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Taking Pets Abroad Checklist

A new home abroad is all well and good, but for many expats, a home is not a home without their beloved pets.

If you plan to take your pets with you when you relocate, follow this handy checklist to make sure you’ve ticked all the boxes. A bit of research and planning upfront can help make the big move as comfortable and stress-free as possible – for everyone!

Moving your cat abroad  

A few months before your move:

Check the entry requirements of your destination country

Get the ball rolling by finding out if your pet will be allowed into your destination country. Most countries will allow cats and dogs but more exotic pets may be restricted. Once you know they will be accepted into the country, find out the conditions for entry. For example, do they need certain vaccinations?

Look into pet passports

Some countries, including the UK, the EU, Australia, New Zealand, the US and Canada, are part of the pet passport scheme. Under the arrangements of the scheme, owners of animals with pet passports can bring their pets into the country without having to go through a lengthy quarantine stay.

Pet passports are completed by an approved vet and contain essential information about your pet, such as their appearance, microchip details and medical history.

Get any necessary vaccinations done

You need to bear in mind that some countries require vaccinations to be done well in advance. Some even need you to send of blood samples and wait three months for the result to check a jab has taken effect so leave plenty of time to get your pet’s vaccinations up to speed. Find out about vaccination prices and other pet relocation costs here.

A few weeks before you leave:

Make your travel arrangements

Depending on your destination, your pet may or may not be able to travel with you. If you will be flying to your new home, check if airline policy allows animals in the cabin or whether they can only travel as air freight. Airlines vary in their rules so it can be worth checking a few different operators. Some countries only allow pets to enter via certain routes and with pre-approved travel providers.

Consider employing a pet courier?

A specialist pet courier can make travel arrangements for your pet and ensure they are transported safely with minimal stress. This can be an especially invaluable option if your pet will be travelling as air freight.

When choosing a pet courier, do your research, ask around for recommendations, and always choose one that is a member of the Independent Pet and Animal Transportation Association (IPATA).

Sort out your pet insurance

It’s good sense to have comprehensive pet insurance in place in case of accidents or illness. Find out if your pet insurance covers travel overseas. If not, remember to extend it and/or take out new cover so to make sure you’re covered for any vet expenses abroad.

Order new ID tags

Once you know your new address and phone number, order some shiny new ID tags for your pets. In all the excitement of the move, it’s likely to slip your mind once you arrive. It will ensure your pets can be returned if they wander off when exploring their new surroundings.

Buy a travel crate (if needed)

If you have employed a pet courier, they will often provide custom crates for your pets to travel in comfort. If not, check the International Air Transport Association (IATA) guidance to ensure you get the right size crate for your furry friend. Larger crates may cost more to transport, but your pet may be more stressed in a smaller crate so make sure they have enough room.

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A few days before the move:

Get organised with your packing

Pets pick up on stress, so keep yours in check by beginning the packing process as early as possible.

Confirm arrangements with your pet courier

Speak to your pet relocation service (if you are using one) to double-check the arrangements. When will they collect them? Will they spend a night in boarding kennels? When will you be able to be re-united? What do they need to bring with them? Is the paperwork in place?

On the day of the big move:

Stay calm

It’s only natural that stress levels run high during your relocation but, for your pet’s sake, try and keep things as calm as possible. Take some time to pay them attention and stick to their walking and feeding routine if possible.

Many pet couriers will collect pets the day before your move and put them up in kennels so they are close to the airport in the morning. If your courier offers this service it can be a big help, leaving you free to concentrate on your move – and be as stressed as you like!

Limit feeds before travel

It’s best to avoid feeding your pets for a few hours before they travel. This should prevent toilet accidents – which can be unpleasant all round! Do NOT be tempted to sedate your pet. Vets warn that this can increase the risks of heart and respiratory problems in transit.

Provide some comfort items

Instead of sedating them, make sure your pet has a favourite blanket and perhaps a jumper that smells of you in their crate for their journey. You can also buy natural pheromone sprays which are said to help cats and dogs relax.

Moving your dog abroad  

Once you arrive:

Keep an eye on your pets

It takes some time for pets to settle into their new home – and there is always the risk that they might to set off to their old home. Cats especially are prone to wandering, so keep them inside for a few weeks while they adjust to their new surroundings. Dogs should be well supervised in their new gardens until you are satisfied it is totally secure.

Update their identity chip

If your pet is microchipped, it’s important that their address details are up-to-date in case they stray. Update their details as soon as possible after your move.

Register with a new vet

Find a local vet you like and go along to introduce them to your pet. Waiting until an accident or illness occurs before registering is never a good plan.

Enjoy exploring your new neighbourhood

And finally, don’t forget to have fun discovering all the new sights and smells in your new area. Your pet will love going on this big adventure with you!