Many travelers come to India and fall in love with a stray dog or two. They might dream of taking that pet home with them but think it’s impossible – it’s not. You can take pets out of India, mostly dogs and cats. I did just that after five years living here. My boyfriend and I took our two dogs and one cat out of India and we had to go from Goa to Merida, Mexico. This article will tell you how to take pets out of India. We went to Mexico but I’ll talk about taking them out of India to anywhere.
I’m going to share you with our journey, what we learned, the mistakes we made, how we were scammed initially, and try to help you not make our same mistakes. It will be different for everyone depending on where you are in India and where your destination is, as each country has different import requirements. This is not going to be a total guide as there is no ONE way to take pets out of India. But in case you are taking pets from India, I hope that knowing what we went through will help you.
This is a long-ass post but if you are taking pets out of India, it’s best to know the whole story.
How to Take Your Pets Out of India
I’ll try to organize this by steps. Please do keep in mind, it’s not really the same for every destination and this is based on us being in Goa, not near a huge international airport. I’ll start at the beginning!
1. Set a Date
The first thing you need to do is have a leaving date in mind. It doesn’t have to be set in stone but you should know when you want to leave by. This is important because there are so many regulations and some destinations like Europe (anywhere where you need a rabies titer) will need at LEAST four months of planning ahead of time. In some cases, less planning is necessary and you could get your pets out in less than a month or even a couple of weeks.
You also cannot fly in the hottest months because airlines have temperature regulations. You also just wouldn’t want to check your pet in when it’s very hot. For us, we flew at night time and landed early morning so it was okay even though we flew in May, a hot month in both our departure city and destination.
2. See What the Requirements Are in Your Destination
This is the most important part. You need to look up the government requirements for the place you are going and see what you need to have for your pets when you get there. These are the requirements from the Mexican government. PetTravel also has this handy list that sums up what you need and showed us we did not need a microchip (but get one anyway as we were asked about it at the quarantine office leaving India and they scanned it), we did not need a rabies titer, it showed the vaccination records we needed to prove, tick and worm treatment we needed to prove, and a TYPED, signed, and stamped health certificate.
The following is for MEXICO but you can use PetTravel to look up any country and I highly recommend them as a resource.
Proof of current vaccination against rabies at least 15 days prior to entering Mexico must be provided. Mexico will accept the 3 year vaccine from dogs and cats entering the country from the United States or Canada. All details about the vaccine must be on the health certificate. If your dog or cat is originally from Mexico (rather than the US/Canada), and your pet has been vaccinated in Mexico with a 1-year vaccine (which is standard here), you are required to show the Mexican booklet you received from your Mexican vet indicating the original vaccine date. In all cases, the vaccination must not have expired.
Tick and Tapeworm Treatment:
Within 6 months of entering Mexico, your dog or cat must have be treated against internal and external parasites by a licensed veterinarian and the products used must be reflected on the health certificate. Cats and dogs must have treatments for ticks shortly prior to entering the country. Tick-borne infections such as ehrlichiosis are not unusual in the country, so it is wise to protect your pet.
Option A: If your pet is traveling from the United States, then a USDA-accredited vet can issue the APHIS form 7001. If your pet is traveling from Canada, the Canada Export Tri-Lingual Veterinary certificate can be used. If your veterinarian chooses to use either of these certificates, then it must then be endorsed by the USDA or the CFIA respectively. The form is valid for 30 days.
Option B: If your pet is traveling from either country, your veterinarian can use a template which is then printed on their letterhead. No changes should be made to the wording in this document. If the pet is traveling from the US, the certificate must be signed by a USDA-accredited veterinarian. If your pet is traveling from Canada, the form must be signed by a licensed veterinarian in Canada. This form does NOT need to be certified by either the USDA or the CFIA and should be completed within 10 days of entering Mexico.
If your pet is traveling to Mexico from another country other than the US or Canada, then option B with a current health certificate is what your pet will need.
It was NOT listed but you do need to say your pet does not have screw worm. This needs to be written very clearly on the health certificate. It is a new rule in Mexico.
Importing pets to Mexico is free of charge unless you are brining in more than four pets. This is another helpful article about Mexico, but they have information on importing to other countries.
For the UK and Europe, you need to have a rabies titer. This makes things EXPONENTIALLY more annoying if you are coming from India. If you are going to Canada, USA, or Mexico, you do not need one. You need to look up your destination country and see what they require. Some places won’t accept pets from India, like Australia.
What is a rabies titer? You have vaccinated your pet for rabies but the government wants proof of that – and not just seeing a sticker on their paperwork. They want you to send blood to lab to be tested to double check that you have given them the rabies vaccine and they aren’t carrying rabies. The issue in India is that the European governments DO NOT accept Indian lab results. That means, you need to mule the blood (illegally) in someone’s hand luggage to a lab in Europe. Most vets use a lab in Brussels. This is expensive and the tests can sometimes have fail results so you might have to do it twice. In this case, you will need to emply a third party in India to help who specialize in exporting pets.
