Do you remember the first time you had to file federal income taxes? If you were like me it was a bit overwhelming – so many forms and choices and rules, not to mention the fear of messing up official government papers! This is what flashed through my mind as we were wading through the process of getting everything in line to bring our beloved dog and cat with us to Bangalore. This process can seem complicated and overwhelming at times, but just like those income taxes, it’s not impossible! So take a breath and take heart that many expats successfully made the journey with their fur-babies in tow.
*All of the information below is solely based on my personal experience importing one cat and one dog into Bangalore from Texas in August of 2018. The Indian government is known for frequently changing things so please verify the information provided is still accurate and applicable to your situation.
CHOICES, CHOICES, CHOICES
As with so many things in the 21st century, an abundance of choices are available to pet owners on the move. These come with varying levels of service and, of course, price tags. The choice you make will depend on a few things –
BUDGET – Prices vary greatly from around one hundred US dollars to well into the thousands. As you can guess, the higher the price tag, the less that is required of you. However, it is possible to get here even if you are on a tight budget, so if that’s your case, don’t fret.
YOUR PET’S NEEDS – Do you wish your pet to come over on the flight with you or would door to door service be more your style? Some of our little furry friends can be a bit more high maintenance than others. For some a long nap in their crate while flying away from a lot of strangers is a much-appreciated way to travel. For others, the only way they would be able to make the trip without great distress is in the lap of their favorite human.
YOUR COMPANY’S WILLINGNESS TO HELP – If possible, I strongly recommend you request full pet relocation in your relocation contract as there are many steps and accompanying fees along the way.
GETTING OFF ON THE RIGHT FOOT (OR PAW)…
A great place to start is IPATA, International Pet and Animal Transportation Association. They are a great resource for pet owners who are learning the ins and outs of international pet relocation. They have a very informative FAQ section to help calm those anxious nerves. They also offer the ability to search for a pet relocator based on country, airport or country. I still encourage you to research and ask around about any pet relocation company. Ask your veterinarian if he/she can recommend a company or has experience with the companies you are researching. Another route is to speak with your relocation expert or the company who is moving your household goods. They almost all have pet relocation departments who are more than happy to assist you,
HIGHS AND LOWS
The top of the line pet relocation includes almost everything you will need. Very little will be required of you, but quite a bit will be required of your wallet. As an example only, here is a list of services given to me as a part of a full-service move –
Move counseling to walk you through any processes
High-Quality International Travel Kennel
Airfare from DFW to BLR
International Health Certificate
Home Pickup from Texas (author’s home)
Home delivery in Bangalore city limits
Any boarding required
Here are a few tried and tested pet relocators used by expats in Bangalore:
GLOBAL PET RELOCATION
The more cost-efficient route includes the export health documents only and, therefore, will involve a lot more legwork on your part.
A few hard and fast rules to keep in mind:
When we made our move in late 2018, there were a few absolutes we had to keep in mind.
Only two pets allowed per family, and they can only be dogs and/or cats.
All pets must be microchipped before being exported from their country of origin.
The owner can only have been in India for less than 180 days in the last two years.
If pets are brought to India via cargo, they must arrive within 30 days of the owner.
Foreign passport holder owners must be coming into India on an “E”-Employment Visa.
INDIA SURE LOVES PAPERWORK!
Think HR at a new job, the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles), or registering your child at a new school. If you’ve done any of these tasks, you are familiar with what a massive amount of paperwork looks like… or at least you thought you did. Welcome to the export and import of pets and the giant stack of documents needed to be successful!
If you will be doing most of the process on your own, plan to submit and keep up with around 20 different letters and forms that will be needed to get through customs and animal quarantine once you land in Bangalore.
This is where finding a good pet relocator that is either in India or has done relocations here before becomes essential. Rules do frequently change, and some forms are more easily obtained if you have someone familiar with it all on the ground in Bangalore.
THE GOVERNMENT ISN’T THE ONLY ONE WITH RULES
You will find that the Indian government isn’t the only ones who can make your furry friend’s move to Bangalore a bit complicated. Different airlines have different policies in place. Some airlines do not allow pets of any kind in the cabin, and some won’t even transport them at all. Some allow them, but won’t allow you to land in Bangalore with your pets. Also keep in mind that almost every airline only allow dogs in cabin and will require you to have a letter from a licensed counselor stating your pet is an emotional support animal. If you don’t already have one of these letters, never fear. For around $100 USD you can get one from an online counselor that will do the trick. Another complication is that some airlines have restrictions on flying animals (especially short-nosed dog breeds) in cargo in hot or cold weather. One last note, and a possible deal breaker for some, every airline I contacted only allowed emotional support animals to fly in economy class.
Your best bet is to start calling airlines well in advance to speak with someone in their special services department. They will be able to tell you about any rules or restrictions they have, and any additional costs associated with your pet’s travel.
*My personal recommendation for flying with pets is Qatar Airways. The fees were extremely reasonable, and they were amazing with both our cat, who flew in cargo, and our dog, who flew in the cabin with us. They even moved our seats around to ensure our little guy had his own spot to relax in for the long flight.
International pet relocation is a tricky business, but not impossible. The main things to keep in mind are starting the process early, staying organized, and finding someone you are comfortable with to help you. So take a breath, pick up the phone, and remember just how much you love that precious furry face! Before you know it, you will be walking your dog among the palm tree-lined streets!
Does India require animals to be quarantined upon arrival?
With proper paperwork in place, animals will not be quarantined unless they exhibit signs of illness
If my pet will be with me in the cabin, how can he relieve himself?
Usually, only younger animals can’t hold it until you land. However, being prepared for anything is smart! I highly recommend purchasing doggie diapers, pee pads, and waste baggies for the flight.
When should I feed my pet before the flight?
My vet suggested feeding pets around 4-5 hours before take off so they aren’t flying on a full stomach. However, it is important that Fido not get dehydrated, so access to water is important. If flying in a cabin a collapsible bowl or dog-friendly water bottle is best. If flying in a crate, you can purchase an attachable food and water dish.
Check out The Vine article, Owning A Pet In Bangalore for info about your pet’s new life in Bangalore!