Moving to the United Arab Emirates requires acquainting yourself with new customs and making careful arrangements; and if you’re planning to bring your pets to Dubai or Abu Dhabi, even more research is necessary.
The pet import requirements for the UAE may seem overwhelming at first glance, but take comfort in the fact that many expats live in the UAE and many have moved their pets safely.
The country is becoming more and more accustomed to coexisting with animals as time goes by, but expats should still be prepared to limit the public appearances their furry friends may make.
Moving pets from the US to the UAE
Expats who just have to have their pets in Dubai or Abu Dhabi will need to follow strict regulations for shipping.
Pets will need to implanted with a microchip that meets international standards
They must be up-to-date on all required vaccinations
They must be issued an international health certificate (APHIS 7001) within ten days of departure
The international health certificate should be stamped by the state USDA office, and an import permit must also be secured from the UAE Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. This form is valid for a month after being issued.
The UAE allows two pets to enter the country per person.
All pets must travel in the cargo area of the airplane, but fortunately, the UAE imposes no quarantine upon arrival unless the pet is younger than four months old.
It’s important to note that certain dog breeds are banned from entering the UAE, including Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Japanese Tosas and any cross-breeds of these. Be sure that your dog isn’t on the official list of restricted breeds before you begin your shipping preparations.
The main points of entry from the US are Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and pet-friendly airlines that fly here include KLM and Lufthansa. Not all airlines make it a priority to specifically accommodate pets, so it’s important to choose an airline carrier that will pay attention to the details and help your pet arrive safely.
Since much of the UAE celebrates Ramadan, the month-long Muslim holiday of fasting and prayer, it’s advised to avoid shipping pets during this time due to various business closures. The exact dates of Ramadan vary from year to year.
Living with pets in Dubai and Abu Dhabi
As much as the UAE is characterized by striking modernity and innovative development, the western world’s love for animals is not always mirrored in the culture of the two main emirates, Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
Due to issues with environmental hygiene, pets in Abu Dhabi are currently banned from public areas – meaning they are not allowed at parks, beaches, restaurants and other open areas. Pets in Dubai are subject to less stringent laws, but many expats find themselves confused by the complex legislation.
In short, in Dubai dogs are banned from public parks and beaches, and pets must be restrained if they’re in any other public place. Certain designated dog-walking areas do exist.
In both Dubai and Abu Dhabi, pet owners should be respectful of their surroundings and mindful of the laws in order to avoid paying fines.
Housing can also pose new challenges for expats with pets in the UAE. Many rental properties may not allow them, so it’s important to cover the topic with the landlord or property manager when looking for a place to live.
Also, be aware that summers are very hot in the UAE and living spaces tend to be smaller. Dogs accustomed to spending long hours outdoors or running around in big yards will need to be presented with new diversions.
Essentially, dedicated travellers will find that it’s possible to enjoy life with a pet while living in the UAE, but it will certainly require an adjustment period for both pets and owner.
Hiring a pet relocation company
To minimize red tape and to better acquaint yourself with principles of pet ownership in a foreign country it's best to hire a pet relocation service. These professionals are prepared to deal with the bothersome bureaucracy, as well as to advise you on what to expect after arrival.
About the Author
Caitlin Moore works for PetRelocation.com, a pet travel company that arranges the door to door relocations of pets worldwide. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.