Pet passports: A Beginner's Guide
(CNN) – Passports are required for travel by more than just humans.
Valentino has a pack of six lovely pugs who accompanied him on his private jet. They all had passports, and they almost certainly had more stamps than the typical human traveler.
Most of the time, though, "pet passport" is merely a metaphor. Pet passports are more likely to be a stack of paperwork than blue or red booklets with names and photos.
While a human can travel to various nations with a single passport, the regulations for animals to travel differ greatly between continents and countries. The procedure can be costly and intimidating, but it is manageable.
Starting at the beginning
Beth Schutte is the president and CEO of the ARK Import Export Center, which oversees The ARK at JFK, a full-service animal welcome and quarantine facility located directly on the JFK airport's runway.
She's also a member of the International Pet and Animal Transport Association's board of directors (IPATA).
The European Union largely pioneered this entire pet passport concept, Schutte continues, which allows animals to travel more freely with their owners around the European Union and the United Kingdom.
Pet passports are common in countries such as Russia and China, but they are not an official document like a human passport. It's more of a collection of all the pet data. The pet passport is not required in the United States.
There is essentially one piece of advise that every pet travel expert agrees on, regardless of your nation of origin and your country of travel or relocation: get started as soon as possible.
Bash Dibra, a dog trainer and author who has worked with celebrities like Mariah Carey and Sarah Jessica Parker's pets, feels it's never too early to get your pet used to traveling, even for short distances.
Essentially, the first time you acquire your dog, you should be training it ready for imagined journeys, he explains. Crate training prepares you for all other types of training.
He goes on to say: Once a dog or cat has been trained to use a crate, they prefer being in it. You can do this by organizing special vacations, driving to a weekend house or visiting friends, or even taking your dog to a hotel.
Working with a reliable travel agency that specializes in animal transport is recommended by Schutte; some of them can be found on IPATA's list of recognized companies.
Meanwhile, if an overwhelmed owner is unsure where to begin, Dibra recommends contacting their local branch of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) for a veterinarian referral.
Check with your present veterinarian to see whether they are familiar with the travel requirements, and if they aren't, schedule one or two appointments with another veterinarian.
Pets have been denied boarding for a variety of reasons, including transposing two numbers in a date, according to Schutte and her colleagues. Dates are written month first in the United States, but day first and month second in many other countries, so May 10 in the United States becomes October 5 in France.
Working with someone who is familiar with the newest paperwork and limitations will help decrease stress and ensure that everything is in order on the big day for both the human and the animal.
The United States of America
The Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, better known by its abbreviation APHIS, is in charge of animal transport into the United States.
Dogs, cats, rabbits, ferrets, hedgehogs, and most reptiles, amphibians, and rodents are considered "pets" by the Department. These animals must be privately kept and not meant for scientific research or trade.
The pet guidelines have one notable exception. If you have a pet bird, you'll need to give a veterinarian stationed at an approved port more information. It's possible that the Department of Fish and Wildlife will be involved as well. More information can be found here.
Because places like Hawaii and Puerto Rico have stricter rules, APHIS' website contains useful information concerning transporting animals in and out of the country, as well as between states and territories.
There are some exceptions to the requirements in emergency situations; for example, due to the current situation in Ukraine, animals being transported from that country can get their paperwork in order more rapidly.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has unique rules for animals traveling by airline; for more information, see their incredibly charming, gif-filled handbook.
Throughout the European Union
One of the advantages of the European Union is that humans and their pets can travel freely within its member countries.
The single most important thing you can do is make sure your pet is rabies-vaccinated, which is classified in the EU as a dog, cat, or ferret, and keep the paperwork with you in case you cross a border.
Only licensed veterinarians in EU member nations are permitted to issue pet passports. Individuals from the United Kingdom, the United States, or other countries will not be welcomed.
Any pet entering the EU from outside the EU must be microchipped, rabies-vaccinated, and over the age of 12 weeks.
If you're coming from the United States, you'll need to complete APHIS' Annex II form.Individual airlines have varied laws about whether or not pets are allowed to travel in the cabin with their owners; size and breed are important considerations. Before purchasing tickets, be sure you have done your homework.
In the United Kingdom
Because the United Kingdom is no longer a member of the European Union as a result of Brexit, there are now various procedures for bringing a pet into the nation. These regulations only apply to England, Scotland, and Wales, not Northern Ireland, which has its own set of legislation.
Microchips, rabies vaccinations, and a valid pet "passport" or health certificate are required for cats, dogs, and ferrets traveling to the UK as pets.
Giving dogs tapeworm medications before going is also a smart idea.Aside from that, certain dog breeds, such as pit bulls and Japanese tosas, are completely prohibited.Because it is an island, the United Kingdom strictly enforces its animal transportation regulations. If you don't fill out the form correctly or don't carry the necessary documents, your pet may be denied boarding, seized upon arrival, and/or forced to spend up to four months in quarantine.
Australia is a great place to visit.
The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (DAWE) in Australia is in charge of animal travel regulations. To begin, each country is assigned to one of three groups.
The first two groups largely consist of neighboring countries and Pacific islands, whereas the third group include the majority of EU member countries, many Caribbean islands, Canada, and the United States.
Cats and dogs from recognized nations may be brought in as pets, but they must first undergo a 10-day quarantine at Melbourne's Mickleham Post Entry Quarantine Facility.
Arriving in the country will not suffice. You'll need to make a reservation for your pet at Mickleham and pay the fees associated with their care. The process begins with a $1,200 AUS (US$894) import fee.
Quarantine procedures are extremely stringent. It's tempting to send your dog or cat to Mickleham with a favorite chew toy, but it's not a good idea. Due to any contamination concerns, these will all be destroyed upon delivery. The facility also chooses the food, so let Mickleham know ahead of time if your pet has any special requirements.
If your country isn't on the approved list, you'll have to arrange transportation through a third country.
After the paperwork is done,
Even if your pet doesn't require a "passport" right now, you can begin planning ahead by purchasing or arranging items that will be required later.
Smaller dogs who are able to fly in the cabin (or in the backseat of a car) with their owners can be placed in smaller carriers, according to dog trainer Dibra.
He suggests plastic carriers for cats since they are "sturdier and safer," especially in crises.
You should keep old items in addition to purchasing new ones. Traveling with favorite toys and snacks is essential, and many animals are soothed by a familiar-smelling object inside their carrier, such as a stuffed animal or an owner's T-shirt.