Emigrating with your exotic pet


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The prospect of emigrating to an entirely different country or continent is nerve-racking, yet, exhilarating – a fresh start in a foreign land is just what you need to escape your comfort zone and grow as a person. However, a major area code change comes with many challenges, including taking your precious pet with you to your new home. Things get even trickier when said pet happens to be an exotic bird, bearded dragon or snake. That’s why we’ve asked Hazel Imrie, PETport Owner and Founder of reliable pet relocation specialist PETport to share the ins and outs of emigrating with an exotic pet from South Africa. Snakes on a plane have never looked this good. 


First things first 

Before you set your heart on taking your feathery, scaly or slimy friend with you, be sure to do your research. Check the entry requirements into your new country of residence to find out if your pet will be allowed in or not. 

Bringing a dog or cat into the country is acceptable in most regions. However, some countries have restrictions on which species of animals they welcome with open arms. For example, in Australia, you aren’t allowed entry with a member of the rodent family. It is therefore essential to check with the local government on their policies for more exotic pets before you make any real plans. 

If you are permitted to take your exotic pet with you, ask your vet to recommend travel options best suited to your pet’s needs, and then research each one to make a well-informed decision. 


Ask the professionals 

As with everything else in life, proper planning prevents poor performance, or in this case, a sad bunny that has to stay behind. Your best option is to get in touch with a professional pet relocation agency to ensure a seamless and comfortable transfer of your beloved pet overseas. Ask for a quote and familiarise yourself with what’s included, including insurance, so you know your responsibilities. 

Usually, pets will be transported as live animal cargo and placed in a special pressurised and heated compartment in the hold of a plane. Some airlines allow passengers to carry their pets with them as additional baggage. However, you need to contact the relevant airline to find out. 


A healthy pet is a happy (and safe) pet 

Depending on your country of choice, your pet will have to undergo a variety of vaccinations, blood tests, parasite treatments, and microchipping, before they can call it home. Again, your vet and pet move specialist will be able to guide you through this process to ensure your best friend complies with government regulations and international travel requirements. Some regions also require that your pet stays in quarantine before and after travel, so it is wise to find this out before you finalise your travel calendar and timeline.

Additionally, you need to make sure your pet travels with their original vet card/book, all original blood testing documents and microchip certificate.  

In general, all pets need to have an ISO microchip to be considered valid for travel and entry into most countries, so that’s a good place to start. Even if their vaccinations are up to date, without a microchip, it becomes difficult for them to emigrate. Certain exotics may require a special kind of microchip or no microchip at all, so it’s important to speak to your vet and pet relocation expert. A rabies vaccination, Rabies Neutralising Antibody Titration Test (RNATT) and other treatments usually need to be administered a couple of months before your pet can enter a new country – another thing to bear in mind when planning your migration. 

Your pet’s wellbeing is an important factor to consider when moving abroad. But with so many decisions to make for the big move, finding a trustworthy and reliable pet relocation specialist can help take the pressure off and ensure you’re reunited with your exotic little creature on the other side. 


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