Learn How to Travel with Pets in India – Rules, Documents & Transport Medium Explained
If the thought of leaving your pet behind is unbearable, you do have the option of traveling with your pets companion in India, whether taking the car, train or plane. What is important is to be well-informed of the rules and regulations affecting pet travel as there are procedures and restrictions that must be adhered to when transporting pets and animals in India. Careful preparation and planning are also crucial to ensure a hassle-free trip.
A current regulation of the Central Board of Excise and Customs allows the importation of pet animals into the country such as dogs, cats, and birds. Only up to two pets per passenger are allowed at any one time, accompanied by the proper health certificate from the country of origin. Pets will also be examined upon arrival by a quarantine officer.
Pets must be at least 8-10 weeks old to be eligible to travel. Other restrictions include pregnant animals, females with unweaned offspring and aggressive breeds of dog.
If you intend to bring in more than two pets to the country, this will only be allowed with a corresponding Import Sanitary Permit that is issued by the Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying, or an import license from the Director General of Foreign Trade (DGFT). Only dogs and cats are considered pets. Hence, if you plan to bring in your favorite parrot or bird, this will be classified as air cargo attached with a DGFT license, and should be certified as non-endangered species under the CITES.
Your pet must have the correct rabies vaccination which should not be less than a year old. If it is, your pooch will need to be revaccinated upon entering India. Owners of imported pets must be in possession of a vaccination record.
Upon arrival on Indian soil, paperwork must be presented to the quarantine office in customs. You will need to produce a No Objection Certificate (NOC) obtained from a quarantine center 15 days before importation. In addition, an Original Veterinary Certificate must be produced, certifying that dogs and cats are free from certain diseases (Aujeszky’s disease for dogs, rabies and distemper). Pets should also be micro-chipped with an ISO 11784/11785 compliant chip which is usually a 15-digit number. If this is not possible, you must get your own microchip scanner. For animals traveling in the cargo hold, a copy of the passport and ticket of owner or caretaker is required as well as the airway bill.
India does not usually quarantine animals from countries that have low incidences of rabies. Also, if pets are vaccinated from Aujeszky’s disease, distemper, leishmaniasis and leptospirosis, quarantine is not necessary. When needed, quarantine can last anywhere from 30 days to 3 months. Other mammals and rodents that will be imported to India are quarantined for 30 days in the country of origin and another 30 days in India.
Rules Applying to Visitors:
Visitors on tourist visas are not allowed to bring in a pet. Only those who are relocating for at least a year to the country and returning residents (those who have lived outside of India for at least two years) may be allowed pet importations.
Arriving by Air:
Your pet will enter the country as checked baggage or air cargo. Currently, the ports of entry by air are Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, or Bangalore. They must arrive within a month after owners are in the country. For unaccompanied animals, they must be in India within 7-14 days after the owners’ arrival.
Traveling Inside India:
Once you are inside the country, you can go with your pet anywhere, but remember that you are subject to local rules and regulations. If traveling with your pooch & pet by air, there are some airlines that allow pets on board (Air India, Jet Airways, Spice Jet and Vistara) while others only sanction service animals to help handlers with disabilities (IndiGo and Air Costa). Search and rescue animals are usually flown in with their handlers and special equipment in a chartered plane once the request from the affected government is received by the donor country. Apart from guide dogs, other pets such as cats, dogs, rabbits, and birds will travel as cargo or excess baggage. If using the cargo option which is cheaper than excess baggage, it will mean that your pet cannot travel with you on the same flight.
Hence, you need to crate your pet to comply with cargo rules of airlines. The good news is the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has pet-friendly guidelines requiring animals to be crated in an IATA-compliant container to ensure that you pooch has enough room to lie, stand and turn around comfortably for the duration of the journey. Some tips to make sure your pets have a good trip include choosing a well-ventilated, non-chewable, tamper & leak-proof crate, testing it in advance with your pet and labelling it properly (pet and owner’s contact info and the like). It is also a good idea to take a recent photo of your dog should the need to identify the animal arise.
Make sure that your pet has the necessary travel documents including health certificates and clearance from the vet to fly, in addition to vaccinations. Most airlines will not accept pets that have been sedated so it is best to try natural pet calmers before flying, avoid giving too much food that will make them sick and feed lots of liquids to keep them well-hydrated.
For train travel, the Indian Railways have specific rules for Fido although other animals can be brought on the trip with you. Dogs can travel with you provided you are in First Class or Air-Conditioned First Class. You must also book an entire 2 or 4-berth. Large dogs can only go in the coach usually used for horses. One thing to consider, if other passengers in the compartment object to the presence of your beloved pooch, your dog might end up travelling in the luggage compartment anyway. When this happens, be prepared to provide food and water wherever the compartment is located as it is your duty to do so for the duration of the journey. You must also have a cage, leash, and collar for your dog.
When you leave the country with your pet, you will need a health certificate from the vet and an Animal Health Certificate from the Animal Quarantine and Certification Service which, unfortunately, has a validity of only 7 days. It is best to check airline policies and entry requirements of the destination country well in advance. Each one differs whether you are shipping your pet out to the UK, US, or the EU, or are taking your pet as excess air freight or cargo.
If you have all these rules in mind and comply with them in full, then there is no reason why your pet can’t enjoy a safe and comfortable journey with you.
Author Bio – Jenny Holt is a freelance writer and mother of two. She loves nothing more than getting away from it and taking her pet Labrador Bruce for long walks, something she can do a lot more now she’s left the corporate world behind.