Importing Pets and Animals to the Red Flag Countries

Bringing the four legged members of the family with you on a cruise is relatively easy if you remain in US or Canadian waters, but the moment you venture further afield there are a whole new set of requirements that you have to meet. Failure to do so can result in your pet being confiscated and sent home or destroyed, all at your expense depending on where you are.

There are a couple of rules to remember:

  1. It is a foreign country, their foreign country, so their rules apply. Arguing with them is worse than counter-productive; it can be absolutely detrimental to achieving your aim of getting your furry or feathered friend in.
  2. In all cases the process is something that has to be started well in advance, in some cases as much as 6 months in order to get all the tests and lab work done.

In the case of Bermuda it is necessary to get an import permit even for visiting animals and obtaining that permit is a multi step and laborious process.

For NARC participants there are a couple of websites that contain all the necessary information, but the first major step a pet owner would be required to take is to find a good vet who is knowledgeable of the process and prepared to do the work. It is definitely not something that you could "do it yourself!"

Bermuda Entry

Click to View Bermuda Rules

BVI Entry

Click to View BVI Rules

A common first step if you have not done so already is to get you animal micro-chipped. This is the procedure where the vet injects a small chip between the shoulder blades of the animal where it will remain unnoticed for the rest of its life but will allow someone with the right equipment to scan the animal and will provide proof that it is the one for which the documentation applies. It is much more accurate than tattoos which was the old way of tracking animals since tattoos can be erased and duplicated.  All subsequent tests will be recorded against that microchip number, and that way another animal couldn't be substituted.

The websites have a list of diseases that must be inoculated against and then time must be allowed to pass so that the animal can build up the necessary antibodies to fight those ailments. The usual timeframe is at least a month. Then blood is taken and sent off to a lab to confirm the presence of those antibodies. This will take more time and some of the tests involve growing things in a culture.

Once the lab sends the successful results back to the vet, he or she must then sign an affidavit attesting to the fact that the animal is healthy and passes the necessary requirements for entry into the country.

You'd think that would be it, but wait….you’re not done yet!

This information including all the health documents has to be sent to the Bermuda Department of Environmental Protection with a request for an Import Permit to be issued. This document, once issued has a 10 day life cycle. That is to say, you must get the animal into Bermuda within 10 days of the issue of the permit or else you may as well have not bothered. Fun, eh?

In the case of the NARC from Newport to St George’s that shouldn’t be a problem since the trip should take 5 days, but it means that once we get the weather briefer’s go ahead, we then have to rush to the vet’s to get the document signed by them and sent to Bermuda and wait for them to fax back the permit. Alternatively we could get all of it done with a 1 November departure date in mind and keep our fingers crossed that there won’t be too much of a weather delay.