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What it takes to move your beloved pets to Costa Rica

If your thinking of bringing you pets to Costa Rica, don?t think that it?s too much trouble and re-home your pets because it?s not a difficult or expensive process. When we moved here we brought 3 dogs, 3 cats, 2 birds and of course our 3 children. It seems we just about had the plane full just with our baggage alone.

To insure that you handle the process correctly, read what we have to say and follow it to the T so that you don?t have any problems upon your arrival in Costa Rica.

Rules can change but we keep on top of these changes so before you get ready to travel with your pets contact us a few weeks before to be certain there are no changes that will affect you. Note: Do NOT rely on the airlines to give you the information that you need to make this trip with the pets because more times than not they will give you conflicting and wrong information, and that can make for a mess when trying to leave or arrive in Costa Rica.

If you follow the rules we have set out below, you will breeze through customs and immigration without any problems!

There is no quarantine on dogs, cats, or birds provided you have the right documentation. If you don?t, your pets will be taken from you at customs and put into a MINAE approved quarantine facility guaranteed.

What you need is for your dog/cat to be current on all of their vaccinations. They must be administered within one year at the time of travel. Rabies vaccination MUST be over 30 days old and under 1 year at the time of travel. You cannot enter Costa Rica with a 3-year rabies vaccine. Your animal will be put in quarantine if you attempt this.

You will need health certificates from your veterinarian including proof of rabies. You will also need form 7001 from the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) signed by the State Veterinarian certifying that all vaccinations have been administered and your animal is in good health, Your vet should know all about this but some don?t have the form in their office. They can get this from the USDA or contact GACR and we can give you the office where you can get the form. Easiest is for your vet to acquire this form.

At present, this paperwork does not need to be validated by the Costa Rican embassy in the US but this can change at any time so check with GACR for the current rules regarding this.

Your vet should know the immunizations required for shipping pets internationally. If he/she doesn’t, contact GACR for the specifics and we would be happy to help.

There are pet embargo?s (Summer embargo is from May to September) during the very hot and very cold seasons (usually January and February) of the year. This is for your pets protection but often times we can find ways around this by flying very early or very late in the day to avoid the extreme heat issues. There is not much we can do about the embargo?s because of the cold, there are just several months where it is difficult to fly your pets so planning ahead is very, VERY important. Check with GACR to see if these dates will affect you and your time of travel and how we can possibly work around it. It is always best to plan your departure to avoid these dates.

Airlines are often NOT current on the rules of importation of animals, especially those that work the counters at airports. They CAN and WILL deny boarding for the DUMBEST of reasons, and often they are completely WRONG. If you get into a conflict with a ticket person, ask to speak to their supervisor. Often times, this will get a quick resolution to your problem, and if you have your wits about you and insist that you know what you are talking about, this goes a long way.

A recent incident with American Airlines where they were insistent that you had to have the health certificates authenticated by the Costa Rican Consulate. Only after speaking to a supervisor or two was my client allowed to board. They went to the Consulate and were told they did not need authentication and passed this information onto the supervisor, which in turn allowed them on the plane.

Continental Airlines at present is the most pet friendly airlines (in our opinion) but you cannot ship them as excess baggage. They will need to go cargo or what they call quick-pack service. Provided you are on the same plane with your pets, you can pick them up in the special baggage area of the airport. If you cannot fly with your pets, you will need to send them as cargo and you will need a customs broker and agent to help clear customs. Contact GACR for more information on this if this is your only alternative.

Delta is very good about flying pets and will even allow you to take them onboard as under the seat baggage provided they are small enough. The fee is rather steep for an international flight but sometimes people opt to go this route so that their pets can ride with them in the cabin.

A quick reminder?Three weeks before you are ready to travel, recheck the current rules with GACR, your relocation specialist to make sure they have not changed.

If you want to bring in birds, this requires an extra amount of paperwork and permissions from the government of the U.S. and Costa Rica. These permits can take up to 90 days to obtain so you must plan ahead if you plan to bring your pet birds with you. Check with GACR for current information well before travel time.

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