If you are bringing a pet from your home country to Kuwait, here’s a helpful first-hand account of what to expect.
6 February 2017| Last updated on 4 July 2017
Moving to a new country can be as overwhelming as it is exciting. You’ve probably done a ton of research in preparation. But no matter how many guidelines you read, it’s always more comforting to hear a first-hand account of what a particular process was like from someone who went through it.
So if you’re taking your furry friend along with you to Kuwait, here’s what you should expect your experience to be like. Kuwait doesn’t quarantine healthy pets, so you don’t have to worry about being separated for long.
When we moved to Kuwait, my husband Kyle’s parents were kind enough to keep our dog Roxy for us until we were able to bring her over. We had to find a pet friendly apartment before we could bring her, among other things. I really don’t think it would have been possible to bring her with us on our initial move, even if the apartment had allowed dogs.
Shipping or flying over?
Here are the details on how we went about importing Roxy. First of all, we looked into several transportation companies in addition to the cost of shipping her over by herself, but it turned out to be far cheaper to just fly over and bring her back with me. The average estimate for the transport company was US$1,300 for 30-pound Roxy.
Luckily, Kyle figured out that it would be significantly cheaper for me to fly back to the States for about 24 hours and bring Roxy back. Another huge factor to this working out was that Kyle’s mom was able to drive Roxy to Atlanta and meet me there. She is too big to fly in the cabin, so I brought her as excess baggage on Qatar Airways.
Before we left to move to Kuwait, we updated all of her vaccines. The vet has to sign these forms in BLUE ink. Roxy also needed an International Microchip. We asked one vet 3 times if they were sure they had the right one, only to find out just as they were about to inject it that it was NOT the international one – luckily someone who knew what we were talking about walked in just in time!
We’re also glad we never had her micro-chipped before even though we talked about having it done several times, but it wouldn’t have been the international chip.
Within 10 days before arrival into Kuwait (meaning not more than 10 days before you get here), you must have an import form filled out by a USDA vet to certify your pet’s health. I believe this also has to be signed in blue ink.
Luckily, my in-laws had access to an Air Force Base where the vet was well versed in all of these procedures. They also had the international microchip, so we got that there as well.
We ordered everything we needed for her trip to my in-laws’ house through our Amazon Prime before we discontinued it. We bought this crate, along with these bolts and quick release zip ties. I read that many airlines will not accept crates with the plastic bolts that crates are sold with and require metal ones, so I didn’t want to take the chance and just bought the metal bolts.
We also got her this water bottle. I don’t know if she used it or it ended up leaking out but it at least made me feel better knowing she had access to water. For an ID tag, we got this one before we left for Kuwait. We put Kyle’s mom’s phone number and both Kyle’s and my email addresses. That way, if anything happened in any of the three airports, they would have valid contact information.
SEE ALSO: Pets and vets in Kuwait
We emailed the International Vet Hospital with an inquiry as to what was needed. They sent us a list of documents they needed, which included a copy of her vaccines and microchip number. We sent them all of the required documents and payment. I believe the import permit is only valid for 30 days, so you have to make it back to Kuwait within 30 days of getting it. We drove there (almost an hour from Salmiya) to pick it up. It took about a week to process the permit.
I can only speak to what I went through with Qatar Airways but I think that was the worst part of the entire ordeal. I called with my flight numbers every 24 hours for over a week trying to confirm with them that I would be bringing my dog into Kuwait as excess baggage.
Finally, after a week, I was told that the flight I had booked from Qatar to Kuwait could NOT accommodate a pet. We had to change to a different flight about 48 hours before I left for the States.
After that, flying with Qatar Airways was fine. I am 100% positive they did get her out of the crate in Qatar. The zip ties had been replaced and her toy was missing, which was a bummer, but a small casualty.
Picking up your pet
I heard stories about lots of different things happening when you land here. For us, Roxy was waiting beside the baggage belt for our flight. I stayed with the rest of our bags while Kyle went with Roxy and some airport officials to another room to check some of the paperwork. Then, the airport took her back from us and sent her to the cargo area.
SEE ALSO: Kuwait residency visa
At this point, we drove back to the cargo area and spent about 3 hours going back and forth from one office to the next to complete the paperwork and wait on her to be brought back to cargo from the airport terminal. Paperwork in Kuwait is...interesting.
Once she was brought to cargo, she and Kyle were driven to a vet (only one of us could go) to check her microchip. More paperwork after they got back. I really wish I could remember how much we ended up having to pay to get all of the paperwork done but I think we almost ran out of cash because we didn’t realize how much it would be.
We couldn’t take Roxy out of the crate until we had driven out of the cargo area altogether. They did however allow me to open the crate door to pour some water into her bowl. I wish we had remembered to grab a few bottles of water on our way out of the airport because there was none available in the cargo area.
Taking pets in the cabin
Since Roxy is really too big, I didn’t spend a ton of time trying to find a flight that would allow her in the cabin. I was very much under the impression that all non-American airlines flying to the Middle East would NOT allow any dog, even service dogs, in the cabin with the only exception being seeing-eye dogs.
SEE ALSO: Kuwait Civil ID cards
That said – on our flight out of Kuwait for Christmas break, a family had their small dog on the Turkish Airlines flight we were on. I’m not sure if theirs was technically a “service” dog or if they only have a size restriction but at least we now know it’s possible to have a pet in the cabin on Turkish Airlines.
Roxy did amazing on the flight and was so happy to see Kyle! She’s doing really well here – her only nemesis is all of the cats. I’m sure she wouldn’t mind having a bit more grass, but she’s getting used to the sand just fine.
Adjusting to being an inside dog
I was pretty worried we wouldn’t be able to find someone to watch here when we were traveling. Luckily though, there are several kennel-free boarding facilities here. The one we used over Christmas break (and are using again while we’re in India) picked her up from our apartment and dropped her back off clean and smelling amazing.
SEE ALSO: Where to live in Kuwait
We also got lots of pictures several times a week while we were gone. She made friends that she got to play with all day and her own room to sleep in at night.
So happy to have our little family back together again!
About the Author
Sheli is a wife, a dog mom, a dietitian, a cook, an occasional baker, a health and fitness enthusiast, a wannabe yogi and a brand new expat from America to Kuwait. Follow her expat adventures on her blog here.