From carriers to documents, here’s a guide to help you out…

Relocating to a new country can be challenging – especially if you have a furry family member. However, it doesn’t have to be a complicated – or expensive – exercise.

Enter Paw Pals. In 2019, the company realised that many people were being overcharged to relocate their pets when they left the UAE and decided to offer a more cost-effective way to help. They now offer a wide range of relocation services, from door-to-door drop-offs to assisting with paperwork.

To help you prepare to move with your pet, Paw Pals shares a step-by-step guide

Get the right-sized travel carrier

Dog carrier

It’s important for your pet to be comfortable when he travels and this means getting a correctly sized travel carrier that is approved by the International Pet And Animal Transportation Association (IPATA).

The carrier needs to be large enough for your pet to stand, turn around and lie down, with some extra space for comfort.

Paw Pals tip 1: A good tip would be to get the carrier as soon as possible and let your pet get accustomed to it. Leave it open so your pet can go inside, explore and get used to it, so your pet can be as relaxed as possible during the journey.

Paw Pals tip 2: Freeze the water container that comes attached to the carrier. If the water holder is too small, use a plastic box such as an ice cream container, fill it with water and then freeze. Punch a couple of holes and cable tie it to the inside of the carrier – this will help to minimise spillage.

Sort out your paperwork


Paperwork can be daunting, and it varies depending on which country you are heading to. Some countries may require you to start the process at least six months prior to your expected departure date.

Pets will only be allowed to travel if they are microchipped and be fully vaccinated – this is a standard requirement for most countries. The rabies vaccine must be given after the microchip is implanted, at least 21 days before travel.

Some countries require an additional blood test to ensure there are rabies antibodies in the blood. Your relocator will advise if this is needed.

All vaccines need to be recorded in their vaccination book – in the UAE this is the equivalent of the pet passport. Dogs need to be de-wormed prior to relocation.

Remember: there is a summer travel ban in the UAE, which means that any snub-nosed (brachycephalic) breeds of cats and dog can only fly in or out of Dubai from end of October to April.

Pick an airline

Dog waiting for flight

Picking an airline is important and their requirements vary. Find out if they accept pets as accompanied baggage (excess baggage) or cargo only.

Destinations also have varying requirements when it comes to receiving pets. Some may only accept them as cargo, while some have to go in as checked baggage. Some destinations will also require pets to be quarantined upon arrival.

Note: Do not book in your flight until the following step is complete.

Apply online for the MOCCAE Health Certificate

Once you’ve got all the above information in order, you have to apply online for a health certificate from the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE).

You will need to sign up and fill in the form online here, then pay the service fee of Dhs400.

The average time to obtain approval on complete applications is seven working days.

Once this is done, take your pet with you to the MOCCAE vet to get your pet checked by the vet and obtain a certificate, valid for 30 days.

You may also require a destination-specific health certificate for the country you are travelling to, which can be signed by your vet. This may also require attestation by the MOCCAE vet, and may be required to be completed within a certain period of time prior to travel.

Make the flight bookings

You will require documents including the carrier size plus certified copies of your pets vaccination records and a clear photograph of your pet in its carrier.

Cargo: If your pet is booked as cargo, take your pet to the airport to do the pre-flight check.

Baggage: If your pet is booked as accompanied baggage, you will need to take the pet to the terminal with you and check them in with you. The check-in staff will take you down to the animal loading area.

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Paw Pals tip 3: Cargo rules vary between destinations. Paw Pals advises using someone at the other end to assist you with customs clearance.

For accompanied baggage, you would collect your pet from the luggage area upon arrival, and head through customs (Something to declare), where they would check your paperwork.

The total price for relocating your pet varies drastically depending on a number of factors, from the airline to the size of your pet.

If you need help, the team at Paw Pals is there to help. Contact them on their website here or fill out a request form here. They also provide pet sitting, walking and training services in Dubai.

Paw Pals, Tel: (050) 180 40 41,,

Images: Getty