Updated last year

Having your beloved furry friends with you can facilitate your adjustment to a new environment, especially if you have children. If you are informed and follow correct formalities and procedures it’s not too complicated, and South Africa is quite welcoming towards pets. You are thus advised to inquire about these before getting started.

Note, however, that dogs coming from some countries have to be quarantined upon their arrival into the country.

South African formalities for importation of your Pet

First of all, an import authorisation (a veterinary import permit) is required for all pets travelling to South Africa, whether or not it is liable to be quarantined. This document has to be requested from the Director of Animal Health and must be accompanied by your pet's health certificate and pet passport. Application can be made either by post mail, e-mail or fax. The form is available online at the Department of Agriculture Forestry & fisheries (DAFF).

Note that fees of ZAR 140 apply to each permit (per pet). These will be indicated following submission of the application. Feel free to call relevant the authorities within two weeks following application.

 Useful address:

Director of Animal Health
Private Bag X138
Pretoria 0001
Fax : 011 27 12 329-8292
E-mail: vetpermits@daff.gov.za

Vaccination and microchip

Like elsewhere in the world, cats and dogs traveling to South Africa must be fitted with an identification microchip that is compliant with ISO 11784/11785 norms. In case the microchip has a different reference code, your pet must be in possession of its own microchip reader on its arrival in the country.

Take note: Rabies exists in South Africa, which can affect your plans if you leave the country in the future. Before entering South Africa, of course, rabies vaccination is compulsory.. The vaccine must be administered at least 30 days and not more than 12 months prior to the scheduled travel date. Dogs, for their part, have to undergo a blood test so as to screen for the presence of bacteria and parasites such as brucella canis, trypanosoma evansi, babesiosis, heart worm and leishmania. In case these are present, appropriate treatments have to be provided to the dog. Otherwise, it may be prohibited from entering South Africa.

On the other hand, less than 3 month-old cats and dogs do not have to be vaccinated against rabies. But, they are only allowed into the country if their mother has been vaccinated between 30 days and 12 months prior to their birth. They can then be vaccinated in South Africa once they are three months old, after which a vaccination certificate will have be produced to South African animal health authorities.

Upon your pet's arrival in South Africa

Upon your arrival in the country, you will have to produce your pet's import authorization to the customs authorities. If documents have been duly filled and signed, cats are not quarantined. The same applies to dogs, unless relevant documents have not be properly filled. In this case, they will be quarantined for at least 14 days. Note that dogs coming from the following countries are exempt from quarantine:

Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Botswana, Bulgaria, Comoros, Canada, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Lesotho, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malawi, Malta, Namibia, Norway, New Zealand, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Reunion, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland, Sweden, Swaziland, United Kingdom, USA, and Zimbabwe.

 Good to know :

Dogs that have to be quarantined must arrive into South Africa either at the Johannesburg airport or at that of Cape Town. Pets (dogs and cats) which do not have to be quarantined can also land at the Durban airport. Pets are not allowed at other airports and border posts.

 Useful links:

Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries
Information document on the importation of dogs and cats into the RSA
Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries – Application to import dogs and cats subject to quarantine
Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries: forms to download
Detailed information about requirements

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.