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Moving Your Dog to Egypt from the United States - It's Not as Hard as You Think
Note: This information is for large dogs that need to fly as checked luggage in the cargo hold. For cats and small dogs the information regarding flying is different, however the process of getting the forms is the same. For animals travelling unaccompanied (without you on the same flight) some of the forms may be different as well.
Book your flight
There are several factors to consider when booking your flight - cost, time of the year you will be flying and length of flight. At the time I moved with my dog my only options were: Egypt Air, Lufthansa, and KLM. Currently, Delta also offers direct flights to Cairo. I don't recommend flying through England on British Airways, as England has some of the toughest policies on travelling with animals. You want to choose a flight and airline that works best for you, but keep in mind doing direct international flights with pets is harder. Some of the airline websites suggest it is best to fly direct, but it all comes down to personal preference and how well you think your pet could handle being in a crate for up to 12 or more hours. At the time you book your flight, you must inform the airline of your plans to travel with a pet. They will usually ask for the breed and weight of pet, plus the exact measurements of your crate. They may be able to estimate the cost for you, but final cost will be determined once the crate and animal are weighed at check-in. I was quoted $750 on KLM for up to 145 lbs. (weight of the dog + weight of the crate = total shipment weight). Once you book your flight, look at the airline’s website to see their pet travel policies as well as to download any forms you may need.
Egypt Air: This is a 12 hour flight between New York and Cairo. While Egypt Air offers great rates for humans, I was quoted (in 2007) a cost of $1,000 for the dog.
Delta: As of summer of 2008, Delta now offers direct flights between JFK and Cairo. Excellent rates for people, and good choice for travelling with carry-on pets. They also accept pets as luggage.
Lufthansa: Human rates are higher than many airlines, but supposedly they are excellent at handling animal transports. Flight time between the US and Germany is approximately 8 to 9 hours (depending on where you leave from), giving your dog time to rest between flights.
KLM (also see Northwest): I can highly recommend KLM for people as well as animals. My dog was picked up by a Northwest employee from the check-in counter and was taken to a climate-controlled holding area prior to boarding. Northwest/KLM have Priority Pet Services at the airports in Memphis, Detroit, and Minneapolis/St. Paul. It makes checking in with a pet much more efficient, so, if at all possible, try to schedule your departure from one of these hubs. As soon as I was on the plane and in my seat, the flight attendants brought me a receipt that showed my dog had been loaded in the cargo hold. The flight time for me between Memphis and Amsterdam was 8 hours. Upon arrival in Amsterdam I was not allowed to have any contact with my dog, but she was taken to a "pet motel" animal holding area in Schipol Airport where she was fed, her water bottle was refilled, and her crate - which she had soiled - was cleaned out and lined with shredded newspaper. Not only was the staff at the Schipol Airport animal holding area fantastic, the flight crew was outstanding. The whole experience was handled professionally right from the gate agent to the flight attendants, who alleviated my fears by checking to make sure the dog was on board right away - even letting me know that the captain assured me he was a dog owner and he would keep the temperature in the cargo hold up (it was February).
It is important to consider the time of year you will be flying because the airlines have regulations about flying dogs in cargo during certain temperatures. The temperature at departure and arrival destination must fall between their safe guidelines. So it might be best not to try to fly in August during a heatwave. Also, certain breeds that are more susceptible to heat stroke and temperature extremes are not permitted to fly cargo during these times of year. It's best to get on the airline website and see what their policies are regarding weather restrictions and embargoes.
It is also prudent for me to point out that depending on the size of your dog and crate, you might not be able to take certain regional flights because the crate won't fit in the cargo hold. This was a problem I ran into having a Rottweiler in a giant crate. I was not able to fly out of my local regional airport of Evansville, Indiana for this reason. I had to make arrangements to drive to Memphis and fly out of there. You will usually only run into this problem if you are using the extra-large or giant sized crates. You will have to travel to your nearest international airport.
