International School Community Blog

Making an International Move with Pets

Embarking on an international move to teach abroad, whether for the first time or when seeking a new location, is always filled with excitement and unknowns. Making an international move with pets can compound unknowns, and add anxiety. However, with some leg work and a good amount of patience, taking your pets when you move abroad is possible.

Researching the laws for the import of pets for the countries you are interested in is essential. You may find that the pet import rules are less stringent than you thought. On the other hand, the country you were interested in may make it extremely expensive, difficult, or, more rarely, even impossible to bring in your pet. For example, a few countries place strong restrictions on dogs coming in from other countries with a high risk of rabies, and a several-month quarantine may be necessary. For other countries, a rabies titer test may be required, and the whole process from vaccination to blood draw to test results could take months. With prior research, you can focus your time and energy on seeking jobs in countries where bringing your pet will be feasible. 

Additionally, it is necessary to learn about the housing options available to you. If you will be living in school-provided housing, do they allow pets? If not, will the school provide you with a housing stipend to seek out your own? If finding your own housing, reach out to your future colleagues or join local Facebook groups for the city you will be moving to for insights into daily life with pets there. Often, these groups can be sources for information such as which neighborhoods might be more dog-friendly, what cultural considerations to keep in mind, and recommendations for veterinarians, pet sitters and boarding facilities, etc. If you have a dog, also think about housing aspects. For example, is a single-family home or townhome with a garden a possibility? If you are in a high-rise apartment complex, will you be able to get your dog outside easily for walks or bathroom breaks?

The most nerve-wracking part of the international move process may be actually transporting your pet to a new location. Some airlines allow small dogs and cats to be carried onto the plane if they meet the weight and carrier dimension restrictions. Other airlines will not allow pets in-cabin due to cultural reasons or customs restrictions. Either way, if you have a larger pet, the pet will most likely need to travel in the hold as excess baggage or cargo. Typically, traveling on the same flight with your pet as excess baggage will be much more cost-effective than shipping your pet separately from you as cargo. You can make your pet more comfortable in its crate by gradually getting them used to spending longer periods of time inside it. Usually, it is necessary to book the pet ahead of time, as there are limits on the number of pets in the cabin and/or in the baggage hold each flight. Often you will need to make your flight reservation and then call airline customer service to actually book your pet onto your ticket/reservation. 

Moving with your pets can add a layer of complexity to an international move. However, with prior research and a great deal of flexibility, you can help ensure that your pet can join you on your next adventure abroad.

Getting ready to check in at the airline desk.
Long dog walks on the beach in Morocco.
A garden for the dogs at home in Vietnam.

This article was submitted by ISC member, Stephanie Shiers. She has over 10 years of experience teaching English as an Additional Language and Social Sciences in the USA, Morocco, and Vietnam. Currently, she is working as a High School Social Studies teacher at St. Paul American School Hanoi in Vietnam. She holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Education.