Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Moving Your Dog to Egypt

HOW TO MOVE YOUR DOG TO EGYPT FROM THE UNITED STATES- It's not as hard as you think.

Note: This information is for large dogs that need to fly as checked luggage in the cargo hold. For cats and small dogs the information regarding flying is different, however the process of getting the forms is the same. For animals travelling un-accompanied (without you on the same flight) some of the forms may be different as well.


PRE-PLANNING

BOOK YOUR FLIGHT

There are several factors to consider when booking your flight - cost, time of the year you will be flying and length of flight. At the time I moved with my dog my only options were: Egypt Air, Lufthansa, and KLM. Currently, Delta also offers direct flights to Cairo. I don't recommend flying through England on British Airways, as England has some of the toughest policies on travelling with animals. You want to choose a flight and airline that works best for you, but keep in mind doing direct international flights with pets is harder. Some of the airline websites suggest it is best to fly direct, but it all comes down to personal preference and how well you think your pet could handle being in a crate for up to 12 or more hours. At the time you book your flight, you must inform the airline or your plans to travel with a pet. They will usually ask for the breed and weight of pet, plus the exact measurements of your crate. They may be able to estimate the cost for you, but final cost will be determined once the crate and animal are weighed at check-in. I was quoted $750 on KLM for up to 145 lbs. (weight of the dog + weight of the crate = total shipment weight). Once you book your flight, look at the airlines website to see their pet travel policies as well as to download any forms you may need.

Egypt Air: this is a 12 hour flight between New York and Cairo. While Egypt Air offers great rates for humans, I was quoted (in 2007) a cost of $1,000 for the dog.

Delta: As of summer of 2008, Delta now offers direct flights between JFK and Cairo. Excellent rates for people, and good choice for travelling with carry-on pets. They also accept pets as luggage.

Lufthansa: Human rates are higher than many airlines, but supposedly they are excellent at handling animal transports. Flight time between the US and Germany is approximately 8 to 9 hours (depending on where you leave from) giving your dog time to rest between flights.

KLM (also see Northwest): I can highly recommend KLM for people as well as animals. My dog was picked up by a Northwest employee from the check-in counter and was taken to a climate controlled holding area prior to boarding. Northwest/KLM have Priority Pet Services at the airports in Memphis, Detroit, and Minneapolis/St. Paul. It makes checking in with a pet much more efficient, so if at all possible, try to schedule your departure from one of these hubs. As soon as I was on the plane and in my seat, the flight attendants brought me a receipt that showed my dog had been loaded in the cargo hold. The flight time for me between Memphis and Amsterdam was 8 hours. Upon arrival in Amsterdam I was not allowed to have any contact with my dog, but she was taken to a "pet motel" animal holding area in Schipol Airport where she was fed, her water bottle was refilled, and her crate - which she had soiled - was cleaned out and lined with shredded newspaper. Not only was the staff at the Schipol Airport animal holding area fantastic, the flight crew was outstanding. The whole experience was handled professionally right from the gate agent to the flight attendants, who alleviated my fears by checking to make sure the dog was on board right away - even letting my know that the captain assured me he was a dog owner and he would keep the temperature in the cargo hold up (it was February).

It is important to consider the time of year you will be flying because the airlines have regulations about flying dogs in cargo during certain temperatures. The temperature at departure and arrival destination must fall between their safe guidelines. So it might be best not to try to fly in August during a heatwave. Also, certain breeds that are more susceptible to heat stroke and temperature extremes are not permitted to fly cargo during these times of year. It's best to get on the airline website and see what their policies are regarding weather restrictions and embargoes.

It is also prudent for me to point out that depending on the size of your dog and crate, you might not be able to take certain regional flights because the crate won't fit in the cargo hold. This was a problem I ran into having a Rottweiler in a giant crate. I was not able to fly out of my local regional airport of Evansville, Indiana for this reason. I had to make arrangements to drive to Memphis and fly out of there. You will usually only run into this problem if you are using the extra-large or giant sized crates. You will have to travel to your nearest International Airport.

GETTING THE RIGHT CRATE
Once you have your flight booked, the next step is to get a crate. The earlier the better. My dog had been crate trained as a puppy, but I still had to purchase a new crate for her for two reasons - it was a little too small for her and it did not meet standards for international air travel. Be very careful when buying a crate that says it meets airline standards, because the requirements for domestic and international differ. Most crates that are sold in pet stores in the US only meet domestic requirements. For international, the crate must be made of a harder plastic, must be ventilated on all four sides, and must be put together with bolts rather than the flimsy plastic clips. I searched every pet store in the Evansville area with no luck. Depending on where you live, you might not have any luck in pet stores either.

