PETS

TRAVEL PREPARATION

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By Natalie Bentolila

If you have a pet, you understand that they are as much part of the family as you are. Living abroad just won’t feel like home unless you have your four-legged companion with you.  Good news!  You are allowed to bring your cat(s) or dog(s) to Libya.  It has been done by many expats.  As far as bringing over birds or reptiles, as far as we know, it hasn’t been tried out by expats yet, but does not necessarily mean it cannot be done. Seeing Westerners bring their pets over is a new experience for Libyans, and there seems to be no set official procedure for accepting/denying importation of animals at the Tripoli airport.


First off, it’s important to understand that Libyans value pets differently from Westerners.  It is not at all uncommon to find dogs and cats wandering the streets as strays.  Although there is a market for breeding and selling dogs, they are mostly aggressive breeds used as guard dogs.  Cats on the other hand, are sold in pet shops as companion animals, but there are many strays which are viewed as pests.  Birds and fish are kept as family pets. The pet industry in Libya is growing, with more shops and vet clinics opening up, yet there are some limitations compared to what you may be used to.



Travel preparation

Like any pet travel, there will be a substantial amount of preparation and paperwork involved.  The key to remember while preparing for travel with your pet is, “better to have and not need, than to need and not have”.  When traveling to a country like Libya where procedures for importing pets are either unclear or unenforced, over preparation of paperwork will ensure little or no problems during this experience.


Depending on who you ask, you may get different answers as to the necessary documentation required for entry of your pet into Libya.  Each country may have different regulations, so it is best to check with each country that you and your pet are traveling through for its specific requirements.


For example, according to an accumulation of references obtained from the US Embassy in Tripoli, pet travel websites and personal experiences, if traveling from the US the recommended collection of documentation you will need for each animal includes:


1) Microchip records as well as your own scanner in case you are asked for validation.

2) Current inoculation records signed by your veterinarian.

3) Rabies certificate signed by your vet and dated at least 30 days prior to travel.

4) Any health certificate signed by your vet, dated within 10 days of travel as required by airlines.

5) If traveling from the US, a USDA Health Certificate signed by your vet with official endorsement stamps, dated within 14 days of travel.


6) If transferring through a European country, form EU998 signed by your vet with official government endorsement stamps and dated within 14 days of travel.

7) General Health form for Libya with pet’s information translated into Arabic.

8) Form EU998 Arabic version as listed for Libya, signed by your vet with official government endorsement stamps and dated within 14 days of travel, as required by Libya.


Travel from and/or through other countries will most likely have a very similar list of requirements.  It is important to note that there will be variations in required or recommended paperwork depending on your country of origin, as well as the country you may be transferring through before finally arriving in Tripoli.  Some research of your own is encouraged so as to make sure that you obtain the most accurate and updated information.


Check with your national governing agency that regulates food and agriculture.  If you are traveling from the US, then the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) will be the governing agency that deals with exportation/importation of pets.  Canada’s agency is the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).  The EU has a standardized set of regulations and procedures, but there may be some variations among each country. The regulatory agency within the UK, Department for Environmental, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) seems to have the most stringent regulations, requiring a blood test to confirm effectiveness of vaccinations as well as tick and tapeworm treatments and inspections.  Allow yourself several weeks to prepare for any necessary veterinary appointments, laboratory work and paperwork endorsements.



What to bring

There are several places in Libya to find food and supplies for your pet.  Of course if you or your pet prefers a specific brand of food, it is recommended that you bring an adequate supply until you can gradually switch your pet to the foods available, or until you can restock outside of Libya.  Brands available in Libya include Royal Canine, Purina, Friskies, Whiskas, and Kit-e-Kat. You will need to bring any special dietary or organic foods that may be desired or required for your pet’s health or for a specific condition. Also bring plenty of your pet’s favorite treats and toys, which may help with adjusting to their new home.  Items such as collars, leashes, carriers, brushes, flea collars, flea shampoo, nail clippers, toys, kitty litter and even kitty condos can all be found in Libya.  Kitty litter is very expensive, so if possible bringing a supply of your own would be to your advantage.  You should obtain from your local veterinarian at least a year’s supply of prescribed topical flea/heartworm preventatives to keep your pet protected, as well as any other prescription medication that your pet may need.  It is also a good idea to bring a pet ID tag inscribed with your Libyan phone number in case you and your pet get separated.  Keeping a collar with an ID tag on your pet will also distinguish them from the many strays on the streets in case your pet gets lost.




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June 2009

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