Many expats wouldn’t dream of relocating without the assurance that their beloved pet could go with them, but the logistics and paperwork involved in moving an animal – coupled with the potential language barrier – are enough to worry even the most efficient planner.
Some people hire a pet relocation company; others opt to go it alone. Whatever the case, rest assured that relocating with pets can be a straightforward process with enough research and preparation. With help from the International Center for Veterinary Services (ICVS), we summarize the latest regulations and procedures for China.
Moving to China with a Pet
First off, only cats and dogs can be brought into China. You’ll need the following documents:
• A Z (work) visa. There’s a limit of one pet per passport.
• Proof of a recent rabies vaccination. The shot must be administered at least 30 days but no more than 12 months before entry. These guidelines are subject to change at any time, so double-check with your veterinarian or relocation company as soon as you know that you’re moving to Beijing.
• A certificate to export your pet from your country of origin. Every country has different regulations, but it’s usually the Agriculture or Quarantine Bureau (or an equivalent government agency) that oversees the import and export of animals.
• A health certificate issued by a veterinarian in your country of origin attesting to the health of your pet.
The Quarantine Period
As of November 2012, the mandatory quarantine period for pets arriving in Beijing is either seven or 30 days depending on the rabies status of the country that the animal is coming from.
For example, pets entering China from the US, Canada, France, or Italy are subject to a 30-day quarantine while those coming from rabies-free or rabies-controlled territories such as Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Singapore, the UK, Germany, or Hong Kong must only undergo a seven-day quarantine. The rabies status of each country is subject to change without notice, so double-check this before you leave.
All pets are quarantined at a facility near the airport overseen by the Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau. Animals are fed, watered, and cared for, but owners aren’t allowed to visit their pets in quarantine. ICVS recommends vaccinating dogs for kennel cough (bordetella) at least two weeks before departure, as this infectious disease is extremely common in China.
After the Quarantine
Once the quarantine is over, owners should bring their pet to a legally-registered animal hospital for a routine checkup. Beijing has more than 200 animal hospitals and clinics, but not all are registered with the Agricultural Bureau. Animal hospitals must have a rabies vaccination license to legally purchase imported vaccines from the Agricultural Bureau.
At the animal hospital, look for a large gold plaque with red characters and a license number. The plaque should read 动物狂犬病免疫注射定点单位 (dongwu kuangquanbing mianyi zhushe dingdian danwei). Only legally-licensed Chinese veterinarians can administer rabies vaccinations; foreign vets can consult and perform checkups, but aren’t legally permitted to administer shots.
You’ll receive a red booklet called the Beijing Animal Health and Immunity Certificate, which is issued by licensed animal hospitals to keep track of your pet’s vaccinations. All red booklets issued in Beijing must have two official stamps on the inside front cover: one from the issuing animal hospital and one from the Animal Disease Prevention and Control Center.
As of January 2015, the Agricultural Bureau also requires licensed animal hospitals to issue red, heart-shaped color tags to all rabies-vaccinated dogs, which must be worn on the collar at all times. Chinese law requires dogs and cats to receive annual rabies vaccinations; three-year rabies vaccinations schedules from other countries aren’t recognized.
Finally, dog owners are required by law to register dogs at their local police station. For more on this process, turn to p28.
Leaving China with a Pet
Depending on where you’re moving to, there are several tests and procedures to complete before you can start the exit process for your pet:
As of November 2011, Beijing Guanshang Animal Hospital – the official animal hospital overseen by the Entry-Exit Quarantine and Inspection Bureau – requires all pets to be microchipped before the exit health check, which can only be performed by Guanshang. The microchip must conform to the European Union ISO 11784/11785 standard or other ISO-compliant standard. The law is intended to ensure accurate identification of pets during the exit health exam.
In Beijing, EU and ISO-compliant microchips are available at ICVS and Globy Pet Relocation. Surgical insertion must be performed by a licensed veterinarian.
Rabies vaccinations must be performed at a legally-registered animal hospital. Pets requiring the Rabies Neutralizing Antibody Titre (RNATT) must get their rabies shot at least 30 days before blood is drawn for the RNATT test.
