UAE: Travelling with a pet? Permit, process, vaccines explained

A guide on the documents, procedures, and conditions to note for individuals, when travelling with a pet

by

Poojaraj Maniyeri

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Published: Sun 2 Jun 2024, 8:00 AM

Last updated: Sun 2 Jun 2024, 10:25 PM

Are you a pet-owner that makes frequent trips to and from the UAE, or going to permanently move to the UAE? Or are you a resident looking to leave the UAE for good, and relocate to another country?

If any of these apply to you, you may want to know about the process of moving your beloved furry friend with you. There are different regulations to follow when importing and exporting pets.


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Read on to know all about the required documents when travelling with a pet, the process to follow, the vaccinations to take, and the conditions to comply with for resident pets.


Importing pets into the UAE

If you are travelling with a pet to the UAE as an individual, these are the regulations to follow.

What are the required documents?

  • A customs declaration or bill of lading showing the delivery data
  • A document of immunisations or a passport with the required data
  • A certified health certificate issued by the competent veterinary authorities
  • Import permit and release permit
  • In the event of importation from a high-risk country, a laboratory test certificate should be attached to the antibody titration test for rabies. The test should be issued by a laboratory approved by the competent authorities of the State of export, and the result of the laboratory test may have to be included in the health certificate
  • In the case of importation of resident animals, a copy of the Veterinary Health Certificate issued by the ministry shall be required when the animal leaves the country

How do I obtain the import and release permits?

The import and relase permits are needed for importing pets into the UAE. Follow these steps to apply for the permits:

  1. Visit moccae.gov.ae
  2. Go to the 'Our services' tab, hover your cursor over 'Service directory' and click on 'Export and import services'
  3. Go to 'Import of pets (cats/dogs)' and click on 'Start service'
  4. Login with UAE Pass
  5. Fill out the electronic form
  6. Pay the fees online

For release permit, follow the same steps of filling the form, and paying the fees online. An examination of the pet will be conducted at the entry port to verify compliance with import permission.

The import and release permits will then be issued online. The import permit is valid for 30 days after issuance.

Fees

  • Dh200 per head - Request permission to import cats and dogs
  • Dh500 per head - Request to release dogs
  • Dh250 per head - Request to release cats

Points to note when importing pets

  • Individuals can import no more than 2 cats or 2 dogs or a dog and a cat annually, with the exception of the exit and entry of resident animals, provided that they are identified by a fixed microchip and the health requirements for import are fulfilled.
  • Once the pets arrive at the entry port, they will be examined. This examination is needed to verify compliance with the import permission, conditions and necessary specifications.
  • The import permit, valid for 30 days, must be issued through the MOCCAE website prior to importation.
  • Cats and dogs will be shipped according to IATA conditions for pet animal transport.
  • The cats and dogs must be identified with a permanent microchip, and the chip number in the health certificate needs to be the same as the one implanted in the animal.
  • From low risk countries, the minimum age of an imported animal will be 12 weeks while the minimum age from high risk countries is 15 weeks.
  • The vaccination should be done at an age not less than 12 weeks and the validity of the vaccine will be in accordance to the manufacturing company.
  • The animal must have received preventive doses for internal and external parasites during the 14 days prior to shipment, and this must be stated in the health certificate or the passport of the animal.
  • Consignments of cats and dogs will be shipped directly from the exporting country and if the consignment will cross any other country, it must not mix with other pet animals during transit.
  • The validity of the rabies testing certificate is 365 days, if the rabies vaccine is valid and no booster dose was given.

Conditions for resident cats and dogs

If you own a pet in the UAE, there are mandatory rules to be aware of. In addition, cats and dogs residing in the UAE must comply with the following requirements for entry and exit from the country.

  • The animal must have obtained a veterinary health certificate from the ministry before leaving the country.
  • The animal must be identified by microchip.
  • The pet must have an authorised veterinary certificate issued by the competent authorities in the exporting country.
  • The animal must be vaccinated against rabies before its departure from the UAE and this vaccination must be valid until its return. If the vaccination becomes invalid, the animal will be dealt with according to the conditions that apply to the first import of dogs and cats.

What are the required vaccinations?

The vaccination document or passport must include the animal microchip number, animal full description (species, colour, sex, date of birth) and fully meet all vaccination requirements. The certificate must also include vaccine name, manufacturing company, batch number, vaccination date.

Vaccinations for dogs

  • Rabies - Initial dose should not be applied before 12 weeks of animal age. The vaccine applied must be valid, according to the instruction of vaccine manufacturer.
  • Canine Distemper Virus (CDV)
  • Canine Parvo Virus
  • Infectious Canine Hepatitis
  • Leptospirosis - The vaccine can be dispensed with and replaced by lab test if the exporting country does not require vaccination.

