Moving Your Pet Abroad

Reviewed By Tom •  Updated: 05/01/21 •  4 min read
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Considering moving your pet overseas? Below are some basic guidelines you’ll need to follow for pet relocation.

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1. Get in Touch with the Consulate

Different countries will have different rules regarding the importation of animals, and these rules will majorly lie on your country of start with, find out if it is allowable to bring your pet at all. Some countries accept some dog and cat breeds, while others aren’t.

To get a general idea of the country’s laws and regulations, visit However, the information on this site is hugely general, and you may want to refer to the country’s consulate for more specific details and recent official requirements.

2. Get to Know About the Living Environment Abroad

A great way to assess the country’s living environment is by contacting a local person and seeking information about the community. Find out if house rentals and apartments accept pets. Further, inquire if there are veterinary services available in the area and how affordable animal care is. A friend of mine who lives in Japan informed me that local vet clinics are overly busy, and getting an appointment can be difficult.

Further, find out if there are kennels where you can leave your pet whenever you’re away. Establish the local people’s attitude towards pets. For instance, ask whether people are suspicious of black cats.

3. Create a Timeline

For pet importation, most countries necessitate a strict sequence of medical tests. Timing is crucial, and failure to stick to timelines may lead to extra costs and hassles.

To satisfy the requirements of bringing a pet to Japan, you’ll need at least six months. A cat or dog will need a microchip, vaccination against rabies, and several blood tests at particular stages. A 180-day waiting period after the blood tests is also mandatory if the pet is to be accepted in the country without quarantine.

4. Get in Touch with the Vet

Plan a meeting with a vet who’s experienced at readying animals for overseas travel. Such vets will most likely be familiar with the required procedures, which makes the process less draining and ensures that procedures are properly done.

Speak about your pet’s age, general health, and potential health issues with moving abroad.

5. Speak to Airlines

Regulations for international animal transportation will differ among airlines. Speak directly to a representative to seek clarity on specific issues and queries.

It also helps to note that the rules of pet transportation are bound to change at different stops on your travel itinerary. For instance, a set of rules may apply for flying your pet from Los Angeles to Tokyo but may not apply for your travel from Tokyo to Okinawa.

6. Get a Pet Carrier

It is imperative that you get a top-quality animal carrier for your international flight. Most airlines will only allow one that is approved by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). Some airlines may even let you rent one directly from them. In such cases, an airline representative will ensure you get one with the exact dimensions depending on the size and species of your animal. Be ready to meet considerable transport, holding and handling costs.

7. Stick to the Details

Starting and completing the complex process of transporting your pet abroad will need you to follow directions to the letter. If there’s confusion about a requirement, talk to someone who can clarify. Making a slight mistake could cost you so much or lead to frustrations.

Another friend in Japan revealed that she had issues with customs clearance for her cat for signing on one of the documentations in the wrong color ink! She had to part ways with $100 US a day in quarantine costs until the matter was resolved.

Retain several copies of the documentation. Prepare for unexpected costs and issues by setting aside extra money. Lastly, have a contingency plan if moving your pet doesn’t go as planned.

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Tom has always loved to write since he was little - he wanted to be either a writer or a veterinary doctor, but he ended up being a professional writer while most of his works are based on animals. He was born in San Francisco but later moved to Texas to continue his job as a writer. He graduated from the University of San Francisco where he studied biotechnology. He is happily married and a soon to be father!

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