Making the move to Beijing isn’t complete without your furry companion. We’ve done a lot of digging to find out how best to do it, but use this as a guide only. Pet owners are strongly encouraged to research the latest rules and regulations.
requirements bringing pets to china
One pet per passport is allowed into China. Passport holders need to hold a Z visa (employment visa) to import a pet. Owners must prepare the following documents:
• An official certificate of recent rabies vaccination. Vaccination must be no more than 12 months old and at least 30 days prior to entry.
• An official certificate from your country of origin for exporting your pet. Each country has a different procedure. To confirm which government agency oversees this process in your country, ask your vet or a relocation company. In Hong Kong, it is the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department; in Singapore, it is the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore.
• A health certificate (or letter) prepared by a vet, attesting to the health of your pet.
quarantine in beijing
In China, the Entry/Exit Inspection & Quarantine Bureau oversees all animals for import and export in China. The bureau requires a 30-day quarantine for pets arriving in China. Some Chinese cities may be lax about this rule, but the government is stepping up enforcement. Occasionally, diplomatic passport holders are given the courtesy of a 30-day quarantine at home, but there are no guarantees. In cities less strict about the mandatory quarantine, relocation companies have been able to reduce the quarantine period significantly. Officially, owners are not permitted to see their pets during quarantine by the China Inspection and Quarantine (CIQ).
In preparation for quarantine, owners should consider vaccinating their pet for kennel cough at least two weeks before departure.
arrival in china
After quarantine, owners should bring their pet to a vet for a routine check-up. Not all of Beijing’s veterinary hospitals are legally registered with the Chinese government to provide rabies vaccinations. Your vet should have a large gold plaque with Chinese characters on it that reads: 动物狂犬病免疫注射定点单位. Furthermore, only Chinese veterinarians are licensed to practice and administer shots in China. Relocating within China or leaving the country with your pet requires an official Beijing Animal Health and Immunity Certificate (a red booklet listing your pet’s vaccinations) from an official animal hospital. Choose a hospital wisely and stay with them; it’ll help keep your paperwork in order if you need to relocate again with your pet.
As the only legally registered full-service, fully-owned foreign animal hospital in northern China, the International Center for Veterinary Services (ICVS) comes highly recommended. The international staff speaks both English and Mandarin. In addition to veterinary services, ICVS also provides boarding and day care services, as well as grooming, obedience training and a well-stocked pet store. Owners can also take their pets to the legally registered Guan Shang Animal Hospital (Chinese-speaking only).
registering dogs in china
In accordance with Beijing law, all dogs must be registered and vaccinated against rabies annually (three-year vaccinations in other countries are not recognized by China). Owners found with unregistered dogs face a RMB 2,000 fine, plus the initial registration fee. A registered dog is provided with a dog license – an ID card with information about the dog and owner.
Each year, registration begins on May 1 and lasts until early July. Dog owners arriving in China outside the official registration period should contact the local Public Security Bureau (PSB) about registration. For dogs that are already registered, owners have a one-month window from May 1 to May 31 to renew their dog’s registration. Registration completed in the summer of 2011 is valid until April 30, 2012.
Because the registration process varies among districts, dog owners should visit their local police station (paichusuo 派出所) for complete instructions. For an initial visit, it is recommended you bring the following: the dog, two passport-size photos of your dog (front head shot), your passport and residency permit, your lease agreement or property title document, permission from your neighborhood watch committee (juweihui 居委会), and cash.
First-time registration does not require proof of a rabies vaccination, but those renewing must bring an official vaccination immunity certificate. Also, microchipping is not required in China. The initial registration fee within Beijing’s eight major districts (Dongcheng, Xicheng, Chongwen, Xuanwu, Chaoyang, Haidian, Fengtai, Shijingshan) is RMB 1,000 and annual registration renewal is RMB 500 each subsequent year. Registration fees and procedures differ for areas outside Fifth Ring Road, so owners should contact their local PSB for details.
Owners with large dogs and/or multiple dogs should be aware of the one-dog-per-household rule and height restrictions for dogs in Beijing. While owners are restricted to registering one dog to their household, it is worth noting that the dog is registered to an address, not a person. Also, dogs within the Fifth Ring must be below 35cm (shoulder to floor). However, some dogs over 50cm have been known to pass height requirements.
Owners with dogs that have been neutered or spayed may receive up to 50 percent off the initial registration fee, provided the veterinary hospital is a registered and licensed animal hospital in Beijing. For a discounted rabies vaccination, bring the dog registration receipt and dog license to a legally registered and licensed animal hospital in Beijing. See upcoming articles for more information on keeping pets in Beijing.
