Want to move to Chile but have a pet? Bring it with you! International travel with a pet can be stressful. However, with proper preparation and planning, bringing your pet from the US to Chile can go smoothly. I brought a cat from the US to Chile in August of 2018, so my advice is based on that experience. You can check the US to Chile requirements yourself at this website (always check this website prior to travel as requirements can change without notice).
If you are thinking about moving to Chile within the next few years and you have a pet, be careful and make sure your pet is up-to-date on all vaccines, and specifically rabies. It will make your life much easier if you have planned ahead and kept your pet up-to-date.
Bringing your pet from the US to Chile: What will you need?
1. Rabies Vaccine
Per the Veterinary Health Certificate for Export of Dogs and Cats from the United States of America to Chile: The animal must have been A) vaccinated against rabies, with an approved vaccine, between 30 days and 12 months prior to departure, OR B) subjected to an evaluation analysis of rabies virus neutralizing antibodies, with minimum result of 0.5 IU/ ml, no less than 3 months and not more than 24 months prior to departure.
The rabies vaccine must be given by a licensed veterinarian. With this vaccine, you should receive a certificate, and depending where you live, a rabies tag. Keep these in a safe place because you might need them, especially if the veterinarian doing the health certificate is different from the one who gave the rabies vaccine. As long as this is done between 30 days and 12 months prior to departure, you shouldn’t have any issues and shouldn’t have to deal with any rabies titer testing or anything.
2. Veterinary Health Certificate
Within 10 days of your departure to Chile you must have a veterinarian fill out a health certificate for your pet. The form can be found here.
3. Anti-parasite treatment
Not more than 30 days prior to travel, your animal must be treated for both endo- and ecto- parasites. This includes common internal parasites such as roundworms and hookworms, as well as external parasites such as fleas and ticks. Since the health certificate must be done within 10 days prior to traveling, it makes the most sense to do these treatments at the time of the health certificate.
My cat was treated with: Drontal® Plus (praziquantel/pyrantel pamoate/febantel) which covers internal parasites, and Bravecto® (fluralaner) which takes care of fleas and ticks.
4. Get veterinary health certificate authorized by the USDA
This now appears to be available digitally. When I came to Chile in August of 2018 the certificate had to be verified at the APHIS/USDA office. A lot of states only have one office, so if this must be done in person you may have to travel. I had to make an appointment and show up with the paperwork (no need to bring your pet with you to this appointment), and the official veterinarian looked over the paperwork, signed it, and put a textured stamp on the document. It cost around $30. If you can complete this step online it should save you a lot of time. There are specific instructions for this online process on the USDA website.
Note: This step is done AFTER your regular veterinarian fills out the health certificate.
5. Reserve a spot for your pet on the airplane
If you are bringing a cat or a small dog you can reserve a spot for your pet in the cabin with you. The carrier will need to fit under the seat in front of you. You may need to call the airline to get the measurements, as it can very from plane to plane. There isn’t an option to do reserve this while booking your ticket. Immediately after you book you will need to call the airline to reserve a spot for your pet. They only let a certain number of pets on board per flight. There is a fee for this. I flew Delta and paid the $200 fee when I arrived at the airport for my flight.
There is a law in Chile that requires all pets to have a microchip. Each pet must also be registered with the government. Your veterinarian in Chile can help you with this registration process. I’m not 100% sure if pets are required to have a microchip before entering Chile or not. However, if you are bringing a pet from the US to Chile, I strongly suggest doing this to avoid any hassle with customs and also in the event your pet escapes in the airport during travel.
What to do when you arrive
When you arrive at the Santiago airport you will go through passport control and everything as usual. They won’t ask you about the animal until you get to customs, where you put your luggage through an X-ray. Here they will look over and take the health certificate. I didn’t realize they were going to keep the original copy, so they made a copy for me. You can save yourself the time of waiting for a copy by bringing your own copy for your records. The PDI/SAG customs officials at the airport didn’t give me any trouble and didn’t really even ask any questions. I would say the whole process only added about 5-10 minutes to my travel time within the airport.
Shameless opinion: If you have a pet and want to move to Chile, either bring it with you or leave it with friends/family who will love and take care of the animal. Pets are a responsibility and a commitment – not something to be cast aside because you have other plans. If your only option is to leave your pet in a shelter, then don’t move to Chile.
Did I miss anything/Do you have anything to add? Let me know!