Need guidance on moving pets from US to Ireland.
January 28, 2010 6:46 PM   Subscribe

Have you, or someone you know, moved pets from the US to Ireland? If so, could you share advice, or a bit about your experience?

My husband and I live in Vermont with 3 indoor cats and one giant-breed-mix dog. We will be relocating to Ireland within a year. We've done initial research and know about the general requirements for vaccinations/microchips/etc., including the 6-7 month lead time, but we're a little overwhelmed and would love to hear from people who've actually gone through all this.

Possibly pertinent info: All pets were acquired, and have always lived, in the US, and get regular vaccinations. My husband and I each have Irish and US citizenship.

Some things we're wondering:
-On one pet relocation company's site, they say in order to avoid any sort of quarantine, "animals are sent through Belfast under the United Kingdom’s Pets Passport Scheme and driven across the border into Ireland." Why are they able to go through Belfast? If we did this ourselves, according to the rules, it looks like we'd have to go through London. If you've done this, what was your route? How did you travel into Ireland from the UK? Would love to hear personal experiences.

-Should we do all the paperwork ourselves, or would we be better off using a pet relocation company? Want to hear from people who've done it either way. Any recommendations for pet relocation companies that have lots of experience with the UK and/or Ireland's requirements would be great, too.

-Any idea what we're looking at expense-wise? We know it'll be expensive, but actual figures that people have paid, whether through companies or going it alone, would be incredibly helpful.

-Any (PETS-approved) airline recommendations would be most welcome, especially w/r/t accommodating a large-breed (~120lbs) dog.

-Shot in the dark: Are there any affordable charter services we could avail of? (There's a list of approved companies on this page.) Empty leg, for example? If so, what's the best way to go about finding one?

-Another shot in the dark: Any recommendations for a vet who has experience with moving pets to Ireland (via the UK) in Vermont?

If you have any other advice, resources or experiences — good or bad — that you'd like to share, that'd be great.

Thanks so much, hive mind!
posted by lovermont to Travel & Transportation (2 answers total)
We moved to the UK from Canada with our cat a few years ago. (We've since moved back, but the regulations are, I believe, still in place.) As you know, you need to get the paperwork going well in advance, but it sounds like you have a handle on that. Once we had all the paperwork, and especially the rabies titer (sp?) test from the very expensive approved laboratory, and had the paperwork stamped by a gov't approved vet in Canada, things were actually pretty simple. We flew to the UK with our cat, who flew in the cargo compartment with Air Canada. (Not as regular cargo: they pre-book the cat two weeks in advance and use a dedicated compartment and assign specially trained people -- we overheard some ground crew before we boarded who were laughing at the fact that some people who tried to walk on with too much luggage weren't going to get it until the next flight out, as the front cargo compartment wouldn't be used for luggage because of our cat.)

The process at the pet reception centre in Heathrow was tedious but simple. We waited while they ensured that all the paperwork was in order, that the cat had something to drink and eat, and then handed over the cat.

At the time we did this, we could only bring our pet into Heathrow. The pet relocation services we looked into would charged a *lot* of money to do nothing more than ensure that the paperwork was in order and to drive the cat from Heathrow to Cambridge, where we were moving to.

Air Canada worked fine for us, and they fly direct to Heathrow from Montreal, which may not be too far for you. If it's worth the trouble for you, you could go that way. I'm afraid I've no recommendations for any PETS approved US airlines, but I would warn you to be careful to triple-check which ones are really approved: one of the ones which was still on the list when we went through the move actually no longer was willing to transport pets at all.

I hope that helps a bit, though I know it doesn't answer some of your more particular questions. In short: the paperwork was a pain but not difficult, the reception centre at Heathrow was easy, and even had couches where you could crash for the few hours before your pet was released, and our cat was not exactly thrilled about the whole process but came through unscathed.
posted by alaaarm at 7:53 PM on January 28, 2010

Thanks for your response, alaaarm. I'll have to find out if it would be possible for us to fly out of Montreal — it is the closest major airport to us. (And I do love Air Canada!) I'm not sure if PETS would allow it given we're originating in the US, but it's definitely worth looking into.
posted by lovermont at 9:21 AM on January 29, 2010

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