So you want to move to Costa Rica? What a wonderful idea! Of course, you’ll want to bring your whole family, which means pets too! This is a guide to help walk you through the process of moving to Costa Rica with pets.
The first thing you’ll want to do is talk to your veterinarian. He or she will help your pets get their required vaccines and paperwork before you leave. Both dogs and cats are required by the Costa Rican government to be examined and found to be healthy and free of any clinical signs of infectious disease within two weeks of your departure date. This examination must be conducted by a licensed veterinarian. You will receive a good health certificate, endorsed by a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), Veterinary Services (VS) veterinarian. Your veterinarian should know all about this and have these forms at his or her office.
In addition to your good health certificate, you must also have proof of rabies vaccine for both dogs and cats. Dogs require current vaccinations against distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parvovirus and rabies. Cats must be vaccinated against rabies. You should have at least one duplicate copy of the good health certificate, in addition, it is recommended to have multiple copies of both the good health certificate and proof of the rabies vaccine, as these are the two most important documents.
If your dog or cat takes any medication, be sure to take extra with you before moving to Costa Rica with pets. There are plenty of good veterinarians in Costa Rica, but finding the right one for you and your pet may take time. It’s a good idea to have all the things to keep your dog or cat comfortable before you make your move.
The next thing to consider is which airline you and your pets will fly with to Costa Rica. This will depend on your departure location. Continental and JetBlue are two airlines that feature pet programs for flying with your pets. You’ll want to look into a few things before selecting your airline.
First off, call several airlines to see what their policies are on flying with pets. Smaller pets, like cats and small dogs, can usually stay with you in the cabin, and their carrier can count as one of your carry-on items. Check the size limitations of your airline and make sure your travel kennel is within that limit.
If you have a larger dog, he or she will have to go with the checked luggage. Make sure to find out if the airplane can accommodate live animals in the cargo hull. This means the cargo hull will have to be pressurized. Another thing to consider when moving to Costa Rica with pets is the temperature. Since the cargo hull is not heated or air conditioned, speak with your airline representative about the best time to fly with your dog. If your dog, plus your travel crate, weighs more than 100 lbs, you may have to make special arrangements for your dog, and he or she may have to be on a different plane than you. This can be expensive, so make sure to call around to several airlines to find the best option for your furry friend. Also, if your dog is too large to stay with you in the cabin, speak with your veterinarian about how to make your dog comfortable during his or her crated adventure. If your dog is already crate trained, this will be much easier, but don’t worry if you four-legged buddy isn’t crate trained – it’s never too late for an old dog to learn new tricks! And just remember to make sure your crate meets international airline standards.
Once you land in San Jose or Liberia, Costa Rica, it will be a breeze to go through customs with your good health certificate and proof of rabies vaccine in order. If your flight lands between 8am and 4pm, it will be even easier to exit the airport, as all services are fully staffed at this time. Your dog or cat will be inspected and reviewed by customs in Costa Rica. Once you’re through customs, you’ll be out the door and living in your new Costa Rican home, in no time!