Taking a Pet to the U.S.A Firsthand Experience

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Living in China as a foreigner has its benefits, but also its complications. If at some point, you don’t see yourself wanting to stay much longer in this country, whether it be for personal or professional reasons, most people need to start a lengthy preparation process.
Something that often becomes a hardship is transporting pets, especially since not everyone who comes to live in China can speak Mandarin. As a result, some people abandon their pets in their haste to leave, which is painful for both human and animal alike.
Luckily, we went through the process already and laid out all the steps to make this fast, efficient, and gives you an idea of “how much time” you need to start preparing the move out.

Some things you should know before reading this article:

    1. In China,”pets” are considered dogs and cats,with some exceptions made for large exotic pets.If you have a pet that is a rodent,like a rabbit or ferret,Chinese regulations will NOT allow you to take this animal with you.As a result,you should think very carefully about adopting this kind of animal as a foreigner in China.(Rabbits are the most abandoned animal in China among foreigners as a result of this.)
    2. This article involves moving a small (under 20 lbs.), not spayed, female dog from Mainland China to the U.S. (a high rabies country to moderate rabies country) on a Chinese airline. We have also include the information needed for cats in this article.
    3. If you are moving your pet to a

RABIES FREE country

    1. (like Japan or Australia), the process is different and longer for the individuals involved. Usually, a

quarantine period of 6 months

    is required for these animals upon entrance to these countries, and other specific requirements are needed.
  1.  If your pet is registered as an Emotional Support Animal (ESA), you still must obtain these documents to have your pet leave China, even if the animal is originally from another country. These documents are required for import and export requirements, and are not just a matter of airline access. ESAs are still permitted to remain in the cabin with their owners with proper documentation on Chinese airlines (this will not be reviewed in this article, but you can learn more about that process HERE.)
  2. We have put these steps in the order we recommend doing them to utilize your time best. Cost, amount of time needed, and notes are included for each step.
Steps:
 
    1. Vaccinations and Vaccination Immunity Document
      1. This will include a 2”x 2” picture of your pet (face and body) with a white background (passport picture).

COST:15 RMB

TIME TO PREPARE:
**No more than 12 months,no less than 30 days**
TIME TO DO:
Printed within a few hours

Note:We took our dog’s photo at home and photoshopped the background white, and then had several printed.

      1. Vaccinated
        • Rabies*REQUIRED(1 year)
        • *If you pet is being vaccinated for the first time,you must wait at least 6 months before they can leave the country*
        • Canine Distemper(Dog)
        • Parvovirus(Dog)
        • Coronavirus(Dog)
        • Feline Distemper(CAT)
        • Peritonitis(CAT)
        • Leucopenia(CAT)
        • Kennel Cough-Nasal injection
        • Microchip-Recommended – COST:150 RMB
        • (we did this ourselves)

NOTE:We took our dog’s photo at home and photoshopped the background white, and then had several printed.

 
 
      1. Vaccinated records

COST:600 RMB

TIME TO PREPARE:
**A little over a month 
ahead of time**
TIME TO DO:
An hour in total for the appointment
Note:Prices vary,for our dog vaccines(expensives rate)

 

    1. Health Certificate from Certified Vet(Signed and Stamped)

        COST:75 RMB

 
    1.        

TIME TO PREPARE:

 
    1.          **No more than 30 days,
 
    1.          no less than 10 days**
 
    1.        

TIME TO DO:

    1.  
        Not considering commute time,body
 
        check took about 20 minutes total
 
             Note:We went to a government approved veterinary hospital
 
             in Guangzhou.After performing a full body check, they gave us
 
             a form that explains the quality of health of the pet, signed and
             stamped by the vet.
 

  • Health Examination and Certificate at Entry-Exit Inspection & Quarantine Bureau
    1. Acquire Transit Permit
COST:None
 
TIME TO PREPARE:
 
    1. **Previous steps must be completed**
 
TIME TO DO:
 
    1. Few hours total,finished before lunch
 
Note: We went to the our local town’s Entry-Exit Inspection &
 
Quarantine Bureau, and the whole process was relatively smooth.
 
We had to walk around to several offices, but essential we submitted
 
the Health Certificate and Vaccination Immunity Document and
 
another picture of our dog. She was given a quick examination
 
in the Quarantine area, which she passed.Then we returned to get the Transit Permit.However, there were some problems with processing the cargo type [“Dog”],so the Bureau recommended using an Import/Export Company that was right next-door, where they processed the Transit Permit for us.
 
 
    1. Using Import/Eport Company for Transit Permit
COTS:200 RMB
 
TIME TO PREPARE:
 
    1. **Proof of passing quarantine requirements(previous step)**
 
TIME TO DO:
 
    1. Under 30 minutes
 
Note:It was inputted into the China Customs system, and we just went back to the Bureau
 
to get the official Animal Health Certificate, which is presented to the Airport and U.S.
 
