No matter where many people go, pet travel is a major part of their business or vacation plans. Some destinations - especially in the United States - welcome pet travel as a beloved part of the journey, often offering special bonuses for four-legged companions.
Unfortunately, there are many places where dogs and cats are discouraged in joining their traveling friends. Depending on the mode of transportation (like traveling with pets on airlines) and the final destination, it may be a wiser decision to leave pets at home, due to high regulations or quarantine laws.
When planning a trip to these destinations, be sure to think twice before adding another passport for your companion animal. Travelers should carefully consider whether it makes sense to plan for pet travel at these three highly sought-after destinations.
As a rabies-free state, Hawaii takes particular care in making sure that pet travelers passing through have a clean bill of health before being released. Even for those visiting the island paradise for a weekend must still comply with the state's animal health mandates and breed regulations.
All pets traveling to Hawaii must face a rigorous health screening upon arrival at Honolulu International Airport. This includes verification of rabies vaccinations, verification of an identifying microchip, and a rabies test administered by a veterinary hospital. In addition, travelers must make sure their flight arrives prior to 3:30 PM, as animals received after 4:30 PM will not be inspected for same-day clearance.
Those who plan for their pet travel to Hawaii well ahead of time can have their inspections complete within the same day, allowing the traveler and the pet to enjoy their vacation with little more than a minor inconvenience. Those travelers who do not plan for their pet travel needs could face additional fees, a pet quarantine of 120 days, and possible fines.
As another rabies-free destination, pet travelers from non-designated regions (including the United States) must take particular care before boarding a flight to Japan. For many, the process of bringing a dog or cat to Japan begins up to nine months prior to planned travel to the island nation.
According to the official Japan Animal Quarantine Service guide, the process begins with micro chipping the pet traveler and completing the first of two rabies vaccinations. When the first two-step rabies test returns negative, the six-month waiting period begins. During this time, the pet traveler cannot enter Japan.
At least 40 days before planned travel, pet owners can apply for an advance notification for their pets to enter Japan. During this time, a veterinarian must certify all the pre-export inspection materials, an equivalent of a pet travel passport, which will be presented with the animal upon arrival. Failure to follow the process can result in a forced six-month quarantine of the animal, as well as additional fees and fines.
South Africa is yet another destination where pet travel is highly regulated. What makes the southernmost African nation unique is the law mandating an examination of most pets both prior to entering the country, as well as prior to leaving the country.
Like Hawaii and Japan, South Africa requires all pet travelers to have an identifying microchip and valid rabies vaccination prior to arrival. From there, travelers need to apply for an import permit, which requires a health clearance certificate from a veterinarian. Finally, travelers must also book their pets as manifest cargo, requiring special handling by the airlines prior to travel.
Before boarding an aircraft back home, many nations will require pet travelers to undergo a veterinary examination and obtain a clean bill of health prior to leaving South Africa. Failure to comply could result in a mandated quarantine period at the cost to the traveler, as well as fines and other penalties.
While pet travel can be a rewarding experience, it may not always make sense to bring them along. Moreover, if a pet gets turned away from entering a nation, travelers can be forced to pick up the return bill back home, even with travel insurance coverage.
When considering pet travel to these destinations, weigh the pros and cons, and make sure pet travel is the right decision.