More on Pet Transportation

The BIGGEST NO NO’s For Pet Travel!
Safety of a pet is paramount!

* Sedation of a pet (even if the vet says so!) Most airlines have adopted this policy and will refuse to accept a sedated animal.
* Feeding a pet food prior to the flight.
* Buying a cheap crate or using an old broken down carrier/crate with missing bolts/cracked plastic or wire crate.
* Not exercising a dog prior to the trip to the airport.
* Rushing to the airport and stressing you and your pets out. If late checking in, the airline can refuse to accept the pet.
* Placing hard objects in the animal’s travel carrier/crate.

Pet Cargo Area Conditions/Regulations on the Aircraft:
The following must be in place in order for a pet to travel on the aircraft

* Temperature controlled within 10 degrees of the cabin.
* The crate able to fit through the cabin door.
* Oxygen for each pet in the designated area.
* Separated from luggage and all other goods.
* Families of pets are kept together when possible.
* Cats are by cats, dogs by dogs, birds by birds.
* Mechanics of the plane must be in perfect condition in this area in order for any pet to fly on an airline.

Contribution by Bridget Monrad in Arizona at Happy Tails Travel


Pet transportation No No’s

Beware of bad information in books and on websites as it is abundant. There are several people in Costa Rica that will give you out of date or incorrect information about all sorts of things related to your move to Costa Rica.

One example is ARCR, if you are a member, you are paying them for the information that you get from them but if you are bringing pets into Costa Rica they have all of their information wrong. They charge you for documentation that you do not need and give you a list of useless information.

Since I have been moving pets for many years and have been a member of the International Pet and Animal Transportation Association for some time now, I get very upset at entities giving out bad information especially when it comes to pets because this poor information can affect their livelihood and cause unnecessary stress on the family.

I have recently read in 2 books from well known authors that have listed incorrect information. This can not only be misleading, it can be downright dangerous to your pets.

Some of the wrong things that are being written are corrected below:

You can NOT take a pet in your purse in the cabin with you on ANY airplane.

You do NOT need ANY documents authenticated or certified by the Costa Rican Consulate.

You do NOT need an import permit for dogs or cats.

At the present time, you can not bring birds into Costa Rica as the rules have changed in the last year making it impossible to meet the requirements of the MAG and the MINAE.

A rabies vaccine must be OVER 30 days and less than one year old.

Your regular veterinarians health certificate is not adequate for entering Costa Rica.

You MUST have an APHIS form 7001 issued by the United States Department of Agriculture in the state where you live.

I get angry when people have been told a list of lies in order to collect money from them. When you join a group like ARCR only to be left to your own devises when they don’t return emails or phone calls and a family is trying to get the right information for their pets. Or when someone takes what they read in a book as being fact when the author is not an expert in all areas and particularly not in the moving of pets.

Animals are my first love and I do everything that I can to protect them and insure a safe and trouble-free trip for them to Costa Rica and leaving Costa Rica as well.

There is not a lot of information out there about how to get your pets out of Costa Rica and thank goodness for that because the rules of each country vary greatly. Some countries you can not send your pets directly from Costa Rica.

Some countries require tests that take 3 months to acquire, particularly anywhere in Europe.

You can not move pets to Australia or New Zealand without first going through quarantine in another intermediary country.

There are so many ins and outs to moving your pets. It’s just not as easy as calling the airlines and sticking them on a plane. You should really have someone that knows customs and import and export requirements.

I have heard from customs agents of people coming to Costa Rica without the proper documentation. It has taken a day to 3-5 days of them sitting in the customs warehouse in their kennels to get them cleared. If they can’t be cleared, they are put in quarantine.

As mentioned in an earlier blog entry, a veterinarian in Costa Rica that claimed that he knew how to get animals into Europe sent them with only a health certificate from Costa Rica which is completely unacceptable. These pets were returned to Costa Rica at the owners expense. They contacted our office and we got the EU Certificate completed along with the rabies titres and they eventually made their way back to Europe.