Customs to allow our dog to leave China and enter the U.S
  • Prepare Crate
    1. Crate requirements:Pet needs to be able to stand up and turn around in the crate, must have ventilation on all four sides, should also have an area on the bottom inside that removes where liquid can pass under so your pet is not sitting in urine.  
    2. Recommended: Use pet hardware to assemble the crate(Not the picture below), not any plastic or easily breakable nuts and bolts.
(61cm*40cm*39cm,net weight 3.0kg,suitable for pets under 10kg)
COST:About 120 RMB
 
TIME TO PREPARE:
 
**As soon as you need to prepare your pet for getting used to the crate, we recommend at least a month of training.**
 
**Shopping took about 4 days for all of the items purchased.**
 
TIME TO DO:
 
About 1 hour to set up the crate
    1. Items for the crate:
      • When was your pet last “walked”(poop and pee)
      • When was your pet last fed and watered
      • Your pet’s name
      • Your name and phone you can be reached at (we included a luggage tag).
COST:9.80 RMB
      • Any special conditions pet has(anxiety,aggression,hyperactivity,etc.)
      • Any medications you have given your pet (we recommend not giving any to your pet before a flight unless absolutely necessary)
      • Picture of you and your pet together
      • Photocopy of Animal Health Certificate attached to side of crate
      • FRAGILE[red] stickers on each side and top of the crate
COST:1.00 RMB ea.
      • LIVE ANIMAL[green] stickers with arrows point UP on each side and top of crate(no arrows on top)
[Printed]
    1. Inside the crate:
      1. Small bag of pet’s food and food dish(attach to front of crate door)
COST:0 RMB(already had food)
      1. Water dispenser (attached to front of crate door) you can access without  having to open the crate – for dogs also add ice
COST:About 35 RMB
      1. Pee pad(goes under removable bottom area)
COST:55 RMB pack of 50
      1. A soft blanket or something that makes your pet more comfortable
COST:FREE
(came with crate,normally 20-50 RMB)
      1. An artical of clothing that smells like you(helps with comforting them)
Note:I also put a sweater on my dog ahead of time to make sure she wouldn’t get cold on the plane, but this is dependent on your pet. Do not put anything constricting on your pet, and do not place anything in the crate that could cause them to choke like chew treats or toys
    1. Other considerations:
      1. Optional:include a muzzle if you have one
COST:About 20 RMB
      1. Leash and/or collar taped strongly to the side of the crate (do not block the air holes)
      2. Luggage strap to go around the whole crate [optional]
COST:9.9 RMB
      1. Zip ties to seal your pet’s crate door shut at the airport
COST:10 RMB for 100

  • Call the Airline
COST:None
TIME TO PREPARE:
**As soon as you know your pet will be traveling with you and you book your flight**
TIME TO DO:
Phone call took about 20 mintues,waited a day for confirmation
Notes:
  • We used China Southern Airlines, so when you call you are required to tell them the size of your crate (under XX size), the breed and type of pet (no snub-nose breeds allowed), the weight of the crate and pet together (under XX kg), your flight information, and your personal information. You will receive a confirmation via text if your pet is allowed to board the flight with you. Every airline is different, but we had a good experience with CSA, so we recommend using them.
  • For China Southern Airlines, you must also purchase an additional baggage voucher for a pet. Purchasing this ahead of time online is cheaper than waiting until you get to the airport, but both are an option. You cannot use your pet as one of your allotted bags.

  • Check State Requirements(U.S. only)
COST:None
TIME TO PREPARE:
**As soon as you konw your pet will be traveling with you and you book your flight**
Note:
For example, we flew into New York, and in New York it is also required to have a Heart worm-negative pet. We had proof that we supplied our dog with Heartguard medication   each month, although this was never checked.

  • At the airport
COST:None (except cost of plane ticket and baggage voucher)
TIME TO PREPARE:
**At least 4 hours before your flight**
TIME TO DO:
About 20-30 mintues to check-in bags and pet
Notes:
      • Make sure you have all your required documents and photocopies of each with you at all times. (Folders are helpful)
      • Try to have your pet go to the bathroom right before placing them in the crate for the last time if you can.  
      • Have your pet eat right before placing them in the crate for the last time if you can. (They might be too nervous for several hours after they are in the airport/plane to eat)  
      •  Get your boarding pass with your pet – the airline will have you fill out a waiver form here for your pet and weigh it.  
      • Pack your pet up with netting and rope supplied by the airport [we were in Guangzhou], the airline will advise you.  
      • Bring your pet to Oversized Luggage after you have received your boarding pass and make sure you get a Baggage Tag/Receipt (they will attach one to your pet’s crate as well).  
      • As you are boarding the plane, ask one of the flight attendants if they can remind the captain to keep the temperature of the cargo the same as the cabin because your pet is there (this is standard when pets are checked in, but it never hurts to be sure).  
      • When you land – have U.S. Customs check your Animal Health Certificate, then pick up your pet at the Oversized Luggage area when you pick up the rest of your luggage.

**Make sure that your flight is DIRECT, otherwise you will need to also follow any requirements for importing pets at any stopover you have for your flight, unless all flights are through the same airline (typically they are not).**

 
 
 
 
Have a Safe Flight!

Some things you should know before reading this article:

  1. In China,”pets” are considered dogs and cats,with some exceptions made for large exotic pets.If you have a pet that is a rodent,like a rabbit or ferret,Chinese regulations will NOT allow you to take this animal with you.As a result,you should think very carefully about adopting this kind of animal as a foreigner in China.(Rabbits are the most abandoned animal in China among foreigners as a result of this.)
  2. This article involves moving a small (under 20 lbs.), not spayed, female dog from Mainland China to the U.S. (a high rabies country to moderate rabies country) on a Chinese airline. We have also include the information needed for cats in this article.
  3.  If your pet is registered as an Emotional Support Animal (ESA), you still must obtain these documents to have your pet leave China, even if the animal is originally from another country. These documents are required for import and export requirements, and are not just a matter of airline access. ESAs are still permitted to remain in the cabin with their owners with proper documentation on Chinese airlines (this will not be reviewed in this article, but you can learn more about that process HERE.)
  4. We have put these steps in the order we recommend doing them to utilize your time best. Cost, amount of time needed, and notes are included for each step.

Steps:

Vaccinations and Vaccination Immunity Document

This will include a 2”x 2” picture of your pet (face and body) with a white background (passport picture).
COST: 150RMB

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