Traveling to South Africa with your pet

Traveling to South Africa with your pet
Updated 2014-07-01 14:41

A pet is often considered as a family member. So if you are traveling to South Africa, you will probably want it to accompany you. Find out how to proceed...

Expats who intend to spend a long time in South Africa, including those staying on extended work visas, might be reluctant to leave their pets behind. Small animals such as cats and dogs can be as important as other members of the family, and affection between owners and pets can be very strong. Anyone who wants to travel to South Africa with their pets, including dogs and cats, will need to make sure that they fully understand the responsibilities of bringing a pet into a foreign country, and also make sure that they have completed the essential paperwork required by immigration. These will differ for other types of animals.


The first regulation which travellers will need to have before they can bring pets into South Africa is an import permit, available from the Director of Animal Health. Pets which are travelling from countries which share a border with South Africa will need to have a Movement Permit, but other travellers will have to apply for a full importation permit from the Directorate of Animal Health. This must be followed by depositing R110 into the department of agriculture, which will acknowledge payment when the permit application is returned. In addition, dogs and cats will have to have a Health certificate after examination by a vet in their country of origin. This will include blood tests to exclude conditions such as distemper. The owners must fill in a form provided by the Department of Agriculture.


The quarantine regulations around some animals change regularly, and this particularly applies to dogs. Many countries are now allowed to bring dogs into South Africa without quarantine, but other locations, including China, Japan, Korea, India, the UAE, Mexico and Brazil, need to have their dogs in quarantine for 14 days before they are allowed to enter South Africa. Other countries, with the exception of rabies-exempt states such as the UK, New Zealand and Australia, need to have a rabies vaccination not less than one month before arrival in South Africa. In addition, officials at the port of entry must be notified of pets which need to be quarantined due to lack of paperwork. Owners will have to fill in application forms before the pets are taken into quarantine.

New laws also mean that any type of pet coming into South Africa will have to be microchipped. This is a specific type of microchip, often called a 15-digit ISO chip. Pets which have already had a microchipped, but are not ISO compliant must come with their own scanner.


Expats coming into South Africa with their pets will need to submit a pair of documents when they arrive. This will include: a copy of the expats passport; proof that the pet has been microchipped; record of vaccination (which is less than one year and more than 30 days before landing in South Africa), and a veterinary International Health Certificate. Pets may be brought either as baggage with the owner, or as unaccompanied cargo.

Useful Links:

South Africa Government Services
Application forms for import permits
Importing pets to SA ' SA Consulate in New York
Pet travel

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