Futurepets.com has a product called SKY KENNEL. These crates are approved for international travel and are the best best price you will find around (believe me I shopped around). The quality of these crates is better than most you will find in stores. This kennel is worth the investment not only for moving your dog, but for those interested in crate training as well. The website also sells replacement doors and hardware. Make sure you get the right size for your pet. The dog must be able to sit, stand, turn around, and lie down comfortably in the crate. Pay close attention that you don't get a crate that is TOO LARGE for the dog as well. This could cause the airline to reject the crate as the dog could become injured by bouncing around too much.

Once you have your crate you need to also get a water bottle , a crate pad , and a food bowl that can attach to the crate. If you have not already done so, get your pet used to being in the crate and drinking from the bottle well in advance.


PREPARING YOUR PET FOR TRAVEL

ONE MONTH BEFORE YOU TRAVEL

Have your animals microchiped. You can look at PetTravel.com to familiarize yourself with the entry requirements of each country you may be passing through. Get to know the entry requirements for each country on your itinerary. Also pay close attention to the breed of your dog because some breeds are banned in certain countries even for animals in transit.

Quarantine information: Again, you can look here for information on required quarantines. As of my entry in 2008, Egypt DOES NOT require any quarantine for pets arriving from the US or the EU with the proper paperwork. If you will be entering Egypt via a different country it may be up to the discretion of the Ministry of Agriculture in Cairo to determine if a quarantine is necessary.

THREE WEEKS BEFORE YOU TRAVEL
Visit your vet and ask him/her to photocopy all your pets records so you have them for the vet in your destination country. Also schedule an appointment to see your vet 10 DAYS before your flight. Inform your vet of you plans to travel and the countries you will pass through so they have time to gather the US Department of Agriculture APHIS International Health Certificate forms they will need when you come back for your appointment. Most vets have these forms on hand and many have experience with filling them out. Here are some useful links for the USDA and other useful links that you can begin to look over prior to your vet appointment:

USDA

USDA Pet Travel Info

International Animal Export Regulations by Country

USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Veterinary Services Area Offices (by State)

Summary of Requirements for Egypt

Pet Immigration Rules for Egypt

International Health Certificate Requirements

Quarantine Requirements (General)

USDA Certification

Other Pet Travel Information

Airline Pet Policies (search by airline)

Airline forms for pet travel

Immigration forms for pet travel
(If you are passing through Europe you will need to get the EU998 form on your own as most vets in the US might not have it. It is available for purchase here or you can just google EU998 and the name of the country you are travelling to and you might find one you can print out for free.)

KLM Travelling with pets checklist and information

Northwest Airline Pet Travel Information

Microchip Information


PREPARING THE FORMS

10 DAYS BEFORE YOU TRAVEL

This part of the process cannot begin sooner than 10 days prior to your departure date. It recommended to begin exactly 10 days prior to departure. Visit your vet and have him/her fill out the APHIS form 7001 (United States Interstate and International Certificate of Health Examination for Small Animals), along with the EU998 if you plan to fly through Europe.

Take the completed forms and Express mail them along with a money order with the appropriate fee for EACH form to be stamped, and a self-addressed stamped envelope (again I would use Priority or Express Mail) to the USDA APHIS VS office for your home state. I will not post the fees here as they are subject to change or vary by State. (In some rare instances, the animal may need to be examined by a vet at the USDA APHIS VS regional office although I think it depends greatly on your destination country. It was not necessary for me to do this to take my dog to Egypt.)

Once you mail off your package, you should have it back within 5 to 7 days. As soon as you receive your package back make 4 photocopies of the stamped certified forms, along with your pet's rabies certificate, pertinent medical records and microchip certificate. Get 8 1/2 x 11 manila envelopes and place one set of photocopies in each one. Do not fold the forms.

- One envelope will be taped to the top of the crate.
- One envelope is for the gate agent at the airline.
- One envelope is for the receiving agent in your destination country.
- One extra copy is for you. Also, keep the originals with you in your carry-on luggage.


ONE THE DAY OF DEPARTURE
Make sure you have the forms, live animal stickers, airline checklists, animal feeding instructions, and "Arrow Up" stickers attached to the crate. Since feeding regulations may vary depending on airline, check with the airline about how soon before your flight you need to stop offering your dog food and water. Animals are required to be fed every 24 hours so if you have a long international flight, you might want to feed your pet at least 5 hours prior to departure time. Just make sure you write the time of last meal down on the feeding instructions.

IMPORTANT: DO NOT GIVE THE ANIMALS ANY SEDATIVES EITHER PRESCRIPTION OR OVER THE COUNTER. THEY CANNOT FLY IF THEY ARE SEDATED - THIS CAN BE DEADLY TO YOUR PET.

