How to Bring Your Pet ...

In some circumstances, you are allowed to bring your pet dog or cat when you relocate to the Arabian Peninsula.

First, there are some general considerations:

  • People in shared, employer-provided housing cannot have pets.
  • Even if you are not sharing, the housing units rented or owned by some hospitals may not allow pets, so check in advance.
  • If you have a housing allowance and are renting your own accommodations, remember that, like back home, not all landlords allow pets. And those landlords which permit a pet may charge an enormous security deposit.
  • Keep in mind your pet's comfort — a massive hairy dog who is accustomed to being outside in a cooler North American climate may not be happy in the deserts of the Middle East.
  • Countries may restrict types of pets (e.g., some ban certain breeds) or limit numbers of pets that can be imported.
  • If you will not be moving immediately into housing (e.g., if you will temporarily be staying in a hotel or "executive suite"), you will not be able to bring your pet with you when you initially travel. An option could be to have a pet relocator (see below) board your pet until you move into your own accommodations.
  • Finally, keep in mind that you will be responsible for any and all costs and documentation involved in transporting your pet, and you will be responsible for any and all costs for damage the pet may cause to the housing unit.

Note: Information below is subject to change.

For general information about shipping your pet (e.g., kennel selection, dealing with the airline, recommendations for traveling), see the International Air Transport Association's Travellers' Pet Corner.

Saudi Arabia:

In the case of dogs, technically, only guard, hunting, and service (e.g., seeing eye) dogs are allowed into Saudi Arabia, so you must successfully claim that your dog is one of these.

Otherwise, this is the procedure for Saudi Arabia:

  • Obtain a Veterinary Health Certificate, addressed to the Director of Customs, Saudi Arabia, with an accompanying letter from your vet. The Certificate must confirm that the animal is up-to-date on vaccinations, and is free from rabies and other diseases. The Certificate must be attested by the relevant government ministry of the exporting country's national government (Canada, see: Canada Food Inspection Agency - Dog and Cat Exports; USA, see: United States Department of Agriculture - Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service), and then authenticated by the Saudi Arabian embassy or consulate.
  • Pet owners must also obtain an import permit from the Saudi Arabia National Authority for the Protection of Wildlife and Development (see contact details below).
  • Arrange for your pet to fly. Pets can often travel free on Saudi Arabian Airlines if their owners are traveling on the same flight.
  • On arrival in Saudi Arabia, animals have to be collected from the Saudi Cargo depot, where a customs declaration must be completed.

There is also a helpful overview prepared for American Department of Defense and Embassy staff about bringing pets at: http://usmtm.org/docs/Pet_Import_Guidance.pdf.

Banned breeds include: Japanese Spitz, Akita, and Akita Inu; Affenspinscher; Brussels Griffon; Brabancon; Hovawart; boxer; bull dogs (all); Rottweiler; terriers (all, e.g., bull terriers, Dandie Dinmonts, "pitbulls", etc.); Swedish Vallhund (i.e., Swedish cattle dog); Mastiff breeds (e.g., Neapolitan, bull); Newfoundland; Great Danes; Leonberger; wolf/wolf hybrids.

United Arab Emirates:

If you want to make things easy, there are veterinary clinics/kennels that help with documentation and the internal logistics of pet relocation to the UAE. In Abu Dhabi some examples include the American Veterinary Clinic, the British Veterinary Centre, and the German Veterinary Clinic. In Dubai, some examples include the Dubai Kennels and Cattery. These are members of the Independent Pet and Animal Transportation Association International, Inc.

In general, to import a pet you will need an import permit issued by the UAE Ministry of Environment and Water. Whether you are obtaining the import permit yourself, or using a service, such as those mentioned above, the documentation required for this permit includes:

  • A copy of the animal's vaccination book; containing the rabies vaccination and the combination/annual vaccinations. (The rabies vaccination should be older than 30 days but younger than one year.)
  • Microchip number; the microchip should be ISO standardized and able to be read by an ISO standard reader; the microchip must be a 15-digit chip;
  • Since March 2015, Canadian and American pets are no longer exempt from the "Rabies Serum Neutralization Test" (Rabies Titer Test); for both Canada and the USA, this test is performed in only one laboratory in the state of Kansas, and can take up to eight weeks for the results to be returned (one can pay an extra fee to have the test expedited to two to three weeks);
  • Full details of the pet: date of birth, sex, color, breed, etc.
  • Copy of importer's passport and UAE residence visa, if available.
  • Address and phone number in the UAE and country of origin.

It takes the Ministry three ministry working days to process the import permit; the Ministry is closed Friday and Saturday. The validity of this permit is 30 days from the date of issue. It costs approximately AED200 (US$54.50).

Note that when entering the UAE, the Ministry has stated that all pets must travel as manifested cargo, i.e., pets cannot be in the cabin with you.

In order to clear your pet through customs, you will need the original import permit (as mentioned above), along with the pet's original vaccination records and health certificate (from the country of origin). The health certificate must be issued by a veterinarian, and be endorsed by the relevant government ministry of the exporting country's national government. (Canada, see: Canada Food Inspection Agency - Dog and Cat Exports; USA, see: United States Department of Agriculture - Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.) The certificate must state that the animal has been examined within seven days of export and found to be free of clinical signs of infectious or contagious disease and is fit to travel. The certificate should show the species, breed, age, and the identification number of the animal (microchip or tattoo) and the name and address of the importer.

If you are not using a service, which will pick up and deliver your pet in the UAE, you will have to make your own arrangements to clear customs at the cargo terminal. It normally takes two to three hours to clear customs.

Miscellaneous Notes:

  • The UAE prohibits the importation of the following breeds/mixes: all kinds of Pit Bulls; Japanese Tosa (Tosa Inu, Tosa Fighting Dog); Argentinian Fighting Dog (Dogo Argentino, Argentinian Mastiff); Brazilian Fighting Dog (Fila Brasileino, Brazilian Mastiff); cross breeds with extracts of the above listed breeds; Wolf Dog Hybrid (any dog mixed with a wolf); American Staffordshire Terrier.
  • The UAE prohibits import of dogs or cats under age four months.
  • Typically pets are limited to two animals (contact a transporter if you would like to try to bring in more than two pets).

Qatar:

To make things easy, you may want to contact a pet relocator, of which a few examples include: Qatar Pet Relocators, Qatar Vet Center, and Doha Pet Relocators. Pet relocators and some veterinary clinics/kennels help with documentation and internal logistics of pet relocation to Qatar.

To obtain an import license, contact one of the Department of Animal Resources' veterinary clinics on Al Matar Street, Al Rayyan or Al Shamal. Fill out an import request form and bring the following documents:

  • A copy of the owner's ID
  • A copy of the animal's current vaccination record (rabies certificate is required)

To be eligible, the pet must be more then four months old, and must have had its vaccinations at least 30 days before the date of travel.

Note that currently, the following breeds are banned, thus not permitted in Qatar: American Staffordshire Terrier; Boerboel; Boston Terrier; Boxer; Bull Terrier; Bulldog; Chinese Shar-Pei; Doberman; Great Dane; Japanese Akita; Neapolitan Mastiff; Afghan Hound; Rottweiler; Staffordshire Bull Terrier.

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