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Moving Countries with your Pet Series: Australia to Singapore | Singapore to Australia


Our third Moving with your Pet Series covers transporting your dog from and to Singapore and Australia. As a nation, Australia has strict laws on import of animals, so advance planning will go a long way, specially if you plan to adopt a dog in Singapore.

These moves were the first time for both families to move with their pet dog and they couldn't be happier to have done. We hope these real-life experiences will offer reference and guidance to keep your furry family members together.

AUSTRALIA TO SINGAPORE via Qantas

Abby and Steve moved from Sydney to Singapore in June 2019, the first time they themselves have ever moved outside of Australia and consequently for their dog too. Here's how they all handled the whole move.

LD: How many dogs do you have in your family, what are their breeds and where did you adopt or get them from?

AC: We have one dog in our family, Ripley, a 5-year-old Australian Shepherd. We purchased Ripley from a breeder in Victoria, Australia, in 2014.

LD: How long were you living in Australia and when did you move to Singapore? How much time did you get to plan your move?

AC: Steve and I had lived in Australia our entire lives (30+ years). We moved to Singapore in June 2019 - so it was slightly intimidating for us as we hadn't lived overseas before. Ripley had lived with us in our house from day one, so it was also intimidating to think that not only was she moving to a new home... but a new home almost on the other side of the world!

LD: Did you move your pets on your own or through a Pet Transporter? Why did you choose to use a Pet Transporter or do on your own?

AC: We used a company called Jetpets to organise Ripley's trip to Singapore. We chose to use a pet transporter because we found out that we had to move to Singapore at quite short notice (approx. 6 weeks' notice!). Because of the tight timeline we had to leave Australia prior to Ripley (we left her in the loving care of family until she was able to join us). This meant that the pet transporter became really vital, as they took control of the paperwork process and shared all of their valuable knowledge with us. I would have preferred to have had full control and organised everything on my own, but now after using the pet transporter and seeing that it was a pretty smooth process, I think they offer a good service.

LD: Can you run us through the process of moving your dog –

AC: Because we used a pet transporter, we didn't have to purchase any extras for Ripley. They supplied us with an authorised crate, feeding/water bowls, crate mats, etc. We gave them:

- some of her favourite toys

- a towel that smelled familiar (so she could have something to comfort her)

- please consider freezing a water bowl for them so it lasts longer on the flight.

In regards to paperwork, moving your pet from Australia to Singapore is relatively easy as both countries are rabies-free. This means that your pet (most likely) will not need to be quarantined upon arrival and they can join you on the same day you arrive.

You need to make sure that:

* Your pet is up-to-date with their vaccinations, and you have the documentation to prove it

* You have purchased an airline approved travel crate (if using a pet transporter, this should be covered via them)

* You've supplied your pet's Microchip number

* Your pet has an Australian accredited veterinary consultation prior to leaving Australia

* This consultation needs to include an external and internal parasite treatment prior to departure, just in case they have fleas, etc.

* You have an Australian Government export permit and health certificate

* You have a Singapore import permit

We had a few stuff-ups along the way - two days out from leaving Australia, someone at customs in Singapore reviewing Ripley's documentation realised that her microchip number was missing a digit. This led us to discover that her life-long vet in Sydney had never had the right number on her file - which was EXTREMELY stressful, as it meant we had to redo Ripley's medical documentation all over again... just 48 hours out from her flight! Even though this was an accident, it's something to be mindful of. Please save yourself the stress and double check your details.

LD: Which airline did you use and how was the experience with them? How long was the entire journey?

AC: Ripley came with Qantas, which was comforting as they're a reputable airline. Jetpets told us that from Australia to Singapore they relocate pets either via Qantas or Singapore Airlines, which helped slightly with my anxiety. It was an 8 hour flight for her, which I panicked through the entire time!

LD: What kind of pre-travel training did you do for your dog

AC: Ripley was crate trained since she was 5 weeks old, which has honestly been one of the best things for her. We knew that as she had a crate at home in Sydney for her whole life that she could enter/exit at any time (even though she's a free range dog) she doesn't find them stressful or claustrophobic. So I would definitely recommend crate training your pet prior to leaving - it will reduce their anxiety and yours. Ever since she was a puppy Ripley has been an active, energetic and outgoing member of our family - we've exposed her to all types of environments, vacations, boarding kennels, doggy daycare, people and other animals. So I think this exposure helped too, as she is always up for an adventure.

