Sailing with Pets: A Guide to Rules, Regulations, and Tips

Sailing the world is a dream for many, and for those who have a pet, the dream includes taking their furry friend along on the adventure. However, taking your pet along on a circumnavigation can be quite complicated due to the different rules and regulations regarding pet importation in various countries. This article will provide a comprehensive guide to the implications of having a pet on board a private yacht during a circumnavigation, with a focus on countries with stricter rules like Australia and the Galapagos Islands. 


our pet
Our frenchy, Henry

We have a dog, and we have researched for quite some time what we have to do and what countries have the most strict pet import rules. Be aware that that can be costly; you can calculate approx. US$1500 per country, on average. Australia, for example, can be as costly as US$3000 or more. In general, you need to comply with:

  • Microchipping: Your pet should be microchipped with an ISO 11784/11785 compliant 15 digit pet microchip.
  • Vaccination: Dogs and cats should be vaccinated against rabies between 21 days and 12 months prior to entering the country.
  • Tapeworm Treatment: Dogs need to be treated against tapeworm (Echinococcus multilocularis) 24 to 120 hours before entering some countries and needs to be certified by a licensed veterinarian. The treatment must contain Praziquantel or an equivalent product. Cats and ferrets do not need this treatment.
  • Health Certificate: A health certificate issued by a licensed veterinarian in your home country is required. The certificate should be issued within seven days of travel and must confirm that the pet is free from contagious diseases and parasites.
  • Import Permit: An import permit may be required from the governmental agency responsible for pet imports. It's a good strategy to start to communicate early and notify customs that you want to enter with a pet. 
  • Quarantine: Pets are subject to a X-day quarantine upon arrival. The quarantine depends on the country you visit and from which country you come.

Countries with Strict Pet Import Rules

Many countries have strict pet importation rules to prevent the spread of diseases like rabies. Since we plan our route we found some countries are easy to enter with our dog, others aren't. Here are some countries and regions known for their strict pet import regulations:

Australia: Australia has very strict pet importation rules to protect its unique wildlife. Pets must meet specific health requirements and usually need to spend time in quarantine upon arrival (Bringing cats and dogs (and other pets) to Australia)

Galapagos Islands: The Galapagos Islands, part of Ecuador, have extremely strict rules regarding the importation of animals to protect its unique ecosystem. It is almost impossible to bring a pet to the Galapagos Islands. More via ABG - Agencia de Regulaci├│n y Control de la Bioseguridad para Gal├ípagos (espanol only).

New Zealand: Like Australia, New Zealand has strict biosecurity rules to protect its unique flora and fauna. Pets must meet specific health requirements and spend time in quarantine upon arrival. More via MPI - Importing Cats and Dogs.

Hawaii: Although it is part of the United States, Hawaii has its own set of pet importation rules due to its rabies-free status. Pets must be microchipped, vaccinated against rabies, and meet other health requirements. More via Hawaii Department of Agriculture - Animal Quarantine Information Page

Japan: Pets must be microchipped, vaccinated against rabies, and meet other health requirements. There is also a waiting period after the rabies vaccination before the pet can enter Japan. More info: https://www.maff.go.jp/aqs/english/animal/dog/index.html

Singapore: Pets must be microchipped, vaccinated against rabies, and meet other health requirements. There is also a quarantine period upon arrival. More infos via pettravel.com: https://www.pettravel.com/immigration/singapore.cfm

India: This is a bit confusing, in general you need a NOA certificate (Non Objection) and follow the rules on the AQCS website.

United Arab Emirates: Pets must be microchipped, vaccinated against rabies, and meet other health requirements. There is also a quarantine period upon arrival. The UAE has a great service website that explains the process.

South Africa: Pets must be microchipped, vaccinated against rabies, and meet other health requirements. We found GlobalPaws most informative and clear about the process: https://globalpaws.co.za/services/importing-pets-into-south-africa/

Pet Import Rules for Common Circumnavigation Stops

When planning a circumnavigation, there are several popular stops that sailors often make. Here are the pet import rules for some of these common stops:

Guadeloupe: Guadeloupe is an overseas region of France and is part of the European Union. Therefore, the EU regulations on pet travel apply.  For dogs, cats, and ferrets, they must be microchipped or have a readable tattoo, be vaccinated against rabies, have a pet passport or an animal health certificate and may also require a tapeworm and tick treatment.

Caribbean Islands: The pet import rules vary from island to island, but most require pets to be microchipped, vaccinated against rabies, and meet other health requirements.

Panama Canal: Panama requires pets to be microchipped, vaccinated against rabies, and meet other health requirements.

French Polynesia: Pets must be microchipped, vaccinated against rabies, and meet other health requirements. There is also a quarantine period upon arrival.

Fiji: Pets must be microchipped, vaccinated against rabies, and meet other health requirements. There is also a quarantine period upon arrival.

Tips for Sailing with Pets

If you are planning to sail around the world with your pet, here are some tips to make the journey smoother:

Start Planning Early

The pet importation process can be lengthy and complicated, so it's essential to start planning early. Research the pet import requirements for each country you plan to visit and make a timeline for getting all the necessary vaccinations, paperwork, and other requirements completed.

Consult a Pet Travel Specialist

A pet travel specialist can help you navigate the pet importation process and make sure you have all the necessary paperwork and vaccinations completed. We have listed the most informative and responsive websites at the end.

Keep a Pet Passport

A pet passport is a document that contains all your pet's vital information, vaccination records, and other important documents. Having a pet passport will make it easier to prove that your pet meets the import requirements of each country you visit.

Be Prepared for Quarantine

Some countries require pets to spend time in quarantine upon arrival. Be prepared for this possibility and make sure you have all the necessary supplies for your pet's stay in quarantine. You always have to plan your complete route depending on the quarantaine time, that includes weather and sailing seasons. Saying this, traveling with your pet does not allow for fast spot-hopping during quarantine; you are basically blocked from traveling.

Conclusion

Sailing around the world with your pet can be a rewarding experience, but it requires careful planning and preparation. It's essential to research the pet importation rules for each country you plan to visit and make sure you have all the necessary vaccinations, paperwork, and other requirements completed. With proper planning and preparation, you and your pet can enjoy a safe and comfortable circumnavigation.

Important links we discovered:

https://globalpaws.co.za/
https://www.noonsite.com/
https://www.pettravel.com/

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