Find out how to take your animal with you.
Qatar is a temporary country for many expat families and sadly thousands of animals are left behind when a family leaves Qatar because they have not thought about pet relocation, the costs involved and the different animal laws which vary from country to country.
This is a basic guide on the process of relocating pets to aid owners.
It is not an exhaustive list nor does it contain detailed costs and information because every country and airline is different.
Further research, including contacting relocation agents, vets, IATA (International Air Trade Association) and IPATA (International Pet and Animal Transportation Association) is advised to ensure you have all the information with the most up-to-date details on pet relocation to your new part of the world.
Contacts are provided at the end of this page.
Where To Start
Even if you are not thinking about leaving Qatar any time soon, it is still important to start planning now because you never know when your financial or family situation might change.
It’s never too early to set up a pet savings plan. The cost of transporting animals varies and it is dependent on the volume of your pet rather than the weight. Contact a relocation agent to obtain an estimate now so you have a figure in your head.
Crate training, no matter how old your animal is, is advisable. All animals will be transported out of Qatar in crates in the cargo hold of the airplane. If your pet isn’t used to a crate, get training now so they are as comfortable as possible when it’s time to leave the country. They could be in their crate from a couple of hours through to 48 hours, and you don’t want their first experience of this new environment to be when they are boarding and don’t know what is happening. A YouTube link of crate training is shown in the contacts at the end of this guide. Remember crate training should be a happy, positive experience. Never use it as a place of ‘time out’ or to reprimand them for bad behaviour.
Is My Pet Actually Allowed to Fly?
You should find out as soon as possible if your pet is actually allowed to fly as some breeds are restricted, and others are completely banned from export/import. Different airlines also have different rules.
Snub-nosed dog and cat breeds are often restricted because of health reasons. Several airlines prevent or restrict if and when pugs, bulldogs, boxers, Persians, and other short-nosed, or brachycephalic, dogs and cats can fly in airplane cargo. This varies from airline to airline, and the weather conditions.
Dogs that are banned from traveling are:
- Pit bulls including the American Pit Bull and Pit Bull Terrier
- American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier
- American Bull Dog
- Japanese Tosa
- Dogo Argentino
- Fila Brasileiro
- Perro de Preso Canario
Check with IATA and IPATA, DEFRA, and the like for advice if you are concerned about your pet’s breed and if it is a crossbreed of the above.
Pregnant dogs and cats in their third trimester cannot fly.
You Are Definitely Leaving Qatar: What Now?
This is a checklist of information you should start considering way before you know you are leaving Qatar (preferably as soon as you arrive here!). Think about:
- What are the regulations for animal travel into your chosen destination?
- What are the medical processes? Remember, the veterinary process can take around seven months to complete for some countries.
- Does my pet need a passport?
- Will my dog need to go into quarantine?
- What will the weather conditions be like? (try to avoid travelling in the height of the summer or take a night flight)
- Your flight might be booked months in advance but confirmation of your pet’s flight, even if it’s the same airplane, can only be officially made a week beforehand.
- An export certificate is only valid for ten days. If you change your flight details, it must be within the ten days.
Incorrect paperwork will prevent your pet from flying.
The Right Crate
You must only use an IATA-approved crate and follow their guidelines for measuring your dog. It is better to slightly overestimate the size as airport staff will stop a pet from flying if an animal is considered to be restricted in their movements.
- Your pet must be able to stand up, sit down, turn full circle, and lie down comfortably.
- No pet accessories are allowed, apart from a collar, an approved cushion, and a blanket or item of clothing. A t-shirt with your scent on it is very comforting to a dog or a cat.
- If you are using an agent, they will provide water but double-check. A good tip is to freeze your pet’s water bowl and it will slowly defrost.
- Several Qatar pet shops allow you to bring your dog in to try crate sizes out. Call up in advance to arrange an appointment.
Can I Sedate My Pet Before Travel?
Except in unusual circumstances, a vet will not sedate a pet before traveling. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association it can prove fatal as pets cannot regulate their breathing nor temperature if they are sedated.
Sedation can also cause injuries as an animal cannot brace itself if there is some turbulence. Airport staff also need to be able to check your pet is ok and breathing properly when loading and unloading – they will not know if anything is wrong if your pet is sedated.
