We’re off, sort of…
After the initial shock of moving to England faded and the thought of a new life in a far off land slowly sank in, we began the daunting task of preparing for the big move. My wife’s pragmatic and attention to detail persona went into full overdrive. Where before in other situations she could be a little (let’s just leave it at overbearing), this time her skills were essential. If not for her, we would not have been able to make the move. I, having come up with the idea, felt that my part was done.
Being highly organized, thorough, and detail minded are a few of the absolutely necessary traits you need in order to move a whole family to another country, which Mishele has in ample supply. My first recommendation is to marry someone who has these characteristics. If that is not an option, then my second recommendation is to adopt some organization skills, fast. Ex-patriating with a family is very different than going alone or with a partner. Children and pets add a whole other dimension to the problem.
First, let me talk about pets. If you are not overly attached to Fido, then leave him at home with someone. You will decrease your stress and money considerably, especially the money. On the other hand, if Fido is just a fury, short member of the family, as my wife firmly believes, then you need to educate yourself on traveling with a dog. For some reason, dogs are much more excepted in Europe, as a general rule, than in the U.S. However, getting them there is the hassle.
The U.K. government is VERY particular on the process they require to bring the “fur-person” into England. Here is a brief outline of the steps:
1. Take your dog to the vet to get the rabies vaccine booster shot, EVEN IF YOU ALREADY HAVE DONE THIS. This needs to be done at least 3 months prior to departure.
2. While at the vet, have your dog implanted with the European microchip, which is different than the U.S. one.
3. At least 30 days after the vaccine, but less than 90 days, have the vet draw a blood sample.
4. Ship the blood sample to the Kansas State University Veterinarian Hospital Rabies Laboratory for analysis. KSU is the ONLY laboratory in the U.S. that the U.K. recognizes for the blood test. They will test for the actual rabies antibodies in the dog’s blood, called a titer. You will receive the results with a time stamp (very important).
* Note: The blood sample must be shipped on dry ice overnight (at your expense of course).
* Note: The U.K. may now only be accepting results from 2 laboratories in the U.K. (defer to the DEFRA website)
5. The dog remains in quarantine for 3 months from the time stamp on the KSU lab results.
* The quarantine was 6 months, but has luckily been reduced in half.
* Note: The dog does not need to stay in isolation during “quarantine,” merely not allowed out of the U.S. during this time period.
6. While in quarantine status, apply for an International Health Certificate with your state’s Department of Agriculture. Your vet may have this paperwork. If not, you must request it from the USDA.
7. Within 48 hours, you MUST have your vet stamp the International Health Certificate, called a Federal Endorsement, for the airlines. Without the stamp, the airlines WILL NOT allow the dog to fly. Also, your vet must give and certify that the dog was administered the tape-worm treatment 1 to 5 days before departure.
*Tip: print out the instructions for the form for your vet. Most vets do not fill it out correctly, which will cause huge problems.
8. Arrange for your pet to travel to the U.K. Note, DOGS CAN ONLY FLY INTO THE U.K. VIA AIR CARGO, not on board your plane. Therefore, you must pick-up your dog at an air cargo site near Heathrow Airport within 24 hours after landing. You must arrange all of this yourself.
*Note: You must provide an approved air cargo animal shipping container for your pet. It must be large enough that the animal can get up and turn around inside, like this one. You MAY NOT tranquilize your pet or the airlines will not take him. Also, do not feed your pet within 24 hours of flying as he will not have the opportunity to relieve himself in flight.
*Tip: Tape extra copies of your pet’s paperwork in a clear plastic sleeve to the outside of the container.
*Note: Some smaller U.K. airports do not have a pet microchip scanner,which will cause delays upon arrival.
*Note: Airlines will not allow animals to fly if the airport temperature is above 84° F.
*Tip: Have a reliable kennel standing by to take your dog and ship it for you if problems occur. There are kennels that provide this service just for international travelers.
So there you have it, easy!
Yes, we are very glad that we took Albie. Despite the added work, we were all happy to have him join us. We know that he was happier to be with his family too. I don’t think that he really understood or appreciated the concept of international travel, though.