GETTING THE RIGHT CRATE
Once you have your flight booked, the next step is to get a crate. The earlier the better. My dog had been crate trained as a puppy, but I still had to purchase a new crate for her for two reasons - it was a little too small for her and it did not meet standards for international air travel. Be very careful when buying a crate that says it meets airline standards, because the requirements for domestic and international differ. Most crates that are sold in pet stores in the US only meet domestic requirements. For international, the crate must be made of a harder plastic, must be ventilated on all four sides, and must be put together with bolts rather than the flimsy plastic clips. I searched every pet store in the Evansville area with no luck. Depending on where you live, you might not have any luck in pet stores either.
Futurepets.com has a product called Sky Kennel. These crates are approved for international travel and are the best best price you will find around (believe me, I shopped around). The quality of these crates is better than most you will find in stores. This kennel is worth the investment not only for moving your dog, but for those interested in crate training as well. The website also sells replacement doors and hardware. Make sure you get the right size for your pet . The dog must be able to sit, stand, turn around, and lie down comfortably in the crate. Pay close attention that you don't get a crate that is TOO LARGE for the dog as well. This could cause the airline to reject the crate as the dog could become injured by bouncing around too much.
Once you have your crate you need to also get a water bottle, a crate pad and a food bowl that can attach to the crate. If you have not already done so, get your pet used to being in the crate and drinking from the bottle well in advance.
PREPARING YOUR PET FOR TRAVEL
One month before you travel
Have your animals microchipped.
You can look at PetTravel.com to familiarize yourself with the entry requirements of each country you may be passing through. Get to know the entry requirements for each country on your itinerary. Also pay close attention to the breed of your dog because some breeds are banned in certain countries even for animals in transit.
Quarantine information: Again, you can look here for information on required quarantines. As of my entry in 2008, Egypt DOES NOT require any quarantine for pets arriving from the US or the EU with the proper paperwork. If you will be entering Egypt via a different country it may be up to the discretion of the Ministry of Agriculture in Cairo to determine if a quarantine is necessary.
Three weeks before you travel
Visit your vet and ask him/her to photocopy all your pet’s records so you have them for the vet in your destination country. Also schedule an appointment to see your vet 10 DAYS before your flight. Inform your vet of your plans to travel and the countries you will pass through so they have time to gather the US Department of Agriculture APHIS International Health Certificate forms they will need when you come back for your appointment. Most vets have these forms on hand and many have experience with filling them out. Here are some useful links for the USDA and other useful links that you can begin to look over prior to your vet appointment:
Airline Pet Policies(search by airline)
Immigration forms for pet travel
(If you are passing through Europe you will need to get the EU998 form on your own as most vets in the US might not have it. It is available for purchase here or you can just google EU998 and the name of the country you are travelling to and you might find one you can print out for free.)
PREPARING THE FORMS
10 Days before you travel
This part of the process cannot begin sooner than 10 days prior to your departure date. It is recommended to begin exactly 10 days prior to departure. Visit your vet and have him/her fill out the APHIS form 7001 (United States Interstate and International Certificate of Health Examination for Small Animals), along with the EU998 if you plan to fly through Europe.
Take the completed forms and Express mail them, along with a money order with the appropriate fee for EACH form to be stamped, and a self-addressed stamped envelope (again I would use Priority or Express Mail) to the USDA APHIS VS office for your home state . I will not post the fees here as they are subject to change or vary by State. (In some rare instances, the animal may need to be examined by a vet at the USDA APHIS VS regional office, although I think it depends greatly on your destination country. It was not necessary for me to do this to take my dog to Egypt.)
Once you mail off your package, you should have it back within 5 to 7 days. As soon as you receive your package back make 4 photocopies of the stamped certified forms, along with your pet's rabies certificate, pertinent medical records and microchip certificate. Get 8 1/2 x 11 manila envelopes and place one set of photocopies in each one. Do not fold the forms.
- One envelope will be taped to the top of the crate.
- One envelope is for the gate agent at the airline.
- One envelope is for the receiving agent in your destination country.
- One extra copy is for you. Also, keep the originals with you in your carry-on luggage.
