Taking pets overseas from Australia when moving abroad is a big decision for any family. There are a myriad of things to consider – not just the emotive issues of what to do with a loved member of the family, but also the practical issues of how or whether you will be able to bring your beloved pet back to Australia when you return.
Should you be taking pets overseas from Australia when moving abroad?
One of the most important choices that you’re going to have to make when moving abroad is whether or not to take your family pet along for the ride. Not only is this a particularly emotional issue for some people, it can also be a huge logistical problem, too. Most of us consider our dogs and cats (or other pets) as part of the family, and we would no sooner leave them behind then we would children or spouses. But with people, they have the ability to make choices and provide consent, with your pet; you’ll have to be the best advocate for their well-being whilst still making practical decisions on your own transition. Taking pets overseas from Australia is a large question with no “one size fits all” answer, but in this article, we’ll take a look at some of the questions you should be asking yourself.
The Key Considerations
There are a range of factors that you’ll need to consider before you make the final decision on whether or not you should be taking pets overseas from Australia when moving abroad; some are emotive, but some are more practical matters that you should be able to get a definite yes or no from. Considerations will, of course, vary from pet to pet, but here are the more general aspects to think about:
What’s the age of your pet? You should be thinking about whether or not your pet is physically capable of the moving stress. If you have an old pet, will the journey cause them any harm? Or if they are not too old, think about your likelihood of moving back to Australia a few years down the line, will they still b young and healthy enough for the return journey?
What kind of accommodation are you planning on getting? If you are not sure where your permanent base will be, having a pet to consider can really add to your troubles. Think about what restrictions there may be on your new apartment or house. Does it have a garden? Is the area safe for pets? And most importantly, consider if you are going to be based in one place for the duration of your life broad or if you are going to be staying in one place for a period of time.
What will your pet’s quality of life be? We all care about our pets, and although your life will be much better for having a loving furry, companion with you, will your pet’s life be better or worse? When you move abroad, the adjustment period can be quite an upheaval, especially with new work hours, new environment and of course getting out and about to make new friends, but will you have enough time to share with your pet? If your pet is likely to be left by itself all day, consider what it would want. Can you guarantee that the animal will get the attention it needs?
If you are moving abroad with a family, this can really make your pet’s life better. With a couple of adults (and maybe even kids) to play with, your pet will likely be as happy as they were back in Australia.
What are the Rules & Regulations
Depending on the country you’re moving to, there will be a varying range of regulations and a long role of red tape to deal with. As with every aspect of your big move, you should be planning everything well in advance; this includes knowing the rules and regulations of your chosen country.
Find out what the quarantine situation is and if it will apply to your pet, and of course for how long and at what cost. Each country will be drastically different. Don’t rely on 3rd party sources like chat forums for information, go straight to the government’s website for accurate details (and a follow up email or phone call confirming the details can’t hurt either).
By checking with Agriculture.gov before you leave, you can ensure that you know what vaccinations will be needed for the return. In some cases (such as shorter visits), you can get the right vaccinations in advance, which will save you both cash and time.
Getting the Details Right
Proper planning often involves taking care of the smaller details, you should think carefully about the minor issues that could easily become major ones. Here is a quick check list of small issues that can frequently turn into big problems:
Transition accommodation. You may have a nice house lined up before you set out, but can you move into it straight way upon arrival? Will it be decorated? Connected to the electricity and water? And if not, will you be easily able to find temporary accommodation for you and your pet?
Vets. Make sure there is one in the area and that they are taking on new patients. Find out if they accept pet insurance, opening hours and out of service emergency contacts.
Managing the Costs
Taking pets overseas from Australia is going to cost you money. There are not just transport costs and vaccination costs, but also extra vet bills, quarantine costs, pet carriages and likely more. You can do almost nothing to safely mitigate the initial transportation and settling in costs, but there are things you can do to cut down on regular pet outgoings.
Pet insurance is now a huge market. For many years, it was essentially just for the wealthier people to take care of pampered pets, but market forces and demand have driven the price of pet insurance right down. There are some great deals from Australian insurance providers that can work out to just a few dollars a week. Having insurance can save you a fortune in overseas vet’s bills. Your responsibility will save you money in the long term.
The very second your pet leaves Australia; they lose their Australian Health Status. It doesn’t matter how conscientious you have been, the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) will treat them just like any other animal and they’ll be subject to the same entry requirements. Be prepared to deal with every situation in advance; the more prepared you are, the easier it will be for you and your pet.
Depending on which country you’re moving to, you may be subject to an approved/non-approved country restriction. Some countries (such as China) cannot directly send dogs or cats to Australia, for this, you’ll need to export through a 3rd party country that could take many months.
What are your experiences taking pets overseas from Australia? Would you do it again? Do you regret leaving them behind? What tips do you have for other Aussies planning on moving abroad?