The Ultimate Guide for Travelling with Your Dog or Cat to Dubai (United Arab Emirates)

The Ultimate Guide for Travelling with Your Dog or Cat to Dubai (United Arab Emirates)

Relocating to a new country can be an exciting yet challenging and stressful experience, especially when you have a pet to consider. Dubai, a vibrant city in the United Arab Emirates, has very strict regulations and requirements for pet import. To minimise any stress for both yourself and your pet, it's essential to plan and prepare well in advance. Furry Travel will guide you through the necessary steps and provide valuable information on relocating your pet to Dubai.

Step 1: Research Dubai's Pet Import Regulations

Dubai has well-defined regulations for importing pets, designed to maintain the health and safety of animals and residents alike. Start by familiarising yourself with these regulations, which can be found in this guide. Be aware of the breed restrictions, vaccination, and document requirements.

Make sure to consult through this page whether your breed is forbidden by the government or certain airlines, and this page to have a detailed overview of all required vaccinations and documents.

Step 2: Schedule a Visit to the Veterinarian

Make an appointment with your local veterinarian well ahead of your intended move. Your vet will be crucial in helping you achieve the necessary requirements such as health checks, vaccinations, and obtaining the required documentation for your pet.

Step 3: Choose a Reputable Pet Relocation Agent & Service Partner

Consider hiring a professional pet relocation service that specialises in international pet travel, particularly one familiar with the importing regulations in the UAE. These experts have experience navigating the complex procedures, paperwork, and logistics involved in transporting pets to Dubai. They can provide guidance on airline options and requirements, securing the right travel crate, and assisting with ground handling formalities, customs clearance, and relevant vet checks upon arrival. Importantly, they can advise on the best travel route. Your pet may be eligible to fly with you in the cabin or may need to fly in cargo. A good partner will help you choose the best route based on your departure location and budget requirements.

Some people are also able to handle part or all of this process themselves. However, some airlines require an agent to process cargo bookings. If you decide to do this on your own, make sure you are well-prepared and stress-resistant. While it may seem easy once you know how it works, doing it for the first time can be quite challenging. Ask yourself if you want to take on this stress when an international move is already a big project in itself.

We've had customers who have done it on their own before and don't want to go through it again, while others have managed without any issues. It really depends on how well you can handle it. Just be aware of the risks: if you arrive in the country without proper documentation, you may face denied entry or have a pet forced to stay in quarantine. Both of these options will be at your expense.

If you end up choosing an agent to take care of this on your behalf, make sure to look for the following criteria:

  • Did you manage to speak to them? Did you felt a genuine connection?
  • How will their support look like? For example some agents work exclusively over email and don't give a personalised approach and/or respond slow.
  • If your english is not very good, try to find an agent who can serve you in your language.
  • How do they score on Google Reviews? How bad are their lowest reviews?

At Furry Travel, we do offer 7/7 WhatsApp support and can serve you in English, French, Dutch, Russian and Ukrainian. We don't rush in sending you a quote as fast as possible without even getting to know you and your travel plans better. We offer a personalised approach and we strive to deliver the best service.

Step 4: Get Your Pet Used to the Travel Crate

Help your pet get used to the travel crate well before the journey. Gradually introduce them to the crate by placing treats, toys, and bedding inside and learn more about crate training. Allow your pet to spend increasing amounts of time in the crate to reduce anxiety and ensure they feel secure during travel. It's crucial to choose an airline and International Air Transport Association (IATA) approved crate that provides ample space for your pet's comfort.

If your pet is sensitive to anxiety and strange sounds, we recommend additional steps once they are used to the crate. Transport the crate with your pet inside it during some car rides. Cover the crate with blankets to create a dark environment. After they are comfortable with that, play airplane sounds in the background to get them used to the noises they will hear during the flight. In more extreme cases, you can even gently move the covered crate to simulate travel. Always reward your pet after each exercise; positive reinforcement is the most effective training method!

Step 5: Book Your Flight

Choose an airline that allows pets and has a good reputation with pets. Make sure they follow the IATA rules for transporting animals. Contact the airline in advance to book a spot for your pet. Some airlines have a limit on the number of pets per flight, so it’s best to book early. If you use an agent, they can handle this for you.

If you choose to fly with your pet in the cabin, it can be tricky. Most airlines will not accept your pet booking unless you have a valid government-stamped export health certificate, which you usually cannot get until a few days before you leave.

Step 6: Prepare for the Journey

Pack essential items for your pet, like food, water, medicines, and blankets with familiar smells. Make sure you have all the necessary documents, including the pet passport, health certificate, and any import permits. Label the crate with your name, address, and contact details.

You cannot put any toys inside the crate during transport, but they can be attached to the outside. Do not give any tranquillisers or sedatives. This can be dangerous for your pet.

We have put together a more detailed guide for your preparation within this guide.

Step 7: The Night Before Departure

The night before your pet's journey, follow these steps to ensure their comfort:

  1. Food: Give half the usual amount of food the day before departure, and do not give any food on the day of departure.
  2. Exercise: Exercise your pet earlier in the day to tire them out. This will help them stay calm and possibly sleep better during the journey. A walk, play session, or other suitable exercise will help.
  3. Water: Offer only a small amount of water before departure to prevent excessive drinking and reduce the need for bathroom breaks. Water will be provided to your pet during the journey if needed.
  4. Potty Break: Take your pet outside for a bathroom break before the journey. This will help reduce discomfort and the need for stops during the trip.

Step 8: Arrival in Dubai

When you arrive in Dubai, if your pet flies in cargo, it can take 1 to 2 hours for your pet and its original documents to arrive at the cargo terminal. Once you have the documents, you can start the import procedures like customs, ground handling, and vet checks. It usually takes 3 to 6 hours for your pet to be released after landing.

If you fly with your pet in the cabin, you will be stopped at passport control or customs to check your pet's documents. You may need to visit a government-certified vet at the airport. Once this is done, you can leave the airport.

Remember, pets are not allowed in regular taxis, so arrange your own transport or book a specialised pet taxi.

Don't forget to register your pet with the Dubai Municipality. This gives you access to dog parks and is also required by law.