Many expats from the US, Britain and elsewhere choose to retire to the beautiful destination of Bermuda, while others may move to the island for work. If you’re planning to be a resident here for some time, you may want to bring your pets with you. How would you go about doing so?The good news is that Bermuda is rabies-free and does not impose quarantines provided you follow a number of regulations, meaning you don’t have to be separated from your beloved pet or emotional support animal (the regulations apply to the latter, too) for long. Remember that kittens and pups need to be older than 10 months at the time of arrival unless they are coming in from the UK, Jamaica, New Zealand or Australia.
First of all, let’s take a look at the vaccinations, documentation and other factors your pet will need to enter the country. The basic requirements are:
• a copy of the animal’s import permit;
• your pet’s original health certificate (issued within the 10 days prior to animal’s arrival) which includes the identity, contact information, and signature of the issuing vet;
• a properly endorsed CITES document (only required for an animal of an endangered species).
Your animal will need to be microchipped with an ISO 11784/11785 compliant pet microchip that is 15 digit and non-encrypted. If your pet’s microchip is not ISO compliant, you can bring your own microchip scanner. Your vet will have all the details for compliance, so check with them in good time before you leave your home country.
As noted, Bermuda is free of rabies, so unless you’re coming from the countries outlined below, your dog or cat will need to have had two vaccinations for the disease: one after the age of three months and the other between six and 12 months after the first vaccination. The latest vaccination must have been given to your pet not less than 30 days and not more than 12 months prior to your arrival in Bermuda. A three-year vaccination is fine as long as it has been done within 12 months of travel.
Rabies vaccinations are not necessary if your dog or cat is arriving from the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand or Jamaica, and you also won’t need a rabies titer test, which is used to evaluate a person’s immunity to rabies.
You will need to ensure that your pet is free of ticks.
You’ll need to apply to your own vet for a veterinary health certificate not less than 10 days before your arrival, five days if you’re coming from the UK. Once your vet has issued this, you must complete it and fax it (for speed) to get a permit. The Bermuda government has all the contact details; double check the site to find exactly what you need.
The certificate needs a statement by the vet to the effect that your pet has not been exposed to rabies and has not been in a rabies quarantined area within the past six months.
You’ll need this documentation to get an import permit issued by the Bermuda Department of Environmental Protection. This is because the island has no quarantine facilities, so if you don’t have it, they can refuse entry to your animal. If you have a returning resident animal, and you’re bringing it back after having been away for a while, make sure you double check the regulations as you may not have to pay import duty. You should get your permit back within two to three days – it’s pretty quick.
If you have more than one pooch, you may need a multiple dog permit.
Logistics Of Arrival
You’ll probably need to pay customs duty on your animal (usually 25% of its value), unless it’s a returning resident or you’re coming for a short stay. It’s best to check directly with Bermuda customs for the specific details. You can find them at: HM Customs, 40 Front Street, Hamilton, Bermuda. Phone: (441) 295-4816.
You can bring your pet in by air as long as the animal’s carrier is IATA compliant. The animals have to come in via the LF Wade International Airport, and they can travel in the cabin with you if the airline allows this, although do remember to check with them first. Make sure they’re in good health, otherwise a vet can be called in to look them over at your expense.
You can bring a pet in by ship, as long as you’ve got control of the animal. If you’re on a private yacht, your pet will have to remain aboard at all times. And if you’re renting, don’t forget to ask your landlord if pets are allowed.
Are There Any Banned Animals?
Yes – a number of dog breeds are banned in Bermuda, such as American pit bull terriers, American bulldogs and American Staffordshire terriers, as well as some kinds of mastiffs and wolf crosses. Others, such as Dobermans, German shepherds, Rottweilers and chows are restricted, meaning you’ll need to apply separately and prove exceptional circumstances for bringing them in.
Ferrets are not permitted to enter Bermuda. If you have other animals such as rabbits, reptiles or amphibians, you’ll need to check the regulations for their travel in your own country and bear in mind that they will almost certainly need a health certificate. This applies to all pets, even fish.
If you have an unusual pet, such as a turtle, you need to check that it doesn’t fall under CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). If so, you’ll need to apply for additional permits.
All of this sounds complicated, but it’s designed to protect the island’s indigenous wildlife and your pet too, by ensuring that they’re in good health and are safe to travel. The government website and Bermuda Tourism Centres (in London and New York) can assist you in downloading the relevant documentation in good time.
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