ON THE DAY OF DEPARTURE
Make sure you have the forms, live animal stickers, airline checklists, animal feeding instructions, and "Arrow Up" stickers attached to the crate. Since feeding regulations may vary depending on airline, check with the airline about how soon before your flight you need to stop offering your dog food and water. Animals are required to be fed every 24 hours so if you have a long international flight, you might want to feed your pet at least 5 hours prior to departure time. Just make sure you write the time of last meal down on the feeding instructions.
IMPORTANT: DO NOT GIVE THE ANIMALS ANY SEDATIVES, EITHER PRESCRIPTION OR OVER THE COUNTER. THEY CANNOT FLY IF THEY ARE SEDATED - THIS CAN BE DEADLY TO YOUR PET.
It is a good idea also to type up a small bio on your pet including his/her name, temperament etc. I did this with my dog and had it translated into Arabic and Dutch as well. I also put her picture on it. Attach this to the top of the crate as well, so it can be easily seen by those handling your dog.
Take a Ziploc bag filled with one serving of your dog’s dry food and attach that to the crate on the ledge just above the door. This location is easily located by those who may be feeding your dog during a layover (you must provide your own food if you want your dog fed). Make sure food and water bowls, and water bottle are attached.
Make sure your crate is lined with absorbent bedding - blankets, crate pads, towels, or shredded newspaper. The airline can reject your crate if they feel your dog is not comfortable or potty accidents might leak out.
Make sure you have your dog supplies packed in your carry-on. I packed a small bag of dry food as well because our flight was scheduled to arrive in Cairo at 2 am. In addition to this remember the leashes, food/water bowls, toys, etc. Also, carry some small Ziploc bags with you. These will come in handy for holding the nuts and bolts in case you have to take your crate apart to get it into a car and re-assemble it at the airport. You don't want to lose any of the hardware because the airline can reject the crate for missing screws.
When you arrive at the airport keep your pet on a leash while you go to check-in. Don't have your dog in the crate yet as TSA will need to do a swab inspection of the crate. It's also a good idea to take your dog for a walk before going inside to check-in. Once TSA inspects your crate and the animal they will instruct you to put your dog in its crate. Remove the leash before doing so and put it in your carry-on (you will need it when you reach your destination). Once your dog is in the crate you will no longer be allowed to have any contact with it. You cannot touch the crate or the dog. The gate agent will call someone to come and take the dog to a holding area and then they will finish checking you in for your flight. Remember, you can't have any contact with your pet during any layover either.
Once you are seated on the plane, the flight attendants should bring you a card shortly before take-off, letting you know your dog is safely on board. This will happen for each connecting flight you have as well.
ARRIVING AT YOUR DESTINATION
(Note: I can only share my experience with the arrival in Egypt. I cannot guarantee that it will happen exactly this way for you, nor can I talk about arriving in any other country.)
Arriving in Egypt was easier than I expected. I thought the dog would be sent to the Veterinary Services Department of the Ministry of Agriculture (they have a special place in Cairo Airport for this), and that I would have a hard time locating her and getting out of the airport. Much to my surprise the crate was wheeled in on a cart and deposited to me by the baggage claim area before the rest of the luggage was even coming out on the belt. As I said: much to my surprise. Furthermore, I was holding my envelope of paperwork anxiously searching for the proper authority to hand it over to. No one seemed interested in taking it - or even looking at it. The customs agents at the airport exit were more concerned with what I had packed in the boxes than they were with the big dog in the crate. I breezed out of the airport, took her out of the crate, put on her leash, broke the crate down and had it in the trunk of the car all within a span of 10 minutes. I was quite impressed with the ease with which that process happened.
I can't say for sure you will have the same experience arriving in Cairo. But by all means, get all your proper paperwork in order. Even if Egypt doesn't want it, the airline does. And it's better to be safe than sorry.
I hope that you find this information helpful in your plans to move your dog overseas. Don't worry - it's not as complicated as it sounds. And in the end - your dog is worth it!
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