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Pet Travel on Private Yacht

dog on private yacht

There are a number of challenges when taking a pet on a boat or private yacht to various countries. You need to make sure that your port of arrival is an authorized entry port and customs and/or veterinary officials will be available to inspect your pet and their documentation.

You need to know the pet import requirements of every island that you intend to visit. These requirements will vary significantly from island to island so routing your trip is important. Visit those islands with the strictest requirements first if possible. You could be responsible for producing an import permit, microchip, rabies and health certificates, parasite treatment forms and rabies titer tests administered well in advance of travel.

Many countries will extend validity periods for health certificates and parasite treatments. If your ship's log can support that you did not land at any intermediate port from the time the certificates were issued or the tests were done, then these certificates should be valid upon entry. For example, the United Kingdom requires tapeworm treatments between one and five days for all dogs entering the country (except those entering from Ireland, Finland, Norway or Malta) between one and five days of entry. For dogs arriving in the UK on the Queen Mary 2 from the United States, this period is extended as the ship does not land in any ports prior to arrival at Southampton.

If your cat or dog remains on the boat when you visit these islands, then technically no paperwork is usually required. However, some countries may not allow you to tie up at the dock for fear that the pet will somehow get ashore. This is rare but if it happens you will be asked to anchor out.

Many countries classify other countries in terms of their risk for rabies incidents. If your ship's log reflects that you have landed in any of these, high-rabies countries, there could be additional tests that must be done or your cat or dog will be refused entry.

Owners or captains of pleasure/leisure crafts, boats, yachts and commercial or cargo ships arriving in in any port are required to report the presence of any animals onboard their vessel to the Port Authority and to the Veterinary Inspector. They must arrange for proper inspection of their animals.

For those islands where your pet does not meet entrance requirements, it must be kept securely on board in a locked room for the duration of the vessel's stay. Owners must not walk these animals on piers, jetties, quays, beaches or other areas as the animal will be deemed to have been imported and landed illegally and is subject to seizure.

Minimum requirements - From a practical standpoint, you should at least have proof of current rabies vaccination (rabies certificate) as well as an endorsed health certificate from your veterinarian stating that your pet is healthy and free of parasites and has all current inoculations. If sailing from the United States, the APHIS 7001 form endorsed by the USDA State office would be a minimum requirment. However, some islands have their own health certificates. Getting a rabies titer test no sooner than 30 days after rabies vaccination is also a smart thing to do before setting out.

European Union
If you are traveling to a country within the European Union, then you must use the EU veterinary certificate Annex IV. The certificate is only valid for 4 months from the date issued. After that time has passed, you will need to visit a vet in the EU if you are planning to visit additional ports. Also, be aware that you must enter an EU Member State at an approved border inspection port.

Caribbean and Mexico
It has been reported to us by other traveling pet owners that when visiting many of the Caribbean countries as well as Mexico the form 7001, proof of parasite treatment and a $20.00 bill is all that is needed. There are certainly exceptions. The Bahamas requires you to get a permit in advance. Some of the British colonies in the Caribbean have stricter rules and a few islands prohibit pets coming ashore entirely.

If you are planning to visit islands such as St. Lucia or St. Kitts, your dog or cat should have a rabies titer test.

South Pacific
Many of the Islands of the Pacific including Hawaii and French Polynesia prohibit pets without quarantine or advance rabies titer tests.

New Zealand
Cats and dogs arriving onboard private yachts, boats or commercial vessels must meet requirements to enter New Zealand. They must be secured onboard while docked at an approved port until they are given clearance. If your cat or dog does not meet the requirements, your pet must remain secured onboard the boat while the vessel is docked.

Click here for pet import regulations for entering over 220 countries.