According to the U.S. Office of Travel and Tourism, Americans took more than 61 million trips overseas in the year 2013. With more than 68 percent of all U.S. households owning a pet, it’s no surprise that our furry friends are more frequently joining in on the family vacation. Rules and regulations on live imports typically vary by country, so it’s important to be aware of these rules prior to your trip.
Countries have live import regulations in place in order to keep diseases and invasive species from wreaking havoc on their ecosystems. Unless you are attempting to import exotic animals (like primates, big cats or certain reptiles), you may not need a special permit. Most countries currently require that pets have basic vaccinations and official proof of their good health before they are let in. Still, some countries have more strict rules on live imports. Below we will list some of the most popular overseas travel destinations and their rules on importing pets.
European Union Member Countries
The European Union includes 28 countries such as France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Poland and Spain to name a few. The EU regulations state that dogs, cats and ferrets must have updated rabies vaccinations. An official health certificate must also be obtained no later than 10 days prior to travel. Certain countries, such as Ireland and Sweden, also require that pets have proof of anti-tick and anti-tapeworm treatments. Dogs, cats and ferrets must also be microchipped prior to travel. However, they must be microchipped prior to receiving their vaccinations for identification purposes. As for importing all other pets, you must contact the embassy of that country, as these are dealt with on a case-by-case basis.
Until just recently, since 1897 dogs entering the UK were subjected to a six-month quarantine to reduce the risk of rabies. Cats and ferrets were later added to this law. Thankfully, due to improved testing this rule has been relaxed to now match that of the European Union.
Costa Rica is one of the countries with some odd regulations when it comes to traveling with your pet. In addition to the proof of vaccines and good bill of health certificate, Costa Rica requires that each pet is accompanied by a personal letter stating the pet’s market value or an invoice showing the purchase price of the pet. Oddly enough, Costa Rica also accepts the striped skunk as an admissible pet. Also, when it comes to pet birds, any that enter Costa Rica must stay in Costa Rica for good.
While it is not technically a country, this U.S. island territory in the South Pacific only allows the admission of domestic dogs and cats, and they’ll need to have two recent rabies vaccinations before travel. American Samoa is a rabies-free country, and they are taking every measure to be sure it stays that way. Unfortunately, any other pets brought to the country, such as snakes, rodents or birds, will be confiscated and euthanized on the spot.
Egypt requires the typical vaccinations and certificate of good health. However, in addition, all pets must remain in your custody for the first three months spent in the country. Also, no pet birds are allowed in this country, excluding live chicks that meet certain health requirements.
Korea differs from the typical regulations of other countries in just one way — the official health certificate can only be written in Korean or in English. Certificates written in any other language will not suffice and the pet will not be allowed entry.
African rodents and civets (a small raccoon-like mammal) are not allowed into the U.S. Also, no more than six turtles are allowed into the U.S. if their shells are longer than four inches apiece.
New Zealand is a country with some very strict live import rules. In addition to the vaccinations and good health certificate, you will also need to apply for an import permit at least six weeks prior to travel. Certain dog breeds are also not allowed in New Zealand such as American Pit Bulls, Dogo Argentinos, Japanese Tosas and Brazilian Filas. Since New Zealand is a snake-free country, the admission of snakes is strongly prohibited. In fact, a man caught attempting to sneak a snake into the country in 2011 was sentenced to four months of imprisonment!
This island country located in the South Pacific Ocean has the strictest regulations of all. Pets can only be imported from Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
If you would like assistance in crossing the border with confidence, please schedule a consultation with one of our attorney’s today!