Those of us who have pets can’t imagine living without them. So, one of the most common questions asked by people looking to buy real estate here is this: Can I bring my dogs and cats to Costa Rica?
The answer is simple: Yes, you can. Fido and Fluffy are welcome. And it is really not that difficult or overly bureaucratic, no quarantine or anything like that is involved.
Traveling with animals is a bit of a hassle. Number one, check your carrier’s policy. American Airlines, for example, stipulates that depending on the animals’ breed, size and requirements, they can travel as a carry-on, or be checked or transported with American Airlines Cargo. With the exception of a few breed restrictions, one can only travel with cats and dogs.
Of course, most animals do not appreciate being cooped up. When we brought our cat from Ottawa to Costa Rica, and had to change planes in Montreal, our vet gave us a tranquilizer for the poor creature that we pushed down his throat just in case. It knocked him out for a good part of the journey.
Traveling with pets to Costa Rica can also be an advantage. Airport personnel are generally aware that caged pets can get restless and smelly after hours of travel; this might get you shunted to the front of the passport control and customs lines.
Here are some of the things you have to do before leaving. Within two weeks of departure, have a vet examine your dogs/cats and find it/them to be healthy and free of any clinical signs of infectious disease. Dogs have to be vaccinated against distemper, hepatitis, Leptospirosis, parvovirus and rabies. Cats have to be vaccinated against rabies.
For those traveling from the USA, the International Certificate (APHIS FORM 7001) for Small Animals should be used. For Canadians, it is the International Certificate for Dogs and Cats, which happens to be in Spanish as well! The health certificate should be made out in duplicate, and does not need to be signed by a Notary Public, or stamped by the Costa Rican Consular office. The official rabies vaccination certificate must accompany the health documents and is valid for the period of the vaccine (one or three years).
Once you get here, the dog/cat and supporting documentation will be inspected and reviewed. If all the documents are in order, no problem. Fido and/or Fluffy will quickly adapt to and be happy in their new home in Costa Rica.