In an earlier post on this blog, I shared our dog import story. It wasn’t a very happy story, and the upshot was basically: “Don’t do it the way we did!“. In the 3-years since we moved here, I’ve always hoped to follow-up that post with one which says the right ways to import a dog to Saudi. I finally found it! I met a man who recently moved to KAUST named Jason Schrum. He was kind enough to share his story and lessons learned here on the blog, so others can learn from his SUCCESS!
I hope this will be of some help to those of you moving your dog from the USA to KAUST. And, I think there is some juicy info in this post for people moving their dog to Saudi in general – not just from the USA and not just to KAUST. Especially the point about not flying your dog as cargo, as we mistakenly did!
Quick disclaimer: These things change frequently. Please do your own homework on all of this, and use Jason’s experience only for information gathering purposes. His experience may not be representative of yours.
Here is Jason’s dog, Stella, at KAUST
Jason P. Schrum; August 2014
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Pet Import Permit Guidelines USA -> Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Like many people, when I was considering the opportunity for a position with KAUST, the ability to bring my dog was a major factor in whether or not I would be able to make the move. As I looked into the process in a bit more detail I found the entire process to be rather daunting and cumbersome due to the number of requirements, seemingly tight timelines, expenses, and apparently high rate of unacceptable outcomes.
Many people use pet relocation companies to handle the entire process. However, I did notice these are both expensive (I received quotes >USD 6,000, not including vet fees) and error-prone (dogs held in quarantine due to errors or restriction with the paperwork linked directly to the logistics of the relocation, unfavorable Port of Entry – dogs routed through Riyadh and long drives across the desert to Jeddah; moreover, pet relocation companies ship your pet as Cargo, which requires you to have your Iqama first, etc…).
Since a lot of the unfavorable outcomes appeared to be related to Cargo Transport (which, beyond the Pet Import documents and requirement to have your Iqama first, actually require an entire additional set of paperwork for Cargo shipping), I chose to eliminate cargo transportation from the picture entirely and look at only Excess Luggage or In-cabin options. This effectively reduced the burden to only Pet Import documents and this process is described below. Large dogs are able to be transported as Excess Luggage, but you must follow the crate requirements carefully and coordinate with the airline in advance. In my experience, I strongly recommend Lufthansa as the carrier given their exceptional track-record with pets and I really can’t endorse any other airlines to handle pets after hearing stories from others, unfortunately.
The entire process took about 3 weeks and I had my Import Permit a full week in advance of my flight and at a significantly more reasonable cost point.
All the information below was heavily informed by the experiences of people from KAUST, Aramco, BKS International, and Arabian Kennels that I was able to connect with before I moved. Thank you to those of you who were involved.
Process and Order
- Confirm ISO 11784/11785 compliant 15 digit pet microchip.
- Rabies Vaccination Certificate between 30 days and 12 months prior to entry into the country
- Three year vaccination is not accepted; vaccine must be at least 30 days old (not 21 days as required for the EU)
- Signed by hand, not stamped. Preferably in blue ink
- Two Copies of the USDA APHIS form 7001 completed by a USDA-accredited veterinarian (one issued within 30 days before travel and one within 10 days of travel; make sure your vet is actually USDA-accredited); These forms are only good for 30 days; the first form is required for the Import Permit, the second is for the airline and to cover any potential concerns at Customs upon arrival
- APHIS form 7001 for the Veterinary Health Certificate must be accompanied by the Rabies Vaccination Certificate (e.g., DD Form 2208); the APHIS form must state that it is a guard dog (in Block 9 of APHIS 7001);
- 6 digit National Accreditation number; and state license number
- Signed by hand, not stamped. Preferably in blue ink
- Verify all the information is correct before you leave. For example, our vet did not include the name of my dog on the form. They also did not include the date the vaccinations were given (only when they were due again) – so, both my dog’s name and the date of vaccination had to be added onto an amended form.
- The Veterinary Health Certificate must have an accompanying Cover Letter from your vet on their letterhead, addressed to the Director of Customs, Saudi Arabia. I wrote the letter myself and had the veterinary office print it on their letterhead and sign it in blue ink. This document stated all of the following:
- a. The animal is up-to-date with its vaccinations and does not have rabies or any other disease.
- Statement of the overall condition of the dog and that the dog is fit for travel
- Indicate on the paperwork that the dog is being imported as a guard dog (e.g., Labrador Guard Dog) and that the dog is required to accompany you.
- Name of the dog (dog’s first name and your last name)
- Gender; Spayed/Neutered – adult dogs must be altered
- Age (years; months)
- Microchip number (write out the15 digit code and state that the chip is ISO-compliant in the letter)
- Owner’s name (As it appears on your Passport, Visa, and Employment Letter)
- Name of employer (KAUST, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Thuwal, Saudi Arabia)
- Job title (As it appears exactly on your Employment Letter)
- Medical Record with Vaccination History with Microchip Information listed
- Signed by hand, not stamped.
- Export Certificate within 10 days of departure (was not needed)
- Signed by hand, not stamped
- EU Pet Passport updated within 10 days of departure, if available/needed (was not needed, but had papers for Germany anyway, just in case)
- Tick and de-worming entry to be added no more than 2 days before departure
Authentication and Endorsements
- Veterinary Health Certificate APHIS 7001, 2) Rabies Certificate, 3) Vaccination Record, 4) Parasite test results, 5) Cover Letter, and 6) Medical Record must then be verified by:
- USDA APHIS office in your state. Recommend driving to the office directly, or FedEx overnight
- They will stamp your APHIS form only and need to see the Rabies certificate
- US Secretary of State Authentication Services
- Royal Saudi Embassy or consulate endorsement
- Strongly Recommend FedEx’ing to WPVS (contact info below) for the US Secretary of State and Royal Saudi Embassy steps; the aforementioned items will be returned to you grommeted together; ensure all documents are present:
Washington Passport & Visa Services, Inc.
