Want to take your furry friend with you on your travels internationally from Georgia (the Republic)? You came to the right place. This post is dedicated to everything you need to know about pet travel from Georgia, including what documents you’ll need, the preparation process, tests, etc.
Generally speaking, traveling with pets internationally depends on where you live and where you’d be traveling to. It could be easy or quite overwhelming. There are many things to consider, and I will do my best to go through all of them.
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Georgia is a high-risk rabies country
Many countries view others as high-risk rabies countries and customize their pet import terms accordingly. Georgia is considered a high-risk rabies country by European Union, so traveling with pets internationally to EU countries from Georgia could be difficult.
Check the destination country’s policy
As every country has its own policy to import pets, you need to check their conditions on traveling with your dog or cat to that country. Depending on where you are coming from, these destination countries may put your pet into a several-day quarantine. For some, it’s a mandatory procedure, while others put pets in quarantine if specific requirements are not met.
Some countries even have a blacklist of pets that they don’t allow to import. So make sure you do your research accordingly.
Check airline policies
Just like countries, airlines have their policies when traveling with pets internationally. Some airlines do take your pets, while others don’t. And those who do, have their own requirements and restrictions. For instance, depending on the size of your pet, they can come into the cabin or go to a cargo compartment. Also, some companies don’t take pregnant pets either.
If your pet with a Pet Carrier weighs up to 8kgs, you can take it on board as your “onboard” luggage. Otherwise, it goes to the cargo compartment.
You also need to have an airline-approved Pet Carrier, which I’ll explain below.
Get a passport for your pet
If you already own a pet, you should already have a passport with all the vaccinations your furry friend has. If not, then this would be your next step.
There are many veterinary clinics in Tbilisi, but I take Louie to Aibo Clinic on S. Tsintsadze street. If you already have a veterinarian go to their clinic and tell them about your travel plans to ensure that your pet passport meets the requirements.
Clinics to consider:
And if your dog or cat needs any kind of grooming, I highly recommend BarberPet.
Microchip your pet
It’s standard to have your pet microchipped in Georgia. Unfortunately, those chips don’t track your pet in case they wander out of your house. But they do have information about the owner if someone finds them and calls the appropriate authorities to scan the chip and call you.
When planning pet travel from Georgia internationally, consider that most countries require to have your pet microchipped. Therefore, go to the vet clinic and do it.
Vaccinate your pet
Depending on the destination country’s specifications, your pet should be vaccinated in a particular timeframe. Most of the countries require rabies test at least 30 days before entering. Additionally, pets might need to get certain vaccines after you enter that country too. So checking country policies is absolutely vital for pet travel from Georgia.
Your pet might need a rabies titer test
Many countries do require an additional step – a rabies titer test, especially if you are coming from a high-risk rabies country like Georgia. Unfortunately, this test is an important step but only do it if you plan on relocating to a specific country. Don’t put your pet into this procedure if you plan on having a 2-3 week of vacation somewhere.
The test needs to be carried out at the exact advised time by an authorized laboratory. Several rabies-free countries will not allow your pet to enter even if they are vaccinated and fulfill all veterinary demands if these test results are not satisfactory.
The rabies titer test is usually performed 30 days after the rabies vaccine for the antibodies to form. Your pet needs to be microchipped before. The vet draws blood from your pet and sends it to an authorized laboratory to examine levels of antibodies in the sample. There are around 40 laboratories in the world authorized to run rabies titer test.
In case of traveling to EU countries, the closest EU authorized laboratory to Georgia is in Turkey and Ukraine. The blood needs to be in the laboratory in 24-48 hours, which increases the costs as there is no such facility in Georgia. Check the complete list for non-EU and EU-member countries with such labs.
The majority of the countries want a level of 0.5 IU/ml or higher to prove that your pet is well immunized against rabies. If your pet fails the test, you can give it a booster vaccination and retry the test in 14-28 days.
If your pet needs the test, I would advise looking at the destination country’s regulations to see the minimum period between the rabies vaccine and the blood sampling. Additionally, depending on the country, your pet might need occasional rabies titer tests. For example, the EU requires a one-time test if the usual rabies vaccination is kept current, while for Australia, the results are suitable for a specific time.