Vaccinations for cats

  • Rabies - Initial dose should not be applied before 12 weeks of animal age. The vaccine applied must be valid, according to the instruction of vaccine manufacturer.
  • Feline Pan Leukcopenia
  • Feline Rhinotracheitis
  • Feline Calicivirus

Import from high risk countries for rabies

Pets imported from countries that classify as high-risk for rabies require a certificate from an accredited laboratory in the exporting country. The certificate must include data on the date of sampling, the date and method of examination - stating that the animals were subjected to the antibody titration test before shipping. The guidelines below must also be followed:

  • If the pet is vaccinated for the first time or the vaccination has been discontinued, the test can be conducted only after a period of not less than 21 days pass from vaccination against rabies.
  • If the animal has a valid booster vaccination, it does not require an interval of 21 days after vaccination, and the test can be done directly.

The test result should not be less than (0.5 IU/ml). The validity of the rabies testing certificate is 365 days, in a condition that the rabies vaccine is valid and continue and no booster dose was given.

Low risk countries

Here is a list of the countries that classify as "low-risk" for rabies:

  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Andorra
  • Bahrain
  • Barbados
  • Belgium
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Fiji
  • Finland
  • French Polynesia
  • Falkland Islands
  • Germany
  • Hong Kong
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Jamaica
  • Japan
  • Kuwait
  • Liechtenstein
  • Mauritius
  • Malta
  • Caledonia
  • New Zealand
  • Portugal
  • Singapore
  • San Marino
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • United Kingdom
  • Vanuatu
  • Netherlands
  • Bulgaria
  • Slovenia
  • Palau
  • Latvia
  • Albania
  • Croatia
  • Maldives
  • Spain (excluding Melilla)
  • Cyprus
  • Korea
  • Montenegro
  • Seychelles
  • Suriname
  • Micronesia
  • Greece
  • Marshall Islands
  • Bahamas
  • Lithuania
  • Macedonia

Transit procedures

If the shipment is passing through the UAE on the way to another country, there are certain guidelines to be followed:

  • A prior transit permit must be obtained from the ministry, for cats and dogs that pass through the country’s territory as a transit consignment
  • A veterinary health certificate or vaccination document is required, showing that the animal has been vaccinated against rabies
  • An import permit (no objection) must be obtained from the importing country

Animals in transit are treated the same as imported animals with regard to the classification of countries according to the degree of danger.

If air transit is at the same airport or sea transit is at the same port, a transit permit is not required, and the animals are required to be isolated from any other animals.

Dog breeds that can not be imported

The following dog breeds can not be imported into the UAE:

  • Staffordshire Bull Terrier
  • American Pit Bull Terrier
  • American Staffordshire Terrier
  • American Bully, Brazilian Mastiff (Fila Brasiliero)
  • Argentinian Mastiff (Dogo Argentino)
  • Tibetan Mastiff
  • Neapolitan Mastiff
  • French Mastiff (Dogue de Bordeaux)
  • Boerboel
  • Bullmastiff
  • Cane Corso (Italian Mastiff)
  • Bully Kutta (Alangu Mastiff, Indian Mastiff)
  • Perro De Presa Canario (Canary Mastiff)
  • Japaneese tosa
  • Presa Canario

These breeds can not be imported into the country, with the exception of those used as service animals, emotional support animals or "for medical purposes and in accordance with the regulating requirements," according to the MOCCAE website.

Exporting a pet out of UAE

If you are leaving the UAE with a pet, then these are the requirements by the country. It is important to also note the import regulations issued by the concerned authorities in the country you are relocating to.

What are the required documents?

  • Animal passport
  • Vaccination booklet
  • Veterinary health certificate
  • A certificate of origin is needed for the consignment. Unless they are required from the importing country, the following consignments do not need the certificate of origin: animals of Gulf origin exported to the GCC countries, dogs, cats, and falcons
  • A copy of the import or approval permit issued by the importing country, except for companion animals
  • Any additional documents or test reports required by the importing country

You must go to the export port (e.g. airport) before 48 hours, for inspecting the animal and to issue the veterinary health certificate by the MOCCAE veterinarian, along with the required documents – animal passport, vaccination booklet, and any additional documents.

How do I obtain a veterinary health certificate?

The certificate is valid for 30 days after issuance. It is required for exporting or re-exporting pets. These are the steps to follow to issue a veterinary health certificate:

  1. Visit moccae.gov.ae
  2. Go to the 'Our services' tab, hover your cursor over 'Service directory' and click on 'Export and import services'
  3. Go to 'Request for a veterinary health certificate for exporting or re-exporting live animals' and click on 'Start service'
  4. Login with UAE Pass
  5. Fill out the electronic form
  6. Pay the fees online
  7. Conduct the physical examination and laboratory tests (if required)

The certificate will then be issued online.

Fees

  • Dh400 - Request to issue a veterinary health certificate
  • Dh100 - Request to issue a veterinary health certificate for an animal consignment not exceeding 2 animals for personal purposes

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