We were lucky that Mexico did not require the rabies titer. I’ll also put photos of our paperwork so you can see some real-life examples toward the end of this post.
3. Find Flights and Reserve Your Pet’s Spot
Finding flights was the hardest part for us. As we started to look up which airlines allow pets and which route we could take, we also started to see conflicting reports online about what shots we needed for the dogs and which paperwork was necessary. At this point, we decided to hire a local vet to help us.
We first hired Dr. Kiran from Panjim’s Tailwaggers. At the end of this article, I’m going to explain what happened with him and why you should never ever work with him.
We then hired Vinayak and his wife from Furry Flyers in Mumbai who were lifesavers. I’m going to share more about how they helped us further down. But for now, back to finding out the right flight.
Furry Fliers usually send pets with KLM and Lufthansa who are great with pets. They have “pet zones” so during the layover you don’t have to pick up your pets and they are taken care of by airline staff. When you fly with a layover, you need to make sure your pet is CHECKED THROUGH because if not, you need to pick up your pet and re-check them. If you do this, you have to clear customs. That means you have to import your pet to that country and then re-check them and pay again. This is impossible as you wouldn’t have export paperwork from that layover country. This means you cannot fly code-share flights, you need to fly ONE airline the whole way for all legs of your flight. We couldn’t fly these airlines due to the fact that KLM didn’t fly past May from India that route and Lufthansa flew to the USA then had a codeshare flight to Cancun. You cannot even do a code-share on a budget version, for example, Air Swiss flies from Mumbai to Zurich, but the Zurich to Cancun route was Air Swiss’s budget airline, Edelweiss. You then would have to re-check your pet.
We booked an Air France flight which went Mumbai > Paris > Cancun and asked them “do we have to pick up our pet?” They said no. We were in Mumbai for an unrelated reason a month later and went to the Air France desk thinking “let’s just chat with them about the pets”. Immediately they said they only check pets to Paris and you have to collect them and your bags, clear customs and immigration, and re-check in as they cannot check live animals through. That would mean we needed EU paperwork, including a rabies titer.
We had to cancel that flight which was thankfully fully refundable. Air France is a strange one, as they do make you collect in Paris while other major hubs in Europe like Amsterdam and Frankfurt do not (and you can fly through without the rabies titer).
We thought about flying to the USA direct to NYC and renting a car to my parent’s house in Ohio. We could then import them to the USA (no rabies titer), wait the required two weeks to re-export them with an Ohio vet and fly to Cancun. But, this is when United wasn’t taking pets and the other airlines don’t fly in the hot months so it was impossible.
FINALLY, we found a new Air Canada flight that went Mumbai > Toronto > Cancun. Mumbai to Toronto has only been around 6 months with Air Canada. We booked that as they said we DO NOT pick up our pets (they are checked through). Even if we did have to pick them up, a rabies titer isn’t required for Canada. This is the flight we took: AC47 and AC1810.
When you book pets with Air Canada they RESERVE the pet’s spot. You do not pay for this now, you pay at the counter. You must reserve your pet. Only one dog is allowed per flight when the flight is over 12 hours. This was a15-hourr flight. They only fly three days a week. I took one dog on the 22nd of May and Ben took the other dog on the 24th of May. You can bring animals under 8 kg on the plane as a carry-on so Ben brought the cat as a carry-on. We bought the carrier in the USA and brought it to India as in India we couldn’t find one that was the right size for our tall cat (the cat must be able to stand up and turn around inside). The pets checked cost about $500 in total.
Yes, this means we had to DRIVE to Mumbai to take this flight. Furry Flyers is based in Mumbai so that worked out as they did all our export and quarentine paperwork as I’ll explain later. We had to take two cars to fit the crates and our luggage.
Typically, finding flights should not be a hassle however our journey from India to Mexico was a long, strange route and it was hard to find an airline that did that journey. Other destinations would be much easier like Canada, USA, Europe (basically anywhere).
4. Make Sure Your Pet’s Local Vaccination Books Are Up to Par
You local vet book that you probably have had since you got your pet needs to be up to par when you start this process. You should have all the vaccines listed, dated, a date of when it’s next due, a sticker from the vaccination bottle, and a signature and STAMP (important) from your local vet.
The front cover also need to be filled out correctly. The information you put here should match all the other recods: pet name, color, breed, age, sex, microchip sticker, and your personal information.
Making sure your pets are up to date on all vaccinations is obviously important so start with this and work with your local vet. We got Shanti in Kerala and she went to multiple two different vets but that is okay.
