Traveling with pets, part two
Inbound Travel to Vietnam
Vietnam is a fairly easy country to enter with pets. Regulations state that your cat or dog must have a recent rabies vaccination and an authorized health certificate – no import permit is required. The real difficulties begin when you take your pet out of Vietnam, summed up by one word: rabies. The World Organization for Animal Health classifies countries as rabies-free, rabies-controlled or high-risk, and Vietnam is considered “very high- risk.”
As most people enter Vietnam by air there are two ways to bring along your pets: as onboard accompanied baggage or shipped as cargo (live animal shipment). First, it’s advisable to purchase an IATA-approved carrier early on before departure to allow your pet to become familiar with its temporary home. Also, reduce your pet’s intake of food and water just before departure – depending on the length of the flight – because your pet might urinate frequently in the carrier. The carrier should also include identification indicating ownership, and you should carry a copy with you at all times during travel.
As Onboard Baggage
Permission for pets to travel as onboard baggage is determined by size, weight and breed. Most small dog and cat carriers can fit under a seat, however it really depends on the airline you are using as they have their own policy for animal transportation. Check if the airline you are using offers an ‘excess baggage’ service to allow pets to be carried onboard. Another deciding factor is the length of travel and route of transit; you might not be allowed to bring your pet onboard the same flight as you. Work with your travel agent for the shortest possible route to Vietnam.
Medium to large-sized dogs should be shipped as “live animal cargo.” If this is your first international flight with a pet, and depending on your country of origin and choice of airline, it is strongly recommended to find a pet relocation agency as this process can become complicated. For help on finding airlines and pet relocation services, see IPATA’s list of international airlines for moving pets by cargo.
Begin your pet’s relocation process one to 12 months prior to arriving to Vietnam. Recent rabies vaccination must be done within 30 days before departure, past vaccinations no older than 12 months. Below is a checklist to keep in mind:
Between one to 12 months before departure:
– Implant a microchip. Vietnam does not require a pet microchip however, this will address safety issues.
– Rabies vaccination and certificate (certificate documents microchip number, date and validity of the vaccination).
– Make sure common vaccinations are up-to-date, as Vietnam has a high level of infectious diseases for dogs and cats.
Within seven days before departure obtain a health certificate. An accredited veterinarian must complete a Vietnam International Health Certificate endorsed by the USDA or CFIA if traveling from the US or Canada, respectively. For other countries, find the governing authority responsible for the import and export of animals for endorsement. If all these regulations are met, there is no need to quarantine healthy pets coming into Vietnam.
Outbound Travels from Vietnam
For authorization of your pet to leave Vietnam they need to take and pass a Rabies Serology Test. Begin the process six months before departure since authorities expect the test to take four months to complete. You will have to pay for the blood sample to be sent abroad for testing and the lab will send the results to your address in Vietnam.
You are also required to complete an official health certificate issued by the country of your destination to be approved by authorities (Tan Son Nhat Airport Animal Quarantine) within 10 days before departure. If you need assistance and advice, contact a pet relocation service provider in Saigon.
Finally, each country has its own regulations on relocating pets from Vietnam and it is your responsibility to become aware of the most recent regulations of your destination country. Furthermore, rabies-free countries like Australia, Singapore, and the UK have severe restrictions on cats and dogs coming from Vietnam. If you are traveling directly to a rabies-free country you need to send your pet via a rabies-controlled country first and this will require your pet to be quarantined there so prepare to stay with or arrange someone to be with your pet.
The best online source for accurate and current information for pet relocation is the IPATA – The Pet Shipping Experts (International Pet and Animal Association): www.ipata.org/about-ipata Recommended Pet Relocation Service Providers in Saigon
– Saigon Pet Clinic (33 Street 41, Thao Dien, D2)
– Saigon Express Agency Limited (SEAL) – IPATA Member
List of approved international laboratories for rabies tests: www.ec.europa.eu/food/animal/ liveanimals/pets/approval_en.htm
BIO: With a family that includes six cats, two dogs and a couple of dozen fish, Wayne Capriotti is a zoo curator and, along with his wife, publishes Vietnam’s first pet magazine Me Thu Cung .