Ruth Vahle
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How to Bring Your Pet to China | Expat Guide

In addition my friends' experiences, I’ve shipped my dog (a golden retriever!) from the U.S. to Asia. Hopefully by sharing my own experience, you can get a better understanding of what it takes to ship your pet to China, how much it can cost and what you need to know.

Requirements | Bring Your Pet to China

China, like most other countries, has a number of different requirements in order to import your dog or cat. These requirements include:

  1. Proof of Rabies Vaccination: Your pet should already have this vaccination, but you’ll need proof.
  2. Vet-Approved Health Certificate: We had to get a health certificate for our dog, and that had to be completed no more than a week prior to my dog’s flight.
  3. China Export Documentation: This documentation comes from your home country for importing your dog or cat to China.
  4. Mandatory Quarantine: Unfortunately, your pet will have to spend between 7-30 days in quarantine upon entering China (time dependent on the rabies status of the country from which the pet is imported).

Keep in mind that there are limits on how many pets you can bring. You can only bring one pet per one adult with a work visa, and in most cities like Beijing, you can only register one pet per address. For most animals, the import is considered commercial.

Note that bigger dogs (taller than 14 inches or 35 cm) and 41 specific breeds that are deemed violent are banned from Beijing’s city center. So your golden retriever may be too big to live within the fifth ring road. Bulldogs and other breeds are not allowed at all. Check here for a list of dog breeds that aren’t allowed in Beijing.

Dogs need to be registered in Beijing, as with many other major cities in China. You can register only one dog per household address, so you may need a friend’s address if you have more than one dog. Detailed information about registering your pet in Beijing can be found on the International Center for Veterinary Services in China.

This is China, so regulations seem to change often and even differ by point of entry, so best check with a company that specializes in international pet travel or relocation. In my case, I used a pet relocation service in Texas, U.S.A. (my home city) that helped with all the paperwork. It was more expensive, but it was so much easier.

Consider How to Get Your Pet Back Home

Truth be told, my Australian friend’s next headache will be to get their furry family member back home once his assignment in Beijing is completed. Australia doesn’t consider China a safe country for pets to come from. And for such “unapproved countries” special import requirements apply, including a long quarantine apply.

The important point to note here is that there are special regulations to consider for bringing your pets back home. Here are websites with more info with the following countries:

Bringing a pet back to Europe is easier. Most European countries require a blood titer test to confirm antibodies against rabies if your pet comes from a high rabies country like China. The test is performed in Switzerland, so a blood sample is sent around the world.

In most cases you’ll find that your pet needs a rabies vaccination, a checkup from a certified China veterinarian, a microchip (which needs to be implanted before the vaccination) and other paperwork. Adhering to the required timeline between vaccination, blood test and travel requires some advance planning, so start your research early to avoid quarantine.

The US requires rabies vaccination and for dogs proof of screwworm treatment when coming from China. Compared to Australia, very straightforward and easy.

So before you decide to bring your dog or cat to China, you need to find out how difficult it will be to bring you pet home, or on to your next assignment, after spending time in China. This will differ for all countries. Of course the same applies for a pet you adopt here.

How Much Does Pet Relocation Cost?

The cost of having your pet come with you to China will vary by type and size of animal, country of origin, use of a professional pet moving company etc.

For example, if you’re shipping a large breed dog to China from the United States using a pet relocation service, you can expect to pay as much as US$5,000. Smaller breeds are obviously cheaper as would be arranging all the shipping/paperwork yourself.

No matter what method or country, you should budget at least a couple thousand dollars to bring your pet to China.

If you are sent to China by your company they will usually pay for relocating your spouse, kids and household items. For pets however, you’ll typically have to pay yourself.

Consider the Costs for You and Your Pet

Given the cost and the stress for the animal and also the quarantine requirements, it only makes sense to bring your furry friend if you are staying in China for a longer period of time. It also matters whether your dog or cat is healthy. Get all the information about importing and exporting your pet before making the decision.

Some pets are skittish and would likely be traumatized by such an international trip. You also need to think about what it will be like to have a pet in China. For example, let’s say you want to get away for a little while to see other parts of Asia. Who is going to watch your pet while you’re gone?

In some cases, it would be better to leave your dog with friends and family until you return.

I realize that your pet might be a part of your family, and the thought of leaving them behind is crazy. Consider their health, though, and make sure it’s a good idea both for your pocketbook as well as their well-being.

Final Thoughts | Pet Relocation to China

I’ve relocated my pet to Asia and it was worth it for the sake of my wife and kids. My dog survived the trip without any issue and we got through quarantine quickly. I won’t lie, though…it cost me a lot of money.

Hopefully my experience has given you a bit more information and maybe put your mind at ease. It’s possible but there’s definitely a lot of prep work that needs to be done to make it happen.

What is your experience with bringing your pet to China? Please share in the comments so other dog and cat lovers can learn from you!

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