A few months ago, Scott Shaw moved to KAUST and got in touch with me wanting to share updates to the dog importation process. Big thanks to Scott for sharing this information with KAUST community to make this process a bit easier on everyone. If you have any other tips and advice, or if your experience was different, please share your advice in the comments section below.
Importing your dog to Saudi Arabia – Updates
Guest blog post written by Scott Shaw
This article has been written as a follow up to the excellent article written by Jason Schrum in 2014 and posted on this blog; his experience and guidance enabled me to import my dog, Faraday. However, the process has changed in the four years since Jason brought his dog to the Kingdom, and I am therefore providing updated information. The main change is the import documentation from the Saudi Government, as the process has been made easier and moved online. We imported our dog from UK, so all export country specific information related to the UK. All US specific information in Jason’s article will remain the same.
When we first decided to move to KAUST, whether our dog would be able to travel with us was a major concern. After looking into pet relocation companies and being quoted crazy amounts, we decided that, for the time being, we’d leave him with our family in the UK. After being at KAUST for a few months and understanding the country a little better, we then decided it was time to act and bring him over.
As using a pet importer wasn’t a financially viable option, we decided that I would take a trip to the UK to go and get him. Much of the information online is contradictory and hearsay. I found the whole process quite overwhelming at first and I wasn’t sure it would be possible without external assistant. But using Jason’s experience and information, I set about arranging the flights and paperwork. I decided to fly with Lufthansa, as they have a very good record for transporting pets and caring for them during the journey. I booked a return flight on a Thursday as this gave me 3 working days (72 hours) before the flight, which was needed to sort out the UK-based documentation. I flew our dog as excess baggage; in-cabin wasn’t an option as the maximum weight is 10kg (including their travel case), and we heard some bad stories from friends about dogs travelling as cargo, e.g. waiting at Jeddah airport for over 9 hours to retrieve the dog. The airline needed to be given prior notice (at least 24 hours) of our intent to travel with our dog and the size of his crate.
We were also informed that all animals, regardless of whether they were travelling as excess baggage or not, would be handled in the cargo area. This information turned out to be, thankfully, untrue, and our dog came out as the first item of luggage on the conveyor belt at Jeddah airport – much to my surprise! Once I had the dog, I was stopped at the security checks in the airport. I presented security with the paperwork; they took the paperwork, spoke to somebody on the phone, and then let me leave the airport. This took around 10 minutes.
From start to finish it took around 5 weeks to complete the process and it definitely wasn’t all plain sailing. The requirements are not overly complicated, but they are very time sensitive, particularly in the last 72 hours prior to flying; visiting the vets, having the paperwork legalized by the UK foreign office and Saudi Embassy within that timeframe was a push to say the least. If I was doing the process again then I would have spoken to the agency that assisted us with our Saudi visas and asked them to help me with the legalization part of the process, as they have contacts at the Embassy, and this would have made legalization easier to obtain.
The hardest – and most critical – part of this process was the fact that different things had to be done within certain timescales, and would not be accepted if they had been done before or after the specified timeframes. I have therefore broken down the import information into sections based on timing requirements, working up to the things that need to be done within 72 hours before the flight.
Things that can be sorted out straight away:
- Confirm the dog’s microchip is 15-digit ISO 11784/11785 compliant
- Apply for a pet passport (EU only) – This can be obtained from your vets.
- Rabies vaccination
- no less than 30 days and no more than 1 year before travel (3-year vaccinations are not accepted)
- Recorded in the pet passport (or a vaccination certificate)
- Yearly vaccinations up to-date and recorded in the pet passport (or a vaccination certificate)
- Apply for a pet import/export letter from Government Affairs at KAUST
- If in KAUST, you can do this as a portal self-service item. Visit: https://portal.kaust.edu.sa
- Otherwise, ask your relocation coordinator if you’re not yet at KAUST
- It takes around 2-3 days for them to complete it and must be collected in person, they will email you once it has been signed and is ready for collection.
- There is no date on the letter, so it can be applied for straight away.
- It is required to obtain the import permit from the Saudi Government.
- Obtain a dog sky kennel – It must be IATA approved and be large enough for your dog to stand up in and turn around.
- Inform your airline that you will be flying with your pet dog.
- This can be done up to 24 hours before the flight (check with your airline)
- Fly the pet either as excess baggage, or in-cabin, NOT cargo.
Minimum of 3 weeks before travel:
- Apply for an import permit from the Saudi Ministry of Environment, Water & Agriculture
- There is a banned dog list; you need to make sure your dog doesn’t appear on it before applying. This is done online via https://anaam.mewa.gov.sa
- If the page opens in Arabic, you need the bottom green box, select it and then in the top left corner of the new page you can change the language to English.
- Create a new user account
- If you have your Iqama, use this as your identification number.
- If not, use your passport number (Not confirmed as working, yet).
- Select “Permission for import pet animals”
- If you are flying excess baggage, you need to fill out YOUR details for both the importer and transporter.
- Required attachments:
- A copy of your Iqama (passport, visa & employment letter from KAUST if you are a non-resident)
- Government Affairs supporting letter for the dog
- Make sure the dog’s details are the same as on the Government Affairs letter
- It took around two hours for this to be processed, within normal Saudi business hours.
10 days before travel:
- Apply for a health certificate from the country of export. In the UK, this is can be done by emailing DEFRA PetExports@apha.gsi.gov.uk
- You need to tell them that the dog is being exported to Saudi Arabia, because each country has a different set of requirements.
- They will email back a form (2914EHC) which needs to be filled out (it’s pretty straight forward) and emailed back to them. They will then post the document to your nominated vet.
- Another form is provided (2914OWN) at the same time, which also needs to be filled out. This is a declaration of the dog’s intended purpose in Saudi, which should be a GUARD DOG.
- Outside the UK, you’ll need something similar to declare the dog’s purpose. This must be signed by the vet, who has to confirm that the dog is fit for purpose, as well as the owner.
72 hours before travel:
- The dog needs to be inspected by a vet. The health certificate and intended use declaration need to be signed by the vet.
- Arrange this appointment with your vet beforehand and confirm that they are happy to sign the dog off as a guard dog.
- All paperwork must be signed in BLUE ink and stamped by the vet.
- The health certificate and intended use declaration need to be legalised.
- This is to show that the vet’s signature is legitimate. (NB. The legalisation processes is the same process that is used for documentation when obtaining your Saudi visa)
- The country of export needs to do this first. This is the foreign & commonwealth office (FCO) in the UK, who will apostille the document.
- The Saudi embassy then need to legalise the documents.
I’ve added here a few extra steps that I took, although I am not 100% sure if these were required. (But if I were to do this again, then I would still do these extra things)
- I added a cover letter to the health certificate (and intended purpose declaration). I wrote the letter myself and emailed it to the vet prior to my arrival. The veterinary office then printed this letter off on their letterhead, and the vet signed it in blue ink. This document stated all of the following:
- 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 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 the 15 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)
- I printed the Saudi import permit in both Arabic and English
- I got a friend to translate the health certificate, intended purpose declaration and cover letter into Arabic. Government Affairs offer this service too, although it needs to be paid for.
- I made a copy of the documents and sent the copies with the dog, and I kept the originals with me in my hand luggage (although it turned out that this wasn’t needed).
Note from Claire: Thank you to Scott for sharing his tips and advice, and for sharing the cute pictures of his dog enjoying life at KAUST! Do you have any tips or advice for importing your dog here or other aspects to life at KAUST? Share them in the comments below or contact me directly if you’re interested in sharing a guest blog post.