Pet travel Colombia – willie visits Medellin

We travelled to Medellin, Colombia for February and March of 2011. Not only was this willie’s first international trip, but it was also his first time in an airplane. He’s basically okay with flying, but the noise and vibrations that come with taking off and landing made him uneasy.

Known as the “City of Everlasting Spring”, Medellin is Colombia’s second largest city. Its high altitude and proximity to the Equator makes the climate stay relatively the same all year round – a balmy 22ºC (71ºF).

While there, we stayed with friends in the suburban neighborhood of Envigado. The daily temperatures were absolutely perfect and no air conditioner or heat was needed to stay comfortable. It did rain quite a bit, but most of time it was brief so we could still go out and play every day. There were no mosquitoes or fleas to aggravate willie’s sensitive skin. Yes, willie is a boy with dry, sensitive skin.

While the people of Colombia are friendly and the country is a much safer one to travel to, the trip did require a good deal of preparation. For any of you looking to travel internationally, here’s a quick list of items we needed to attend to when flying out of Canada or the USA:

1) Valid Rabies Vaccination: This has to be given between thirty days and twelve months prior to your arrival date in the foreign country.
2) Vaccinations for distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis and parvovirus: There are no date restrictions on how long before these must be given prior to entry, but they must be legally up to date.
3) Appropriate Health Certificates: A licensed veterinarian must complete the health certificate for the country in which you are travelling to, in this case a Colombian Health Certificate and an export APHIS form 7001 for the USA or CFIA Health Certificate for Canada. This needs to be done within ten days of travel. Your vet will already have the government export form, but you’ll need to print and bring him/her the country’s health certificate.
4) Endorse the Forms: Take the completed forms to your local APHIS or CFIA office to be endorsed. There is an endorsement fee of $38 for APHIS and $20 for CFIA when travelling to Colombia.

Keep in mind that these rules can change, so visit the following sites to view the most current information on pet travel Colombia:

USDA/APHIS – pet travel info
CFIA – pet travel info

We also had to check with the individual airline to make sure that willie could fly in-cabin with us before booking a reservation. There was a pet in-cabin fee of $100 each way, but it’s worth the price to not travel alone in the cold cargo area. Make sure to check your airline’s website for their pet policy as some do not allow pets in-cabin and may have weight limits or restrictions concerning certain dog breeds. Also make sure to check with your destination that there are no other restrictions.

Even though they were supposed to, upon arriving in Colombia, the officials did not really look over the health documents. They collected an import fee of about $50, which would have been $35 had we arrived before 5 PM.

Travelling back to Canada was a bit involved as well as willie’s health certificate was only good for thirty days and we were in Colombia for nearly two months. Before leaving the country we had to do the following:

1) Health Certificate (AGAIN): We had to have a local vet complete a general health certificate. We also needed to provide a copy of his veterinary license.
2) Export Fee: Deposit the export fee into the government bank account. The account info was provided when we arrived into Colombia.
3) Airport Promptness: We had to be at the airport with plenty of time to spare so that the officials could check that we met the export requirements. What we didn’t know was that the place we had to go to do this was in an office outside of the airport, causing us to nearly miss our flight. Be sure to give yourself at least an extra hour to have time to work out any glitches that arise.

Travelling internationally is a great experience, but be sure that you have dotted all of you i’s and crossed all your t’s before your trip. It will make your time abroad that much more enjoyable! We can’t wait to get back to Colombia and visit all of the new friends we made there.

See wikitravel.org for more info on pet travel Colombia.

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