If you need accurate and up to date information on what is necessary to get your pets in or out of Costa Rica, contact IPATA (International Pet and Animal Transportation Association) from anywhere in the world. They have members all over the world that often work together with other members to insure a safe trip for your pets. It can be expensive, but not as expensive as having your animals shipped back to their country of origin because things were not done correctly.
Go to and on the left side of the screen there is an option for find a pet shipper. You can put in the country you are leaving from or the state if coming from the US. Since we are the only members in Costa Rica, we will help you on this end to insure that your pets are only in customs for a couple of hours rather than several days.

With the agent that you are working with in your home country and our office coordinating our efforts, we can insure that you will have all of the proper documentation, then forward that onto us so that we can pre-clear your pets.

Now you know from my previous posts that I do not talk ill of other people or companies but when my client called me crying because they couldn’t get hold of ARCR after paying their membership fee. They were only days away from flying down and they didn’t have any of the documentation that they needed. I get angry and want to warn other people not to put themselves in the same position.

We had to hustle to get everything together but they made it down with their 3 dogs after seeking help from myself and an agent in San Francisco.

If your considering a move in or out of Costa Rica and you have pets, please contact myself or another IPATA agent.


Pets traveling to Costa Rica

More information about pets traveling to Costa Rica….When you are bringing a dog/cat from another country to Costa Rica, the entry requirements vary depending on where they are coming from.  Some things that never change….

Rabies must be over 30 days and less than 1 year old

Yearly vaccinations must be current within one year

You MUST have an International Health Certificate signed and sealed by the government of your country.  If you are coming from the U.S. you need APHIS form 7001 issued by a USDA approved veterinarian then signed and sealed by the closest USDA office to where you live.

Since this document can not be more than 10 days old when you arrive in Costa Rica, you must send it overnight to the local USDA office with a return overnight envelope.  They are accustomed to doing these the day that they arrive and sending them out the same day.

If you are not flying with your pet, you will need assistance from someone that is accustomed to dealing with customs or it can take you days to get your pets out of the customs warehouse.

Working with our company before you make the actual move, we can pre-clear your pets and they are often out within 2-3 hours or sooner.  We are members of IPATA ( and have experience importing and exporting pets.


Leaving Costa Rica with pets

If you are leaving Costa Rica and have pets there are a few steps that you must take to insure a safe trip for your beloved pets.  Leaving and entering have different rules and regulations.  Depending on the destination entry requirements into another country will vary.  It is extremely important to know these rules and entry requirements or your pets can be put on the next plane back to Costa Rica.

We work with agents all over the world and coordinate with them flights and entry requirements for each country.  We help satisfy those requirements in advance of departure to make this a smooth move for the whole family and to take away a little bit of the worry that comes with moving pets.

Recently a veterinarian in Costa Rica sent 2 dogs to Europe without the proper documentations.  The owners had already moved to Europe and were anticipating the arrival of their beloved pets.  Unfortunately when the dogs arrived in London without the necessary documentation they were put on the next plane back to Costa Rica.  In the owners panic, they contacted IPATA for an agent in Costa Rica that could help them.  We picked the dogs up at the airport and brought them to our boarding facility where we began the process of getting them to England.

We kept the dogs for 3 months (time necessary to get rabies titres) and worked with a veterinarian that is well versed in the requirements for shipping pets to Europe.  After we got back the rabies titres and the EU Certificate was completed, we made reservations for the pets to fly back to Europe.

On October 2nd the dogs arrived in London and were accepted by customs without incident.  This whole episode cost the owners so much more than it would have if they had originally contacted someone that knows about shipping pets.

If you are leaving Costa Rica with pets, contact Guardian Angels CR Relocation Specialists to coordinate this move for you and save yourself a possible nightmare like the one mentioned above.

If you are not in Costa Rica but are planning on coming, we can also work with you to insure a safe move for everyone.


Leatherback Turtles

Well it appears something is wrong with my editor so bear with me until I figure this out.

In Santa Cruz, Guanacaste our first leatherback turtle of the year swam ashore on September 15th to lay her eggs on Junquillal Beach a full month before the average season starts.  Usually, the season begins in the middle of October and ends in March of the following year.  Last year for example, it began October 17th.