2318 18th Street N.W., Suite 200
Washington, DC 20009
- NOTE: You do not need to send a copy of your passport and, technically, do not need to have your Visa issued at this stage, though you will need to have the Visa to proceed once you receive everything back – and recall this needs to be completed within 30 days.
While the documents are getting endorsed (between 5-8 days time), collect the following:
- 3 Photos of your dog (Front, Side, one demonstrating no aggression [e.g., playing with a small child])
- Pictures should be austere, and preferably outdoors, cropped to show only the dog.
- Copy of passport and visa
- Copy of employment letter
- KAUST GASC Import Slip – Ask your relocation advisor for the GASC email address.
- They will email you a scanned color copy of the stamped Letter
Import Permit Agent
- The Import Permit Application Document will be completed by the Import Agent after receipt of documents from you.
- An import permit is issued from the Ministry of Agriculture at the proposed Port of Entry. Permits must be issued and used at the same port (e.g., Import Permits issued in Jeddah require the dog to arrive via Jeddah; Import Permits issued in Riyadh cannot be used for a Jeddah Port of Entry)
- Acquisition of Import Permit from Jeddah Port of Entry only:
Arabian Kennels: Mr. Mohammed Azzouz – The General Manager and/or Anees Afzal Mughal
- A customs declaration upon arrival.
Submission of paperwork for the Import Permit
I initially contacted Arabian Kennels one full month in advance of when the papers would be ready to send to them (about 2 months before my planned arrival at KAUST). The point being to confirm what documents they may need, pricing, and any other details, as well as to introduce myself to them. It should go without saying the emails should be very courteous since Arabian Kennels is getting the Import Permit for KAUST personnel as a courtesy – to the best of my knowledge, no formal agreement is in place between KAUST and Arabian Kennels. It may take a couple days for them to respond.
About 10 days before my flight I scanned all the documents (in color) and sent them an email telling them which airline I was flying on (again, with pets, you should really only consider flying Lufthansa or KLM with minimal connections) and that the dog would not fly cargo (dogs are, in fact, permitted in the cabin on Lufthansa, provided they meet Lufthansa guidelines – otherwise, fly your dog as Excess Luggage – the luggage handlers at King Abdulaziz International airport are, in my experience, extremely efficient – my bags are always waiting for me by the time I clear passport control (~10-15 minutes after the shuttle arrives to the terminal); state: no cargo. I also stated that I would assume responsibility for transport to the final destination at KAUST. If any concerns were to arise in the process, I also requested them to contact the KAUST Government Affairs office at the phone number provided in the KAUST letter as it was critical to obtain the Permit.
List of documents sent to Arabian Kennels to get the Import Permit (scanned together as a single PDF, 13 pages in length; NOTE: the complete veterinary medical record was not submitted with this package):
- Letter of Support from KAUST GASC
- Copies of my Visa and Passport
- Authenticated and Endorsed Health Certificate from the US Department of Agriculture, United States State Department, and the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington D.C. (less than 30 days old at the time of arrival) – Scan front and back of the Authentication page to demonstrate both the US Secretary of State signature and the Royal Saudi Embassy endorsement on the back of the front page
- Certified Rabies Certificate
- Certified Letter of Support from our Veterinary Doctor verifying status as a Guard Dog, Health, Vaccinations, Microchip, and fitness for travel
- Certified Vaccine Certificate
- Certified Test Results demonstrating no parasites
- Photos of dog showing front and side view as well as an image with a baby to demonstrate no aggression.
- Image of banned dog list from the Saudi Arabia Ministry of Agriculture demonstrating the breed is not a banned breed. The image can be found here, though I have no idea if it’s official)
- Copy of my KAUST Employment Contract
NOTE: If your dog appears on the banned breed list, your dog will not be given an Import Permit from Jeddah. If your dog is <35lbs, it may be considered a “toy breed” and will not be given an Import Permit from Jeddah. In either case, you will have to identify an alternative pathway. I have heard other people successfully route through Riyadh.
Arabian Kennels got my Import Permit ~3 days after I sent them all the paperwork (this included the time for a weekend). They demonstrated the Permit was issued with a black and white scan. In order to receive the color scan, I wired the payment to their account in Jeddah, sent them the transfer receipt, and confirmed they received the transfer. They then emailed me the color scan of the Import Permit. All in all, I had the Import Permit within 22 days of starting the process and one full week in advance of my flight – all took place at the end of Ramadan and over the Eid holiday.
Other Sources of interest:
- Arabian Kennels, Jeddah, KSA
- Phone: +966 2 616 40 30
- Email: email@example.com
- BKS International Pet Shipping, Inc. Houston, Texas, USA
- Jane Edwards
- Phone:+1 713 466 1378
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Pet Imports Saudi Arabia Facebook Page
- This is managed by Joy Neumann. She strongly encourages people to read and review her site regularly.
Good luck and Happy Flying!
[Update September 25, 2014: Here is some info on exporting your dog out of Saudi Arabia once you are here!]