Importing Your Dog from USA to KAUST

By | September 15, 2014

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

  1. Confirm ISO 11784/11785 compliant 15 digit pet microchip.
  2. 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
  3. 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.
  4. 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)
  5. Medical Record with Vaccination History with Microchip Information listed
    • Signed by hand, not stamped.
  6. Export Certificate within 10 days of departure (was not needed)
    • Signed by hand, not stamped
  7. 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

  1. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. Copy of passport and visa
  3. Copy of employment letter
  4. 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

  1. The Import Permit Application Document will be completed by the Import Agent after receipt of documents from you.
  2. 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)
    1. Acquisition of Import Permit from Jeddah Port of Entry only:
      Arabian Kennels: Mr. Mohammed Azzouz – The General Manager and/or Anees Afzal Mughal
    2. 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):

  1. Letter of Support from KAUST GASC
  2. Copies of my Visa and Passport
  3. 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
  4. Certified Rabies Certificate
  5. Certified Letter of Support from our Veterinary Doctor verifying status as a Guard Dog, Health, Vaccinations, Microchip, and fitness for travel
  6. Certified Vaccine Certificate
  7. Certified Test Results demonstrating no parasites
  8. Photos of dog showing front and side view as well as an image with a baby to demonstrate no aggression.
  9. 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)
  10. 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:

  1. Arabian Kennels, Jeddah, KSA
    • Phone: +966 2 616 40 30
    • Email:
  2. BKS International Pet Shipping, Inc. Houston, Texas, USA
    • Jane Edwards
    • Phone:+1 713 466 1378
    • Email:
  3. 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!


Important Updates:

  • September 25, 2014: Here is some info on exporting your dog out of Saudi Arabia once you are here!
  • January 5, 2015: Others are posting their experiences/lessons learned in the comments of this post. If you’re moving your pet here, please read the comments! Of particular interest will be Eric’s comment. I also encourage you to share your experiences below for others to learn.
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  • Kyler Goddard

    thanks for posting this helpful information on transporting pets.

    Are students at KAUST allowed to have pets, or is it only the employees that have this privilege? My wife and I are looking at attending KAUST in the fall for its masters program. We have a hairless cat (sphinx) and we want to know if we will be allowed to take him with us to KAUST. It is a big factor that influences the decision to attend KAUST.

    thank you for your blog it is very helpful

  • Claire

    Hi Kyler – I recommend talking to your relocation advisor about this. I don’t think students are allowed to have pets.

  • Dam_Tom

    Hi Claire,

    Thanks for all the hard work this blog represents. It has dramatically reduced the uncertainty level of considering a position at KAUST. Hopefully, you are at least recognized in the community for the value you provide.

    I have read through your site and the FB site referenced above. They were both very helpful. In looking through the KAUST wiki, I ran across a link to the “Official KAUST policy for Pets and Animals”. Sadly, it is hidden behind the KAUST firewall(s).

    While I can understand the value in not publishing everything, willy nilly, I was wondering if there is some way this policy can be summarized and made available?

    Being able to bring our dogs is a potential deal breaker for us. They are very much a part of our family. Our own children are adults with families of their own now so the quality of life for our dogs is important. As important as their home life, is their opportunity to work. My wife, a 4th grade teacher, uses them in her classroom to help teach reading to her students. As we consider whether or not if she wants to teach at TKS, being able to bring the dogs into the class for reading instruction would be a large plus.

    For reference, the specific program our dogs are trained in is:

    ( )

    Thanks again for all your time and effort in making it easier to come to KAUST.


  • Hi Thomas –

    Sorry for my delay in responding here. I’ve been out of town and my email alerts got a bit out of hand :-)

    Thanks so much for your kind words about the site! I really appreciate it – and am so glad that you’ve been able to find useful information here.

    What an interesting use of dogs in the classroom! I’m sure the kids love that!

    As a generalization, dogs in the middle east are not viewed in the same way as in the US. Many people are very afraid of them as the only contact they’ve had is either with (sometimes dangerous) street or desert dogs, or with guard dogs. Maybe a program like this could help both kids and adults become more familiar with dogs and the great things they can do!

    I don’t feel comfortable posting protected documents on my blog. I encourage you to reach out to your HR rep or relocation advisor to get the policy – I’m sure they could share it with you!


  • Ab

    Hey Claire,
    Thanks for the richly informative article. I would like to ask you a question if you don’t mind. I already have my pet here in Saudi and I’d like to know if I can just bring it in to KAUST, would I need to pre register it or can I just do that once I’m inside?

    Many Thanks

  • Hm… I think this is best answered by your relocation or HR advisor. I’m really not sure.

  • Hi Claire,

    It was nice to meet you last week, and I wanted to say thanks again for all you’ve done to make this site a great resource to those of us who are coming to KAUST for the first time. This blogpost in particular was a great starting point for Ashley and I as we made arrangements to get our dog here from the US over the last few months. Like mentioned in the post above there are always little changes, and I thought I’d share my experiences to hopefully make it even easier for pets and their owners in the future. I’ll make the same disclaimer as Jason, in that these were our experiences and people definitely need to do their own research.

    After calling a few airlines (including representatives at Saudia not even knowing if they could take dogs – yikes), we also settled on flying Lufthansa with our dog, Ranger. An interesting note we learned is that codeshares like the “Star Alliance” don’t always work with pets as excess luggage or cargo, so we chose to make the 4 hour drive to DC which was our closest Lufthansa hub rather than trying to switch the dog from United to Lufthansa or Delta to KLM mid-trip. It can probably be done, but this just seemed simpler for us and it meant Ranger only had one layover instead of two.

    Most everything in this post was pretty spot on, but as we spoke with Anees from Arabian Kennels and with our local vet we learned a few things that helped simplify the process:

    First, Arabian Kennels didn’t need the first copy of the APHIS 7001 authenticated by the USDA or the Royal Saudi Embassy in order to get our Import Permit. This definitely helped speed the process up. You do however still need to have the second one endorsed by the USDA within 10 days of flying. The USDA recently downsized the number of offices that can do this to regional offices rather than at the state level, so make sure you schedule your final vet appointment with maximum time as you’ll likely need to mail this off unless you happen to live in Albany, NY, Gainsville, FL, or a few other not-so-major metropolitan areas :)

    Additionally, we confirmed with Lufthansa that we did not need an EU Pet Passport for our short layover in Frankfurt, but again I’d encourage everyone to verify everything that they can on their own.

    When we arrived in Jeddah we cruised through immigration with the help of the KAUST Graduate Affairs representative, and just a few minutes later Ranger was the first thing off the luggage carousel! I had all the paperwork available, and when we went through customs it ended up being a really painless process. Someone flipped through everything, gave Ranger a quick look-over while he was still in the kennel, and then they sent us on our way.

    Thanks again for the help, and hopefully we’ll run into one another soon!


  • Wow – this is a great review! Thank you so much for sharing your experience here, so others can learn/triangulate information. I really appreciate you taking the time to write it all down!

    Glad everything worked out so great for you. See you soon!

  • Also: I added and update to this post and highlighted your comment in particular :)

  • Thanks, Claire! I hope my comments are helpful to others in the future. KAUST was extremely helpful with most of the moving stuff, but since they don’t help with pet relocation it was one of the more stressful (or at least most vague) parts of our move.

  • Agreed!