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Reprinted with permission of Worldwide ERC®, from the March 2010 issue of MOBILITY

On a Wing and a Paw—

Moving Pets to Asia Pacific
Mahatma Gandhi once said, “the greatness of a nation
and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals
are treated.” Farris outlines what it takes to move our furry,
feathered, and scaled friends to the Asia-Pacific region.


hen the Peelman family time adapting and that it’s not a the amount of other pet owners also
learned they would be trans- good quality of life for them.” requesting entry into the country.
ferred to Hong Kong, like Peelman also struggled to make Advance planning also can help
many pet owners faced with a similar sense of the often confusing import reduce waiting time for pets entering
situation, one of the first questions requirements for moving pets inter- certain countries that have long quar-
on their minds was “what about our nationally. Despite these concerns, antine periods. For example, Japan is
dogs?” Bridget and Greg Peelmans’ the decision was not even a choice a rabies-free country and requires
two dogs—Stella, a pint-sized Rat for Peelman and her family. “There pets to undergo a blood test and six-
Terrier, and Gracie, a ginger-colored was no way we were leaving our girls month quarantine on arrival.
Boxer mix—are active members of behind,” says Peelman. However, pet owners can fulfill the
the family, accompanying them and blood test and 180-day quarantine at
their eight-month-old daughter on Planning Ahead their own home if they begin plan-
evening walks and appearing in fami- While household goods might be ning at least six months in advance.
ly Christmas photos wearing Santa able to be shipped at a moment’s This not only means a happier pet
hats. notice, transporting pets typically and owner—it also can make the dif-
But when Bridget Peelman first requires additional planning time. As ference between tens of thousands of
started researching moving to and a general rule, rabies shots must be dollars worth of government quaran-
living in Hong Kong with pets, she given at least 30 days prior to the tar- tine expenses.
quickly became overwhelmed by get departure to avoid delays. For companies whose mobility
the amount of information—and Many countries in Asia also require policies include pet quarantine,
misinformation—available online. import permits be issued prior to allowing pet owners to wait six
“My searches found that Asia was pets being allowed entry. These per- months prior to transfer can reduce
not pet-friendly,” Peelman remem- mits can take anywhere from three to overall pet moving costs significant-
bers. “I read that dogs have a hard four weeks to obtain, depending on ly.

This chart is a basic overview of the import requirements for dogs and cats moving from the United States to
major Asia-Pacific destinations.

Valid Rabies
Destination Microchip Import Permit
Vaccination* Quarantine Required
Country Required Required
Hong Kong Yes Yes None Yes
India Yes No** None Yes
Indonesia Yes Yes 7 to 14 days Yes
Japan Yes Yes 180 days*** Yes
South Korea Yes No** None No
Malaysia Yes Yes 7 days (Mainland) Yes
180 days (Borneo)
Philippines Yes No** None Yes
Singapore Yes Yes 10 to 30 days Yes
Taiwan Yes Yes 180 days*** Yes
Plus 21 days mandatory
quarantine in a
government facility
on arrival.
Thailand Yes Yes None Yes
China Yes Yes Depends on the city**** No
Vietnam Yes No** None No

* A “Valid Rabies Vaccination” is defined as any rabies shot given within one year but more than 30 days prior to the pet’s move date.
** While microchips are not required by the destination country’s government for pets to be imported into these countries,
PetRelocation.com strongly recommends microchipping all pets prior to international travel to ensure the correct identification of pets.

*** Quarantine must be completed in either a government facility on arrival or can be done at the pet owner’s home after an appropriate
blood test prior to import.

**** Individual cities in China determine the amount of quarantine time for pets. Check with a pet mobility specialist prior to import.

