South Africa is one of the most stunning countries in the world. There aren’t many countries where nature plays such a big role in a nation’s culture.
Since South Africa is considered by many as one of the world’s most beautiful countries, most people that move there, never want to leave.
When traveling abroad, especially with a pet, our first piece of advice is to check the current import requirements.
If you are planning to bring a pet to South Africa, you may find the current import requirements to South Africa in the guide below.
Dogs and cats imported into South Africa must have an ISO 11784/11785 microchip.
The microchip must be implanted before or with the rabies vaccine.
Tattoos aren’t accepted in South Africa.
Dogs and cats imported into South Africa must have a valid rabies vaccine. The vaccination should be given at least 30 days before the import date.
The South African authorities require dogs and cats to enter South Africa with a rabies vaccine that was given no more than 12 months before the pet’s import.
If your cat/dog is coming from Australia, New Zealand, the UK or Northern Ireland, you don’t need to vaccinate it against rabies. We do, however, encourage you to vaccinate your pet against rabies as South Africa isn’t rabies-free.
Puppies and kittens less than 3 months old, don’t need to be vaccinated against rabies. In order for puppies and kittens to travel to South Africa, their mother should have been vaccinated for rabies more than 30 days and less than 1 year before their birth. Once these puppies/kittens enter South Africa and once they are 3 months old, they must be vaccinated against rabies.
Furthermore, we highly recommend vaccinating your dog/cat with all the necessary annual vaccinations given in your country.
Kennel cough vaccinations are also recommended.
If you would like to import a dog to South Africa, your dog needs to pass the following blood tests within 30 days of the export date:
If your country is free from one or more of the above diseases, your dog won’t need to pass a blood test for the disease that your country is free from. Please note that the veterinary authorities of your country will need to officially state this.
Dogs with a positive result for any of the five diseases won’t be able to enter South Africa.
Dogs that require quarantine in South Africa will be retested for the five diseases.
While in quarantine, if your dog is found positive for Brucella canis, Babesia gibsoni or Leishmania, your dog will need to return to its exporting country.
If, while in quarantine, your dog is found positive for Dirofilaria immitis or Trypanosoma evansi, you will be given the option to treat your dog with the necessary treatment. Once the treatment is done, your dog will need to be retested and it will only be released from quarantine if the results are negative. If you decide not to treat your dog, you will need to resend it back to its exporting country.
It is important to note that all the costs (such as quarantine, testing, treatments and resending the dog) will be incurred on the owner.
Unlike dogs, cats imported into South Africa don’t need to pass any of the above blood tests.
A veterinary health certificate, which is provided with the import permit, must be completed within 10 days of the flight.
The health certificate must be filled in by a private vet. The health certificate should be endorsed by the veterinary authority of the exporting country.
The original health certificate must be presented to the South African State Veterinarian at the port of entry.
Dogs and cats entering South Africa from Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Swaziland need to pass a health check within 7 days of the flight.
Dogs and cats entering South Africa must enter with a veterinary import permit.
Import permits are usually issued within 2 to 5 working days.
The original import permit must be presented to the South African State Veterinarian at the port of entry. Pet owners can send the original import permit along with the dog/cat or it can be presented to the officials at the airport by the person that will collect the pet.
Dogs and cats entering South Africa from the following countries don’t need an import permit:
Dogs and cats can only enter South Africa as manifest cargo (with an airway bill).
Pet owners can’t bring their pets to South Africa as excess luggage or in cabin.
Dogs that need to be quarantined can only enter South Africa through OR Tambo (Johannesburg) or Cape Town international airports.
Cats and dogs (that don’t need to be quarantined) can also enter South Africa through Durban international airport.
Dogs entering South Africa from the following countries won’t be quarantined: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Botswana, Bulgaria, Canada, Comoros, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungry, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Lesotho, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malawi, Malta, Mauritius, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Poland, Reunion, Romania, Seychelles, Spain, Slovakia, Slovenia, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, United States and Zimbabwe.
If your country isn’t listed above, your dog will be quarantined for 14 days.
If your dog is coming from an island, you should contact the Ministry of Agriculture to find out if your dog will be quarantined upon arrival.
Cats entering South Africa are usually not quarantined.
Here are some frequently asked questions about importing a pet into South Africa:
Question #1: Is a rabies antibody titer test needed to bring a dog or cat into South Africa?
Dogs and cats don’t need to pass a rabies antibody titer test to enter South Africa.
Question #2: I have a small dog. Can I bring my dog in-cabin?
No! Pets can only enter South Africa as manifest cargo. We recommend you read the following article: Flying Pets Unaccompanied
Question #3: How long does it take to import a dog/cat into South Africa?
The length of the process depends on many variables, such as: where you a relocating from, what pet do you have (dog or cat), your pet’s age, etc.
We always recommend pet owners to begin the process 2-3 months before their planned travel date.
Question #4: Can I bring my Pitbull to South Africa?
The South African authorities allow Pitbulls and other “dangerous” dog breeds to enter South Africa.
Question #5: How much will it cost me to bring a pet to South Africa?
Bringing pets to South Africa isn’t cheap. Why? Because pets need to enter South Africa as manifest cargo (unaccompanied).
In order for us to provide you with a ballpark estimate, we recommend you get in touch with us via email.
Beginning to plan a relocation with a pet can be very complicated.
The information provided in this guide was written so that pet owners could get a good idea about the process of bringing pets to South Africa. The internet is filled with conflicting information so our goal is to give pet owners up-to-date information for importing pets into South Africa.
Pets owners who intend to move their pets without the help of a professional pet shipping company should think twice before doing so.
We don’t want to frighten you, but one tiny mistake could cause you and your pets a lot of trouble!
There is nothing wrong with seeking some help.
When your pet’s safety is at stake, it’s best to trust Pets2Fly.
We would love to hear from you!