She spent two days prior to leaving Australia at the pet transporter kennel at Brisbane Airport. Even though no-one likes the thought of their dog being in a kennel without them, I knew that she would be okay as she had experienced this before and had staff there 24/7 to keep an eye on her. The pet transporter also provided us with updates which was comforting. Make sure that they send you a 'report card' prior to departure that lets you know how your pet is feeling, whether they've eaten, gone to the bathroom, etc. before getting on the plane.

LD: How easy was it for your dog to adjust to their new home?

AC: When Ripley arrived she was a bit anxious and overwhelmed, which was to be expected. We took a few days to just calmly let her settle in and not put any pressure on her to be anywhere or to do anything - just to hang out with her 'pack' and get used to her new surroundings. After 3 days she was 100% back to her old self - and she has settled in really quickly. She loves exploring Singapore's green space and adores the dog run at Bishan Park!

LD: How much did your move cost in total? If you did the move on your own, how much do you think you saved?

AC: It cost us around AU$5,000 to use Jetpets to relocate Ripley. If we did it ourselves, it most likely would have cost around AU$3,000. Even though that's a lot of money to pay, because we had such a short time frame to move I think that they were worth the spend. While we were trying to organise our lives (finishing up our jobs, packing up our house, etc.) we didn't have to worry about doing Ripley's import/export documentation, finding a crate or anything like that. But if you have time to organise it yourself and do the research required, I don't think a pet relocator is necessary - save those funds to do something nice with your pet when you get there! The cost covered the airfare, authorised crate, veterinary assessment before departure, boarding fees, all of the necessary documentation required (e.g. import permits, export permits, health certificates, etc.) and transport to our house when she arrived at Changi.

LD: We consider pets as our family. But sometimes people get worried and leave their pet behind… what’s the one thing you’d like to say to such people so that they would reconsider?

AC: When you get a pet, that pet becomes a permanent member of your family. When we found out that we had to move to Singapore, the first question we asked was whether Ripley would be able to join us. If she was not able to go with us, I was not going to join my partner - I would have stayed behind with her in Australia. Please don't leave your pet behind - all they have is you. It is not difficult to move with your pet, and it has honestly made this experience so much better as it feels like my entire family is together here on this new adventure overseas.

LD: Please feel free to add any other information you think would be helpful!

AC: We left Ripley behind in Australia for 6 weeks when we moved to Singapore, so we could find a dog-friendly house before she got here. Even though it was hard emotionally to leave her behind with family, I think it was much easier for her to settle in because we had the house set up from the moment she arrived. If you're thinking along the same lines, I do recommend it!

AUSTRALIA TO SINGAPORE via Qantas

Sarah and her husband moved from Singapore to Melbourne in July 2018 with their dog Roxy, who is their first dog they paw-rented together and ever moved with too. Now Roxy even has a human sibling to complete their happy family! Note: All cats and dogs that require post entry quarantine isolation (which includes Singapore) must arrive on an international flight into Melbourne International Airport to undergo quarantine at the Mickleham Post Entry Quarantine (PEQ) Facility.

LD: How many dogs do you have in your family, what are their breeds and where did you adopt or get them from?

SM: Roxy is an only fur child (in every sense!) She is a Singapore Special we adopted from SOSD in early 2015 (we changed her name from Kiwi to Roxy). On relocating to Melbourne Roxy got to know her extended human family and now spends holidays with her fur cousin Lewis (a rescued staffy/boxer cross adopted by other family members)

LD: How long were you living in Singapore and when did you move from Singapore? How much time did you get to plan your move?

SM: We lived in Singapore for five years (2012 - 2017). We set our moving plan into action about 8 weeks before our departure date.

LD: Did you move your pets on your own or through a Pet Transporter? Why did you choose to use a Pet Transporter or do on your own?

