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Moscow Animals Advice Center

Moving with Pets

1. Introduction

Relocating your family pet requires careful timing, planning, attention to detail, and a gift for logistics. It is essential to research export and import regulations and possible shipping options well in advance of the actual move. You must also allow for the likely expenses involved – and these can mount up. But set against all this, most of us regard our pets as full-fledged members of the family and would never dream of leaving them behind.

2. Initial Preparations

  • Find out what the requirements and regulations are for exporting your pet from your origin country and importing it to your destination country. You can obtain this information from your moving company, the embassy/consulate of the country you are moving to, your airline/travel agent and your local vet.
  • If an import permit is required to import your pet to your destination country, find out what you need to do in order to apply for and obtain it. Start this process early – it can take anywhere from several days to a month or more for an import permit application to be processed.
  • If your pet will have to go into quarantine in your destination country, locate a good quarantine kennel and obtain a quotation for boarding your pet for the duration of the required quarantine period.
  • If you will need boarding facilities for your pet in your destination country, find out whether they are available, what the charges are, and book the services as far in advance as possible. You may also have to arrange for transportation of your pet from the airport to the boarding facility.
  • Schedule an appointment with your local vet for a checkup.
  • Have your pet fitted with an ISO Standard microchip.
  • Make sure your pet has all necessary vaccinations and that they are up to date. Rabies vaccinations are a requirement to entry into any country around the world and even for air or train travel within one and the same country. Most countries additionally require your pet be vaccinated against feline/canine infectious diseases. Depending on where you are moving to you may have to start the vaccination process up to seven months before the move (for example, if you are moving your pet to the United Kingdom or Japan). Also remember that some vaccinations might prevent your pet from traveling for several weeks and/or might have to be administered one month prior to your arrival in your destination country.
  • Your pet may have to undergo a number of blood tests. The most frequently required test is a rabies antibody test, which is currently required for entry of pets into the majority of EU countries, the United Kingdom, and Japan.
  • Obtain vaccination records and blood test results from your vet. Vaccination records come in different forms. EU countries, for example, issue travel passports for pets. These are very convenient as they contain all pertinent information on your pet, including a description (breed, age, color, and name) and a photo along with your pet’s vaccination record and other important health information. In other countries, such as the United States, the vaccination record will come on a piece of paper from your vet. Also obtain copies of your pet’s health records. This will allow your vet in your destination country to quickly access all relevant health information for your pet.
  • Obtain a health certificate from your veterinarian or veterinary agency in your origin country before departure. Depending on the export regulations in your origin country, this certificate will be issued anywhere from ten (10) to three (3) days before your pet’s departure. Note that in some countries (including Russia) the health certificate issued by the local vet or veterinary agency must be exchanged for an international health certificate at the airport of departure. An English-language health certificate is normally acceptable for entry into any country.
  • If your pet is on one or more kinds of medications, obtain a reasonable supply that you can bring along in your carry-on luggage (you should not include medications in any unaccompanied household goods shipment). Ask your vet to write down both the trade name(s) of the medication(s) as well as the active ingredient(s) and required dosage(s). Medications with the same ingredient(s) are often sold under different trade names in different countries. Knowing the active ingredient and required dosage will allow your vet in your destination country to recommend a substitute in case the original medication is not available.
  • Set aside a small amount of food your pet is used to and bring it with you on the plane. Always check with your moving company before including any pet food in your household goods shipment: Many countries prohibit the export and import of foodstuffs (including pet food) in unaccompanied household goods shipments.

3. Pet Travel Containers

Make sure that you purchase the right kind of travel container for your pet well in advance of your departure. If your container does not comply with IATA regulations, reputable airlines will refuse to transport your pet.

Pet travel container requirements include:

1. The container must be large enough for your pet: it must be able to stand up (full size, head up), turn around, and lie down in the container in a natural manner.

2. The container must be strong enough to protect your pet during transport, be secure enough to contain it, and have sufficient ventilation on all four sides, to ensure the air quality in the container will not deteriorate.

