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Leaving China with your Pets
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November 24, 2016
Leaving China with your Pets

In a previous article some of the requirements, by no means all of them, or the considerations, of looking after a pet in China were discussed, so lets look at what to do with your pet when you are leaving. If it is only for a short period of time, there are the kennels, or some really good friends. However, if this is the end of your contract, a permanent departure, you need to either look at rehoming or relocating. Now rehoming is simple. You find someone who wants your pet, and will look after them correctly, and for a few days or weeks before leaving introduce them, and let them spend time together, before completely abandoning your pet with someone. Pets can have abandonment issues just like humans too.

The more difficult and expensive option is to relocate them with you. Now this is no simple process and depending on the country you are going to, may be very costly and time consuming. There are two ways to go about the process though. You may just ask a pet relocation service to deal with it, and pay them. This is generally the easier option for you, having to just meet their timetable and leaving the details to them, but it is very expensive. Do not underestimate how expensive it is. I have been quoted some prices when I was enquiring as to cost and procedure, and for one dogs, a retriever we are looking at not hundreds, but thousands of pounds. This is tens of thousands of RMB. It is simple, but have a look at your financials before agreeing to this. This is one of the reasons a lot of pets get left behind.

The second option is the harder option, the D.I.Y option. Do It Yourself. The old adage is that nothing that is worth it comes easily, and believe me, if you have pets this is all too true to most of us. To do this option you have to be clear on a number of factors:

  •          Location
  •          Date
  •          Time left before departure
  •          Vaccination records
  •          Custom regulations
  •          Animal size and weight
  •          Transportation.

So let’s look at these individually.


The location is a very important factor, as it basically determines all the other factors. To take a cat or dog into America is a lot easier than trying to take them to the United Kingdom. America requires limited medical records, mainly showing that the animal has been vaccinated against Rabies at least 3 months before entry, and for it to be certified by the vet and translated if in a different language. Also if in a country that has screw worm, within 3 days of departure to have been checked for screw worm. If the animal is clear, to be recorded on a medical certificate. If the animal isn’t clear, they may still go to America, if they have been treated for the screw worm, and will be tested again once in America.

Now this all seems relatively easy. It is just a matter of getting the correct certificates, which you can do in most places.

To go to England or even Australia, it is a lot harder. The animal not only need to have the rabies vaccination, it also needs a blood test taken 3 months before departure, and then again within 5 days of departure to prove that the animal is still rabies free. They need to be clear of all diseases and screw worm, and all of this certified and documented in English. They also need to be microchipped to enter into the UK, which is only offered in cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong. Animals need to be quarantined pon arrival into the UK, all extra costs will be borne by you, and you may not be able to state which quarantine you would prefer. They again will be tested for all and any infectious diseases and rabies. This all takes a lot more time, money and planning.


As stated above, the date is key. If you are going to the UK or Australasia, you need to start treating your dog at least 3 months before you leave, so it is a lengthy process. If you are going to America, it is only really a week beforehand. Another key factor about the date is that the weather may affect whether you can fly with your animals. If the weather and therefore the temperature is not at the optimum temperature, airlines can refuse to take your animal due to their health, especially if they are to be placed within the cargo of the plane. Therefore, it is best to speak to airlines before booking tickets to find out this information in advance.

When considering your date as well, you may consider looking at the quarantine period for that country. If it is a country with a quarantine period, your pets may travel ahead of you, on a different flight, and you follow on after them. This means that when you arrive you can try to time it with their release.

Time left before departure.

All of the above links to this factor, but also so much more. You will need to have ordered and bought your IATA approved skyKennels, and started getting your pets accustomed to them. This will be essential to help keep your animal calm when it comes to them flying in them for an extended period of time. So if you are going to America, where a shorter time period is required for all medical circumstances, you need to start much sooner than the week before, adjusting your animal to kennels, especially if they weren’t crate trained. You need to be further be aware of the strict restriction for the SkyKennels, and what is and what isn’t permitted within them with your animal.

Vaccination Records:

These are always important. They are like our medical records. If we are showing a vet at the airport what treatment our pet has had, we need to make sure we have the records to hand them, just like if we go to a new doctor for the first time. Also this is important with the customs, and showing that the animals have met the custom regulations in place to allow them into the country. Therefore always keep them safe and up to date. When you go for the last check before you fly, you may find your self with a different vet, and they will need to know what vaccinations your animal has had and when they had it. They need an accurate record, not whatever we may be able to pull out of the top of our heads.

Custom Regulations:

Each country has very unique custom regulations, and therefore you need to familiarize yourself with them. Even though the UK is part of Europe, their custom regulations are very different to those of say France. America is different to Australia. Each country is different, so go to their website, all of which will have information pertaining to bringing your animal to their country. Make sure you adhere to them strictly, allowing them no reason to turn your animal away.

