As the proud mother of a 10lb, almost 14-year-old fuzzy baby
(who just happens to be an Italian greyhound), I like to
have my "son" with me as much as possible. He, however,
hates flying — even short-haul 1.5-hour flights to visit his
"grandparents" — and so I would consider my
options before I would subject him to an overseas flight.
However, for those who are relocating and whose pets are not
as particular as mine, the idea of bringing Fido or Fluffy
may be appealing.
Here are some preliminary things to keep in mind if you are
considering bringing your pet:
- People in shared, employer-provided housing cannot
have pets, so if you will be sharing housing and have a pet,
leave it home in the care of someone you trust and whom your
- Even if you are not sharing, the housing units rented or
owned by some hospitals for their married-status expatriate
staff may not allow pets, so check in advance.
- Similar to the point above, if you have a housing allowance and are renting your
own accommodations, remember that, like back home, not all
landlords allow pets (or they do not allow certain kinds of
pets, or certain sizes of 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, or confined inside much
of the day in the air conditioning in an apartment or villa.
- Remember that countries may restrict types of pets (e.g., some ban
certain breeds) or limit numbers of pets that can be imported. Similarly,
some housing units that allow pets restrict the number of pets or types of pets.
- 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, because hotels and temporary accommodations forbid pets. An option
could be to have a pet relocator (see below) send your pet later or to have the
pet relocator 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 Travelers' Pet Corner.
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 with an accompanying letter from your vet, and addressed to the Director of Customs, Saudi Arabia. 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 have 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. The following is from Saudi Arabian Airlines' Special Travel Needs page, particularly the section on "The transfer of domestic animals and pets": Saudi Arabia Airlines allows the transfer of pets when placed in a cages and be accompanied by a health certificate proving that they are free of disease as well as a certificate that allows their transport within or across the country if the different conditions of transport as follows:
Allows transfer of cats and small birds with the
passenger on board with limited cage weight allowance of (5
Dogs are transported in the plane stores of all Saudi
aircrafts except aircraft model (AB300/MD90/B737) because of
the lack of ventilation system inside the plane stores.
Trained Dogs (for the blind and [deaf] persons) are
transported in plane stores without collecting any
additional fees from the passenger.
Under regulations of the National Authority for the
Protection of Wildlife and Development in the Kingdom of
Saudi Arabia, the import, export or transfer of all living
organisms and fungal products is not allowed. It is
permitted only after obtaining a written approval. The
necessary permit may be obtained through the following
address: The National Authority for the Protection of Wildlife and
Development, PO Box 61681, Riyadh 11575, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Tel: 01-441-8700 or Fax: 01-441-8413
On arrival in Saudi Arabia, animals have to be collected from the Saudi Cargo depot, where a customs declaration must be completed.
United Arab Emirates:
If you want to make things easy, there are veterinary
clinics/kennels that help with documentation and internal
logistics of pet relocation for the UAE. Examples in Abu Dhabi
include the American Veterinary Clinic, the
British Veterinary Centre, and
the German Veterinary Clinic.
In Dubai, for example, there is 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
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 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 after the
flight has landed. You will need to pay AED200 (US$54.50) to
clear the veterinary department at the airport. They accept
payment only with an e-dirham
card, and these cards are
available only in the UAE (another reason why it may be a
good idea to use a service, unless you have friends in the
UAE, or your pet is traveling after you). There are other
charges at each stage of the clearing process. These will
need to be paid in cash (AED).
- 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 for what may be required, options, etc.
To make things easy, you may want to contact a pet
relocator. There are relocators and veterinary
clinics/kennels that help with documentation and internal
logistics of pet relocation for Qatar. Two examples include:
Qatar Pet Relocators
and Doha Pet
Qatar's Ministry of Environment's Department of Animal
Resources is in charge of animal control and
veterinary supervision of animal diseases. The department
issues import permits, and oversees the exportation,
transfer and transit of pets across borders.
To obtain an import license, visit 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.
The import permit is valid for one month. Authorized pets
may be imported as cargo or excess baggage -- they CANNOT
ride in the cabin with you. The Doha International
Airport keeps incoming animals
at a special facility before they clear customs.
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.
Note: Qatar's e-government site
states, "Dog are
generally not allowed in public places, including parks and
the Corniche. Dogs are allowed on some beaches, provided
that they are leashed at all times."