3. The container must be leak proof. You should line the bottom of the container with absorbent material such as bedding or newspapers. Cat litter, however, is not acceptable.

4. The door must be secured in such a manner that it will not open accidentally and that your pet cannot open it during handling and transport.

5. Your pet's nose and paws should not be able to fit through any ventilation opening or door mesh.

6. The container must have a water pot and a food container that are accessible from the outside.

7. Fiberboard or wire mesh containers are not suitable for air transportation.

If you are in doubt about which container to purchase, consult your veterinarian and your airline. Good pet stores will also be able to assist you in choosing the correct travel container for your pet. If you already have a container, please ask your vet and your airline to confirm that it complies with IATA regulations.

Note that with rare exceptions each animal must travel in a separate container.

If your pet does not belong to the “Been-There, Seen-That Travel the World Club for Pets,” start familiarizing your pet with the container well before departure day. Leave it open somewhere around the house, preferably with a familiar blanket or toy inside so that the animal can become accustomed to it. If the animal is still showing signs of concern after a while, a good tip is to place a piece of clothing belonging to the family member the animals is closest to inside the container. This will usually calm the animal down and help it overcome separation anxiety.

Mark the container with “Live Animal” stickers. They usually come with the container.

Prepare a big note (typed or handwritten; if handwritten, use capital letters only) with the following information and attach it securely to the top of the container in a waterproof, transparent cover:

1. Your pet's name, gender, age, and breed.
2. Your contact details at origin, destination, and/or in transit.

3. Contact details of the person or organization that will meet your pet at destination.
4. Any additional information on your pet, such as the kind of food your pet normally eats, how often it is fed and walked, and details on any medical problems your pet might have and how they are normally treated.

We suggest writing the note in the name of your pet. Example: "Hi, I am <name>, a <age & breed>, going to <destination> on flight # <flight number>. Thanks for taking good care of me."

If you are shipping a dog, firmly attach a collar and leash to the outside of the kennel.

Before departure, attach extra food, water, and any required medication to the outside of the container along with instructions for these items and a 24-hour history of feeding, watering and medication.

Never put toys in the container – they constitute a choking hazard.

4. Kinds of Pet Travel Arrangements

Depending on your travel plans and regulations in your origin and destination country, there are three ways to travel with/ship pets.

In the Cabin. You must be on the same flight as your pet and the container in which the pet is traveling must fit entirely under the seat in front of you. Size limitations for containers vary by aircraft and airline. If the plane is small and/or the space under the seat in front of you is restricted, this travel option will require a very small container. This may not be comfortable for pets, particularly on long-haul flights. Weight restrictions may also apply. Charges for transporting pets in the cabin are usually set at a fixed amount per kg total weight (i.e., the weight of your pet plus the weight of the travel container). Make sure to have a leash or harness with you as most airports will require that pets be removed from their container at the security screening checkpoint so that the container may be sent through the x-ray machine. You will normally not be allowed to remove your pet from its container during the flight. If your pet does not travel well, does not like being confined in its container for long periods of time, or is very vocal, you may want to opt for the checked baggage option. Your pet might actually be more comfortable that way.

Checked Baggage (also referred to as Excess Baggage or Accompanied Pets). You must be on the same flight as your pet and must check in your pet at the same time as your luggage. At destination you will be able to pick up your pet in the baggage claim area. This is generally the most convenient way of traveling with pets. In most cases, you will be able to check your pet all the way through to your final destination, but to be sure, please check with your airline beforehand. If you change airlines or airports en route, you may have to pick up and transport your pet to the next departure point. Shipping a pet as checked baggage should be reasonably affordable. Airlines usually charge a fixed amount per kg total weight (i.e., the weight of your pet plus the weight of the travel container).

