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Costa Rica Pet Transportation

I am very upset with the information that I have found on Costa Rica websites regarding importing pets to Costa Rica. This information is not only incorrect it will cause your pets to be put into quarantine or put down upon entry into the country.

One very well known website states that the laws importing birds changed in January 2008 and you are now allowed to bring your birds into Costa Rica but you can never take them out. This is completely and totally wrong according to the MAG (Ministry of Agriculture) in Costa Rica who oversees the importation and exportation of birds.

The laws have not changed since the embargo was put into place in late 2006. The only way to bring your bird into the country is to complete a ridiculous set of tests but the kicker is that you MUST have the flight tendon cut which will prevent your bird from ever being able to fly again. These rules have not changed as of last week. My last conversation with the MAG (the government office that controls the import and export of animals), people that do not meet these requirements will be taken away from the owner and put into quarantine and the owner will never be able to see them again.

None of these sites mention that you must have a CITES permit (CITES stands for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora and more information can be found at http://www.cites.org/eng/disc/what.shtml . CITES is an international treaty drawn up in 1973 to protect wildlife against over-exploitation, and to prevent international trade from threatening species with extinction.) which is required by both the US government which takes 90 days to acquire (minimum) or the CITES that is required by the CR government. You must also get an export permit from the USDA in addition to the health certificate mentioned before you are permitted to leave the US with a bird on the endangered species list which covers just about all birds but cockatiels’ and parakeets.

This is a very hard lesson for someone that has had their birds for 20+ years and I hate like everything that the people that are running these websites are putting up bad information. They are obviously not looking out for the best interest of the animals but trying to please their readers by telling them what they want to hear.

Another website states in several places on their forum that all you need is a health certificate from your local veterinarian within 3 weeks of your arrival in Costa Rica. This is NOT true!!! You must have a health certificate from a USDA accredited vet then the USDA/APHIS form must be signed and sealed by the state USDA veterinarian. This document is only good for 10 days. If you happen to “slip” by customs with the wrong paperwork you are very lucky but unfortunately all of the MINAE quarantine facilities are overrun with animals that didn’t “slip” by. This same website advises their clients to contact the airlines to get the proper information on shipping your pet. The reservation agents with the airlines do not have knowledge of what is required by each country or Consulate to ship a pet to ANY country. If you talk to 5 different agents, you are guaranteed 5 different answers and NONE of them will be correct. The LAST person that you want to go to for information on shipping your pet is the airlines. Contact the closest USDA office to where you live http://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_health/area_offices and they can give you the requirements for shipping your pets to any country if you choose not to use a professional pet transporter.

There are professional pet transporters for a reason. I have offices in the US and Costa Rica and get emails weekly from the different airlines with constant changes and updates on the requirements of the airlines. I am also registered with the USDA as an Intermediate Handler and the TSA as a known shipper as well as a member of IPATA which is an International Association of Pet Transporters. These are very difficult licenses to obtain and you do not get these licenses if you don’t know what you are doing.

If because of the expense involved, you do not want to hire a company like mine, please contact the USDA closest to where you live to get the correct information for shipping your pet in or out of Costa Rica. If you are going to a European Country, you would do better off to hire a pet transporter because there is a lot of hoops to jump through to get an animal from a third world country into any European Country and you need someone well versed and well connected to secure a safe transportation for your pet.

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