Living in a global and transient place like Singapore, many people are used to a life on the move with changes, adjustments and the inevitable relocation. To help ensure this move is always done with the whole family (including our pets) we have put together a series of real life experiences from people who have moved to and from various countries with their dog(s) or cat(s). Our first move story in the blog series involves moving with your pet between Singapore and the United Kingdom.
SINGAPORE TO THE UK via AIR FRANCE
Sara-Jane Soutar relocated with her husband, their 18 year old son and three dogs from Singapore to the UK at the end of June 2018. Their three other grown up children already live in Europe, so all became that little bit closer including their dogs. Here is her move story.
LD: How many dogs do you have in your family, what are their breeds and where did you adopt or get them from?
SJS: We have two miniature schnauzers adopted 11 years ago at 6 months old. An expat was relocating to the USA and didn't want to take them with her. We also have a 5 year old chihuahua we adopted through Voices for Animals - VFA, a shelter in Singapore, last year. Before we adopted her, I checked the requirements for taking a dog in the cabin on Air France, as we knew we needed to move back eventually. The dogs from VFA are ex-puppy mill breeding dogs and already quite traumatised. I wanted to make the move as stress free as possible for her.
LD: You recently moved from Singapore back to the UK. When did you move and how much time did you get to plan your move?
SJS: We moved at the end of June 2018. We knew we were leaving just before Christmas last year, but I had been doing some low level research on relocating pets well before that.
LD: Did you move your pets on your own or through a Pet Transporter?
SJS: I knew from the beginning that I would try to do it myself as friends had told me how much they had paid to relocate their pets through agents. I didn't even bother to get a quote from a pet transporter at this point. I got the quote later so I could see how much I had saved. This is the first time we were moving with our pets.
I found the posts on some of the expat wives Facebook groups very discouraging and quite frankly, scare-mongering. This caused me a lot of unnecessary stress as it was really quite smooth in the end. You do need to be very organised though.
LD: What kind of pre-travel training did you have to do for your dogs?
SJS: We bought the crates as soon as we knew we were leaving and put their beds inside. They both slept in them from the beginning but I know of friends whose dogs didn't take to them so well. The chihuahua had a dog bag. I put her in it a few times for half an hour at a time. A couple of weeks before leaving, we went on a trip everyday to a cafe or shopping centre where she was carried around. Nobody knew she was in there.
LD: How easy was it for your dogs to adjust to their new home?
SJS: They love it, although they've all pulled a few muscles chasing seagulls on the beach! The UK is so much more dog friendly and people make a big fuss of them wherever we go.
LD: How much do you think did you save by doing part of the move work on your own?
SJS: Over $5,800 in total
LD: Do you have any cost estimates to share with our readers?
SJS: Besides the paperwork and my time, our actual costs worked out to approximately:
- Airline charges (2 x Euro 200 ) + (1 x 175) = Euro 375 (S$597)
- Barry at Pet moves £1425 (which included a fast track Eurotunnel ticket – deduct £300 if don’t buy fast track) = S$2596
- New Large Pet Mate Dog Crates x 2 = S$436.60
- Used dog carrier/bag = S$60
- Rabies vaccinations x 3 = S$233
- Tape worm treatment and health check = S$203.90
- Export License = S$50
- AVA Health Cert = S$26
- TOTAL = S$4202.50
A professional pet moving company can quote you between S$10,048.90 (on British Airways) to S$10,544.95 (on Singapore Airlines)
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 may reconsider.
SJS: With a little bit of planning and leg work, it's possible to take your dogs back even if you're on a budget. I probably could have saved more money by hiring a car in Paris and driving it to the UK, or getting a relative/friend to pick me up in Paris. If your budget is really tight, then plan well ahead and put aside money each month to pay for the move. Another option would be to find someone to share the van with as Barry's fee is for the whole van. The scariest part is the paperwork, but AVA will walk you through it all. Even though it seems overwhelming when you first look at it, one phone call to them and they will explain explain exactly what you need to write in each section.
Sara was kind enough to share her detailed timeline and also some approximate costs. If you would like a copy for your reference, please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org for a copy - it's an extremely helpful reference guide!
UK TO SINGAPORE via SINGAPORE AIRLINES
Sophie Garnett moved from Wales to Singapore with her fiance Adam and their dog Maggie in March 2018. Here's how they went from the snow to the tropics and this is Maggie's fourth country to live in!
LD: How many dogs do you have in your family, what are their breeds and where did you adopt or get them from?
SG: We have one dog, we think she is a kelpie/collie/whippet mix and we adopted her as a 4 month old from Cairns, Australia.
LD: How long were you living in the UK and when did you move to Singapore? How much time did you get to plan your move?
