[dropcap letter="W"]hen my husband Gregg and I left San Francisco to pursue a digital nomad lifestyle, we brought our dogs with us: Teddy, a 2 year old Chihuahua, and Zoe, a 5 year old Terrier Mix rescue. Everyone is quite amazed at the fact that we are travelling with our two dogs. Is it difficult? Yes and no. I would imagine that it's certainly not as difficult as it is with small children.
This last October was the first time travelling by plane with our dogs. We flew from California to North Carolina, then from to North Carolina to California and back. We are lucky that both of our dogs are small and handle flights very well.
Flying domestic, for us, has been pretty easy. But what about flying internationally? That's a whole different ball game, but it can be fairly easy, too. If you are flying to Costa Rica, here's a guide on how to swiftly travel with your dog. I will note that we flew with Teddy to Costa Rica. Zoe exceeds the weight limit for in-cabin travel, sadly, we had to leave her with my in-laws. It's not that we didn't want to bring her along, we didn't want her to go through the agony of flying solo in cargo. (I miss her terribly!)
Flying with your dog
Most major airlines will accept dogs as passengers for an average fee of $125-$150*. Dogs under 15 pounds can travel in-cabin; Larger dogs must be booked in cargo in travelling dog crates, and there are some seasonal restrictions. When booking your flight, book your pet as well and be sure to get a locator number associated with your seat for your pet. This is a vital security precaution. It is better for your dog to fly a short distance for his first flight. Asking a dog to travel in a carrier or a cargo crate for eight hours the first time is asking a great deal.
Make sure your pet enters the airport having had a walk and carry all rabies and other pertinent inoculation information with you. Various requirements exist for each airline and various countries. Check these before planning your trip.
Travel Requirements and Process
The great thing, about travelling to Costa Rica with your dog, is that the country does not quarantine healthy pets who meet the requirements. The process is quite easy.
Before you take off for Costa Rica, your dog must be examined by your veterinarian. During the examination, the vet will fill out two Veterinary Health Certificates for Costa Rica, identifying the dog's name, species, breed, sex, and color. The USDA must endorse this certificate. If you are travelling from another country, the Governmental Authority of your country should endorse the forms. A copy of the Rabies Certificate should also be included for endorsement. Mailing off the required items should be done a minimum of 12-days before departure. From first-hand experience, the USDA is is pretty organised and works in a timely manner. (Shocking for a government agency!)
A healthy dog travelling to Costa Rica means that your dog must be free from all infectious and contagious diseases, including rabies. The rabies shot must be no sooner than 30 days prior to departure and no later than one year. The health certificate must also include that the dog has been vaccinated against distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis and parvovirus.
Failure to comply with these regulations will mean that your dog will be refused entry or returned to the country of origin or placed in quarantine, all at the expense of the person responsible for your pet.
Although Costa Rica does not require a dog microchip, I strongly recommend that you microchip your dog prior to travelling.
Arriving in Costa Rica
Once you arrive in Costa Rica, you’ll pass through Customs, places your bags in the x-ray scanner, and your pet will be inspected.
The visual inspection is to see that all dogs must be free of evidence of disease communicable to humans when examined at the port of entry to Costa Rica. If your dog is not in apparent good health, further examination by a licensed veterinarian may be required at your expense. If everything looks good, the inspector will keep one copy of the health certificate. You'll keep the second copy, as you will need this upon departure.
Departing Costa Rica
It is good to mention that the health certificate is valid for only 30-days. If you are planning on staying in Costa Rica longer than 30-days, you will need to do this entire process, but in Costa Rica. A local veterinarian must examine your dog, and fill out an examination report 10-days prior to departure. This examination report must be on business letterhead, signed by the veterinarian, and must include that the animal has been vaccinated against distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis and parvovirus.
When this process is completed, the papers must be forwarded to the Costa Rica Consulate in your area. Upon receipt of that material, the Consulate will prepare Certificate #10-SC, which is filled out by the Consulate; you are not required to fill out this form. Providing that the required health documents are completed properly this certificate will be completed, signed, sealed and sent to you for your departure. Upon departing Costa Rica you will have to complete a form which is supplied by the Department of Health's Department of Zoonosis.
Have you travelled with your dog to and from Costa Rica? Share your experience!
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* Check with your airline for costs.