The leatherback is one of the most endangered species in the world. In 1980 91.,000 were counted laying eggs where last year there was less than 1000.  Scientists in Costa Rica as well as throughout the world have been alarmed at the declining numbers coming ashore.

Scientists are encouraged this year that the turtles are coming earlier.  In coller weather0beach sand temperature determines the sex of most of the baby turtles born in the shallow nests.  If the season is late, temperatures of more than 30 degrees celsus can “cook” the soft-shelled eggs hard.  None of the eggs will then hatch.

At Junquillal, a squad of eight young men, nicknamed the “Baula Boys,” protected the nests from marauding dogs-and poachers.  Although it is prohibited to harvest more than a small percentage of the eggs, they are still consumed, mostly in cantinas, for their mythical virility-instilling powers.


Animals for sale

It has been a pet peeve of mine for some time how people stand on the side of the road near the rotunda a Multiplaza in Escazu selling their puppies that are sick or too young to be away from their mother.

Disease is rampant and these puppies if you buy one, you are for sure in store for some major vet bills.  Most puppies (if any) have not been vaccinated for regular puppy inoculations which are necessary to prevent parvo virus (a deadly disease) or distemper.

The prices are better than that you will find in a pet store, however, when you add together all the money you are going to spend at the vet, your going to be spending more than you would if you bought one from a reputable vet or well respected pet store.  You can also be certain by buying from a good vet or pet store that your puppy has received the necessary vaccinations.

There was a raid recently on this area of Escazu and this happens every so often to the chagrin of the pet owners. The puppies were confiscated and taken to the vet to be treated and vaccinated.

Don’t make the mistake of buying a puppy from someone off the street.  There are so many puppy mills in Costa Rica in worse condition than those that make the news in the US.

There are several reputable breeders and veterinarians in Costa Rica that can help you find the right pet for you.  Cats too.


Airlines and pets

Unfortunately the most airlines are not up to date on their information when transporting pets. Recently someone called from the ticket counter at American Airlines and said that the airlines would not let them board without permission from the Costa Rican Consulate. Today yet another call, this time from someone trying to board with their pet on Delta Airlines. It has not been the case for many years (over 6 years that I am aware of) that you need permission or anything from the Costa Rican Consulate.

I’ve mentioned this before in my blog and my best advice to you if you run into this with the airlines is to call us on our toll free line at 1-877-889-1131 and we can talk with the ticket agent. If you don’t have the phone number handy, ask to speak to a supervisor and tell them that there is nothing required by the Costa Rican Consulate and if they need proof call the Consulate themselves to see that this is not the case. They won’t call the Consulate but they will let you on the plane if you act sure in what you are saying.

Tell them that you have checked with the Consulate and there is nothing required by them for the dog/cat to board the plane but the International Health certificate which hopefully you have. Often times you need to go to the supervisor to make any headway because the ticket agents only know what is showing on their computer screen and as I said, this information is far outdated.

For all the pets that fly into Costa Rica on the same airlines on a daily basis, it still amazes me that only occasionally does this problem occur. Delta and American fly pets weekly into Costa Rica without any permit from the Consulate. It must be new agents that are causing the problem and the unnecessary stress to the traveler.

Bottom line….you don’t need permission from Costa Rica to enter the country at this time. If that law changes, which it is not likely to happen, we will post the new rules here. If you have any questions about bringing your pet to Costa Rica that is not covered here, email us or call and we would be happy to help you with your pet transportation needs.



YUK! They are everywhere. Apparantly when the dry season ends and the rainy season begins garrapatas (ticks) come out in record numbers. I have never seen so many ticks in one place. We have treated the animals with everything available and they still are crawling off the dogs and onto the furniture/floor. Our cats have actually picked them up as well and they never go outside. We have sprayed and fumigated until we are blue in the face and they still keep coming.

After much investigation we have found someone that specializes in garrapatas removal that is coming in with some kind of special spray. Hopefully this will do the trick.

We have never had a tick problem like this anywhere in the states or in Costa Rica. Our neighbors brought in a bunch of cows a few months ago and we have to believe that they are contributing to the problem but we can’t spray them.

