My time on the island is rapidly coming to an end, and it’s time to start getting ready to go home and start the second part of my medical school experience. I wanted to write a post about my experience with taking animals home from SVG to USA. I’ll be bringing back my dog and my cat. I have done countless hours of research, contacted numerous agencies and vets, and talked with lots of other students who have gone through this process before. I was completely clueless and stressed in trying to figure all of this out on my own, so I wanted to put all my findings together in one place in hopes of helping someone else in the future. DISCLAIMER: This is my own personal experience in transporting pets from SVG to USA. I am not an expert; these steps are what works for me. Over time, I’m sure policies will change, so always be sure to consult a local vet or the Ministry of Agriculture before proceeding with any steps.
BEFORE LEAVING THE ISLAND: The first thing I needed to get done was update the animals on their vaccines. My dog, Mango, needed 3 rounds of vaccinations, 1 month apart. The last set is good for one year. My cat, Chiquitin, needed only 2 rounds of vaccines. The animals do not need a rabies vaccine because SVG is a rabies-free island. However, it’s always good to get it done before travelling to the USA because USA has rabies. Plus it is cheaper here on the island to get their vaccines. After they are up to date, I need to get their health records and make an appointment at the Ministry of Agriculture office with a vet there, who will provide me with an official health clearance certificate for the animals. I sent an email to the office and they were very efficient in responding to me and giving me the proper guidelines and how to make an appointment. This appointment must be made within 10 days of travel. The certificate means that the animals are fit for travel and export to the USA. I also need to get airline-appropriate carriers for my pets, which can be found at the pet supply store. Last time I checked, they had a huge selection of sizes and colors with the airline approval stamp on them. The carriers must be hard-sided.
IN-TRANSIT: Unfortunately, I cannot travel directly from SVG to USA. After much research on other islands for connecting flights, Barbados seems to be the easiest and most efficient island to work with in regards to transit animals. I received contact information for Barbados’ Ministry of Agriculture and sent them an email explaining that I will be traveling in-transit with my animals between SVG-Barbados-USA. They sent me a transit application form that I needed to fill out and send back. The transit permit costs $15 USD or $25 Barbados dollars, which I will pay on the day of travel. I received the travel permit within 4 hours of emailing them my application – very efficient office! I hope the physical transition through Barbados is just as smooth as the process to organize all the documents for transit through.
Once we arrive in Barbados on travel day, the animals will be transported to an animal reception center, where I will meet them after I clear customs. A local vet will examine them and I will be able to feed/water them, and spend some time with them. The MoA assigned a transit officer to my reservation, so it will be her responsibility to get the animals from the LIAT plane to reception, and then back to the AA plane. I will be present to watch the animals disembark/embark on their flights. My layover time in Barbados is about 5 hours, which should be enough time for the process.
AIRLINES: I have no choice but to travel with LIAT Airlines from SVG-Barbados. I have yet to hear from LIAT’s reservation center regarding my trip with the animals. I just sent the email this morning, so I still have time to wait for a response. I heard that LIAT will only take pets to Barbados on their 10:25am flight, Monday-Friday, which is the flight I will be taking. I think the flight number is #306. EDIT: I finally got ahold of someone with LIAT airlines. I had to call their cargo terminal at the SVG airport, and the woman told me pretty much what I already knew… to bring their health documents, in-transit document for Barbados, and all their other paperworks on the Friday before my flight (the flight is on a Tuesday). She told me it would cost about $486EC to transport both pets via LIAT, which comes out to roughly $180USD.
I chose to fly from Barbados to the USA with American Airlines. After much research and talking with other students, AA seemed to be the easiest to work with and most accommodating. I submitted my animal information to AA’s Customer Relations desk so they could add the pets to my ticket reservation. I got an email back stating that I needed to call the customer service number to get in touch with someone. I have tried calling twice as of today, but they are very busy and I never get ahold of anyone. I still have time to keep trying.
FINAL ADVICE: I advise that you start early on planning your trip back with your furry babies. For me, this has been a very anxious process, making sure I have all the correct documentations and the right paperwork filled out. However, it’s going to be totally worth it when I get to the travel day and everything is already taken care of. This is definitely not a process you want to wait until last minute to do. The only thing that will be last-minute is the appointment with the Ministry of Agriculture, because the health certificates must be dated within 10 days of travel. I am glad that I am filling out my forms, making calls, and submitting documents at least one month in advance. I will write “Part 2” of this post after the travel day and update those who are interested on the travel process. If you have any other travel tips for me before the big day, don’t hesitate to leave a comment or send me a message!
UPDATE – I successfully completed the process of bringing my pets to the USA! Check out my experience in the post My Experience with International Pet Travel: Part 2.