Traveling with the doggies - Bermuda to Singapore
Alright so we all know how hard it can be to travel with our beloved pets and this article is meant to give you an idea of what it took to bring our two medium sized dogs to Singapore. The rules are mostly similar to cats but since we have dogs I will focus on that. Please feel free to ask any questions you might have and I will be happy to answer them.
First of all let's introduce them (this will be important further ahead).
Fifa is a 5 year old spayed female pup that I rescued in Fiji, while working there for a charity called Animals Fiji (https://www.animalsfiji.org). She was a small puppy at the time but was lucky enough to find me and has been traveling all over the world with me. On her passport she is signalled as a Red Heeler mix (also important later on).
Binks is a 3 year old neutered male doggo rescued in St. Maarten, an island in the Caribbean. He is our goofy little man and I have him down as a Retriever mix.
Let's start with the obvious: if you want to travel with your dogs they need all their vaccines up to date. This includes Rabies, Distemper, Hepatitis and Parvovirus - these are usually the vaccines your dog will get yearly if they visit their vets at least once a year. Some countries will require Kennel Cough as well, which is usually given orally or sprayed in their nose once a year.
The next step is worming treatment - they require a tablet that is effective against most internal parasites which has to be given within a certain timeframe of traveling to said country.
The other indispensable item is a microchip - these are placed under the skin and have a unique number that can be read using a scanner. Unfortunately they do not provide GPS tracking, so if your dog gets lost this will have to be scanned and you will need to have your contact information updated on certain databases for any vet or charity to be able to find you. The microchips have to follow certain standards to be accepted internationally but most modern ones do anyway.
Finally, they will require a health certificate to be issued by either an official government veterinarian or a certified vet who is allow to sign these documents (in most countries your local vet can do this but there are a few exceptions so make sure to check before traveling). This document also has an expiration date so all these things have to be very well timed.
The most important lesson to remember is that if you plan on traveling with your pet you MUST visit your local vet at least 3 MONTHS before departure date. Your vet will be able to help you plan all the dates your pet needs to pay them a visit to comply with all the deadlines.
So here is what you need to enter Singapore with dogs from the country list B (which includes Bermuda and Portugal):
Microchip - To be implanted according to international regulations
Rabies vaccination - Depending on the brand, must be valid according to manufactures specifications. Usually your dog will need the first vaccine and a booster at least 30 days later to make sure they comply with the next step
Rabies titer test - To be done at least 30 days after Rabies vaccination, the animal must have an antibody count high enough to be apt to travel. This is a very expensive blood test that has to be sent to specific laboratories and the results take 6 to 8 weeks!
Distemper, Hepatitis and Parvovirus vaccination - To be done at least 2 weeks before traveling according to manufactures specifications.
Internal and external parasite control - Must be done 2 to 7 days prior to traveling and with products specified and approved by the government of Singapore (check links below)
Health Certificate - There is a specific form online for this one that has to be signed by your local vet and then by the official government vet. Your vet fills out the form after examining your pet and the official vet will have to sign and stamp it afterwards, so make sure you have an appointment with the government vet. This certificate is only valid for 7 days.
Dog license in Singapore - This is done online and it is a lot more tricky than you would think. Mainly because you need a local Singaporean phone number to be able to create an account on the website and every-time you login it will send and SMS code that must be entered to access your account. Depending on your timezone this can be quite challenging - I was 11h behind Singapore which meant I had to constantly annoy my friend who had a local phone number at terrible times of the day. You have 60 seconds to enter the code which meant several attempts until I could finally access the account. When you think you have everything you need to apply for this, something goes wrong and you need to start all over... Very frustrating! It is important to understand that Singapore holds restrictions on the number and breed of dogs to be imported. Certain breeds of dogs are banned from the country and if your dog is not neutered/spayed you will have to pay a higher fee and there are restrictions in place. For this license you must have: proof of vaccination, rabies titre test, microchip, certificate of spay/neuter, pictures of your dogs (full body). If you have a dog on the restricted list you must also comply with additional requirements. You must CHOOSE a breed from a drop-down list, so if you have a little rescue mutt like I do you need to pick whatever "breed" they look more like. Bear in mind this information must be present on all their documents and if you choose something like Pittbull or Rotweiller your dog will most likely not be able to travel to most countries in the world... In Fifa's specific case they did not have Red Heeler so I chose another Heeler and it was fine. Once you request this license it takes somewhere between 2 to 5 working days for it to be reviewed and when approved you will receive an email. You will then need to login to the website again and follow the instructions to pay. Once payed it takes about 24h to get the license.
Import permit (live animal import) - This is the official government permit that you need to bring your dog into Singapore. To apply for this one you must have all of the above, which can be a giant pain in terms of timing, especially with the health certificate and parasite treatments. Make sure you keep all your documents in a folder on your computer ready to be uploaded to this website. As above, you require a local phone number and you may have the same problems mentioned before. Once you have uploaded all the documents and information, just as on the previous step you will receive an email stating if there are any rectifications needed. In my case they told me my dog licenses had to be under the same name as the person requesting the permit which meant I had to transfer them from Daniel's name to mine - another headache to have this done online. It is not possible to contact these departments via phone (Daniel tried multiple times and ended up having to physically go there - luckily he was already in the country at this point). Their email reply takes more than a week which is not helpful at all... Anyway, if it is approved you need to make payment online and it will be sent to your email. This permit is valid for 30 days.
Declaration by the captain/authorised airline staff - Again this is a form that you must get online and print to hand over to the staff on the airplane so the captain can sign this document. To be fair nobody asked me for this document but I had it signed just in case. If you hired a pet transport company they should do this step for you. In my case on the first flight the crew was super friendly and helpful (thank you KLM!) and filled it out for me. On the second flight the captain wasn't as friendly, signed the document on the wrong page and refused to sign it where he was supposed to since he "knew" exactly what he was doing. Luckily nobody asked me for this and it turned into a non-issue.
Notification of arrival and booking pet inspection in Singapore - So you are supposed to book this online but the website does not work... Again we tried calling just to be told it has to be done online. Meaning we never did this and I was not charged once arrived in Singapore unlike what they state on their information.
If you comply with a these steps they do not need to quarantine. If you are travelling from a country that requires quarantine you must book it in advance (as in at least 3 months in advance).
And here you go, this is all the paperwork and extremely complicated steps you must follow if you are thinking of bringing your dog to Singapore. I hope this information is helpful, I know I wish someone would have told me this at the time... :) Keep an eye out for the next post where I will tell you about the actual journey from Bermuda to Singapore.