Moving to Dubai with Pets
The expat population in Dubai continues to increase, and most of often they are accompanied by their faithful companions – their pets. However, Dubai is not the most pet-friendly place in the world for certain reasons:
- Some of the local population, due to their religious beliefs, have the opinion that dogs are ‘unclean’. Therefore some people are against keeping dogs of any kind and many apartments have a no-pet policy.
- The extreme heat, especially during the hot summers, does not make for ideal outdoor conditions for your pet, hence walking and exercising pets can be a challenge during these times.
- There are very few dedicated dog parks, and most public parks will not allow pets.
Pets must be imported into Dubai as cargo. This process requires quite a bit of paperwork and can also be expensive. A few things to consider are:
- Accommodation: Villas are expensive to rent so most people who move to Dubai end up living in apartments, at least initially. It might be a challenge to keep a large dog in a small apartment so think about the size of your pet. Also, if you are on a Term Contract, you will most likely be living in a furnished apartment, most of which do not allow pets.
- Where to exercise your pet: There are a few areas where you can exercise pets unless you live in communities with villas. Exercising dogs on roads can be dangerous as the traffic is usually very fast and people are not accustomed to seeing animals on the road.
- The UAE does not have any quarantine laws, so if you plan on living in a hotel while looking for appropriate accommodation, make sure that kennel arrangements are made prior to the arrival of your pet. Kennel representatives must be available when the flight lands to meet your pet and take immediate custody of it. You are allowed to visit your pet at the kennel. Shipping and kennel arrangements for your pet are the responsibility of the owner.
The following documents are required for an import permit; originals must be brought by you to receive your pet.
- Good Health Certificate: This is a letter by your veterinarian in your home country, stating that your pet is in good general health and able to travel. The certificate must state that the pet is free of rabies and it must be stamped and signed on official letterhead by your veterinarian and endorsed by the veterinarian of the government of your home country. These certificates are only valid for a month from the date of issue.
- Vaccination Certificate: This is a certificate, stamped and dated by the veterinarian, showing all the vaccinations and dates. A valid rabies vaccination is the only mandatory vaccination required for issuance of an import permit, but if you are putting your pet up in a kennel, they may have additional requirements. These certificates are only valid for a month from the date of issue. The country of export must be free from rabies for three years prior to the date of export. All dogs over the age of four months should be vaccinated no less than a month before and no more than a year before arrival into Dubai.
- Animals must be examined within 48 hours before they are due to travel to make sure that they are free of any contagious diseases or external parasites. Although this certificate is not mandatory, it is advisable to carry it with you.
- Microchip number: All pets must be administered a microchip and the microchip number must be on all documentation.
- Copy of owner’s passport
Travel arrangements for your pet
There are several options available to owners who are looking to bring their pets into the UAE. Each method has its benefits:
- Do it yourself: For owners who prefer to make the travel arrangements for their pets, including doing all the paperwork, find out all the details and laws involving bringing your pet into the country to avoid undue stress for either you or your pet. Contact the airlines for travel arrangements as well as find a kennel service if you are not going to have your pet with you initially.
- Pet Relocation Services: To avoid the hassle of completing the paperwork and making several trips to the authorities, there are several relocation services, such as Pet Relocation that charge a fee for taking care of all the formalities. Select a certified agency to deal with all the formalities. You can find a list of international shipping companies that specialize in the relocation of pets at the International Pet and Animal Transportation Association website.
- Some kennel services such as the Dubai Kennels and Cattery (DKC) also provide relocation services apart from boarding and daycare for pets.
Although exercising your pet might sometimes present a challenge depending on where you choose to live, there are a variety of other pet services such as pet grooming, pet shops, clinics and pet sitting services to ensure that your pet is pampered and taken care of.