Before traveling, Qatar requires that all dogs and cats have a current rabies vaccination that has been given a minimum of 30 days to 364 days prior to traveling. They must also have Export Certificates even if the country you are traveling to does not ask for one.
You must then also look at your destination country’s laws regarding travel. Some countries, like several European destinations, Canada and USA are straightforward, although the process can still take 5 months from start to end; others are stricter such as Australia and New Zealand, and your pet relocation planning should start a good seven months in advance.
For all EU and many other countries, your pet is required to pass a RATT test (rabies antibody titre test) not less than 30 days after their last rabies shot. THIS TEST IS COMPULSORY FOR MANY COUNTRIES EVEN IF THEY HAVE A PET PASSPORT. Once they pass this test it is a further 90 days before they are able to travel. The RATT can be done at any time as it lasts for the life of your pet as long as the rabies shots are kept up to date.
An animal cannot be exported to the strictest countries until 180 days (6 months) after blood is taken for a satisfactory rabies neutralising antibody titre test RNATT. The RNATT result is valid for 2 years after the date blood was collected. The animal must have a valid Rabies vaccination certificate at the time of export. Australia accepts a rabies certificate as valid for 3 years. The most important thing to do therefore is to get this done at least 180 days before the date you plan to export your dog to these countries.
Many countries still require quarantine for dogs. If you’re travelling to Singapore, Japan, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand with your pet, (several common post-Qatar destinations) your dog will be quarantined. Indian regulations also keep changing on a regular basis.
If your dog has to go into quarantine, remember you are responsible for the costs.
Australian quarantine requirements are probably the strictest in the world. This is because there are a number of diseases that do not exist in Australia. The requirements were eased a few years ago after a thorough review. The main outcome of this is a reduced minimum time that imported dogs are required to spend in Australian government quarantine stations, from the previous 30 days to 10. Australia also tests for many other diseases before allowing dogs to travel.
However, keep checking and do not take this document as having the most up to date information as it can change at short notice.
What Else Do I Need To Consider?
- Some countries, like the UK, require your dog to be micro-chipped, and health checks and vaccinations are only valid if they are done after the microchip has been implanted. A record of the date the micro-chipping was done must be clear in their vet book or you need a vet letter to confirm when the chip was implanted.
- They also require worming medication and front-lining.
- Almost all pets will fly out of Qatar in the cargo hold, however, some destination countries and airlines will allow dogs to fly as “excess baggage” and this is often a cheaper option. A few airlines will allow pets in the cabin as long as the box can be stowed under the seat in front of you and the pet can comfortably turn around in that box. The animal will usually fly in the cargo of the plane regardless of what you pay as “excess baggage”. Please check with the airline and DEFRA about your destination country’s rules and regulations regarding excess baggage charges versus cargo.
- Only one animal can travel per crate.
- Check how many animals are allowed to fly per airplane or per passport holder as different airlines also have different regulations
Can I Arrange My Pet’s Relocation or Must I Use an Agent?
This is your choice, and doing the paperwork yourself will be cheaper as there will not be agency fees. However, your research must be up-to-date and you are responsible for getting your pet’s medical procedures done and for transporting them to and from the airport.
If you have missed anything in the process, your pet will not be able to fly.
At a time when your family is relocating, it might be a stressful to also handle your pet’s travel. The benefit of agents means they handle all of the above and they will know all the laws, any changes and can advise you on pet taxis and what to do at your destination too.
It is also advisable to obtain several quotes from different agents or vets (as several vets in Qatar are also relocation agents). Prices vary according to the volume of your pet, airway bill, the airline used, the cost of certification, vet checks, and any other hidden costs.
Will My Pet Be OK?!
It is natural to feel nervous but hundreds if not thousands of animals are transported every week around the world. It is important that you remain calm with your pet and make sure crate training is a happy experience for them before they travel. At the airport, speak to the staff. They will know an animal is on board but you might find it reassuring to let them know personally.
Keep your agent’s telephone number handy and ask them for texts updating you
If your pet is going into an animal centre at the destination point (for example London Heathrow’s Animal Centre) have their contact too as well as any pet taxis, vets and all the people involved, for peace of mind.
Your pet may be a little grumpy at the other end and out of sorts for a few days but soon it will be like they lived in your new home forever!
And most importantly, be proud of yourself! You have made a commitment to your pet and your family will stay together throughout the experience of relocating.