We started out talking to several local boarding kennels in Dubai and Sharjah who also deal with importing and exporting pets. They were very helpful and offered up lots of information and a HEFTY price tag. We paid about $1500 CAD to get them into the country (excluding the cost of vaccinations to avoid quarantine), there’s no way I’m paying more than that to get them out. What we were quoted was closer to $4000 CAD. How hard could it be though, right? It was a hellish experience bringing them in I don’t know why we thought it would be easier heading the other direction.

Okay, really it hasn’t been that bad so far. There aren’t a crazy amount of vaccinations and money rolling out, so far so good. It’s just been stressful and frustrating. The most frustrating part of exporting our dogs out on our own is that everyone expects you to know what to do. For example, when I first started asking questions about how to export our dogs no one really knew who I should talk to. So my communications have bounced around to nearly the entire cargo department of our airline. After several months of emails and phone calls, I think I’m finally talking to the right guy (whew, only 2 weeks before we ship out). So I’m going to share with you what I’ve learned incase you’re crazy enough to try this on you own as well.

For the sake of ease, I’m just going to list in order what you need to do.

1. Look up the Government Agriculture website of your local country. Search for something that says, “pet import” or something similar. Print of the list of requirements right from the webpage, including the government header and everything (just in case).

2. Contact the cargo department of your airline and request “AVI requirements” or the process for pet export.

3. Have your pet vaccinated according to the specifications you found steps 1&2.  We were also asked to send photos of our pets (to confirm they weren’t blunt nosed), dimensions and weight of the carriers we were using, and the weight of our dogs.

4. Apply for the required Ministry Health Certificate.  This is good for 30 days.  Some countries require this certificate for import no more than 10 days before arrival, so check that with your country of import.  You can put all your animals on one certificate, so don’t apply for this more than once (even though they’ll tell you on the phone that you need one for each pet).  On the website it says you only need to wait 15 minutes to be processed.  What this really means is that 15 minutes after you drive the application number down to your shipping company, whether you’re going through Emirates or Dnata, with your pet (but don’t bring them into the office!), they will scan your pets, print off your certificate, and stamp it (can’t forget the stamp).  Done.  Also, there isn’t a single, specific location for the Ministry OF Environment and Water (MOEW) in Cargo village.  We took our dogs to the Dnata warehouse in the Dubai Airport Freezone.

5. We also required a Transit Certificate to go through Hong Kong.  This really messed us up because the airline wanted everything taken care of well in advance.  They pushed us to get the Ministry Health Certificate as soon as possible even though Canada wouldn’t allow it to be older than 10 days.  Hong Kong needed the Health Certificate before they would allow a Transit Certificate to be issued, so make sure you look into that if you aren’t making a direct flight.

6. With your ducks all in a row (certificates certified), you’re ready to go – EASY PEASY.  Unless…you’re us.  I don’t know if the guys in the cargo office don’t get along with the guys in the warehouse or what the problem is.  We were told to arrive with the dogs several hours before our flight to check them in, “no problem, no problem”.  When we arrived the warehouse guys were not happy to see us.  We were told we should have been down at the warehouse at least the day before.  Now there is a mad rush to process the dogs, get our paperwork all stamped up, and put the dogs on the plane.  It took at least 90 minutes to get two dogs through customs, and then the other shoe dropped.  “That’ll be 12,000AED (~$4000CAD).”  Um no way.  We were quoted half of that based on dimensions I sent them back in step #3!!  Here’s why this was a HUGE problem, we were leaving the country.  We were getting on a plane in 2.5 hours, with no plans of returning any time soon.  We no longer had a bank account for crying out loud.  Their solution was for us to ask someone to loan us the money or they weren’t going to ship the dogs.  They weren’t even willing to except half a payment.  James was a wonderful, forceful (there may have been some yelling) advocate for these dogs and our family as a whole.  He put his foot down, and convinced these guys to put our dogs through to Vancouver on his word (there was actually a lot of yelling, maybe a threat of a lawsuit if the dogs didn’t make it).

All in all, we made it.  Every last one of us.  There was yelling, and tears, and if we ever do this again…the dogs will stay with an Aunty.