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What pet owners need to know about emigrating from South Africa

By October 13, 2015July 25th, 2020South African emigration

What pet owners need to know about emigrating from South Africa

October 13, 2015

Are you a dog person or a cat person? The question comes so naturally to us. Because, if you’re a South African, there’s hardly a chance you don’t, or haven’t in the past, had a four legged friend or two. Of course, if you’re planning to emigrate from South Africa, your four-legged feline or canine friend will make your move much harder.

Immigration rules for your pets

As with all homosapien travel, there are rules when it comes to transporting animals across borders and into a country. In addition to ensuring that animal diseases don’t enter countries, authorities also need to be on the lookout for smuggling, which means certain regulations need to be imposed on travellers and immigrants.

And unfortunately for those wishing to emigrate from South Africa, we have been flagged as a country with a high incidence of rabies, which means our pets face the strictest of regulations during immigration.

Although the World Health Organisation has certain requirements for pet immigration, each country also has their own protocols by which they regulate pet entry.

Before getting the green light, your pet may require:

  • Forray injections
  • Rabies vaccination
  • Tests for Ehrlichia Canis, Brucella, Leptospirosis and Leishmania
  • Pre-export clinical examination
  • International health care certificate issued by an accredited veterinarian
  • A Customs clearance form
  • A Copy of owner’s travel/immigration/visa documentation
  • A Copy of Airway Bill if travelling as cargo
  • Grooming
  • Microchipping
  • Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) permit
  • An Index of Exempted Dogs (IED) certificate
  • A geriatric profile – if your pet is older than 7 years

In addition to the abovementioned regulations, your pet pal will have to be quarantined for a few months, and unfortunately pet immigration is not a cheap affair.

The cost of pet emigration from South Africa

You will need to cover veterinary and pathology fees, quarantine kenneling fees, documentation fees, crating and travel costs as well as grooming and microchipping fees.

Luckily many governments give owners some leeway over the country where their pet has to do their quarantine term. You may want to quarantine him for a month in South Africa and six months abroad, or vice versa – depending on your personal circumstances as well as your legal rights. It’s important that you be sure about these stipulations before you make your move as you may end up paying extra or leaving your pet in limbo in a quarantine facility. Some quarantine facilities also need you to book your pet’s stay well in advance as they have limited space available.

A good start would be to enquire with an International Pet and Animal Transport Association (IPATA) registered provider as these pet transporters will have thorough knowledge of the pet immigration requirements per country and understand the International Air and Transportation Association (IATA) protocols for transporting your pets abroad.

What if my pet is barred entry with emigration?

Unfortunately, if your pet suffers from serious ailments, has a negative geriatric profile or is an animal which is not accepted into certain areas, you will have to make alternate arrangements. Dog breeds which may be barred from immigration in certain countries include Pit Bull Terriers, Japanese Tosas, Argentine Mastiffs, Canary Mastiffs, Neopolitan Mastiffs, Bull Mastiffs (Boerboel) and Brazilian Mastiffs.

Once you’ve decided to emigrate, it’s important you start exploring rehousing options for your pets in the event that they not be granted immigration clearance. Work through known shelters or animal charities if you have high-risk pets and do careful research and home inspections before you surrender your pets to new owners. Look out for the staffordshire, mastiff and pit bull rescue sites, and enquire with friends or family about options for your pets. You wouldn’t want your best friend to spend the rest of her life in a kennel, so be sure to make the necessary arrangements as soon as possible

The best option, of course, would be to stay with your furry friend – but sometimes circumstances don’t allow for this.

Hopefully your non-human friends will be granted entry, and the wait will be swift and go down without a hitch. Although can’t offer any services for your furry friends, our thoughts are with all our fellow countrymen and women who have to face the trying experience of pet emigration.

If you require help with moving your money abroad or financial emigration, let us call you.

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  • Michelle Altamirano says:

    We are looking at cost to relocate all our animals to Santiago,Chile from Cape town,South Africa. We have 3 dogs,@ Jack Russel and a large mixed breed dog. And 5 adult cats. All are spayed. We need an estimated quote please

    • Byron Martin says:

      Hi Michelle.

      Thank you for your query. We can unfortunately not assist with relocating your pets abroad. We reccomend using a pet relocation company like PetPort (

      We specialize in financial emigration and moving your South African assets abroad. Once you have relocated to Chile you’re more than welcome to contact us in regards to moving your South African funds and assets offshore. For a free and no obligation quote, simply submit your contact details via our website:

  • Karen Wiid says:

    We are moving from sa. Nelspruit to Bordeaux france. 2 cats and a dutchund. Just want to know. So I cant see my animals for 7 months. And where in Bordeaux can I get assistance for kennels…

    • Byron Martin says:

      Hi Karen.

      Thank you for your query. We can unfortunately not assist with matters regarding the relocation of your pets. We recommend using a pet relocation company like PetPort ( who will be able to assist you.

  • Lea says:

    Must my dog be neutered if I want to take him back to the UK

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