Don't Leave Fido or Fluffy at Home: Traveling with Pets to Argentina

Cocoa by katiealley on Flickr

Moving to Argentina does not mean that you have to leave behind your pets! Fortunately, traveling with pets to Argentina isn't as difficult as you might imagine. Of course, there are some hoops to jump through.

First, you must make arrangements for your pet to accompany you onboard the aircraft. Some airlines will allow you to travel with your pet in the cabin but others do not, e.g. American Airlines. My two cats rode in steerage with the luggage, and they made it just fine. American Airlines charges a fee of $150 per animal [one way] – check with your particular carrier for rules and fees. Click here for a partial list of carriers and links to their policies about shipping pets (scroll to the bottom of the page).

Be advised that the airlines do not allow pets to travel in the belly of the plane if the temperature is forecast to exceed 85ºF at any point on the itinerary; if so, the animals will be denied boarding. Even traveling in October as I did, temperatures topping out at 85º+ F were a concern in Houston, Atlanta and Miami (layover options when leaving from Philadelphia), so I decided the best option to ensure that my furry friends would be accompanying me was to book a non-stop flight from New York City to Buenos Aires. I couldn't chance it that the cats would be denied boarding since the cost to send them as "cargo" on a separate flight would have been about $675 for the two of them (gulp!).

Next, let's take a look at the requirements and paperwork necessary to bring your pet along for the ride. The complete, official pet admission guidelines for Argentina can be found here at the SENASA website; the following is a summary of the requirements.

Fortunately, there is no quarantine for cats and dogs entering Argentina (under normal circumstances – in other words – for animals in good health and with proper documentation). Documentation about the health of your pet is provided by means of the International Health Certificate. This document should be obtained from your veterinarian (check with your vet to make sure that he/she is certified by the USDA - APHIS [United States Department of Agriculture - Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service] to issue this certificate).

In addition to the International Health Certificate, you must provide evidence that your pet has been vaccinated against rabies. If your pet is over 90 days old, he/she must have had the rabies vaccine less than one year prior to the date of entry in Argentina but no less than 30 days before the date of entry into Argentina.

Once your veterinarian has completed the International Health Certificate, the form must be sent along with the rabies vaccination record to the USDA - APHIS office in your state capital for endorsement. The catch is that the vet exam/issuance of the International Health Certificate and USDA endorsement must all be completed no more than 10 days prior to entry into Argentina, so careful planning is required to ensure that all documentation is finalized before your departure. Most likely you will have to express mail the documents or personally present them in the USDA - APHIS office in order to complete all of the documentation in a timely manner; time is of the essence!

In addition, it is recommended that the documents be apostilled and translated into Spanish. In my personal experience, I found that the apostille alone was sufficient. I obtained the apostille from the Department of State office in my state capital. Once you have cut through all of this bureaucratic red tape, you are ready to travel with your pet!

Upon arrival at the airport in Buenos Aires, you will pick up your pets in the baggage area if they didn't travel in the cabin, and you will be directed to meet with a SENASA (the Argentine version of the USDA) official who will review your documentation. After paying a small fee, you're free to begin your adventure in Argentina with your pets!

If all of this just sounds too complicated, there is the alternative proposed by the satirical news source The Onion: "Before leaving home, take your pets to local humane society and have them put to sleep; get new pets when you come back." :p

Additional helpful links about travel with pets:
Argentina.gov website - Admission of Pets into Argentina
IATA (International Air Transport Association) - Recommendations for shipping a cat or dog

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