia Commons GFDL-1.2 | Credit to: Konstantin von Wedelstaedt)

I had arranged this before, when I flew Kitty from Sydney to Coffs Harbour when we moved there back in 2008. It was a relatively easy process but require a bit of time on the phone, filling out paperwork etc.

However, being pressed for time, for I had everything else to arrange as well, I decided to get a pet transport companies to do it for me.

It’s with comical that of all the companies that assist with pet travel, I choose one that’s called ‘Dogtrainers‘.

Choosing a trustworthy pet movalist

The process was easy. Paperwork filled in and signed, they provided airline approved pet cages (big enough to allow the cats to stretch and stand up and lie down comfortably), picked up the furry ones on the day specified, gave them quick pre-flight health checks and arranged their ‘seat’ on an outbound Qantas flight for London.

I was of course, a nervous wreck.

I cried my heart out as I temporarily saw them out the door in their cages, knowing how much they hated being locked up.

I thought about them, how they would have to endure the flights and worried over whether they really would be well cared for along the way.

I had left Sydney on the same day (on a different but earlier flight, because mummy couldn’t afford to fly Qantas!) and 2 hours after I landed, I received a call from the UK Customs to say “Your cats are ready to be picked up from us!”

It didn't take the cats long to settle into their new London home!
It didn’t take the cats long to settle into their new London home!

Arriving safe and sound, and at home at last

And another hour later, the two furry things walked out of their cage, immediately made themselves at home, and seemed to suffer no jet-lag! They had survived the move internationally better than us humans and now happily settled in the UK.

Lucky cats.

(The information in this post is for cats coming from Australia – please note there are different rules for rabbits and rodents and if taking animals in from risk countries)

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