Let’s face it – moving is hard work! The packing, the picking-up, and let’s not forget making space for the more pivotal members of our families – the pets.
While pets add another variable to relocation, it is possible to safely and easily move and travel with pets, anywhere in the world – even a country as daunting as Saudi Arabia.
Moving pets to Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia (KSA) is not generally seen as a pet-friendly country, and for good reason. Until recently, the Kingdom primarily regarded dogs as animals used for protection or work purposes. In fact, dogs entering Saudi Arabia still must be claimed as “guard dogs,” from the greatest Great Dane to the tiniest teacup Pomeranian.
A letter from your vet must accompany your canine (along with many other documents – see below) stating that your pet is free of disease and is officially “classified” as a guard dog. Cats, however, can enter the country under the assumption of a household pet.
Other Saudi Arabian pet import requirements vary depending on the country from which they will be moving.
Shipping pets from the USA
Pets traveling from the USA to Saudi Arabia will need to have a USDA-APHIS 7001 international health certificate issued; stamped by the USDA office in your state as well as the Saudi Arabian consular in your area and the State Department in Washington, DC. Saudi Arabia considers the health certificate to be good for 30 days; however, most airlines typically require health certificates to be issued within 10 days of the flight.
Pet relocation agencies – like PetRelocation.com – can facilitate this process by getting two health certificates issued for your pets: one is done earlier in the process (within 30 days of the flight) and is stamped by the appropriate authorities at the Consular Office and State Department, and the second health certificate is done within 10 days of the flight and simply stamped by the state USDA office (which is much easier to get done within 10 days of the flight than the other endorsements).
The 10-day health certificate is presented to the airline upon check-in and the other health certificate travels with the pet to Saudi Arabia to be used in the customs clearance process.
If you’re flying with your pets into Saudi Arabia, you have several different flight options. When choosing the airline for your flight, keep in mind that direct flights do not always mean better flights. Many airlines simply are not accustomed to or do not have the resources to treat pets like the living, breathing creatures they are; instead they treat them like luggage or cargo.
It’s important to choose an airline that will keep your pet safe from the time of check-in until your arrival on the other end. A preferred pet-friendly airline going to Saudi Arabia is Lufthansa; they even have a pet program set up to keep pets in climate-control throughout the voyage.
Petrelocation.com recently profiled Lufthansa’s Pet Lounge in Frankfurt, as well as the rest of the Lufthansa pet program, in our Pet Friendly Airline Spotlight month to give a better idea about what’s happening behind the scenes.
What can you expect living with pets in Saudi Arabia?
If you are living in a compound, getting around with a pet should be relatively easy. However outside of the compound walls, pets are generally discouraged from appearing in public as they are often seen as unclean. Bear in mind that when looking for your residence, your pet will likely be spending most of his or her time there, so finding a location that allows him some of his basic spatial needs is important and should be a priority in your selection process.
Rachel Farris is a member of PetRelocation.com, an organisation that handles the door-to-door relocations of pets worldwide.