Setting Up Home

Relocating your pet from Dubai? Follow these simple steps

So, you’re leaving Dubai and naturally you want to bring your furry friend with you. It might seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be a complicated process. Here’s our advice on the process from start to finish:

Bringing them with you is easier than you may think. Cat by Mikhail Vasilyev

Step one: Research

Each airline have different policies for shipping animals and each country has different rules on what they allow. So you will need to start by researching the rules of your final destination and then follow the policies of the airline you choose to fly with.

A good place to start is by checking the government information from the country you are going to on flying in animals. You need to find out the following:

  • Do they require an import permit?
  • Are any special certificates required?
  • What are the flying options for your pet?
  • Does the country your flying to require you to keep your pet in quarantine?

Step two: Decide to do it yourself or opt for a professional relocation service

 Using a professional service will cost you slightly more than if you do it yourself but it will save you time and hassle. They will obtain the relevant documentation, flights, carry case and sort out the clearance procedures on the other end. Here are some of Dubai’s best pet relocators:

Dubai Kennels and Cattery (DKC)

Pet Air UK

Snoopy pets

If you decide to go about the process yourself, you will need to follow the remaining steps.

Your fluffy friend will be back with you in time. Photo by Eric Ward.

Step three: Work out how you will transport your pet back

You have three options for flying your pet home and the one you pick will largely have to do with where you are flying to.

Travelling your pet as cargo:

This is the most common way to fly your pet out of the country and it is the preferred method by many countries. For example, it is the only way you can bring a pet into the UK. It means that your pet will fly as ‘unaccompanied’ shipment (even if you are on the same flight). Documentation of vaccinations along with a pet passport from the Pet Passport Scheme is required.

You take them directly to the cargo area several hours before the flight rather than to the luggage counter. The cost of your pet’s ticket is calculated on the size of the travel box as opposed to its weight.

A benefit of cargo is that if you are unable to travel on the same flight you can elect someone to pick up your pet on the other end.

It is important to note that some countries have rules on how many pets you can bring in and what breeds of dog are allowed to be brought into countries.

How do I travel with my pet as cargo?

If you’re travelling during a peak season you should make a temporary reservation for yourself and call up the airline’s cargo department to see if they have space for your pet to travel in cargo. You may have to wait up to 48 hours to find out if there is space in the cargo of your flight. Alternatively, you can nominate someone to pick up your pet on the other end.

Travelling your pet as accompanied baggage:

Two things are important for this method – that your destination country allows animals to enter that have flown as accompanied baggage and finding an airline that permits you to do so.

Countries have restrictions on allowing pets into the country through checked baggage so be sure to check the guidelines of your final destination. The following countries do NOT permit entry of animals via checked luggage: Australia, UK, Bahrain, Hong Kong, Ireland, New Zealand and South Africa.

Providing your destination country permits it, some airlines will allow you to bring your pet to the luggage counter (in its travel case) and showing the relevant documents, you’ll be able to check-it in to fly in the cargo section of the plane.

It is usually required that you let them know 36 hours prior to departure which you can do online for some or by giving them a call. A porter will collect your pet from check-in and take him/her to a holding area until departure. Upon arrival a porter will bring your pet to baggage reclaim for you to collect along with your luggage.  

The following airlines allow you to transport your pet as checked baggage: Aeroflot, Air Astana, Air Canada, Air France, Air India, Egypt Air, Emirates, KLM, Lufthansa, Middle East Airlines, Royal Jordanian, Singapore Airlines, Swiss, Thai Airways and Turkish Airlines.

As with every step of the process, you’ll need to check the terms and conditions of the airline by visiting their website to avoid disappointment. For example, Emirates allow cats, dogs and pet birds to be transported as checked baggage, “providing the total journey time (including any transit time) is less than 17 hours, and all appropriate conditions are met.” They urge you to, “contact your local Emirates office well in advance of travel for more information.

Travelling your pet as accompanied baggage in the passenger cabin:

Although few and far between, some airlines let you bring your small cat or dog aboard the plane in a soft carry case – weight depending. Emirates and Etihad allow falcons to ride in the first-class cabin.

For those flying to countries that permit animals to enter as baggage, KLM is known for its easy and cost-effective pet handling. They charge around EUR30 to EU200 depending on the destination. If you have a layover at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol that lasts three hours or more, it’s an additional EUR150 for them to look after your pet as you wait.

Step four: Get their paperwork in order

Microchip: A lot of countries (including the UK) require your pet to microchipped either before or after their rabies vaccination. If your pet hasn’t been chipped, do this first.

Vaccinations: You’ll need to make sure your pet’s vaccinations are up to date, especially for rabies. Rabies is the most important with the majority of countries require that the rabies vaccination is administered either 30 or 21 days before travel. Make sure that you get the relevant documentation and stamps in their passport from your vets.

Health certificate: At Dubai Municipality Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE) you can get a “third country official veterinary certificate, commonly known as a health certificate. Here they will record your pets microchip number and vaccination details on the certificate. It costs around Dhs30 and is required to be completed 10 days prior to flying.

Export certificate: Also, from the MOCCAE, you’ll need to obtain an export certificate. You can call them on 04 295 8161 or email at

Get them settled in their travel case. Dog in cage by Hermes Rivera.

Step five: Prepare their travel case

The box your pet travels in must meet International Air Transport Association (IATA) standards and be the right size for the animal. You can ask your vet or visit the IATA website for more information on choosing the right size. Cases can vary in price from Dhs300 to Dhs700 in pet shops, but you can often pick them up for less second hand.

Label the box clearly with the animal’s name and a bit of information about them – what do they like and dislike. It’s a good idea to get the pet familiar with the box a week before travel. You can put things inside that they are familiar with like blankets and toys.

Step six: The day of departure

If you’re checking them in as cargo, get to the airport at least four hours before the flight departure time in order to complete the necessary procedures. If they’re being check as baggage head straight to the check-in desk – it is wise to get there slightly earlier than you normally would, so you have time to go through the relevant paperwork at check-in.

Have a plan in place for who will collect your pet on the other side or find out exactly where you need to go to be reunited with your furry friend.

How much does it cost?

The price of shipping a pet varies. It depends on the shipping method you use and on the airline you fly. The process can be as little as Dhs2,000 but it can go up to Dhs15,000 and of course more if you have multiple pets.

If you’ve still got roots in Dubai, follow our advice for creating a pet paradise in your home for your fluffy pal.

%d bloggers like this: