South Africa

Export Requirements for Cats and Dogs from South Africa

General rules and regulation
  • Bear in mind that every country has its own rules and regulations. Global Paws will advise you what requirements you have to meet to be able to export your pet.
  • Generally all international destinations require a valid rabies vaccination for travel. Valid means that the vaccination must have been given no more than one year and no less than thirty days before the intended travel date.
  • We suggest that you check your pet`s vaccination certificate in good time, so as to ensure that there will be no problems when the time comes for your pet to travel.
  • It is also important for your pet`s health to keep the standard canine or feline vaccinations up to date. In addition, should your pet require boarding before they travel all reputable kennels would insist that you produce a valid vaccinations certificate along with a kennel cough vaccination.
  • Most countries require an import permit that we can obtain on your behalf. Import permit have to be in English or have to be translated by an official translator.
  • We recommend that you microchip your pet even if it might not be a requirement at your intended destination.
  • Certain destinations require government laboratory blood testing for various diseases. Your consultant will advise on these specific details.
  • Your pet`s original documentation must travel with your pet, attached to its travel box.
Absolute Don'ts
  • Microchipping cannot be done after the rabies vaccination, unless it is done on the same day.
  • Do not draw blood for the TITRE rabies blood test less than 30 days after the last rabies vaccination.
  • Do not vaccinate the pet against rabies at least 30 days before its travel.
  • For EU countries do not issue a health certificate earlier than 90 days after blood was drawn for TITRE rabies blood test.
  • Do not sign the health certificate in the State Vet`s designated area (marked – ENDORSEMENT BY THE COMPETENT AUTHORITY).
  • Do not go for the State Vet documentation endorsement if you still waiting for the import permit (if required).
Definite Do's
  • Implant the microchip first and only then vaccinate against rabies.
  • Wait at least 30 days from last rabies vaccination before you take a blood sample from the pet for its TITRE rabies blood test.
  • Use one colour pen (black) when filling in the health certificate.
  • Global Paws` clients will be provided with a filled in/completed health certificate. Please use this one.
  • Always stamp and sign the health certificate in the appropriate place. Please add your SAVC number.
  • Only sign the health certificate within the required time frame, generally a health certificate is valid for 10 days prior to the pet`s departure. The State Vet can only do his endorsement on the original documentation, the only exception is on import permits, often a copy of the import permit is sufficient.

Import / Transit Requirements for Cats and Dogs into South Africa

Standard Import requirements
1. Import Permit

A veterinary import permit is needed to import Dogs & Cats into South Africa.

  • Non – quarantine import permit – valid for 6 months
  • Quarantine import permit – valid for +/- 10 days
2. Quarantine

CATS
Cats are not routinely quarantined on arrival in South Africa. The cat must however have a valid import permit and a correctly completed health certificate, signed and stamped by a government veterinarian of the exporting country. If the originals of both the Veterinary Import Permit (VIP) and the Veterinary Health Certificate (VHC) are not available at the time of the cat’s arrival in South Africa, the cat will be kept in quarantine until the required documentation is presented at the quarantine station.

DOGS
Quarantine of 14 days will be imposed on some dogs, depending on the country of origin of the dog. Dogs from the following list of countries below do not need to go into quarantine on arrival in South Africa. The dog must however have a valid import permit and a correctly completed health certificate, signed and stamped by a government veterinarian of the exporting country. If the originals of both the Veterinary Import Permit (VIP) and the Veterinary Health Certificate (VHC) are not available at the time of the dog’s arrival in South Africa, the dog will be kept in quarantine until the required documentation is presented at the quarantine station.

Non – Quarantine countries
Dogs from countries listed below won`t be quarantined upon arrival.

  • Europe: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland , Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Poland, Spain, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland , UK, Norway, Hungry, Bulgaria and Romania.
  • North America: Canada and United States of America
  • Australasia: Australia and New Zealand
  • Africa: Botswana, Comoros, Malawi, Lesotho, Namibia, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Mauritius, Reunion.
  • Asia: Israel
  • South America: Argentina

Quarantine countries
Dogs imported from countries not mentioned in the above list will be quarantined on arrival. (If you are importing a dog from an island please contact the Import Export Policy Unit to find out if your dog will be quarantined on arrival in South Africa).

Before a quarantine booking for a dog can be confirmed, the importer must sign an indemnity form. Your consultant will foward you this form.

Dogs that will be quarantined on arrival in South Africa may only be imported into South Africa via OR Tambo (Johannesburg) or Cape Town International Airports. Dogs and cats that are being imported from countries not subject to quarantine can also be imported into South Africa via Durban International Airport. Dogs and cats will not be allowed to enter South Africa via any other airport or port of entry.(including land border post)

3. Rabies Vaccination

Dogs and cats must have a valid rabies vaccination.

  • In the case of primary (first) rabies vaccination the vaccination must be given not more than 12 months and not less than 30 days before the date of import.
  • In the case of a booster rabies vaccination the vaccination must be given not more than 12 months before the date of import.

Vaccination against rabies is not required for cats/dogs imported from Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom and Northern Ireland but vaccination against rabies for cats/dogs imported from these countries is advised. This will ensure that the cat/dog has sufficient immunity against rabies on arrival in South Africa to prevent it from contracting rabies in South Africa.

Puppies/Kittens under three months of age do not need to be vaccinated for rabies.

  • But puppies/kittens less than 3 months of age can only travel to South Africa if the dam/queen of the puppy/kitten has been vaccinated for rabies more than 30 days before and less than 12 months before the birth of the puppy/kitten.
  • These puppies/kittens must be vaccinated for rabies after arrival in South Africa at 3 months of age and proof of the vaccination must be presented to the South African Veterinary Authorities.
4. Microchip

All dogs and cats imported into South Africa must be permanently identified with a microchip (tattoos will not be accepted).

The microchip must be able to be read by an ISO 11784 or ISO 11785 scanners.

5. Blood tests

CATS
Cats do not require any blood testing in order to enter South Africa.

DOGS
Before dogs can be imported the dog needs to be certified free from five diseases by means of blood tests. Read more about dog blood tests in the next tab.

6. Manifest Cargo

All dogs and cats imported into South Africa must be registered, as manifest cargo and can not fly as excess baggage. The Directorate Veterinary Services does not have veterinary officials at the passenger terminal of OR Tambo (Johannesburg) and Cape Town International Airport to check the paper work of dogs entering South Africa via the passenger terminal of the respective airports. The dogs and cats can only disembark via the cargo terminal of the respective airports.

Dogs and cats may travel in the cabin with the owner, if allowed by the airline, but the pets must be registered as manifest cargo and the airline staff must take the pets from the owner on landing so that they can be off loaded from the plane via the cargo terminal.

On arrival at the airport the original Veterinary Import Permit issued by the Directorate Veterinary Services and the original Veterinary Health Certificate signed, stamped and certified by Veterinary Authorities of the exporting country must be presented to the veterinary officials at the airport before the dog or cat can be released. The documents can either travel with the animal or the person collecting the animal must present the documents to the officials at the airport. The latter is only for animals that are not going into Quarantine on arrival in South Africa. The paperwork of animals going into quarantine must travel with the animal.

7. Health Certificate

Please note that cats and dogs have separate permits and separate health certificates.

When an Import Permit is issued there will be a Veterinary Health Certificate In Respect of Cats/Dogs for Export to the Republic South Africa attached to it (2 pages for cats, 4 pages for dogs).

This is the only health certificate form that will be accepted by the South African Government Vet who inspects the papers on arrival in South Africa.

The final health certificate must be done WITHIN 10 days of your pet(s) arrival in South Africa.

After your vet has completed this form, it must be STAMPED AND SIGNED BY THE GOVERNMENT VET OF THE EXPORTING COUNTRY. This health certificate will not be acceptable without the Government Vets signature and stamp.