4. Order the Supplies You Need for Traveling With Pets from IPATA
Use IPATA as a resource to see what crates and carriers you need but also check the requirements of your airline and make sure it won’t be oversize or overweight. We ordered ours from Amazon India. They are easy to put together.
Train your pet to get used to the crates the best you can.
You also need accesories like water and food bowls, pee pads, leashes, collars, and cable ties. Furry Flyers supplied us with all of this.
5. Find Someone to Help You Navigate the Export and Import Paperwork
This is key. We were scammed in Goa which I’ll explain later. We needed help as the vets in Goa only fly out of Goa and FYI it’s not a legal airport to export pets from (although people do it all the time, usually with Qatar cargo). There are only 7 airports in India you can export pets from and Mumbai is one.
On the IPATA site, you can type in any destination and see who is a good agent to help you import or export your pets. For importing to Mexico, we were told we don’t need an agent and can do it ourselves which turned out to be true. For exporting from India, Furry Flyers one of 5 accrediated companies in India and is the ONLY recommended company in Mumbai to export pets. They have exported 8,000 pets from India and never had any issues.
The fee is around 12,000 INR per pet and they take care of everything for you from finding flights, doing the paperwork (all you need if your local vet certificate), and getting your crates all set up. They have a local vet to do the health certificate, someone to go to the quarintine office with you, and will even deliver the paperwork to you once it’s ready. They also redid our pet photos and put it all in a nice book so that we had everything. To say they were anal about paperwork would be and understatement and that’s exactly what you need traveling with pets. They looked up and knew all the requirements for Mexico. We basically could breathe a sigh of relief and let them just tell us what to do.
Furry Flyers: Of all the reviews I’ve done on this blog, I have never been so impressed with a company. The thing is, you can tell Vinayak’s team love animals and that is key. They were there for me when I had an issue at the airport and they were there to follow up after the trip. They honestly care so much and you can know your pet is in good hands.
Below is an image from the quarentine office.
The items in the book are as follows and you will also want copies of these.
- Vaccination Records of Shanti [original]
- Health certificate issued by Dr.Ravindra [original]
- AQCS – Government Export Health certificate [original]
- Health certificate for export to Mexico [original]
- Photograph of Shanti, with details of the pet on back side with AQCS stamp
You can right click these images and open them in a new tab to see them larger. The first image is the book which was perfectly put together by Furry Flyers. The second is the quarentine certificate, and the third is the Authority letter.
I am still confused what all we needed to be honest and could not have gotten my pets out on my own without the help of Furry Flyers. We had to do quite a lot of paperwork and it all needed stamped and embossed. If you are considering not using an agent, I would urge you to reconsider. It’s worth the money to know your pet has all their paperwork as if something is missing they will either be sent back to where you came from or could even be quarentined. I paid for my service with Furry Flyers and was not compensated to write this review – I just highly recommend using them and flying out of Mumbai. Like I said before, people do fly out of Goa with their pets as cargo with Qatar but it’s not legal.
Furry Flyers also prepared out pet’s crates and helped ease our concerns with the whole process. The top of our crate pictured below.
You need to get to the airport a minimum of 3.5 hours before your flight. The airline will ask for your paperwork and maybe make a copy. They will have your fill out some paperwork and attach it to your crate. You will check-in and sit with your dog at the check-in counter until the last minute, about an hour before your flight leaves. At that time, you will take your pet to the scanner. You will remove your pet while they scan the crate so hold on tight! Then, your pet goes back inside and they take the pet and crate away to be boarded on the plane.
When you get on the plane, you will tell the air stewardess that there is a pet withe the luggage. They need to tell the pilot and make sure the A/C is turned on. Air Canda showed me a photo of my pet on the plane, strapped in, per my request but this is not standard. I was crying, lol.
At your layover, check on your pet by asking the staff at the gate to call down and make sure the pet is okay, has water, and is being boarded.
When I landed in Cancun, my pet came out on the baggage carousel (omg!) and you need to go to a customs office. My paperwork was sufficient and withint 20 minutes I was on my way out! You’ll need to have a pick up arranged. We hired a company to pick us up with a big van that allowed pets.
Out pets were totally fine. Only Omni went to the toilet inside his cage but other than that, all went well. That was a 24 hour journey for them. They were cable tied in their crates and NOT let out in Toronto (not per our request, but it is just the way it’s done).
What Went Wrong
Air Canada’s water policy
Any tips you read online will say to make sure your pets water bowl is full when you hand them over so that they can drink throughout the flight. Some even say to put ice in there. My export agent has flown 8,000 dogs out of India and they always are allowed water. When I showed up in Mumbai with Shanti, before even checking in, while I was giving her water (through a funnel to her bowl), the staff told me I needed to empty her bowl before giving her over and she could not have water in her bowl during the flight.
