Before You Take Fido or Fluffy on a European Vacation

The dachshund Dante with his new pet passport in Hellerup, north of Copenhagen, Denmark.If you’re getting out of your Davis apartment and traveling overseas this summer and can’t bear the thought of leaving you pookie-wookie-ookums in a kennel, you may want to check out these pet travel fun facts from National Geographic before you book your trip.

European Union Member Countries: What I like best about the EU regulations is that they specify that pet dogs, cats, and ferrets must be in compliance. (Emphasis mine.)

Apparently these musky rodent-like mammals are quite popular across the Pond. Also interesting: Your vet must give your mammalian pet its rabies vaccination after a microchip is placed, not before. If your pet is vaccinated beforehand, it doesn’t count and must be redone. (This has to do with the need to confirm the animal’s identity when it is vaccinated, but who knew?)

United Kingdom: Since 1897, dogs entering the UK have been subject to a six-month quarantine—at the owner’s expense, of course—to reduce the risk of rabies coming in. (Cats and, of course, ferrets were added to the law later.) But recently, because of  much-improved testing, that rule was relaxed to match those in the rest of the EU. Now your pet just needs the rabies vaccination and, three months before traveling, a blood test proving no sign of the disease, which is much better than six months of lockup.

Costa Rica: Pets are family, right? Who thinks of them in dollar amounts, except when racking up bills at the vet? So here’s an odd tidbit: When you enter Costa Rica, you’ll need to carry (in addition to health and rabies certificates) a personal letter stating your pet’s market value or an invoice showing its purchase price. And you’ll also want to know that Costa Rica accepts striped skunks from the United States, if they’ve had the proper vaccinations. (Not sure why the skunk—of all creatures—gets its own special mention, but it does.) Finally, when it comes to pet birds, what enters Costa Rica stays in Costa Rica. As in, once you’ve crossed into CR with your parakeets, they can never leave even if you do.

American Samoa: Okay, it isn’t really a country, but if you go to this U.S. island territory in the South Pacific, leave your parrot at home—only domestic dogs and cats are allowed, and they’ll have to have at least two rabies vaccinations before travel. (The territory is rabies-free and proud of it.) Show up with a snake, rodent, or bird and it will be … well … sent to live on a big farm in the sky. Right then and there.

This last rule may seem harsh, but islands are particularly vulnerable to invasive species damaging the native ecology. A powerful example is the brown tree snake’s devastating effects on Guam beginning shortly after World War II—a problem that’s never been solved.

Egypt: Even though you’ll have already proved that your pet is in good health on arrival, you’ll need to keep Fido “in your custody” for the first three months in country. Meanwhile, no pet birds are allowed “except live chicks” that meet certain health requirements. So I guess if you want to have fresh eggs during your year in Cairo, you are welcome to bring your own coop.

Korea: The rules mirror those of many other countries, but one little detail is good to know. The official health certificate, to be issued by the official country veterinarian before you depart, must be written in Korean or English. No other languages are acceptable. Take that, China.

Looking for more information? You can click on the link above or visit the U.S. State Department’s web site or for detailed information on your destination country.

Bon voyage!