If this health certificate has not been completed correctly, or the original does not arrive with the animals, the animals will not be allowed entry into SA and could be sent back to the country of origin!

Blood tests for dogs
1. Blood test

Before dogs can be imported the dog needs to be certified free from the following five diseases by means of blood tests. The dog’s blood can either be tested in the country of origin or the blood sample can be sent to South Africa for testing.

Bloods must be drawn within 30 days of the date of export to South Africa. Dogs may only be imported if all blood results are negative.

Please note that any dog testing positive for any of the five diseases will not be eligible for import into South Africa.

The dog needs to be certified free from the following five diseases by means of blood tests:

  • Brucella canis
  • Trypanosoma evansi
  • Babesia gibsoni
  • Dirofilaria immitis
  • Leishmania
2. Country free of the above disease

If the Veterinary Authorities of the exporting country can certify that the exporting country is free from one or more of the above mentioned five diseases then the dogs exported to South Africa do not need to have blood tests done for the disease that the exporting country is free from.

Dogs imported from EU Member States must be tested for all five diseases, as listed above. The onus is on the importer to check that the correct veterinary health certificate has been issued with the veterinary import permit, as it is named on the veterinary import permit, in point 2.2.

Dogs imported from countries not certified free from Trypanosoma evansi must be tested and will only be allowed into the Republic of South Africa on negative testing.

Dogs imported from countries not certified free from Dirofilaria immitis must be treated from the date of negative testing until export at the required intervals with:

  • Diethylcarbamazine (5-6 mg/kg per os daily), OR
  • Ivermectin (6 micrograms/kg per os monthly), OR
  • Milbemycin oxime (0,5 mg/kg per os monthly), OR
  • Moxidectin (3 micrograms/kg per os monthly), OR
  • Selemectin (6mg/kg)
  • (Revolution) Prophylactic only, OR
  • Proheart SR12 (Subcut injection yearly) – If the date of the negative test falls within 11 months of giving the Proheart SR12 subcutaneous injection then no further Dirofilaria immitistreatment is required. Sufficient Dirofilaria immitis medication needs to accompany the dog to South Africa so that the dogs can receive a six month course of medication after importation into South Africa.
3. Method of testing

The Directorate Animal Health require the following test or tests to be used for the above mentioned five diseases:

  • Brucella canis – serum agglutination / rapid slide agglutination test
  • Trypanosoma evansi – card agglutination test and giemsa blood smear
  • Babesia Gibsoni – immunoflourescence antibody test & giemsa blood smear
  • Dirofilaria immitis – microfilarial filtration test
  • Leishmaniosis – indirect fluorescent antibody (preferred test) or ELISA or Direct agglutination test or Western blot/membrane immunoassay
4. Sending the samples

If the samples need to be sent to South Africa, these must be sent by air, accompanied by a copy of the OVI master import permit for the import of diagnostic specimen, under cover ofan air waybill / courier waybill for testing to:

DIRECTOR (ATTENTION: DR LAURA LOPEZ e-mail LopezL@arc.agric.za)
ONDERSTEPOORT VETERINARY INSTITUTE
DIAGNOSTIC REGISTRATION
100 OLD SOUTPAN ROAD
ONDERSTEPOORT
REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA

TEL NO: 27/12/529 9272
FAX NO: 27/12/529 9275

Please note that some of the blood tests for dogs are performed only on a Thursday. It is therefore recommended that samples are sent to arrive at the latest on a Wednesday. If samples arrive later, the tests will only be done the following Thursday.

5. The samples specimens

The samples specimens required for testing each dog are as follows:

  • 2ml. Whole blood collected in an evacuated blood collecting tube with EDTA – Purple top.
  • 2 x 2ml Whole blood collected in a normal evacuated blood collecting tube- Red top.
  • 2 x blood smears – unfixed and unstained – wrapped separately in tissue paper – then protected from moisture in a water proof plastic bag.
  • The samples are to be securely packed and clearly marked “Keep Refrigerated”.
  • The Samples are to be accompanied by a copy of the Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute Master Veterinary Import Permit for the Import of Diagnostic Specimens (OVIMVIP) and by a certificate issued by the Veterinary Authorities of the exporting country in which the following information is furnished.

1) Number of the OVIMVIP referred to above
2) Full description of the dog(s)
3) Type and Number of Samples
4) Tests required – see above
5) Consignee
6) Consignor
7) Air Way Bill number and Flight Number

Arrangements must be made with the OVI regarding payment for the tests prior to commencement of the tests. Contact the laboratory at the above telephone numbers/ e-mail to get more information on what samples have to be submitted, how the samples have to be packaged and the cost of the tests.

The blood samples must be sent by air as cargo and cannot be brought in by private individuals as part of their luggage. The samples can only enter South Africa via OR Tambo (Johannesburg) International Airport.

Please contact Dr Lopez at e-mail address LopezL@arc.agric.za for a copy of the Master Veterinary Import Permit referred to above.

4. Dogs in quarantine

All dogs that have to be quarantined on arrival in South Africa will be retested for the above mentioned five diseases.

This is regardless of the results of the blood tests done before the dog was exported to South Africa and is done at the owner’s expense.

Dogs found positive for the above mentioned five diseases will not be released from Quarantine.

  • If, while in quarantine, a dog is found to be positive for Brucella canis, Lieshmania or Babesia gibsoni, the dog will either be returned to the exporting country or euthanized in the quarantine station. This will be done at the owner’s expense.
  • If, while in quarantine, a dog is found to be positive for Dirofilaria immitis or Trypanasoma evansi, the owner will be given the option of treatment for the dog while in the quarantine station or sending the dog back to the exporting country. If the dog is treated in quarantine, it will be re-tested following treatment and will only be released from quarantine once acceptable test results are received to indicate that the dog does not pose a disease risk. All costs for quarantine, testing, treatment or return of the dog will be at the owner’s expense.

Import Requirements for pets into or via South Africa

1. Consignee

Please consign your pet`s AWB (airway bill) as per below:

For pets arriving into Johannesburg (JNB)
Owner Name
c/o Global Paws
8 Hugo Road, Steynsvlei
Krugersdorp 1739, South Africa
Tel: +27 83 640 4574
Emergency: +27 79 893 7111

For pets arriving into Cape Town (CPT)
Owner Name
c/o Global Paws (Western Cape)
31 Totnes Road, Plumstead
Cape Town 7800, South Africa
Tel: +27 21 761 2520
Emergency: +27 79 323 1767

2. Receiving your paperwork and information regarding your pet`s arrival in South Africa.

Your consultant is here to check your export and import documentation and give your shipping airline okay to foward. We can only give the Okay to Faward if we are happy with the documentation received.

  • Global Paws must be informed about your pets’ date of travel at least 7 days prior to their arrival in South Africa. Please supply the date, time and the flight number of your pet’s arrival in South Africa.
  • If your pet`s are arriving after 15:00 pm or on the Weekend or Public Holiday, please note that we will have to pre-clear customs. Therefore Global Paws strongly requires to receive the AWB not later than 24h before your pet`s arrival (and not later than 11:00 am on Friday).
  • It would be great if Global Paws can receive copies of the following documentation at least 48 hours before your pet arrival in South Africa:
    – AWB (your pets’ flight ticket)
    – South African Health Certificate
    – Required veterinary blood tests results – only for dogs.
  • Please make sure that all the original documents are attached to your pet’s travel box.

Import requirements for Dogs and Cats from Neighbouring Countries

1. Dogs and Cats entering South Africa from Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Swaziland
  • Import permit is not required.
  • These dogs and cats need a health certificate (international movement permit) that certifies that the dog or cat has been vaccinated against rabies in the last 12 months but more than 30 days before the date of departure.
  • The cats and dogs need to have a health check within 7 days of export.
2. Dogs and cats entering Africa form Malawi
  • Import permit is not required.
  • These dogs and cats need a health certificate (international movment permit) that certifies that the dog or cat has been vaccinated against rabies in the last 12 months but more than 30 days before the date of departure.
  • The cats and dogs need to have a health check within 7 days of export.
3. Dogs and cats entering Africa form Mozambique
  • The dogs may not enter South Africa by road.
  • Standard import requirements are applicable for cats and dogs entering Mozambique.