Cargo (also referred to Unaccompanied Pets). If your pet does not qualify for either of the aforementioned options because of its size or weight; because of travel restrictions in your origin and/or destination country; or because you cannot travel on the same flight as your pet, it must travel as cargo. Note that a pet may have to be shipped as cargo even if it is on the same flight as its owner. This is usually the case when the destination country only permits pets that are shipped as cargo to enter the country. Shipping pets as cargo is more difficult and more expensive than any other pet travel option, and you may want to contact a professional pet mover to assist you. Pets shipped as cargo must be checked in at the origin airport's cargo terminal and will be unloaded at the corresponding terminal at destination. Export and import customs clearance for pet cargo shipments can take several hours at each origin and destination. Note that the cargo terminal is almost always in a different location than the passenger terminal. It is generally recommended that you avoid shipping pets as cargo whenever possible

Information Applying to Animals Traveling as Checked Baggage and as Cargo. In both cases, pets are carried in the cargo hold, which is located underneath the aircraft's passenger cabin. This hold is temperature controlled and provides a comfortable environment during the flight. The hold is not lit because experience shows that pets quickly settle down and travel better in the dark. If you are traveling on the same flight as your pet, have a flight attendant inform the captain that a pet is on board and require that they confirm to you that your pet has been loaded. If taxiing becomes extensive or the aircraft experiences ventilation problems, tell a flight attendant that you are concerned about your pet and ask him or her to have the captain check the temperature in the cargo hold where your pet is located. If the delay is long, insist that your pet be removed. Claim your pet as soon as possible after you reach your destination. If your flight is not non-stop, leave the aircraft, and check on your pet during the layover. If the layover is long or the temperature is a factor, ask to have the pet unloaded for the layover and do not let it remain in the cargo hold or out in the sunlight. If the layover is long enough and regulations permit, claim your pet, take it for a walk, and offer it water before you reboard. Connecting flights may require that you claim and recheck your pet at the connecting location, which may take up to three hours. If you are changing planes and do not have the possibility of claiming and rechecking your pet, always reconfirm that your pet has made the connection and is safely on board the plane

5. Making Travel Arrangements

1. Find out whether the airline you plan to use will accept your pet. Most airlines will not accept pug-nosed dogs and cats that have to travel as cargo as they tend to suffer respiratory problems in the air. Airlines also have the right to refuse to ship aggressive dogs and dogs that are illegal in your destination country. Traveling with pregnant cats and dogs or young kittens and puppies can be problematic and you should consult your vet and your airline or travel agent to discuss all issues involved. Normally airlines will not accept puppies or kittens that are less than ten (or, in some cases, 12) weeks old and mothers that are more than six weeks pregnant. Cats and dogs up to the sixth week of pregnancy can be transported, but they must have a veterinary certificate confirming that the pet is fit to travel.

2. Find out what the travel requirements are for pets arriving in your destination country: Several countries only allow pets traveling as cargo (i.e. not in the cabin or as excess baggage) to enter their territory – even if you are entering the country on the same flight as your pet.

3. Find out whether your pet will be subject to import duties and/or taxes in your destination country and if yes, how they are calculated (for example, on the declared value of your pet or on the shipping charges indicated in the Air Waybill if your pet travels as cargo).

4. If your pet will travel in the cabin or as excess baggage, call your airline or travel agent as soon as possible to book your pet on all required flights. Provide the airline or your agent with your travel itinerary and ask them to check whether the airline(s) you will be using will accept your pet on all parts of your journey and on the required dates and that your cat will be able to travel in the cabin or as excess baggage. Based on the information you provide, the airline or travel agent will put in a request all the way through to your final destinations and will then re-confirm that you will be able to travel with your pet as planned. Ask them to confirm the booking for your pet in writing so that you can show the information to your airline when checking in!

5. If your pet will travel as cargo, contact a reliable pet mover to help you make all necessary arrangements at origin and destination.

6. Avoid weekend or holiday flight periods.

7. One very important thing to remember when intending to ship pets as excess baggage or cargo is that animals may not be exposed to temperatures below -12 oC (10 oF) or above 30 oC (85 oF). Therefore, if your pet will not be traveling in the cabin with you, avoid travel during very cold or hot times of the year and make sure that flights are early morning or late night if during the summer and midday if during the winter. Many airlines have temperature-related restrictions for pet transportation.