Regulations are also very different for cats and dogs. So make sure you look for the relevant species of animal when you check them out. Here are some of the websites that are helpful in looking at what is required:

America:        http://www.immihelp.com/immigration/pets.html


Canada:          http://travel.gc.ca/returning/customs/pets

The United Kingdom:     https://www.gov.uk/pet-travel-quarantine

Australia:               http://www.daff.gov.au/biosecurity/cat-dogs

New Zealand:  http://www.customs.govt.nz/inprivate/sendingitemstonz/animals/Pages/default.aspx

Also to note, that if you are travelling with more than one pet, you are generally only allowed to have one pet travel per passport, so you will need to present a copy of another persons passport for the second pet. They need not be present.

Animal Size and Weight:

These factors are very important, and may cost you the most amount of money. First of all it is always important to know the weight of your animal for medication purposes. But when it comes to some airlines, they will charge you per KG. That’s correct, they apply an overweight baggage fee to your animal. Now not all airlines do this, so it is worth looking around. One that I have found is Delta. They charge you 200 USD per animal regardless of how big or small it is, and how much it weighs.

The weight and size is also important for when you buy the SkyKennels. You need to know the measurements of your pet, to ensure that you buy the correct sized kennel. The animal needs to be able to stand up in it, and turn around comfortably, but it cannot be too big, as this can lead to injury to the animal if the Kennel moves during flight, or if there is turbulence. Plus if it is too big, the animal is less likely to feel as secure.

Here is a crate sizing chart to show you what measurements are required.

You can get your SkyKennel from a number of places, but make sure that wherever you do get it from, it is IATA approved, otherwise it may not be allowed on the plane. You can even buy the SkyKennels from places such as TaoBao, or by asking your vet to order them in.

All SkyKennels must come with a food bowl and water container for your animal, and has bars all on every side. Such as this:

You are not allowed to line the bottom of the Kennel with straw or hay, but they are allowed a blanket or an item of clothing, preferably with your scent on it to reassure them and give them a certain amount of comfort.


I have already mentioned about some airlines. It is very important that you ring up a couple of airlines that fly to your destination about their policy regarding animals. Some may add certain restrictions, and other checks that need to be met to allow your pet to fly. Universally though, no Stub nosed animals may fly, as it affects their respiration. So animals with stub noses would include pugs.

Some airlines charge per KG for the animal, whereas others don’t. As aforementioned Delta only charges a set fee per animal, rather than per weight, so ring up and ask the airlines. You need to speak to them anyway, to inform them that you will be travelling with an animal, and for them to reserve a space for your animal. Most flights allow only a certain number of animals per flight, so when you book your ticket, or before check the availability. You also need to consider the route you will take. Some aircrafts are not designed to have animals onboard, and only certain routes allow them. So again, at the time of booking make sure you have clarified this with the airline. It is worth booking over the phone or in person, and doing it all at the same time.

Another question you have to consider, depending on the size of your animal, will they fly in the cabin with you, or will you check in to luggage or as cargo? Smaller animals are allowed in the cabin with you, which may reassure you and your animal that everything is ok, or you may decide it would be more comfortable to check your animal. All large animals are required to be checked as cargo.

Check in time remains the same, the obligatory 3 hours before departure, as the check ins do not open any earlier, so you need not arrive there a further 3 hours in advance thinking you have to, to be able to check your pet.

Another consideration to take into account is getting to the airport. With all your luggage, and your pet in a Kennel, you may not fit into a standard taxi, so may need to make advance bookings with a larger car, or ask a kind friend to help you out. But you may also find, that it is really hard to fly out of Fuzhou with pets, as it no longer has a quarantine center at the moment, which may be a requirement for your destination. Further, not a lot of planes leaving Fuzhou are allowed to carry animals. You need to go to a bigger hub, such as Xiamen or Shanghai. To do this you need to get yourself, your animal(s) and your luggage there. This is where the magic fairy comes in handy. Failing that you can try the train service, but if you are a lone passenger I would advise against this struggle. It is hard to juggle hand luggage, suitcase(s) and Kennel(s), plus you have to clear it with the train station, and pets have to be lodged in certain carriages on the train. Therefore again, it may be worth spending some to hire a larger car to drive you to an airport, or a really good friend.

Shanghai is the better of the two hubs mention to leave from, as it offers a wide range of flights and those flights, as well as the city and the vets are well practiced in the requirements for exporting a pet.

As a note, all animals are not allowed water or food 4 hours previous to being checked into the airport, and this must be stated on the declaration form, which will be stuck to your pets SkyKennel.


There are so many things to consider. Would you want to take the easy option and spend a small fortune, or are you willing to go it alone. You really need to sit down and think about it all. The one positive to doing it on your own, despite all the stress and the worry, is that you do save around 2/3 of the cost. But should you wish to leave it to a company there are a number of which may help. One is: www.petrelocation.com who will be able to help you with all your questions, concerns and needs. Even if you just want to consulate them to see what you need to do to be able to relocate your pet, they are also a great starting place.

Which ever of all of the options, using an agency or going it alone, I wish you lots of luck and success, and may you and your pets be happy.

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