It is a good idea also to type up a small bio on your pet including his/her name, temperament etc. I did this with my dog and had it translated into Arabic and Dutch as well. I also put her picture on it. Attach this to the top of the crate as well, so it can be easily seen by those handling your dog.

Take a Ziploc bag filled with one serving of your dogs dry food and attach that to the crate on the ledge just above the door. This location is easily located by those who may be feeding your dog during a layover (you must provide your own food if you want your dog fed). Make sure food and water bowls, and water bottle are attached.

(Note: I will try to upload photos of this in the next few days and will update the post accordingly when photos are ready.)

Make sure your crate is lines with absorbent bedding - blankets, crate pads, towels, or shredded newspaper. The airline can reject your crate if they feel your dog is not comfortable or potty accidents might leak out.

Make sure you have your dog supplies packed in your carry-on. I packed a small bag of dry food as well because our flight was scheduled to arrive in Cairo at 2 am. In addition to this remember the leashes, food/water bowls, toys, etc. Also, carry some small Ziploc bags with you. These will come in handy for holding the nuts and bolts in case you have to take your crate apart to get it into a car and re-assemble it at the airport. You don't want to lose any of the hardware because the airline can reject the crate for missing screws.

When you arrive at the airport keep your pet on a leash while you go to check-in. Don't have your dog in the crate yet as TSA will need to do a swab inspection of the crate. It's also a good idea take your dog for a walk before going inside to check-in. Once TSA inspects your crate and the animal they will instruct you to put your dog in its crate. Remove the leash before doing so and put it in your carry on (you will need it when you reach your destination). Once your dog is in the crate you will no longer be allowed to have any contact with it. You cannot touch the crate or the dog. The gate agent will call someone to come and take the dog to a holding area and then they will finish checking you in for your flight. Remember, you can't have any contact with your pet during any layover either.

Once you are seated on the plane, the flight attendants should bring you a card shortly before take-off letting you know your dog is safely on board. This will happen for each connecting flight you have as well.


ARRIVING AT YOUR DESTINATION
EGYPT

(Note: I can only share my experience with the arrival in Egypt. I cannot guarantee that it will happen exactly this way for you, nor can I talk about arriving in any other country.)

Arriving in Egypt was easier than I expected. I thought the dog would be sent to the Veterinary Services Department of the Ministry of Agriculture (they have a special place in Cairo Airport for this), and that I would have a hard time locating her and getting out of the airport. Much to my surprise the crate was wheeled in on a cart and deposited to me by the baggage claim area before the rest of the luggage was even coming out on the belt. As I said: much to my surprise. Furthermore, I was holding my envelope of paperwork anxiously searching for the proper authority to hand it over to. No one seemed interested in taking it - or even looking at it. The customs agents at the airport exit were more concerned with what I had packed in the boxes than they were with the big dog in the crate. I breezed out of the airport, took her out of the crate, put on her leash, broke the crate down and had it in the trunk of the car all within a span of 10 minutes. I was quite impressed with the ease at which that process happened.

I can't say for sure you will have the same experience arriving in Cairo. But by all means, get all your proper paperwork in order. Even if Egypt doesn't want it, the airline does. And it's better to be safe than sorry.

I hope that you find this information helpful in your plans to move your dog overseas. Don't worry - it's not as complicated as it sounds. And in the end - your dog is worth it!

9 comments:

  1. This is a great post...thank you very very very very very much for taking the time to provide this detailed information...you rock!!!!!!!!!

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  2. Oh my god this is soooo great to know!!!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you, for posting this.

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  3. Thank you for sharing your experience, we will relocate our dog from Dubai end of June.
    Our dog looks like yours :)

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  4. Hi, I like your post.
    I have a question. I will be visitng Egypt this summer, July more than likely. I am wondering what papers do I need again? I have a guide dog so he won't be crated. But What forms do I take to the Vet?
    Any shots?
    Thanks.

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  5. Your post was a reference to me to move my 2 dogs from Dubai to Cairo… Hence, I wanted to share my experience.
    In order to move my pets from Dubai, it must have been through cargo.
    In Dubai, Egyptair office was great, they took care of everything, the workers were very keen to keep my dogs in air-conditioned area… and asked me for water just in case…
    The plane landed at 17:30, got my bags, stamped my passport and was out at 18:05
    1) Asking about my pets in Cairo airport was a mess: The Egyptair representative in the airport told me that my dogs were not on the plane, when I asked her to check as I am sure that they were, she called her “supervisor” who confirmed that my dogs were still in Dubai!!!
    Imagining that my dogs didn’t eat since more than 18 hours (as they should fast 12 hours prior to flight, and flew for 4 hours), pee, poop or drink, and in crates since 5 hours…. I was like crazy, and the stupid representative answered me: “why are you nervous? We will send them to you tomorrow!!!!!!!!!!!! I didn’t want to listen more and answered her that they are not luggage!!!!!
    People in Egypt have no idea what our pets represent for us, they have no respect to animals, especially dogs considering them to be impure, and moving them with us is just unnecessary luxury!!!!