SM: We engaged Shiloh Animal Express to manage Roxy's relocation, they were fantastic and highly experienced. Australia has very strict importation and quarantine requirements - our agent was very knowledgeable and organised with all the necessary bookings, forms and pre-departure blood tests and checks. With everything else going on, having Shiloh manage Roxy's itinerary and timeline leading up to the move was a big help. www.shilohanimalex.com

LD: Can you run us through the process of moving your dog

SM: Roxy already had a travel crate (a generous gift from friends). Our pet transporter provided the requisite water bowl which gets affixed to the crate. We included a couple of items of our clothing, a toy and foam padding for the crate (with the knowledge that these items would be retained by Aus quarantine).

I started here: www.agriculture.gov.au/cats-dogs - this gave me an idea of the process and tests required for a Singapore to Australia move. It was also clear that time requirements can vary (a spot in quarantine has to be available and these are obviously limited). Lance and Jamie from Shiloh took over management of the process for us. I suspect for Australia a lead out time of at least 6-8 weeks might be needed.

LD: Which airline did you use and how was the experience with them? How long was the entire journey?

SM: Roxy flew Qantas Singapore to Melbourne direct, the flight was about seven hours. She was met at the airport by a partner agent and transported to quarantine (located just north of Melbourne) were she spent 10 days before we were reunited. We received updates at each point.

LD: What kind of pre-travel training did you do for your dog?

SM: Roxy was already a fan of chilling in her crate so I started closing the door briefly, then for longer periods in the weeks leading up to the flight.

LD: How easy was it for your dog to adjust to their new home?

SM: Roxy obviously came to Australia with her preexisting 'issues' - she's a nervous and sometimes reactive girl who takes time to warm to to new people - however her adaptability to new smells, homes, and weather has been pretty remarkable. We're lucky to have great spaces to use and we've gone from a 12th floor condo to having a house and yard so Roxy has a bit more freedom. As her routine hasn't really changed - long morning walk and a lot of daytime napping, her life is similar in Australia as it was in Singapore. Although in our first winter back I think that the cold made her a bit more energetic, and a winter diet and fluffier coat certainly make her look more 'covered'. We've also been working with a trainer and behaviouralist here in Melbourne to help with some of Roxy's longer term issues which has been rewarding. We're so pleased she gets along with her adopted cousin Lewis as this has made weekends away, off lead play and dog sitting possible.

LD: How much did your move cost in total? If you did the move on your own, how much do you think you saved?

SM: Inclusive of everything, we spent between SGD$6-7,000. Roxy's flight and Australian quarantine fees were the main costs involved in this figure. Shiloh's fee was only a small component of the overall cost and very competitive compared with other agencies (we got at least 5 other quotes). We chose them also because they are Singapore based (to manage all the pre-travel vet visits and admin) and also experienced in Australian quarantine procedures.

LD: We consider pets as our family. But sometimes people get worried and leave their pet behind… what’s the one thing you’d like to say to such people so that they would reconsider?

SM: Every financial and lifestyle sacrifice has been worth not breaking a heart.

LD: Please feel free to add any other information you think would be helpful.

SM: Roxy had spent 3 years in the shelter before we adopted her - re-homing her would have been a near impossible task. But of course this was never an option for us, we would have changed plans before giving up on her. Because Australia's quarantine requirements are so strict, our biggest stress in this whole process was waiting for Roxy's blood results. Receiving the 'all clear' was only beaten by the licks and hugs when we collected her from quarantine.

Thank you, Sarah and Abby for the useful insights! For our readers, if you need a quick summary, the top-three most helpful points are:

- Get all the necessary tests done with your Vet, from day 1 (and prior to adoption, if planning to move from Singapore) to ensure your dog is always fit to move with you.

- Both Australia and Singapore official government sites have all the information easily available online.

AUSTRALIA: www.agriculture.gov.au/cats-dogs

SINGAPORE (AVS): www.nparks.gov.sg/avs/pets/bringing-animals-into-singapore-and-exporting/bringing-in-and-transshipping-dogs-and-cats/general-information

Otherwise, the reliable Pet transporters would save a lot of heart ache and it's worth the spend.

- Don't forget to start preparing your pet for the move at least 3-4 weeks in advance and once at the other side, give them 2-3 weeks to relax and adjust into the new place. Your simple presence will make all the difference!

TO READ MORE in this Blog Series:

Moving Countries with your Pets: Singapore and the UK

Moving Countries with your Pets: Singapore and the USA

#movingcountries #australianshepherd #dogsarefamily #singaporespecial #movingwithpets #movingtips

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