How I moved to another country with my pets (steps and tips)

Posted by The London Ginger (Para ler esse post em português, clique aqui)

When we started organising our move with our pets to London we initially thought it would be more complicated, bureaucratic and hard. But, if you are organised and do your research so you don’t miss nothing important, the work will not be as hard as it seems. There are steps to follow, and I will share our experience on this post.

Our family is composed of two dogs, five cats (all rescue/adopted) and two humans. This number can be scary, and is the main reason behind we hear things such as: “you are insane”, “what do you mean, you brought them from Brazil?”, “it must have been a lot of work”. And on our day-to-day life they are no trouble at all, and our routine is so full of love, laughter and fun that the work is irrelevant. I can’t imagine life without my pets.

But, let’s talk about the steps and organisation for the move.

First of all, you must check the place you intend to take your pet, since the law and requests differ from each country. Here I will focus on the steps to bring them to the UK.

Until 2012, there was a “quarantine” process in London that lasted between 60 to 90 days where the pet would stay in a shelter (a specific place where pets were taken when they arrive in London) and you were responsible for all the expenses, etc. Only after this period that the pet got released to go home. Mas since then, this has changes (which is great, because this sounds terrible for the pet).

The “quarantine” period is now from the date in which the serology material is collected from the pet, until the day the report is released allowing the pet to travel (this period is 90 days days long). I will talk more about this test.

Once the place you are taking them is decided and the laws are verified, it is time to take the determined steps. I recommend taking six months to organise and take every step, but there are ways of accelerating the process, depending on the urgency.

So, what are the steps to prepare the pets to travel?

  1.  Microchip – the pet must be microchipped in order to travel (keep the document with the specific number of each pet because you will need to present them later with other documents);
  2. Vaccination – V10 for dogs/V8 for cats and anti-rabbies;
  3. Serology Test – one month after getting their vaccination, the pet must take blood samples to be taken to the Zoonosis department in your city so they can generate a report after 90 days which will allow your pet to travel if no irregularity is found. In case it is, you must take care of the pets’ health and redo the test;
  4. Pet health check-up – done by the pet’s veterinarian.

These are the bureaucratic steps to be taken. Now let’s talk about plane tickets, transportation and forwarding agents.

For other countries inside the European Union it’s not necessary to use an agent to handle the process of the pets leaving and arriving in another country, but specifically for the United Kingdom (and London), it is mandatory.

We chose for this service in Brazil a company called MM Cargo Logistics. I researched many other companies, but this one had the best recommendations and the best customer care soe we could ask all the necessary questions. It was this same company that recommended the company to handle the London side – called JCS Livestock, which was a partner of theirs.

My experience with the company was excellent, and during the entire trip (from the moment they picked-up the pets at home in Brazil, to the moment they arrived in London), they kept me abreast of each part of the journey with messages and even pictures of the pets at the airport up to the moment they had to board the plane. That was very helpful.

Another important part of my research was regarding the airline companies. After reading a lot of reviews and talking to many companies, I felt that the only companies that I could safely send my pets where through Lufthansa or KLM. We decided to go ahead with Lufthansa.

The airplane ticket is charged by the size of each transportation kennel (or carrier) in which the pet travels. So I split the pets so a few went in pairs and others alone. The price (by kennel and not pet) where around 200 and 300 Euros (this value varies from each company).

The transportation kennel must fit the pet with enough space for it to walk around himself (enough space to move). If the pet plus the box weighs under 9Kg (approximately 20 lb), you can take the pet with you inside the plane. This is allowed in a few destinations, but it’s not the case for London (and UK). If it weighs more, the pet travels in a specific part of the plane dedicated for them.

But don’t worry because, contrary to popular belief, the space in which they travel is heated and prepared exactly for this type of transportation. Larger animals such as horses, tigers and many others travels make journeys like this all the time.

The moment you buy the tickets, make sure to request a reservation for your pets, because the number of pets allowed in a plane is very limited.

The choice of which transportation kennel to purchase is also important because they need to meet certain standards established by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). I chose a brand called Pet Mate, but there are many brands that meet standards. If someone can buy them for you outside of Brazil in can be a lot cheaper, because the prices in Brazil can be very overwhelming when compared to Europe or USA.

For the trip, we arranged the kennels with a lot of newspaper, an absorbing carpet and a blanket that the pets used everyday to sleep at home, so that they can have a familiar smell with them, which helps them to feel more comfortable. We put a small amount of food in plastic ziplock bags which was requested by the agents that would handle their transport.

Once they arrived at their first stop in Frankfurt, the pets where fed, they received water, and a veterinarian checked the pets to see of they were all doing well.

The pets left home in Brazil where I was and Leo was already in London to receive the there. Our experience was very positive. The pets left and got in London all very well, without any sign of trauma or unusual behaviour. And we, along with recommendation from their vets, decided not to sedate them for the trip. We were afraid they would wake up from sedation and be scared, considering it was a long trip, and the sedation wouldn’t last the full journey (just reminding readers that this was our personal option. It is up to each pet owner to decide what they feel is best for their pet).

Once at home in London, they were looking great, they immediately started exploring the new house, ate, and drank a lot of water, and continue to enjoy their new life in Europe.

I won’t lie and say we weren’t scared and apprehensive. But this was only due to the new experience and a small fear of the unknown.

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