Getting current and reliable information regarding real-life logistics of bringing your pet to Ecuador can be a bit daunting. So I thought I’d share details provided to me by some friends who recently (May 2012) moved to Ecuador from the US with their three dogs (1 extra large, 2 small). I’ll focus on dogs here but I assume that the same general rules would apply to cats as well.
Please note: Ecuador’s rules and requirements can and DO change so be sure to triple check everything before leaving your home country with your pets!
It basically boils down to this: there are 2 options for bringing in dogs (1) as cargo and (2) as baggage. I’ll go over those in a second but we’ll start off with the general requirements for bringing in pets to Ecuador.
GENERAL PET REGULATIONS AND REQUIREMENTS
As the law currently stands, you are allowed to bring two dogs per person. There is apparently a new rule in place too that if you bring more than 2 dogs then a special permit is required. I was told that it in this case, it would be easier to pay a friend to fly down as your surrogate pet parent to avoid the permit process.
There are 3 steps for fulfilling the basic paperwork for traveling with your pet:
- Get your vet to fill out an international health certificate that verifies that your pet is up-to-date with its shots, etc.
- Send the health certificate to the USDA for their endorsement.
- Send the endorsed health certificate to the Ecuadorian consulate to be legalized.
Here are the nuts and bolts of this process:
You are required to bring an international health certificate filled out by your vet not more than 10 days in advance of your arrival to Ecuador. Be sure to ask your vet before making your appointment whether they are accredited by the APHIS USDA to fill out the form; if they are not, then they need to refer you to a vet who is. Each pet must have its own certification completed which will be linked to its owner’s passport name. Double check with the Ecuadorian Consul office closest to you for any updates on requirements, shots, external and internal parasites.
The international health certificate must then be sent to the APHIS USDA nearest you for certification. Generally speaking you must set up an appointment in advance. However, as in the recent case of my friends with the 3 dogs, their closest USDA was out-of-state so they sent their health certificates to their area office via overnight FedEx with the USDA’s prior notification and approval. This certification cost $37 per pet.
This certified form then must then be legalized at the nearest Ecuadorian consulate and costs $50 per pet. If the nearest office is far away, you may again use a courier service and include a prepaid mailer to have it returned to you. Our friends actually included two prepaid mailers when they sent their certificates to the USDA (one to the Ecuadorian consulate, the other to their own address) so that the once the USDA certified the health certificate, they mailed it direct to the consulate and then the consulate sent it back to their home address. Again, make sure to notify the consulate in advance so they are expecting your paperwork. **Important: The stamped certification it’s only good for 10 days** so plan accordingly!
You will also need to provide the airlines with a separate vet certification for each dog. You will present these when you check in for your flight. If you’re flying on multiple airlines, each will require these so make sure you have enough for your route. The certifications are also required for domestic flights within Ecuador. In the case of our friends, they needed three certificates for each dog (2 in the US since they flew on both Delta and Copa Airlines and then a third for their flight from Quito to Manta).
CARGO VERSUS BAGGAGE
There are two ways to bring dogs in to the country. One is via air cargo. Our friends spent a lot of time talking with professional pet relocation companies and they all recommended not going this route if possible. However, due to temperature restrictions (85 degrees F), dog weights, and heights for certain airlines, etc. it may be the only choice some people may have.
If you go with the cargo option, get in touch with Sandra (Sandy) Baquero who is a highly recommended customs agent who will explain the process to you, check your cargo bookings, and help you to get in to see your beloved(s) while they are being cleared through customs and agricultural departments. Another friend of ours used Sandy’s services in April 2012 and was very pleased. She arrived to Quito at 9:17pm and her dogs were released to her before 5pm the following day. Note: We know other folks who had to wait several days before their dogs were released.
The option most recommended for traveling with your pet is on your flight either as checked baggage or in-cabin if possible (in-cabin weight including the carrier restricted to 20 lbs). The reason this option is recommended instead of cargo is that your dog will arrive as your personal baggage and thus will go through airport customs, not cargo customs meaning there is no 24 hour hold and no customs agent required to get your dog through.
Our friends sent their extra large dog as checked baggage and their 2 small dogs in-cabin in carriers that fit below their seats.
Our friends bypassed the temperature restrictions for their large dog Bela by flying at a time of year before Delta airline’s temperature restrictions were in place for their Seattle-Miami flight. However, Delta’s restriction was already in effect for their Miami-Quito flight so they switched airlines to Copa whose temperature restriction had yet to go into effect.
For Bela’s size, US regulations required her to travel in an extra large 700-series crate required by US regulations from Seattle to Miami. However, Copa Airlines restricted crate height to a 500-series carrier (and 100 lbs) for their Miami-Quito flight. Our friends worked around this restriction by cargoing a 500-series crate as extra baggage and then switching Bela to that one before checking in for their Miami-Quito flight (leaving the larger crate behind at the airport). They overnighted in the Miami airport which gave them time for a break between flights.
Other Pet Policies
Just as with temperature and size restrictions, different airlines have differing policies regarding making flight reservations for your pet. Our friends chose Delta Airlines because they allow dog reservations to be made 14 days in advance while other airlines allowed only 48 hours.
Check on everything before you book your flight as timing is everything and you don’t want to get bumped from a flight and have your health certificate run out before your arrival date. Also, you can check on each flight to make sure your dog has boarded too.
A very clear and succinct description (and they have a cat in case you have any cat-specific questions).
A place to learn more and submit your own questions (a pet relocation website)
More helpful details from Gary Scott’s site (regarding taxes, breed restrictions, etc.)