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19 May 2016
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Expat Living

With advance planning, moving your pet to Costa Rica is as straightforward as moving ever gets. Horses, snakes, reptiles and other “exotic” pets may require import permits and have specialized requirements. Check and re-check with Costa Rican officials before departure; requirements may change without advance notice.

If you’re willing for your bird to stay in Costa Rica permanently with or without you, you can even bring your bird. Under no circumstances are avian exports allowed. 

Registered, purebred animals will need a letter or purchase receipt that states market value. Although it’s not required, you may want to microchip your pets.

Your vet must prepare an international health certificate (APHIS FORM 7001) in duplicate that states your pet is healthy and shows no clinical signs of infectious disease. Include a Spanish translation for extra assurance that all will go smoothly, with a rabies vaccination certificate and record of all other shots. Dogs need current distemper, hepatitis, Leptospirosis, parvovirus and rabies vaccinations. Cats need vaccinations for feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, panleukopenia (FVRCP) and rabies. 

The veterinary exam must be within two weeks of your departure. Your pet must have been vaccinated for rabies more than 30 days and less than a year before its arrival in Costa Rica. Other vaccinations must have been done within the 30 days prior to arrival. The rabies vaccination certificate must accompany the health certificate endorsed by a veterinarian at an area office of the U.S.D.A.’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Veterinary Services. Visit Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and select “Travel with my pet” on the right side, to find an office near you.

Consular officials don’t have to stamp health certificates and the certificates don’t have to be notarized. You don’t need blood titer tests to check the level of blood antibodies. 

Check with the airline for its requirements; policies and procedures vary. If your pets accompany you as checked baggage, you don’t need a pet quarantine permit. If your pets arrive later or on a different flight, you’ll need an import permit from the Ministerio de Agricultura y Ganaderia and proof of Pet Customs Duty payment. Officials may quarantine your pet up to 24 hours for more paperwork and inspections. 

It’s very important you meet all requirements or officials will return or euthanize your pets. Check with HRG staff or your Realtor for help finding pet relocation experts.