8. Wherever possible, book a non-stop flight.

9. If your pet will be traveling as excess baggage or cargo, inquire as to the aircraft planned for the route and make sure that your travel crate will fit into the plane.

10. Remember that you cannot just show up at the airport with your pet without having made prior arrangements with the airline. In the vast majority of cases, the airline will not accept your pet, even if it is very small, and you want to take it in the cabin with you. All airlines have restrictions on the number of animals that are allowed to travel in the cabin on any flight.

11. Prices for the in-the-cabin and excess baggage options are normally charged on a per kilogram basis. Prices for cargo shipments are usually much more expensive, and in order to obtain a quotation you must provide your pet mover or your airline’s cargo department with the size of your pet’s travel kennel (height, width, and length), the weight of the empty kennel and the weight of your pet. Whenever a cargo shipment involves transit via one or more airports, you may also have to pay a handling fee for the animal reception center of each airport your pet will pass through.

12. Have your airline or travel agent reconfirm all travel arrangements 24 to 48 hours prior to the flight – in writing, and all the way through to your final destination.

13. Remember that you will need ca. two hours more for check-in procedures when traveling with an animal in the cabin or as excess baggage and more when the animal is traveling as cargo. Make sure you get to the airport well on time to complete all necessary formalities.

14. Ideally pets should not be tranquilized for travel. Never tranquilize a pet without prior consultation with your vet. Your vet will tell you what is best for your cat or dog given the animal’s age, state of health, character, and duration of your journey. The reality is that tranquilized animals are more likely to experiencing breathing problems. The reason for this is that aircraft are pressurized at approximately two thirds of normal atmospheric pressure. This causes a drop in blood pressure for both humans and animals. As most tranquilizers cause an additional drop in blood pressure, the airlines consider this an unacceptable risk for animals. Airlines retain the right to refuse transporting animals that are obviously tranquilized. Pre-flight conditioning of your pet to its travel container is the best method of relaxing and training your pet for airline travel.

15. If your pet is traveling as excess baggage or as cargo, tell a flight attendant that you are traveling with a pet and ask him/her to obtain confirmation from the pilot that your pet is on board and that the temperature in the baggage or cargo hold has been adjusted to accommodate your pet.

16. If your pet is traveling as cargo and will not be traveling on the same flight as you, make sure the person or pet mover who will be meeting your pet at its final destination has detailed flight information (airline, flight number, Air Waybill number, local time of arrival, copies of your pet’s vaccination records, health certificate, and full information on your pet as well as your contact details at origin, at destination, and/or in transit).

6. Preparing Your Pet for the Flight

Prior to your journey you should give your pet only a light meal and the opportunity to urinate and defecate before it is placed in its container.

Give only a light meal to your pet a few hours before flight departure. Most pets are house trained and do not wish to soil their bedding. It is therefore kinder not to give them too much food. If the flight duration is over 12 hours, water needs to be provided, but care should be taken not to overfill the water container. Water is checked before loading and during transit stops.

Most pets travel well and do not usually need a sedative. If sedation is required, it must only be carried out under strict veterinary supervision and the details should be clearly shown on the pet's container.

Make certain that your pet is wearing a collar with identification in case it escapes. The safest type of collar for air travel is a breakaway collar if you have a cat or, for dogs, a paper collar you can make from a strip of paper and tape with identification written on the paper. This will prevent your pet from accidentally strangling itself in its collar.

Never muzzle your pet as its ability to breathe and regulate its temperature by panting will be severely restricted.

7. At Home in the New Home

Dogs and cats (and other animals for that matter) encounter many of the same problems that people do when moving into a new place. They must become used to a colder or warmer climate, a new house and neighborhood, new people, unfamiliar sights and sounds, and food and water that might not agree with them. Once accustomed to these changes, however, the animal should settle down in its new home.