    2) I started to move and decided to go to the cargo village, ignoring what stupid people told me in the airport… Cargo village at 19 O’clock cannot be visited by a woman alone… as it is located behind the airport, no security, unpaved roads and the car had to walk in wrong ways in order to avoid working areas, in addition, lots of workers are there…
    Finding a young security, we asked him about the whereabouts of shipped dogs, and the answer was “you can come back tomorrow”… my friend who is a captain in the Ministry of Interior tried to explain that they are live animals and they could not wait until tomorrow… and after 20 minutes of negotiations in the small office with other officers, they agreed to send us to another officer who took us to the Egyptair cargo terminal and asked for all the documents… they told me that “it is forbidden but for my sake they will help”, I went to a wooden office next to planes strip… they asked me to pay LE480, giving me a bill of LE126, when I asked about a bill of the rest of the amount, they told me that I will get it when I get out, which never happened, it was an indirect bribe… going out I was followed by 5 people asking for tips!
    3) 20:00 O’clock, I thought that the nightmare was over, the same young security asked us to move away with our car and go to gate 36! We didn’t find anyone who knows anything, it was completely dark, nobody to give us information, nowhere to park until a man coming out of the blues came to us suggesting help! He told us that shifts are alternating and we cannot proceed until 22:00 O’clock!!!!
    4) 22:00 O’clock we started a hell of signatures from an office to another using 2 cars at a time in order to finish and save the dogs from a mysterious destiny! I wanted to scream, I was in the cargo since the morning in Dubai, then went to the airport and had a 4 hour-flight then moving from a building to another for another 4 hours!!!!
    5) To cut the story short, 23:30 O’clock, signing all necessary papers, making 100 photocopies of my dogs’ documents, we had to wait for the customs!!!!
    6) 12:00 O’clock, the customs evaluated my 8-year old dog previously left with me from Egypt and my adopted 3-year old dog with LE9500 and made me pay LE600 customs…
    Evaluation was made upon the following: My dogs + crates weigh 42 kg and I paid in Dubai around LE3000 for shipment, then Dogs value must be 3 times their shipment!!!!!!!!!!!! (Brilliant)

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  6. 7) I was asked to pay more than LE1000 to free my dogs, and to sign a paper in which I agree to expect a supervisor to come and visit my house anytime within 21 days to make sure that my dogs will not cause any harm to the environment in case they hold any virus!!!!
    8) 1:45 O’clock, I received my dogs and crates covered with dust, and a brown liquid poured on crates (I guess it is tea)! My dogs’ leaches were stolen!

    Conclusion:
    - A country with no respect to animals, and above all to people… No consideration for people coming from long flights, having the trouble to move with their pets… especially if they had to alternate flights…
    - Unsound information delivered by unprofessional staff whether in the airport or in cargo…. I heard so many lies that made me sick.
    - No signs showing where is the cargo village and where to go to sign the documents for instance.
    - The cargo is managed by thieves who want to take advantage of people tired and desperate to receive their pets. You will find yourself surrounded by many clearance agents claiming that they will help, these gangs are without control..
    - After 7 hours and 30 minutes I got my pets in a bad condition and I paid almost LE2200 of which I have bills of only LE720!
    - The worst nightmare is that you cannot complain to any authority, they are all members of the same gang.
    - The fact that I was with guy who is considered to be authority and that I went through all this, makes me think what people do if they have no one! I already heard that many have to leave their pets for good in the cargo as they can’t pay or they don’t know what to do to get them out.
    - Moving your pets to Egypt is a calamity for you and your pets!

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  7. Marianne:
    Sorry you had such a hard time. But unfortunately this is the case in Egypt that there is no consistency in one situation to the next. I mentioned in my post how surprised I was that I had no hassle and that just because I didn't was not a guarantee someone else wouldn't be hassled. Also, I had been coming from the USA on KLM. The fact that you were coming from Dubai on Egypt Air may be a factor in determing the different treatments we both received.

    I did want to respond to the final line of your comment that moving a pet to Egypt is a calamity...for the most part I cannot disagree with you. If I had to do it over again I may not have moved my dog there. However, most people who love their pets are willing to go through some inconveniences to keep them. It is prudent to mention that living with dogs in Egypt can be extremely difficult.

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  8. Hi! I absolutely love your post! I am planning on moving to Egypt in 6months with a Rotti from the east coast :) Is it possible to contact you via e-mail. I have some other questions you may be able to help me with.

    Thanks!!
    -Janine

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