Imagine that you go on a holiday abroad and unexpectedly while hitting the streets and ethnic markets for the best gifts and souvenirs for your pals at home you fall in love with a puppy, a parrot or a kitten and in a mad rush you decide to buy it as a gift to yourself.

Yes, this happens. Now what. You are on the Caribbean but your days there are almost over and you need to make sure you will be able to transport your new friend home. Guess what, there are some things you should consider well ahead to ensure that everything goes smoothly. As it might have already occurred to you there are plenty of requirements related to international movement of animals, which vary from country to country.

Do some research on pet movement requirements

Since you are heading towards your homeland, or the place where you reside, you should research the national requirements to movement of pets. Mind you that in addition to the certificates you would invariably need, some countries might have long periods of quarantine for the type of your new pet. Worst case scenario – your pet is not allowed at all.


The next thing you should do, after having the necessary information at your disposal, is making an appointment with a local veterinarian to execute all the listed shots to your pet and to have the manipulations entered into a certificate. You have to make sure that the shots against different diseases are done in an adequate period before your home travel, because vaccinations against certain diseases are considered effective 10 days or so after the shot was executed.

Issue a passport/ health certificate

The passport of your pet composes all the documents needed or its identification and proofs of vaccination and checked medical conditions. A useful document for your new pet would be an International Health Certificate. The latter, however, is handy only to countries that do not have specific health certificates. The USA and European Union countries have, so mind you when you reside anywhere there and want to import your newly acquired pet you have to research with an embassy what specific requirements to pet mobility are in power there. In the countries with no specifically stated rules the International Health Certificate is applicable so let’s have a look at what it actually is.

First of all, it should be issued at time, as close as possible to your travel date, but not earlier than 21 days ahead. The mandatory data that should be featured in the certificate is:

  • Name
  • Age
  • Breed
  • Colour
  • Country of origin
  • Name, address, and contacts (phone number) of the pet owner

The certificate should clearly indicate that the pet is healthy and free of parasites. It should also designate the exact type, the manufacturer and the exact batch of the vaccines applied when this is possible. You should find out exactly what kind of rabies vaccination you are required in your home country because there are two types of vaccines – a one-year and a three-year such. And, to make it more complex, some of the countries do not accept the three year rabies immunization.

You might also check what other immunizations countries require, because they vary significantly. Not to mention that the general rules are for the more common pets such as cats, dogs and ferrets. If you are bringing from abroad a more exotic animal, there are additional requirements for its importation. Once again, keep in mind that certain species are prohibited in certain countries.

Travelling Pet Policies

Another thing that should be definitely considered when heading home from abroad with a new pet is the rules and transportation policies of the airline or other carrier company you are about to use. You should keep in mind that all the companies have different conditions and fees for transportation, so make sure you contact your carrier directly or through your travel agent to ensure that you know what you have to pay and how you have to transport your new pet. The probably most important thing is whether your pet would be allowed to travel in the passengers’ cabin with you or would be required to travel in the cargo.

Most of the airlines allow for small cats or dogs with their kennels to be taken along the passenger in the cabin. This, however, excludes the UK, Japan, South Africa and Hong Kong airlines. If this is where you live, prepare to have your pet transported in the cargo section of the plane. Most airlines that accept pets as cargo and transport them in the cargo section take the necessary precautions to make the temperature comfortable for the animals. There are airlines, however, that do not treat your pets with special care – among them Southwest, AirTran, JetBlue, Frontier, and Virgin America. Keep in mind that there are companies that do not accept pets at all. Another thing you shouldn’t overlook is the pet cargo crates requirements. Make sure your pet’s crate complies with the size-, ventilation- and safety-requirements of you carrier. Do find out the exact crate requirements for your pet, especially if it is a hamster, a tortoise or a bird.

If you are travelling home with a bus, a train or a ship, you have to check whether they have a pet friendly policy, what fee do they charge for your pet and what are their specific requirements.

Microchipping your pet

If you want to be sure that you have taken all necessary measures to protect your new pet, you better have it microchipped. Each microchip comes with a unique number, which makes it easy for the pet owner to be identified and contacted in cases when the pet is lost. In addition, many countries nowadays require microchips with standardized 15-digit ID number. Sometimes, however, when the digits of your pet’s microchip are less than the international standard, you will need a special micro chip scanner to read it. So make sure that you have the 15 digit microchip inserted on your new pet.


Acquiring a new pet while abroad and then taking it home could be an expensive, time-consuming and cumbersome procedures, yet if it is worth it, try to use this tips to alleviate it as much as possible. Read the article, take a few deep breaths, make a list of the things you need to do, make appointments with the vet and call your travel company. After all many people have succeeded to do it painlessly, so if you plan ahead wisely, transporting your new pet could go smoother than expected.

Last modified: 26.03.2018, edited by: Nils