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Tackling quarantines while travelling with your pets

Travelling with pets to a different country is a daunting task, and addressing quarantine regulations is perhaps the most intimidating part of the move. Different countries have different quarantine laws, some more stringent than others. Quarantine laws were formulated to protect the country from bio-hazards and diseases caused by invasive species. Quarantines can range anywhere from two days to six months, depending on the animal and the country in question. If you are planning to travel or move abroad with your pet, it is best to do a bit of research about the country’s quarantine laws first.

Quarantine basics

What happens during quarantine? If your dog or cat has to stay in a quarantine facility in the new country, it means they will be housed in a separate facility till their quarantine period is over or till it is proven that they carry no invasive microorganisms or diseases. Your pet will be looked after by the staff and fed and exercised regularly. If the country you are travelling to requires that your pet spend a few weeks in quarantine, it will be at your expense.

A quarantine facility is similar to a boarding kennel, with separate enclosures for each animal. Contrary to popular belief, these facilities are clean and well-maintained in most countries. Some countries even let you choose the quarantine facility of your choice.

Check your country’s rabies category

Quarantine is to prevent the entry of exotic pathogens inside the country and safeguard other animals from invasive diseases. Though all exotic diseases and health issues are looked for during the quarantine period, the most critical disease is rabies. Since rabies spreads quickly and can be transmitted to any mammal, including humans, most countries take a firm stand on rabies and animals travelling from countries with high rabies prevalence.

All countries are classified into three divisions based on the status of rabies in the country:

• Rabies-free countries, such as Japan, Singapore, New Zealand, Australia, United Kingdom, etc. However, the European Union does not consider any country as rabies-free.

• Rabies-controlled countries, such as Canada, Hong Kong, Italy, Mexico, Taiwan, United States, etc. These countries have low incidence of rabies by EU standards.

• High-rabies countries, such as Brazil, China, Korea, Macau, Saudi Arabia, Philippines, etc. These countries have a high incidence of rabies according to EU standards.

Moving between countries in the same category is generally more straightforward than from one category to another. An experienced pet travel company can advise you on the status of the country you are moving from and the status of the country that you are moving to. If you move from a high-risk country to a low-risk country, the quarantine implications will be more severe. Most countries will ask you to vaccinate your pet before travel and perform a rabies titre test to show no exposure to the disease. Remember to check the country’s quarantine requirements ahead of time to able to meet all regulations satisfactorily, thus making your big move stress-free for you and your pet.

The rules are different for every country, but broadly, you can travel from a rabies-free country to any country in any category with minimal paperwork and no quarantine. If your pet has been in a rabies-free country for more than six months, you can travel to other countries without or with minimal quarantine. However, if you are moving to a country in a high or medium risk category, there will be some restrictions when you return to your home country.

If you are moving to a rabies-free country from a rabies-controlled country or a high rabies country, you will have to furnish vaccination proof, as well as a rabies blood titre test. Usually, you will need to finish these tests 4 to 6 months before travel. So plan your travel accordingly, because if you fail to meet the time requirements, your pet will have to spend that much time in quarantine in the new country.

Some rabies-free countries such as Australia and New Zealand do not allow pets from certain high rabies countries to enter. These countries will not let you bring your pet if you are travelling from such a country, even if your pet meets all the requirements. Some countries such as China, Hawaii, Hong Kong and New Zealand have mandatory quarantine, even if you are travelling from a rabies-free country.

Seek professional help

Quarantine laws are tricky; they change often, and it can be challenging to get the latest information. Since quarantine is such a big part of the move, it is essential to get it right. No one wants their pet to languish in a facility because of incorrect paperwork; it is stressful for both the pet and the parent, as well as expensive. It is impossible to avoid quarantine in some countries, but the right paperwork, vaccinations, and tests can go a long way in reducing the number of days spent in the facility.

It is recommended to use a professional pet relocation service, especially when you are moving to a country with complex quarantine requirements. Petraveller has the latest quarantine information on hand and can help you navigate the quarantine maze easily and with minimal stress. Contact our team today if you have any questions about quarantine and how it affects your move.