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Hosts of permits to bring pets into the state

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TRAVELLING from one place to another has definitely been made easier nowadays with a wide variety of travel options available.

However, pet lovers all around the world still find themselves in a rut when it comes to pet travel and pet relocation.

Different countries have different restrictions and requirements when it comes to bringing in a pet.

Certain airlines may allow pets into the cabin area while other airlines only allow pets to be transported in a special area of the cargo.


In Malaysia, the main issue related to pet travel and relocation is pet import and export between Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah and Sarawak.

Travel into Sarawak basically requires an import permit, export permit and all pets are expected to have a microchip, rabies vaccination, a veterinary health certificate and updated vaccination records.

An import permit is an authorisation by the state Veterinary Authority for the importation of animals, which are subject to restriction, and an export permit allows one to export an animal to a different state.

Meanwhile, a veterinary health certificate is a certificate that declares a pet healthy and free from any contagious diseases.

Not many pet owners are aware of the fact that it’s best to vaccinate their pet against rabies six months prior to travel.

A pet is most likely to be quarantined longer if the rabies vaccination was given less than 3 months before travel. So far, only pets or animals from countries such as the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand can be exempted from quarantine.

This is on the condition that the government veterinary officer is satisfied with the import documents and the pet’s health status.

On the other hand, pets from other countries and Peninsular Malaysia are subject to a minimum of seven days quarantine upon arrival in Sabah and Sarawak.

Importing pets into Sarawak is a lengthy process that can be confusing for some. In Sarawak, one needs to book for quarantine space even before applying for an import permit.

This is done by going to the quarantine facility and filling in a booking form for the pet to be quarantined on the date of arrival.

Preferably, one can get a local representative to do it on their behalf.

In Kuching, the Animal Quarantine Station is located at Jalan Sekama.

With the approved booking form in hand, one can proceed to apply for an import permit from the Agriculture Department.

It usually takes less than three working days for the permit to be ready and it is valid for 60 days from the date of issue.

Only after getting an import permit can one proceed to apply for an export permit and get a health certificate from the nearest Veterinary Services Department in their area.

However, the health certificate is only valid for seven days, thus one should only bring in their pet for inspection a few days before departure.

In Kuala Lumpur, the Veterinary Service Department at Jalan Selar is the one to go to.

They provide all kind of services for pets including preparation of export permits, vaccinations, microchip insertion and one can even apply for a pet passport that costs less than RM10.

The pet passport basically holds all the pets’ details including vaccination records, microchip number, permit details and the owner details.

The passport would also have photos of the pet from four different angles. The picture-taking session can prove to be exhausting though.

Overall, charges are the same for both cats and dogs.

One will be charged RM5 for an import permit in Sarawak and the health certificate and export permit each is charged at RM3. Meanwhile, rabies vaccination would cost about RM40 and microchips are RM25 each.

In Sabah, one can apply for an import permit at Jabatan Perkhidmatan Haiwan dan Perusahaan Ternak for RM10 and it is valid for 30 days.

Sabah is actually one step ahead when it comes to pet quarantine services since they actually offer home quarantine for certain pets.

This is a big bonus for pet owners as the thought of having their pets locked up in a confined area can be disheartening.

Nowadays, International Air Transport Association (IATA) has come up with certain guidelines and rules that needs to be met where pets are concerned.

First of all, a pet should always travel in a crate that meets IATA requirements – big enough for the pet to stand, turn around and lie down.

In order to make travel less traumatising for their pets, one can actually purchase the crate as early as a few weeks before travel and let the pet familiarise itself with the crate.

Feeding a pet two hours before departure should also help calm its nerves.

On the day of travel, pet owners actually have the option of bringing their pet with them and checking it in as excess baggage or dropping it off at the cargo department of the particular airline.

Whether the pet is travelling as excess baggage or as cargo, they will wind up in the same special area of the cargo department, which is pressurised and temperature controlled.

There isn’t much difference in the charges but should one opt to go with the cargo services, the pet would have to be dropped off at least 4 hours before boarding time.

Meanwhile, travel to the airport has to be planned in a way that any kind of public transportation that doesn’t allow pets aboard is to be avoided.

Hiring a cab is the best option since there would be enough space for the pet crate and baggage all at the same time.

Finally, the most important thing to remember on the day of travel is to have all pet travel documents – import permit, export permit, health certificate, pet passport or vaccination certificate – ready and handy.

The documents would be asked for when checking in with the pet and it would be needed again after landing.

Upon arrival, one would have to go to the customs office or the designated quarantine station at the entry point where arrangements for the pet to be quarantined will be made.

The quarantine facilities in Sabah and Sarawak only charge RM3 daily for each cat or dog.

It is an affordable amount as meals are also included.

Visiting hours usually follows normal office hours but it is best to consult the officer in charge at the quarantine facility.

From there on, all should be smooth sailing.

Hopefully, in the near future, the pet passport could function as our passports do and our pets could board the plane with us no matter where we go and which airline we board.

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