I’m telling you that frontline, advantex, ivomectrin nothing is working so far so we are praying that the special garrapata guy can do the trick.

You can’t buy the stuff off the counter here that you can in the states. Everything is very mild and watered down as you have to have special permits to bring in poison and apparantly not many people have those permits. If you could these would have been gone a long time ago.

I’ll let you know if we are able to cure this problem with the special guy coming in on Wednesday. Hopefully we will see immediate results


Sedating your pet

Moving your pets in or out of Costa Rica can be very stressful for the owner but the dogs/cats handle it better than we do.  Do NOT every sedate your pet before they fly.  This can lead to very severe and sometimes fatal results.

Airlines will not knowingly accept a pet that has been sedated.  If you do sedate the pet, here is what can happen…the pet begins to feel weird and shaky, unfamiliar with their surroundings they can panic and start panting and pacing in their crate.  This can lead to dehydration and with no water available to them during the flight this can cause major problems for your pet, even death.

At the higher altitude the effect of the sedative intensifies and your pets heart rate will slow down.  This is not a good thing.  They could go to sleep and never wake up again.

Bottom line….do not sedate your pet.  They handle the move better than we do.  They usually sleep off and on throughout the trip.  They don’t stress with the experience and you will have a much happier pet at the end.


Newspapers in Costa Rica

AM Costa Rica is one of the English newspapers here in Costa Rica. You can find them online at They are a daily newspaper that is at this time only offered online. It is a great source for finding what is going on throughout the country.

Today Mr. Jay Brodell (the editor) wrote an article about our business and highlighted on the pet service that we offer. Here it is….Pets can travel, too, with the right kind of transport aid
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Those who seek a special dog or cat — or even a kangaroo — from elsewhere in the world can bring it here as long as they are prepared to pay the price.

A recent classified in A.M. Costa Rica presented an example of what not to do. The classified was a scam by cyberthieves who just want money.

Costa Rica’s only member of a pet transportation organization, said that bringing any kind of pet can be much more complicated and far more frustrating than people think. But by using experienced individuals, the discomfort can be minimized, she said.

The expert is Angela Passman of Escazú, a relocation specialist and operator of Guardian Angels CR. She has been relocating families for three years. But she also is a member of the Independent Pet and Animal Transportation Association.

Ms Passman said that any kind of pet, except birds, can be imported into Costa Rica. Her job is to get the pet through customs, frequently within a few hours.

Although she may be the only member of her association in Costa Rica, other members are all over the world ready to help get an animal started on its trip. Ms Passman said that for routine shipments, a Stateside pet owner can save a lot of money doing the preparation work him or herself.

The former Tennessee resident said that air flights have a tendency to calm down pets, and they usually arrive in a tranquil state.

“This month I shipped two dogs to England, two to Singapore, and I am preparing to send one to Germany
next month,” said Ms Passman. “Also we have several dogs coming in from South Africa, Spain, Australia, Venezuela and the U.S.”

She also has helped animals in transit, including kangaroos from Spain going to a Guatemala zoo where there was no direct flight. Ms Passman said she checked on the animals at the airport and verified all documents were in order.

Typically, a dog being imported from the United States needs proof of a rabies shot at least 30 days old. That requirement is for dogs over 4 months of age. But. Ms. Passman notes that dogs should not be removed from their month until they are at least 90 days old.

In addition to proof of a rabies shot, the dog will need a certification by a veterinarian that it is healthy. Then there is a required certificate from the the U.S. Department of Agriculture that the vet usually can arrange.

On the Costa Rican end there is additional paperwork, including a customs charge of 33 percent of the shipping costs. If someone does not speak Spanish, trying to get the animal out of customs can be a nightmare, said Ms. Passman. Some folks talk as long as three days, she said.

But because of the avian flu scare, importing birds is a big no no, and she has customers with parrots in the States awaiting shipment here.

But don’t try to ship parrots or any other Costa Rican creature out of the country. That’s against the law, she warned.

Her organization also had a Web page with some tips to animals lovers who might be faced with a potential cyberthief.