How do I take my pet on holiday across the border ?

As more and more hotels and guest houses become pet friendly, so more and more people are enjoying taking their pets on holiday with them. After all, most dogs and cats are part of the family. But if you want to take your pet out of South Africa, how complicated is that going to be?
Well, first of all, there is not quite so much red tape needed if you intend to be away for less than 10 days, on holiday or if you are going to a dog show – and you can take pets across the border into neighbouring countries as well as overseas. However, the paperwork is very dependent on time lines, so plan well ahead.

These are the necessities for a holiday stay of 10 days or less:-

  1. A veterinary import permit is required for dogs travelling out of South Africa in order to bring them back into South Africa. These permits will only be issued for dogs travelling to countries for which South Africa does not require quarantine (most but not all SADC countries).
  2. The dog must be permanently identified with a microchip. The description of the dog, i.e. the name, breed, sex, colour and microchip number must be written on the application form when applying for the permit.
  3. Owners are required to take preventive measures to ensure that the pets do not get infected with diseases whilst out of the country, so find out what you need to medicate them with whilst you are away, if anything.
  4. The dog must have a valid rabies vaccination. The rabies vaccination must have been done less than a year and more than 30 days before travelling.
  5. If the country the dog is travelling to is not free from certain diseases then the dog must, on arrival in the exporting country be put on medication as a preventative treatment. The medication must be sufficient to treat the dog for six months.

For International Travel for longer stays:

  1. Your cats and dogs will need to be inoculated against rabies thirty days prior to departure.
  2. A health certificate must be issued by your local veterinarian fourteen days prior to departure.
  3. Both the rabies inoculation certificate and the health certificate then have to be endorsed by the office of the State Veterinarian.
  4. Import permits for pets are required by most countries.
  5. Quarantine is a requirement for many countries, for example the United Kingdom – six months, Australia – seven months (three months in South Africa and four months in Australia), New Zealand – the same as for Australia.

The full requirements for pets going in and out of the country can be found on this link :

If this is all too much for you to do yourself, then do get in touch with a reputable pet transport company who will arrange all the paperwork for you and take care of the transportation boxes. Or contact the person listed on the above link.

Here’s the search link for several companies :- Pet Transport Search Results

It’s not wise to have your pets loose in your car without safety nets, harnesses or a travel box.

Travelling with your dog
If you want to buy or make a pet travel box, this is how you measure the size you will need, as your dog or cat needs to be able to stand up fully and turn around and lie down.
A – Length of the pet from the tip on nose to root of tail.
B – Height from ground to top of leg or elbow joint.
C – Width across right & left shoulder
D – Height of the pet in natural standing position from ground to the top of the head or the tip of the ear in erect ear breads. (For a cat you might find it easier to measure height while cat is sitting with head erect)
Minimum Container Dimensions are:
Length = A+1/2 of B
Width = C x 2 (1 pet) or C x 3 (2 pets)
Height = D

pet transport box size
If you decide to travel outside of South Africa without your pets and you cannot find a house/pet sitter to come and look after your pets in your own home, then consider a reputable “pet hotel” – and check the services that they include in their daily rate.

If you are planning to visit a game reserve, you cannot take any pets with you. There’s the possibility that your pet could get lost and die (read “get eaten”) – or survive and become wild. That’s how feral animal problems occur – like the cats in Australia who are decimating the bird population in some areas.

Unfortunately, Royal Jozini Big 6 in Swaziland is a game reserve and we don’t allow pets at all. So if you have found a good pet sitter or kennel, do book yourselves a bush break in a private lodge home here to enjoy the amazing views, game and fishing, knowing that your pets are safe and well looked after!