Because of the varying nuances in portation company I hired,” Peelman Accepting the Culture
import regulations, many transferring reflects. “There’s a lot that goes into Even with professionals taking care
pet owners choose to hire profession- making sure the pets are cared for on of the logistics, pet owners often
al moving services for their pets. The both ends of the transport.” struggle with concerns about
increase in this practice reflects a The positive experience Peelman whether their pets’ lifestyles will be
growing industry trend of companies had moving her pets not only ensured affected by living in Asia. Moving
catering to employees’ pet-related her dogs’ safe arrival in Hong Kong from a home in the suburbs with a
needs. According to Atlas Van Lines’ but also helped ease her initial wor- fenced-in backyard to a high-rise
2009 “Corporate Relocation ries. “I wish I had known how seam- tower in Singapore or Malaysia can
Survey,” 32 percent of companies less the process was going to be,” mean a lot of trips down the elevator
now reimburse or pay to ship a family Peelman said. “It takes a great when it is time for Fido to go out-
pet, a 3 percent increase from 2008. amount of stress off the move to side. Failing to understand local
“I certainly could not have managed know that your beloved pets will be rules—such as Singapore requiring
without the support of the pet trans- in great care each step of the way.” certain “aggressive” breeds of dogs

to be muzzled when in public—also food if you are living in the middle of
can cause pet owners undue stress, Laos—and reaching out to other pet
not to mention hefty fines. lovers in your new region to help with
However, circumstances some- the transition.
times also can be better than expect- Once familiar with the region,
ed. “My biggest surprise about Hong Asia-Pacific expatriates often are sur-
Kong was how easy it was [to own prised by the amount of pet-friendly
dogs there],” said Peelman, who has events and services available. In
since relocated from Hong Kong to Malaysia, an annual Malaysia Dog
Shanghai, China. “The area we lived Day is held at the Chin Woo Stadium
in, Stanley, was really dog-friendly— in Kuala Lumpur. The event is spon-
you always saw dogs out walking and sored by Purina and includes
there’s a beach they’re free to run “Olympic challenges” such as weave
on.” poles, musical chairs, and agility tri-
Peelman’s experience living with als. All dogs are invited to attend and
dogs in China has not been entirely the Malaysian government even gets
the same. “Here in Shanghai, the in on the fun by offering a police K-9
rules are very strict and it’s not a unit demonstration and microchip-
dog-friendly culture,” Peelman ping services. FurrPurr, in Bangkok,
explains. “In parts of the city it is Thailand, is a store and boarding
advised that pets are only walked at facility dedicated entirely to cats—
certain times of the day.” In these proving that even felines can receive
scenarios, many pet owners prefer to first-class treatment in Asia.
live in expatriate communities, which
tend to provide parks and open areas Making a House a Home
specifically for pets to roam freely. Many expatriatess who decide to
“We opted to live in a housing com- move their pets to the Asia-Pacific
pound [in Shanghai],” Peelman region initially struggle with concerns
explained. “Because we have a bit of about how their pets’ quality of life
a yard for them, we don’t often walk will be affected, in addition to how
them on the street.” to handle the logistics of transporting
“Culture shock can happen with pets overseas. Knowing both the reg-
any move, whether it’s down the ulations and the culture can make all
street or around the world,” said Matt the difference in making sure a new
Kincaid, director of operations and life overseas does not turn into a mad
client services at PetRelocation.com. dash back home.
“However, particularly with interna- In the end, most pet lovers find
tional moves, pet owners should be having their pets with them to be the
aware that for a little while after the most important thing, regardless of
move, things will be different for where they might be living. “We’re
them and their pets.” Cats used to all together as a family and their tails
roaming the great outdoors might are wagging happily,” says Peelman.
need to be kept inside, and finding “It takes a few months to feel settled
that special type of dog food might but it’s all worth it to have them here
prove impossible. Kincaid suggests with you.”
setting realistic expectations—for Rachel Farris is director of PR and new
example, knowing that you might media at PetRelocation.com, Austin, TX. She
can be reached at +1 512 264 9800 or e-mail
have to change your pet’s brand of rachel@petrelocation.com.