How to bring your pets to B.C.
The good news is that is actually quite easy to bring your cat or dog. I don’t know about more exotic pets, but am happy to research this for anyone who needs to know.
Shipping your dog or cat
There are two main options:
- Specialist pet moving firms
- Taking your pet as excess baggage
This tends to be the more expensive route, costing as much or more than your airfare but does take away a lot of the running around that you will have to do if you decide to take your pet as excess baggage. It does also let you send the pet independently, e.g. so that you can go in advance.
These are what to expect:
- Contact the pet moving companies and get quotes. Discuss their arrangements.
- Visit the vet and get up to date with shots and any certifications you may need. For example if your pet has been neutered then you will want a certificate to prove this (you get cheaper dog licences for neutered animals).
- Most likely your pet will need to be measured for the custom built crate.
- Usually a day or two before the flight the pet will get picked up. The company arranges this and it gives them time to get the animal checked out by their vets. They will feed your pet a special diet that sets them up for the flight.
- At the other end you the company will have arranged for your pet to be checked by the vet and should have all the paperwork done.
- You will have to go to pick up your pet. This is usually from the cargo terminal. Once you have been through the paperwork, and paid your fee, you will be directed to the right area. Your pet will probably be delivered to you in its crate - which is yours to keep.
This is usually a cheaper way of moving your pets. It does involve you in making most of the arrangements and you have to travel on the same flight as the pet. Bear this in mind as you need to cope with a lot of your own regular luggage too.
These are the steps involved:
- Get a travel crate made to measure for each pet. Cost depends on size of pet.
- Pre-book the pets with your flight. Check with the airline before you book your own tickets. It is important that this is pre-booked because then the airline can ensure the hold is heated and there is no conflict with other furry passengers.
- One additional thing to note with regard to excess baggage is that, at least for BA and Air Canada, the excess baggage option has become much more restrictive, possibly because of rules relating to the handling of baggage at UK airports. The maximum combined weight for the dog plus crate is 32 kg. Any heavier and it has to go cargo, albeit on the same plane and much much more expensive.
- Contact DEFRA (in UK)
A few days before the flight the pets will need to be checked by a vet, and the necessary certificates are issued.
- At the airport your pets will be handled as special large baggage. The check in clerk will tell you where to take them.
- When you go through with your customs form of goods you are bringing in with you don’t forget to tick the Food and Fisheries box (I know your pet is neither food nor a fish!)
- On arrival at your destination, let the staff know that you are waiting for your pet and they will direct you. Usually there is a special area for oversize luggage etc.
- The animals will need to go through animal immigration. Have all the paperwork handy. This includes the certificates issued by the vet in your originating country and any supporting documentation (basically recent medical history, shots etc). Immigration will cost you about $35.
- Canadian animal import regulations
- Pet Relocation (USA based but covers many countries)
- DEFRA (UK)
- Air Pets (UK)