Are you planning to bring your pets to Costa Rica? Of course you are! They’re a part of your family.
Read all of this first to make sure you do it correctly. As these rules are constantly changing, it’s a good idea to contact the Association of Residents of Costa Rica (ARCR), a moving advisor or a relocation specialist no less than two months before your move.! These guys almost always have the most current information.
Quarantine and info on cats and dogs
Dogs and cats are not quarantined upon entrance to Costa Rica. With the proper paperwork, you will walk right through customs and immigration with them. For your paperwork, you will need a certificate from your vet. This certificate MUST be in the format required by the US Dept of Agriculture. Your vet should know all about this. If your vet does not, get a new vet to do this form for you. Without the correct paperwork, your pets may not be allowed to enter the country.
During this writing, your paperwork does not need to be validated by the CR embassy in the US that is nearest to you. HOWEVER, this can change at any time, so it’s often a good idea to call the nearest CR embassy and check with them about a month before you travel.
Vaccinations (except rabies) must be current within 30 days of your flight. Rabies shots must be over 30 days old but less than one year old.
Your vet SHOULD KNOW the vaccinations required for international travel. If not, go to another vet. This is extremely important. If your vet makes a mistake, you may not be allowed to bring your pets into the country or they may face a long quarantine.
Airlines and Travel
Be VERY careful of airline blackout periods. These are NOT the same blackout periods for people around the holidays! These are SPECIAL blackout periods where animals will not be accepted by the airlines at ALL – with or without papers. Lots of airline workers do not know these dates. They are REAL and they are cast in stone. Ask until you find someone who knows these dates. Plan your departure to avoid these dates.
A friendly suggestion: ONLY travel from the USA when your local (or closest) Costa Rican embassy is open. Don’t travel at night.
Airlines are often NOT current on the rules of importation of animals, especially those that work the counters at airports. They can and will deny boarding for the smallest reasons, and often they are completely wrong. Your only option is to contact the CR embassy, so make sure that they will be open when you travel. The airline workers can be extremely uninformed, but they are still the kings of travel. They can prohibit your boarding entirely, even if you are correct and they are not.
Many peope have birds, snakes, rabbits, gerbils, etc that they love and want to bring with them to Costa Rica. Unfortunately, these animals require different sets of rules. It’s best to check with your Costa Rican embassy, your vet, and the US Dept of Agriculture website in order to be completely up to date on the requirements for these animals. Certain birds require a variety of permits, and in some cases, birds cannot be taken from Costa Rica back to the States, even if the bird originated in the States. Check with the proper channels WELL BEFORE you travel.
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