Owners: Nik Fogle and Jennifer Thomé
Pet: Cat (10 years old)
Country of origin: US
Total cost of relocation: USD 400 (including USD 250 to transport her via plane)
Airline: Korean Air
In the fall of 2010, Kitty was relocated from Los Angeles to Beijing. Owner Nik Fogle began researching the process three months prior to departure. It was a relatively easy process, taking around two weeks, so Fogle chose to forego the assistance of a relocation company. Also, his vet was both knowledgeable and helpful.
Two weeks before departure, a local vet examined the cat before giving them a completed APHIS 7001 form. It is best to check the best time to have an exit health examination, as often this is dependent on the destination country. Also, if a certificate is expired by even one minute, they might not let you through. The APHIS 7001 form, along with Kitty’s rabies vaccination form (she had been vaccinated three months prior), was brought to the local USDA office, where a USDA veterinarian reviewed the papers and certified the cat for import into China. For up-to-date requirements for exporting a pet from the US, check out the website for the US Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA) (www.aphis.usda.gov).
Korean Air allowed the cat onboard as carry-on and Kitty, weighing in at less than four kilos, was able to sit under the seat. Upon arrival in China, the China Inspection and Quarantine (CIQ) took copies of the forms (the APHIS 7001 form and rabies vaccination form) and Fogle’s passport, as well as a photo of the cat. The cat was never quarantined upon arrival in Tianjin (though recently, authorities have been enforcing the 30-day quarantine). Next, Kitty was transported via train to Beijing. Technically, owners need a certificate issued by the train authorities to transport a pet, but the USDA health certificate, which was presented for the flight, sufficed. However, the lax attitude towards this regulation may change at a moment’s notice.
mei and lewis
Pet: Mei, dog (6 years old), Lewis, cat (3 years old)
Owners: Jennifer and Kevin Bushman
Country of origin: Canada
Relocation company: World Care Pet
Cost: USD 2,000 for flying both pets in cargo, USD 750 per pet for the relocation company (quarantine cost included)
Airline: Air Canada
In August 2010, both Mei and Lewis were relocated from Toronto, Canada to Beijing. About two weeks prior to departure, the family updated their pets’ shots, and prepared health certificates and vet signatures. To exit Canada, the pets were checked by a vet in Canada to ensure they were fit for a long trip. This procedure was required by Canada – most countries have a similar procedure.
Jennifer Bushman recommends hiring a pet relocation specialist. They used US-based WorldCare Pet. In China, their contact was Kiki Chen, who organized paperwork, inquired about the pets on a regular basis while they were in quarantine and picked up the pets from quarantine once they were released.
As they would be flying in the hot month of August, the pets were placed in cargo (not with checked baggage) – an area that is temperaturecontrolled. This was a requirement of Air Canada.
Before leaving for China, the Bushmans were given conflicting information about the quarantine process for their pets. In the end, the pets were quarantined for 30 days. They left their pets with food, toys, bedding and bottled water. Their China pet relocation specialist Kiki checked in with the office on a regular basis, inquiring about the pets’ well-being. Despite being told they would not be permitted to see their pets during this time, they were able to visit their dog (not their cat) after 20 days. Mei was brought into the main office but the family was not allowed to see her cage or living situation. However, Mei seemed healthy and in good spirits. Also, the caretaker at the quarantine genuinely liked and cared for the animals. Jennifer found the staff at the quarantine center more diligent about caring for their pets when she persistently inquired about them.
After 30 days, the pets were returned to the family – filthy, but healthy. Both Mei and Lewis have been happy and thriving ever since.
tips for safe air travel
Time of year: Consider the time of year you are traveling and make proper arrangements for your pet by contacting your airline in advance. Each airline imposes travel restrictions for pets in times of extreme temperatures. "Blackout" months typically begin in May and last until October. When the ground temperature is above 30˚C, they are usually not permitted as check-in excess baggage. This is to avoid the risk of dehydration should the flight be delayed and the animals have to sit on the hot tarmac. Certain breeds, such as boxers, pugs, bulldogs and Pekinese, have difficulty breathing in hot weather and may be restricted from flying in hot weather months. For cold climates, Air Canada has a blackout period in the winter when ground temperatures are close to freezing.
Feeding: Do not feed your pet any food at least six hours before the journey. If it is a morning flight, feed your pet the night before. Your pet is allowed small amounts of water. To provide water during the journey, use a water dish that attaches to the door of the crate. Fill it up halfway with water and freeze it the night before. Do not use ball-bearing water bottles as they leak water, leaving your pet wet and uncomfortable during the trip.
Potty before departure: Walk your dog as you normally would in the morning, but try to fit in an extra walk at least 30 minutes to an hour before you depart for the airport. For cats, make sure the litter box is clean and accessible until right before you put your cat into the crate.