It is advisable to keep the animal confined until it realizes that this is its new home and that the family is going to stay. Please remember that cats should never be let outside in Moscow. This includes cats living at residential compounds such as Pokrovsky Hills, Rosinka, Chaika, Serebryanny Bor, and the Moscow Country Club, as well as those living in Zhukovka, Barvikha, Peredelkino and other places outside of town. There are too many aggressive pedigree and stray dogs around, and they pose a real danger to cats. On top of that, rat poison is very common in Moscow.

Dogs should also never be allowed to go outside unattended. Cars and other dogs are the major threats to a dog’s safety in Moscow. There is no reliable system for reuniting lost pets with their owners in Moscow yet. Nevertheless, make sure your dog wears an identification tag at all times and that the information provided on the tag is up-to-date and includes your name, address, phone numbers, and your dog’s vaccination status. Most residential compounds require dogs to be on a lead at all times, and aggressive dogs must additionally wear a muzzle.

To speed up that “at home” feeling, bring the pet’s familiar blanket/basket/bed, bowls, toys and a small amount of your dog’s or cat’s favorite food. Wherever possible put these items in the same location as they were in your old home; for example, place food and water bowls in a particular spot in the kitchen.

Your pet(s) may be slow to adapt to the new home and might show some distress. Symptoms may include indoor soiling, excessive grooming or not grooming altogether, excessive barking or meowing, destructiveness or self-mutilation, depression, loss of appetite, and hiding or aggression. If the symptoms do not disappear within several days, please consult with a vet.

Once settled in your new home, locate a competent veterinarian. When you have chosen one, give the vet copies of your pet’s veterinary record. Having this information on hand will save time and confusion should your pet require emergency or other treatment.

8. Pet Travel Companies

a. Brazil

Brazil Pet, Tel.: +55-11-4784-1306 (Portuguese), Tel.: +55-11-9167-6846 (English),
Fax: +55-11-4784-1306
E-mail: , http://www.brazilpet.com.br

b. Hong Kong

Aeropet Company, Tel.: +852-2744-3330, Fax: +852-2744-1406
E-mail: , http://www.aero-pet.com

c. Russia

Valeria Shishmaryova , Tel.:/Fax: (+7 495) 694-03-88 (home), Tel.: 8-901-539-39-56 (mobile, when calling from within Russia), Tel.: +7-901-539-39-56 (mobile, when calling from abroad)

d. Singapore

Animal World Express, Tel.: +65-6259-2229, Fax: +65-6353-2894,
E-mail: , http://www.awexp.com

Mitchville K-9 Kennels, Tel.: +65-6482-0084, Fax: +65-6481-7743
E-mail: , http://www.mitchville.com.sg

e. South Africa

Animal Travel Agency (Johannesburg) , Tel.: +27-11-708-4666, Fax: +27-11-708-4670
E-mail: , , http://www.animaltravel.co.za

Pets Go International (Cape Town) , Tel.: +27-21-559-66-76, Fax: +27-21-559-67-57
E-mail: , http://www.pets2gointernational.com/

Global Paws (Johannesburg), Tel.: +27-11-662-1777, Fax: +27-11-662-1778
E-mail: , http://www.globalpaws.co.za

f. United Arab Emirates

Abu Dhabi British Veterinary Center, Tel.: +971-2-665-00-85, Fax: +971-2-665-00-14
E-mail: or , http://www.britvet.com

Dubai Kennels and Cattery, Tel.: +971-4-285-1646, Fax: +971-4-285-7167
E-mail: , http://www.dkc.ae

g. United Kingdom

Air Pets Oceanic, Tel.: +44-1753-68-55-71, Fax: +44-1753-68-16-55
E-mail: , http://www.airpets.com

Wey Farm Quarantine and Boarding Kennels and Cattery, Tel.: +44-1932-87-32-39,
Fax: +44-1932-87-47-58
E-mail: , http://www.weyfarm.co.uk

h. United States

Air Animal, Tel.: +1-813-879-3210, Fax: +1-813-874-672
E-mail: , http://www.airanimal.com

World Wide Pet Transport, Tel.: +1-516-625-2683, Fax: +1-516-625-8802
E-mail: , , http://www.worldwidepettransport.com