I didn’t believe them as that is insane to not allow water for 15 hours. they showed me this on their computer screen and I took a photo:
I called Furry Flyers, who had not flied Air Canada before (they are a new airline in Mumbai). They said that it was crazy and that they had never heard of this – all other airlines not only allow water, but mandate it to save their asses from being sued. I fought with Air Canada staff for over an hour. We almost didn’t take the flight. I called Ben and we were unsure what to do. It felt the situation where the lady on the United flight put her dog in the overhead bin. I thought the staff were confused or the policy was wrong.
In the end, I begged – I mean, pleaded – with them to allow water. They finally agreed on the basis I would get away from them and leave them alone. After they scanned Shanti’s crates, I poured more water in and cable tied her in so they could not empty the bowl behind my back.
After getting to Cancun, I looked up the policy and it is real: “be sure the dish is empty at check-in, otherwise spillage during the flight will give your pet a wet and uncomfortable ride”. Hmm, I’d rather that then them die of heat stroke. When Ben came two days later, I had already told staff he was coming and to allow water. They didn’t hassle him at all.
Our experience with Dr. Kiran at Tailwaggerz in Panjim, Goa.
Okay, I’m going to end the post on a bad note. Everything went fine for us in the end, thanks to Furry Flyers but in Goa, we had a horrible experience with Dr. Kiran. If you’ve read this blog for a while, then you know I have never talked bad about a company or individual in the 5 years I’ve blogged (except for some angry tweets to United Airlines) – but in this case, I have to, because you need to know to stay away from this vet for exporting dogs.
We hired him initally to export our dogs. The day we met him with just for a consultation and microchipping. He said he charged a set fee to do “everything”, all the paperwork, sourcing crates, measurements, microchip, shots, finding flights, checking import requriements, and getting them 100% set up for their trip. That day he was just going to microchip them and was coy about what it would cost, making it seem like we would pay now for this basic vet visit and later hire him for the whole export process. This was 7 months before our trip and we were not ready to say 100% we were going to hire him as we didn’t know for sure we were even moving. We just wanted to get them microchipped.
After he microchipped our two dogs (not our cat, we didn’t bring our cat to the office) he said we owed him 60,000 INR ($889), 20,000 INR per pet. He wanted us to pay it via card there in the office, however, his card machine wasn’t working. Nothing had been done and I didn’t feel comfortable pre-paying. Secondly, he hadn’t even seen the cat and wanted the money. We left saying we would wire the money as he demanded we did so.
We actually didn’t even need microchips to move our pets to Mexico. We also knew we didn’t need a rabies titer for Mexico, yet he told us he had someone flying to Europe tomorrow and we should send the blood just in case – just a casual 14k rupees per pet for an unnecessary rabies titers. We declined.
When we got home, we messaged him to say could we please just pay the microchipping for the two pets as we didn’t’ know if we wanted to hire him for the export – we hadn’t even been shown flight options or found out if it was possible to take the pets to Mexico. We would pay for just the two dogs because he hadn’t even seen the cat. He called us and I spoke to him. He got aggressive raising his voice to me and told me I had until MIDNIGHT to send 60,000 INR because of his “invoicing system” and hung up the phone on me. Ben sent him a message saying that hang up better have been an accident, told him he seemed to care only about money and we would pay half now and half when we actually began the process. He said fine. We wired him 30,000 INR.
We never heard from him after that unless we reached out. For months, he never found flight options. When we went back to the office, upset nothing had been done, and asked if he would help with flights he said: “no, you need to find them”. We asked about Mexico requirements and he said we needed to find out what we needed. He was entirely useless. He was arrogant, condescending, would only direct his speech toward Ben, and did not help us at all. In fact, much of the information he gave us was wrong about airlines and layovers. Whenever I spoke, he spoke over me or would a not answer my question, instead just redirect it. When he would say incorrect information in his office and I would correct him, he would spin it to pretend he had said the same thing as me – his ego not allowing him to admit when he was ever wrong.
He ignored messages and calls for months replying only to tell us things would be fine but never offering any help. We couldn’t fly Qatar from Goa, the only route he seemed to know anything about, and since he was clueless about other options he should have been upfront and not taken our money. The second I hired Furry Flyers, they found our flight options, as they actually know the process. I’m not saying Kiran is a bad vet or doesn’t care about animals. I know someone else who went Qatar with him to Europe without issues. I am saying in our case, he aggressively demanded money upfront then fell off the face of the earth. Dr. Kiran, if you’re reading this, I hope the 30,000 INR was worth it.
Update: After writing this and Ben writing a review on Facebook, suddenly Ben’s phone was blowing up and Kiran had time to chat – shocker. He was just as rude and horrible in his text messages. Stay clear.