Usually, the laboratory sends results within the four weeks after receiving the blood sample.
Buy a Pet Carrier
To use any transportation, you’ll need to have a pet carrier. Depending on the size of your pet and what means of transportation this can be a kernel or a bag. If you are flying out, they should be airline-approved ones that have their own specifications.
If your pet is small and can go with you in the cabin, the pet together with the carrier should fit under the seat. In the case of the cargo compartment, the kernel should have a specific durable lock, bowls for water and food, stickers saying “live animal,” designated holes to mount it to the hooks, and should be well ventilated and of durable material.
There are plenty of airline-approved kernels or begs on Amazon. There are some in Georgian vet clinics or shops, but sometimes the price could be cheaper when shipped from Amazon with a logistics company. When I purchased the kernel in May 2019, the exchange rate of Lari-USD was not this bed, so I didn’t pay extra import VAT.
When buying a pet carrier, you need to measure your dog/cat and buy the one where the pet can comfortably stand, sit and lay down. There are plenty of YouTube videos to watch.
Train your pet for the carrier
Even if you are traveling a short distance, you need to train your pet to get used to the carrier. Therefore, get it at least several weeks ahead, so you have some time to do the training. Your dog or cat needs to get used to and being there alone. We watched several videos on YouTube, but we are still training Louie as he gets very excited and anxious while being in the carrier.
Get a special export document for pet travel from Georgia
Once everything I have mentioned above is ready, you’ll need to physically go to the National Food Agency office within the territory of the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture of Georgia. And don’t forget to bring your pet with you along with its passport. Here you’ll need to get the Veterinary Certificate from the Ministry.
This is an official document stating the breed of your pet, the destination country, means of transportation when traveling, and the vaccines the pet had. It’s verified with a stamp.
The document is valid for 72 hours and can be issued on the same day. It costs 100 GEL. It is also valid for three months to bring your dog or cat back to Georgia without additional documentation.
What your pet needs during traveling
We don’t give Louie anything while traveling. We don’t even give him his food in the morning because he gets sick. To calm his excitement and anxiety, we give him a few valerian drops mixed with water. I can’t give you the exact dosage; I just tried and tested what worked for Louie and what didn’t. Amazon sells some relaxant treats for dogs, but I haven’t tried those yet.
If your dog or cat doesn’t get sick while traveling, you can pack their favorite snacks, some food to keep the hunger at bay. And don’t forget water!
Our Experience of Traveling with a dog from Georgia to Turkey with a land border
Crossing the Georgia-Turkey land border in Sarp with a dog was very easy. We had all those documents mentioned above, but the Turkish side only checked Louie’s passport and didn’t look at the Veterinary Certificate.
Louie was not allowed on board, so he traveled in a luggage compartment of the bus for around 10-12 hours.
On our way back from Turkey to Georgia, we came back within three months, and not a single soul checked Louie’s documents – neither Turkey nor Georgia. Turkish border security just asked if he’s vaccinated when we were leaving the country. Georgian border police said they don’t require checking pet’s documents.
I am not sure how the air travel works yet, but once we travel with Louie with the airline, I’ll make sure to update the post.
BONUS: Georgia Pet Travel Requirements
Georgia has very relaxed requirements when traveling with your dog or cat in the country. The main conditions are that the pet should be microchipped and vaccinated. There is no need for a rabies titer test. You can read more about it here.
Unfortunately, Georgia is not a very pet-friendly country, meaning that traveling with your pet using public transport can be pretty challenging. There were cases when I got denied to enter the metro if Louie didn’t have a dog muzzle. The same can go with buses and marshrutkas. Some taxi drivers also refuse to take dogs, but thankfully Bolt taxi has a designated pet taxi service.
Similar goes with some cafes, restaurants, and shops where entering with your dog is not allowed. However, there are some pet-friendly venues too.
Taking your dog or cat via train is possible. It also depends on the size of your pet, and they need to be in the kernel or bag and be able to fit in the luggage compartment. Big size dogs need to have muzzle as well.
And if you have any more questions regarding traveling with your dog or cat internationally, let me know in the comments, and I’ll be happy to answer.