How to prepare pets for life in Saudi Arabia, and the documents required when moving pets…
Although Saudi Arabia is not generally pet friendly, it is possible to bring animals such as dogs or cats into the country. However, all dogs need to be classified as a guard dog, watch dog or hunting dog, no matter what the size or breed. Assistance or guide dogs can also be brought in as “working dogs”. Dangerous breeds such as rottweilers and pitbulls are not permitted to enter the country.
It is more straightforward to bring a cat into Saudi Arabia. It is also possible to import small birds, although a permit for import usually has to be applied for in advance from the National Commission for Wildlife Conservation and Development of Saudi Arabia. Birds from some countries may not be allowed due to controls on viruses and no quarantine upon arrival in Saudi Arabia. This organisation also governs the rules on more “exotic” animals, which are normally prohibited from being imported, except by the government.
Some residences may not allow pets to be kept, as dogs in particular are considered “unclean animals” under Islamic customs. Pets are not permitted in shared accommodation. It is worth mentioning any intention to bring a pet to a prospective employer and to ask for advice about arranging accommodation before moving to Saudi Arabia.
Although not required by law, it is advisable to get pets fitted with a microchip before entering the country. Particularly as this maybe a requirement to pass through a country on the way to or from Saudi Arabia (including all EU countries), it is recommended that a standard microchip be fitted in the country of origin. If the microchip does not conform to ISO standard (11784 to 11785), a scanner must be attached to the carrier. Information about a microchip should be entered in the pet registration document (sometimes known as a “passport”) and attached to the container. Some veterinary practices in Saudi Arabia can fit microchips.
To bring a cat or dog into Saudi Arabia, the owner must hold proof of vaccination against rabies and infectious diseases. The pet must have been vaccinated within the past 12 months, and at least one month prior to its arrival in Saudi Arabia. The document must contain the date of inoculation and the validity of a particular vaccination, as well as the microchip number, where applicable.
- Pet registration document: contains vaccination records and microchip implantation information
- Veterinary health certificate: must be issued within 30 days of entering Saudi Arabia, although most airlines will require it to be issued within 10 days of flying. The vet issuing this document should be certified by the relevant government authorities in the home country, and it should be submitted for verification at the embassy or consulate of Saudi Arabia before departure
- Import permit: permission to import a pet must be applied for before moving. This can be done by applying in person at the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Agriculture. Alternatively, a contact such as an employer or a pet relocation company can assist with the application. This permit is sometimes reported as not being, so check with the embassy or consulate in the home country when planning a move
- Customs declaration form: must be completed upon arrival in Saudi Arabia
It is useful to have copies of these documents, as some may be required by the airline while others need to be submitted at customs upon arrival. If all the necessary identification documents and papers are not available, the pet may be refused entry and returned to the country of origin on the first available flight. Documentation is not usually required to be in Arabic, but this should be checked before moving.
If a pet is travelling via a European country, it must be accompanied by documentary proof that it has undergone tick and de-worming treatments no more than two days prior to leaving its home country. This can be a separate document or an entry in the pet registration document.
- For guidelines on the exact procedure for importing a pet into Saudi Arabia: Click here
Special requirements for dogs
The veterinary health certificate should state that it is officially a guard dog, watch dog or hunting dog, even in the case of assistance or guide dogs.
Pets arriving from the US
The health certificate should be a USDA-APHIS 7001 form and needs to be certified and stamped by the local office of the United States Department of Agriculture, the local embassy or consulate of Saudi Arabia and finally by the state department in Washington DC. For cats, it is best to check the requirements with the local embassy or consulate.
- For more information: Click here
If an owner has all the necessary papers and the dog or cat is healthy, no quarantine period is required.