Family reunion: Top tips for bringing your pet into South Africa

4th Feb, 2020

Written by Hazel Imrie, PETport Owner and Founder

Emigration is a hot topic right now; at least one person in our inner circle is looking at making the move or has an aunt or twice-removed cousin that has emigrated successfully.

However, in the midst of this, the #ImStaying movement is trending in South Africa. What started as a Facebook group dedicated to the loyal locals that choose to stick by their beloved country and help improve our current state of affairs, has grown into a national wildfire.

PETport supports the #ImStaying movement and has seen an increasing trend of people returning to South Africa with their pets. Although we are known for our pet emigration expertise, we also specialise in immigration – helping pet parents to bring their fur family back into the country.

Consider this your step-by-step guide on how to return to the rainbow nation with your fur babies intact.

Seek professional help

Moving with our furball friends can be a very stressful and confusing time for owners and pets alike. Knowing the ins and outs of international pet travel can not only ease our anxiety but, more importantly, potentially save your pet’s life as well. That’s why it’s crucial to appoint a professional relocation specialist before you plan your immigration. The following guidelines are important to bear in mind:

  • If you’re bringing your pooch, don’t do any blood tests before you speak to a professional, as the blood tests are only valid for 30 days from the date of the blood draw.
  • South Africa is very strict when it comes to the testing of blood samples – these need to be done at a registered government lab.
  • Ask as many questions as you can and follow the timeline given by your relocation specialist. Once you have decided on the arrival date, your consultant will apply for the Veterinary Import Permit (VIP).
  • After the blood draw and application for the permit, there’s a waiting period – this is when you can start booking your flight. Your pet must be registered as manifest cargo to enter South Africa.
  • As soon as the blood results come back negative and the permit is available, you can arrange for a Veterinary Health Certificate (VHC) to be completed and endorsed by a government vet. The VHC is only valid for 10 days, so it should be done within five days of departure.
  • Once all the documents are in place, your flight must be confirmed and finalised.
  • Always make sure your pet’s rabies vaccinations are up to date, i.e. older than 30 days, less than 12 months.
  • Your pet should also be microchipped, as this is a requirement for South Africa and most countries.

The whole process may seem intimidating, but your consultant will guide you through everything with ease.

Familiarise yourself with typical waiting periods and delays

Receiving the permit for your fur child can take anything from 14 to 28 working days. Booking quarantine space also takes time. Not to mention the potential delays and closure of labs and quarantine areas during particularly busy periods and the holiday season.

If your paperwork isn’t correct, SARS will delay processing and clearing your documents, and the vet clearance process on arrival can also take several hours.  

Don’t leave things to the last minute!

Ensure the correct blood tests are completed

Speak to your vet about the following blood tests, which are required when immigrating with pets into South Africa:

  • Brucella canis test
  • Trypanosoma evansi test and blood smear
  • Babesia gibsoni test and blood smear
  • Dirofilaria immitis test
  • Leishmaniasis test

 In today’s world, more and more animal lovers are taking their beloved household companions with them when they move countries.

 While South Africa is pretty strict compared to other countries, having a professional pet relocation specialist on your side is sure to make the tricky process that much more seamless.