Rabies Neutralizing Antibody Titre Testing (RNATT)
The RNATT is required for EU countries, Japan, Singapore, Indonesia, Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand, and Hawaii. Typically, regulations state that pets must be vaccinated against rabies at least four to eight months before departure. Animals must also be microchipped before or on the day of the rabies shot. Rabies vaccinations administered before the date of the microchip insertion won’t be recognized.
Pet owners entering an EU country must download and fill out a form called EU CE 998/2003 for the “non-commercial movement of pets.” The form must be stamped by a vet at Beijing Guanshang Animal Hospital and checked by customs officials at the destination country.
All EU countries require a 90-day wait after the blood is drawn before the pet can enter. Some territories, such as Japan, Taiwan, Australia, and New Zealand require a 180-day wait.
Now that China has its own official EU-approved lab, pet owners no longer have to send commercial serum samples overseas for testing. ICVS can handle RNATT testing for pet owners in Beijing and other provinces in mainland China, with results back in two to three weeks.
Step-by-Step Exit Procedures
Step 1: Rabies Vaccination and Official Vaccination Certificate
All cats and dogs leaving China must be vaccinated for rabies at an animal hospital registered with the Agricultural Bureau. The shot must be documented in the red vaccination booklet. These two steps must be completed at least 30 days but no more than 12 months before departure.
Step 2: Health Examination and Certificate
All pets must undergo a health check at Guanshang no more than seven calendar days before the departure date. Once complete, pet owners should receive the Beijing International Companion Animal Health Inspection Certificate within two business days. The certificate is valid for only seven days after the issue date; if you don’t apply for an exit permit within the allotted time, your pet will have to start the health exam all over again.
On the day of the exit health exam, get to Guanshang early in the morning; appointments aren’t accepted, so it can get crowded later in the day. If you’re not comfortable in Mandarin, bring a friend. Even if you use the services of a pet relocation company, you’ll need to accompany the agent because the owner’s presence is required.
Bring your pet, the red vaccination booklet with both valid stamps, your passport or passport copy, and at least RMB 1,200 in cash; you’ll be charged for the checkup and any required health tests.
Step 3: Exit Permit
The health certificate must be submitted to an office on the second floor of Guanshang to apply for an Animal Health Certificate for Exit (or exit permit). You’ll need the red vaccination booklet, the health certificate, your passport or passport copy, and around RMB 200 in cash for each pet – no need to bring your pet for this part. The exit permit is usually processed within two business days and is valid for 14 days after the issue date.
Before starting the exit process for China, check the most up-to-date entry requirements for your destination country. For country-specific information, contact your animal hospital or pet relocation company.
International Center for Veterinary Services (ICVS) 北京新天地国际动物医院
Daily 9am-6pm. 13-16 Rongke Ganlan Chengshang Jie, Futongxi Dajie, Wangjing, Chaoyang District (8456 1940, email@example.com) www.icvsasia.com 朝阳区望京阜通西大街融科橄榄城商街13-16号
Doctors Beck and Stone Health Care Center 思威（北京）国际动物医院
This chain of animal hospitals is staffed with Western and Chinese veterinarians, nurses, and medical technicians. Branches double as emergency centers, with ambulances available to transport pets. For a list of locations, visit www.doctorsbeckandstone.com.
Globy Pet Relocation
Globy helps relocate pets from anywhere in the world, including planning, obtaining required papers, arranging flights, and delivering pets. Mon-Fri 8.30am-5.30pm. Rm 26B, Block 2, Bauhinia Court, 30 Dongsanhuan Beilu, Chaoyang District (8762 5020, firstname.lastname@example.org) www.globypetrelo.com 朝阳区东三环北路30号紫荆豪庭2座26B
Beijing Guanshang Animal Hospital 北京观赏动物医院
Daily 8.30am-10.30pm, 24hr emergency services available after 5pm (including holidays). 7 Beisanhuan Zhonglu, Xicheng District (6237 1359, Chinese only: 6204 9631/9742, email@example.com) www.chinapet.com.cn 西城区北三环中路7号
This article originally appeared in the 2015 beijingkids Home and Relocation Guide. Click here to read the issue for free on Issuu.com. To find out how you can get your own copy, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo: Nicki Mannix (Flickr)