Transit requirements for Dogs and Cats in transit through South Africa

Transit permit is valid for 3 months.

1. BY ROAD: In transit through South Africa to other African countries.

Dogs and cats that are moving in transit through South Africa by road to other African countries are considered as normal imports and therefore need to comply with South Africa’s veterinary health requirements. These animals need to have a veterinary import permit from South Africa. The dogs need to have the necessary blood tests (see testing procedure above) done prior to export.

2. BY AIR: In transit through South Africa to SADC countries.

All dogs and cats travelling in transit by air to SADC countries:

  • Must be accompanied by South African veterinary intransit permit for dogs/cats.
  • Must comply with the South African import health requirements for dogs/cats.

The countries that this requirement applies to are:

  • Angola,
  • Botswana,
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo,
  • Kenya,
  • Lesotho,
  • Namibia,
  • Malawi,
  • Mozambique,
  • Mauritius,
  • Seychelles,
  • Swaziland,
  • Tanzania,
  • Zambia,
  • Zimbabwe.
3. BY AIR: Intransit through South Africa to other (not listed above) countries

All dogs/cats travelling by air to countries other than the countries listed in the previous point 2. paragraph need not conform to the South African import health requirements for dogs/cats, provided these dogs/cats do not leave the customs area of the international airport in South Africa.

These dogs/cats need to be accompanied by a standard South African intransit permit.

4. BY AIR or BY ROAD: In transit through South Africa from Neighbouring countries to another countries.

If a dog or cat is travelling intransit from Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Lesotho or Malawi via South Africa to another country the dog or cat:

  • does not need to have an intransit permit from South Africa.
  • The dog or cat must however comply with the requirements as indicated under the section of “Dogs and Cats from Neighbouring Countries”.

Import requirements for Dogs leaving South Africa for recreational purposes for a period of 10 days only

1. Import permit

A veterinary import permit for dogs travelling out of South Africa for recreational purposes is needed for the import of such dogs that have travelled outside South Africa for a short period of time.

  • These permits will only be issued for dogs travelling to countries for which South Africa does not require quarantine.
  • The description of the dog, i.e. the name, breed, sex, colour and microchip number must be written on the application form when applying for the permit.
2. Microchip

The dog must be permanently identified with a microchip.

3. Blood tests

No blood tests are required for the dog to be re imported back into South Africa as the dog will not have been out of South Africa for 10 days and therefore the blood tests to be of any value as even if a dog is infected with one of the above mentioned five diseases the dogs will not show a positive reaction to the blood tests.

Instead of testing these dogs, the owners are required to take preventive measures to ensure that the dogs do not get infected with the diseases.

  • The dog must have a valid rabies vaccination. The rabies vaccination must have been done less then a year and more than 30 days before travelling.
  • If the country the dog is travelling to is not free from Dirofilaria immitis then the dog must, on arrival in the exporting country be put on one of the following medications as a preventative treatment for Dirofilaria immitis:

    Diethylcarbamazine (5-6 mg/kg per os daily), Ivermectin (6 micrograms/kg per os monthly), Milbemycin oxime (0,5 mg/kg per os monthly), Moxidectin (3 micrograms/kg per os monthly) or ProHeart SR 12 (subcut injectable yearly).The medication must be sufficient to treat the dog for six months.

  • If the country the dog is travelling to is not free from Trypanosoma evansi then the dog must be treated with either Suramin or Diminazene aceturate, according to the instructions for use thereof by the manufacturer on the day of departure back to South Africa.
  • If the country the dog is travelling to is not free from Leishmania and or Babesia gibsoni then the dog must be treated with an effective acaricide and with insect repellent registered in South Africa, before departure and throughout their stay.