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Laws for Paws: A Dog Owner’s Legal Guide to Moving Internationally

Moving comes with a host of worries, from making sure all of your boxes reach your destination on time to finding a house or apartment that matches your budget in a new city. International moving can add yet another layer of stress, since you have to adjust to a new country’s customs, laws, and restrictions, not to mention obtain a green card, work visa, and the right immigration status.

But when you move with a dog, you need to know more than just how to make your way in a new country. You have to make sure that your dog has the right vaccines, paperwork, and behavior to move with you.

In our guide below, we’ll introduce you to the process of moving internationally with a pet. Then, talk to your immigration lawyer to learn more about how these guidelines apply to your specific situation.

Laws for Paws: A Dog Owner's Legal Guide to Moving Internationally

Laws for Paws: A Dog Owner’s Legal Guide to Moving Internationally

Learn About Vaccinations and Diseases
No matter where you’re moving, your host country will want to make sure that your dog isn’t bringing any dangerous diseases into the country. In particular, they need certification that your pet doesn’t carry rabies or other diseases and parasites. You should visit your vet well in advance of your move to make sure your pet doesn’t have any diseases. You must obtain official certification from your vet to show that your pet is disease-free and up-to-date on any vaccinations.

Make Sure Your Pet Is Eligible for Quarantine
To ensure that your pet doesn’t transmit diseases, many countries require a mandatory quarantine. This can last for as little as five days or as long as six months. However, depending on your country or origin and your pet’s species, your pet might not qualify for quarantine. Look at your host country’s guidelines to make sure that your pet will be accepted into the country.

Many countries also require that pets be microchipped for identification prior to the quarantine and receive a certain amount of vaccines. Check with your host country to learn about specific rules and eligibility, or talk to your immigration lawyer.

Consider Costs
Moving a pet internationally is expensive. Quarantines, vaccines, official certification, and transportation all cost money. Make sure you know how much the process will cost, and budget accordingly. If the cost is too high, you may choose to leave your pet behind with an adoption agency or responsible family member or friend.

Consider Repatriation
If you plan to ever move back to your home country, your pet will have to go through a similarly lengthy process. Your home country will likely require a quarantine, and you’ll have to provide documentation that your pet stayed disease-free and up-to-date on vaccinations while you lived abroad.

Make sure to take these four steps into account as you plan your international move. An immigration lawyer can give you more information on how to make the process of moving with a dog as smooth as possible.

Debbie P

Friday 5th of November 2021

I've never been out of the country. But this was a very interesting article.

monique s

Wednesday 12th of April 2017

really good info to know. For all those of us that travel with pets, key to know all the laws.

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