Pet identification: Provide your pet with a collar that will not get caught on the doors of the crate. Attach two forms of identification to the pet’s collar: one ID with your name, address, and contact number of your country of origin; another ID with your name address and contact number of your country of destination. ICVS can personalize an ID tag for RMB 70.
Tape a photo of your pet and a travel label to your pet carrier with your name, permanent address, telephone number and email address. Write down your final destination and flight numbers. During travel, owners should carry a current photograph of their pet. If your pet is lost during the trip, a photograph will help airline employees search more effectively.
Tranquilizers and sedatives: Animals should not be given tranquilizers unless specificallyprescribed by a veterinarian. For those interested in homeopathic calming remedies for pets during travel, inquire at ICVS.
Carry-on vs. check-in (excess baggage): Contact your airline in advance about traveling with a pet. Some airlines allow pets as carry-on and others insist on checking in your pet as excess baggage (that goes in the cargo hold ). Airlines that allow carry-on usually require a soft carrier in which your pet would remain under the seat in front of you. Be aware of the airline’s rules and restrictions, regarding bringing pets as carry-on. Also inquire about their weight restrictions and whether the airline requires you to book cargo space in advance.
Air crates: Your air crate must be approved by your airline. Many crate manufacturers claim that their crate designs are approved by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). However, your airline will have the final say on whether your air crate is acceptable. For IATA-approvedcrates, inquire at ICVS.
Before traveling, give your pet at least one month to get used to being inside the crate to help minimize stress. On the day of travel, line the floor of the crate with a small or folded cotton towel that already has your scent or your pet’s scent. This will help provide familiar smells and comfortable cushioning for your pet during the journey. The towel also helps to absorb any spilled water, urine or other fluids. Finally, never lock the doors of the crate with an additional lock as this impedes the ability to release or remove your pet from the crate in the event of an emergency.
Food for travel: In the event of flight delays, some airlines may instruct their staff to provide food for the animals. Ask first, but some airlines allow owners to securely tape a small sealed bag of dry dog or cat food directly onto the crate. Be sure to include directions. For example: Feed half a bag for one meal.
Leash for dogs: Some airlines may arrange for dogs to be walked in the event of a flight delay. Check with your airline first but some airlines allow owners to tape a leash packaged inside a small clear plastic bag to the outside of the crate. Dog owners should also bring a leash with them in their carry-on luggage in case the leash taped to the crate is no longer attached after arrival.
Litter box for cats upon arrival: Pack a small, clean litter box or plastic tub and some fresh cat litter in a double zip-lock bag in your check-in luggage. This gives your cat the opportunity to use the litter box immediately after arriving at your destination and reduces the stress of having to purchase a litter box and cat litter, especially if you are in an unfamiliar new city or if you arrive after the shops are already closed.
These tips are brought to you by Mary Peng, the co-founder of International Center for Veterinary Services (ICVS). Originally from New York City, she has been permanently based in China since 1991. She has also never lived a day in her life without pets and currently has two cats, a very large rabbit and a dog. Having relocated her cat from Beijing to New York and back to Beijing again, she understands the concerns of fellow pet owners. For more tips and advice, join her at her free monthly "Departing from China with Pets" information sessions at ICVS. For info on their upcoming events, visit beijing-kids.com/events.
International Center for Veterinary Services (ICVS) 北京新天地国际动物医院
Mon-Sat 8am-8pm, Sun 10am-7pm. 29 Liangma Qiao Lu, Anjialou, Chaoyang District (8456 1939/40/41, email@example.com) www.icvsasia.com 朝阳区安家楼亮马桥路 29号 (肯特中心院内)
Guan Shang Animal Hospital 北京观赏动物医院
Daily 8.30am-10.30pm. 1/F, 7 North Third Ring Road (300 meters West of An Hua Qiao, on the north side of the street) (6237 1359 ex 8037, 6205 1944 ext 8037 Chinese only)
Pet Express (Asian Tigers)
Stephane Camguilhem, Beijing Manager (6415 1188 ext 160, firstname.lastname@example.org) www.asiantigers-china.com
Globy Pet Relocation
Harriet Liu (8762 5020, 400 883 8011, Beijing@globypetrelo.com) www.globypetrelo.com
World Care Pet Transport
Kiki Chen, pet and household goods specialist (8459 3008/2858, Kiki.email@example.com) www.worldcarepet.com
China Inspection and Quarantine (CIQ)
C11 Jianxiang Villa, A1 Huayanbeili, Chaoyang District (firstname.lastname@example.org) http://en.ciqcid.com 朝阳区华严北里甲1号健翔山庄C11座