Sending a cat back to the UK
22nd February 2007
Here is a record of the things I needed to do to send my Cat back to the UK. We didn’t want to leave him with Feline Friends as I’m sure they have more pressing concerns. I choose to go with Emirates because they handled everything and have staff on the ground. I would NOT recommend you choose BA – they just don’t answer the phone at their main centre. This is the order you need to approach this. If you try to do a step in the wrong order you may run into difficulties so to save time and money do it exactly as I explain below. I detail my experiences and I think I’ve been pretty thorough and verbose, please don’t hold me liable if I have missed something important for your own circumstances. It’s important you talk to the sky cargo representatives to make sure everything is in order, my guide below is indicative, it worked for me though. I was quoted 7,200 DHS to handle all the paperwork by a respected Kennels and Cattery company in Dubai, by spending a little time myself the total cost came to 3,500 DHS all in.
1. First, the cat needs to be microchipped – enquire with your vets for the procedure. This is always the first stage. The Modern Veterinary Clinic (+971 (0)4 3953131) in Al Wasel is fairly good – although very smelly! The newly relocated Veterinary Hospital just off the Al Khali road is also good, if rather expensive.
2. An injection and/or antibody test is then required for Rabies and may be done at the same time as Step 1. The vet must then issue you with a certificate. Keep this certificate very safe indeed this document will be issued about 10 days after the test is carried out. Your vet will also issue you with a rabies vaccination record docket.
3. Every year your cat must have a booster injection for rabies and other things. Don’t allow this to lapse by even one day, otherwise you need to re-do step 2.
4. Visit the immigration office vet in Dubai Cargo Village with your cat and at least 100 DHS. Also you will need a photocopy of the certificate and updated vaccination record you obtained in part 2. To get to the immigration office (not the export office as you would expect) go to the main entrance of Cargo Village, follow the road round and go through the customs check-point and pick up a hand written slip that shows you have a cat in your car. No charge for this it takes just a few seconds. The immigration office is located at the end of a very long line of buildings on your right, the buildings are individual warehouses where trucks load and unload. If you visit during lunch time you may not get a parking space – it’s total chaos as there was a lot of building work! They are open 24 hours and a vet is stationed there all the time, or so I’m told. No need to book an appointment, just turn up.
5. Head for the vet’s desk – there is a sign above the desk and his mobile number might even be written on name tag conveniently placed on his desk. Now, the Government of Dubai insist that you pay the vet 100DHS with an e-dirham card. I can’t understand why they require you to do pay in this way but don’t question it! They sell e-dirham cards from a counter next to the vet. He will then scan the cat’s microchip and issue a certicate labeled ‘Veterinary Health Certificate for Live Animals’ that will be valid for 10 days - this means you now have 10 days to export your cat so the clock is now ticking. The parking was so bad the vet was good enough to walk with me to the car where the cat was. The process will take about 20-30 mins in all.
6. Now you can go ahead and get an airline ticket for your pet. Emirates require at least 5 days from the date of purchasing your ticker to the departure date. My cat went as Cargo as I wasn’t intending to travel and somebody at Heathrow picked the cat up. Ring Emirates Sky Cargo on +971 (0)4 2184218, you can even email them at email@example.com, they are pretty responsive after the first email. If you wish to save money choose a time/date that doesn’t involve the weekend, at Heathrow the company (James Cargo Services) that deals with live animals charges extra for weekends. In fact, the costs of handling at Heathrow were more than the costs of the flight itself! Emirates will email you an excel spreadsheet that serves as an electronic form and air-fare cost calculator. The costs of a ticket is made up of two parameters, weight and volume of cage. I should add that for a large cage and a cat weighing 4Kgs you are looking at air faire of about 2,500DHS – less if you have a smaller cage. Emirates do have approved cat cages that can be bought at great expense from the ‘Mercator’ building in Garhoud – the excel spreadsheet has some flimsy directions on it to help you find this building. The airport cargo handling staff are pretty fussy about the type of cage – so buy a cage that is airline approved if wish to purchase your cage from a pet store or supermarket. The cage must also contain a little bowl for food and water that is mounted on the cage door. This is a requirement of travel. After you have submitted Emirate’s spreadsheet form (remembering that the latin name for a cat is Felis Catus and many cats have ‘Roman Noses’), Emirates will then issue you with an AWB (Air-Way Bill) number this is rather like a DHL shipment ID.
7. Next you need to complete a C5 form – Emirates will also issue you with this. Once completed you need to fax this to the cargo handling company in the UK (at Heathrow this is James Cargo Services). The fax number is on the form you complete. They will acknowledge the receipt of this within 3-4 days directly with Emirates.
8. Now you need to get a ‘Tick and Tapeworm’ certificate. The UK, and probably other countries, require that the cat has a tick and tapeworm drop and tablet between 12 and 48 hours before the cat departs Dubai. There is no movement on these timings so you must time everything right. You pet will NOT depart Duabi until 12 hours has elapsed. To obtain this certificate you need the certificate you obtained in step 2, the vaccination record also in step 2, confirmation of the date the microchip was implanted (if you use a different vet to your normal one for this certificate make sure the original vet sends you a fax on headed notepaper with the date of implant confirmed before you arrive), your airway bill number and the completed C5 form. The authorities in London require that this Tick and Tapeworm certificate show the date of micro-chip insertion! The certificate needs to be signed and stamped by the vet in 3 places. One vet hospital quoted me 505DHS to carry out this simple task, I thought this was excessive and finally went to the Modern Veterinary Cline on Al Wasel road (Tel: +971 (0) 43953131) and they charged me 115DHS!
9. Take your cat 4-6 hours before the flight departure time to the Emirates Sky Cargo centre in Cargo Village. Here you will may for your flight if you haven’t done so already. They will also direct you to customs where you will assign a monetary value to your cat – there is an administration charge of 25 DHS which can be paid in cash this time. My cat was an ordinary moggy with no financial value but priceless in other ways and I didn’t pay any duty. I put a notional 100DHS value to him. This centre is open 24 hours a day and step 9 will probably take you about 60-90 minutes in all.
10. The staff will then attach all the necessary labels and verify all the information is correct. Your cat will then be taken to a small room where they will wait to be loaded onto the plane. Your Emirates Sky Cargo representative will be your main customer service guide throughout this and I found them excellent.
To summarise you need the following for step 9: Rabies Diagnostic Test Report Certicate (Step 2) Vaccination Record from your Vet (Step 2) Completed C5 Form (Step 8) AWB Document (Step 9) Customs Form (Step 9)
11. At Heathrow the cat is released form it’s cage in a controlled area allowing the animal to stretch and eat/drink. The facility is very good. You can then collect your pet for the final journey home after 3-4 hours from the plane landing.
Originally compiled by Geoff (BritishExpats Member geoffboon90)