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 the contacting of 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.
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.
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 travelling are:
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 cross breed of the above.
Pregnant dogs and cats in their third trimester cannot fly.
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:
Incorrect paperwork will prevent your pet from flying.
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.
Except in unusual circumstances, a vet will not sedate a pet before travelling. 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 travelling, 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 travelling. They must also have Export Certificates even if the country you are travelling 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 RAT 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.
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.
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.