SG: We lived in the UK for about 2.5 years and moved to Singapore in March 2018. We knew a few months in advance that the move was happening but we only got the approval to book flights etc. two weeks before Adam had to be in Singapore to start work. I had already gathered quotes from various companies, so as soon as we got the go ahead, I could confirm with my choice of exporter and put a deposit down.
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?
SG: I used a Pet Transporter. I chose to do it this was as I was getting the impression that it could be quite hard to clear your own pets once in Singapore. Also we didn't know exactly when I would be here, if it was before or after the dog would be arriving etc, so it was much easier to basically book a door to door service.
LD: Have you moved countries with your pets before? From where to where?
Yes, Maggie has moved from Australia to New Zealand before flying to live in the UK.
LD: Can you run us through the process of moving your dog - a list of things you purchased and any recommendations?
SG: I didn't purchase anything for this flight as I already had an airline approved crate from previous flights. I think this is the only thing people would need to purchase if first time flying. Possibly an absorbent mat to go in the bottom.
LD: Do you have a checklist of paperwork you can share or online site people can refer to? How much time did it take?
SG: I just used this website to go through stuff: www.ava.gov.sg/explore-by-sections/pets-and-animals/bringing-animals-into-singapore-exporting/bringing-in-transshipping-dogs-cats ,
But my exporter had it all covered anyway and sent me emails of forms to complete which he then sent to my vet. I just used the website as a reference so I knew 100% what he was talking about. I think it took about 21 days from me giving the go ahead to Maggie flying. NOTE: You can't get a dog licence in Singapore without your Singapore address, and you can't import dog without a dog licence. There is no grace period when it comes to that, so you have to have your house lined up before you can complete dog paperwork for importation.
Maggie enjoying hikes in the Welsh highlands
LD: Which airline did you use and how was the experience with them? How long was the entire journey?
SG: We used Singapore Airlines, a direct 13 hour flight from Manchester to Singapore. It was probably middle of the road price-wise, and I wasn't going to save $100 on her airfare to have her transfer in Amsterdam when I was paying $1000's for the flight, much less stressful for her to fly direct.
LD: What kind of pre-travel training did you do for your dog ?
SG: As she's flown before I just got the crate out a few weeks before we left and had it in the living room, and she actually really enjoyed having her little den to escape to! Before she flew the first time I did extensive crate training with her though as she was scared of it, because she's a baby.
LD: How easy was it for your dog to adjust to their new home?
Super easy! We are here and that's all she cares about!
Maggie, now enjoys chilling out at the beach on Sentosa, Singapore.
LD: How much did your move cost in total? If you did the move on your own, how much do you think you saved?
SG: In total we paid SGD$3,122, Manchester – Singapore with Singapore Airlines Direct cost us £1327.00 (SGD$2378). Prices were based on using your own crate and included flight, airline handling, customs export fee, processing. I also paid another 100GBP for pick up from our house on the morning of the flight.
Singapore side we paid a total of $565 which included:
(a) Obtaining Import License, Dog Licence, Documentation, Communication, Customs clearance at airport & transport to home $500.00
(a) Import License $50.00
(c) Dog License @ S$15/-per dog (Sterilized)
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?
SG: DON'T!!! You are that animals world and all they know. We have to do right by them and it's not their fault if you decide to move to another country.
LD: Any other information you think would be helpful.
SG: Spend time and do your research. It doesn't even take that long. I sent out emails and enquiries to many exporters in the UK, told them I was flying Maggie from Manchester to Singapore, and wanted to know about direct prices. Pick a company that makes you feel like they understood you would be trusting them with your baby.
Don't be scared if you find a flight option that you like from one exporter, to ask another exporter about that particular route, you can give the the flight numbers and everything. One flight I did (Not to Singapore) I ended up getting about $1,200 cheaper when I took the flight to an exporter, rather than just excepting the price from the first company. I liked the route the first company found, but not the price!
A lot of companies got back to me and told me that she would have to go to London to be exported, but that is not true, it was just easier for them as they were in London. A few told me I HAD to buy a wooden air travel crate (that they would sell to me) even though I already had a perfectly good air legal crate.
A few told me that certain airlines (Singapore Airlines included) couldn't fly a dog from Manchester as the cargo door of a passenger plane could be too small for the crate to fit in, so I would have to fly her or bring her to London where a bigger plane could take her. I countered that with the below link proving what airline is allowed to fly animals in and out of each airport. Plus I know that a huge Airbus 350/380 which would be the plane on the route that I wanted her on had doors big enough to take her crate! www.gov.uk/government/publications/pet-travel-approved-air-sea-rail-and-charter-routes-for-the-movement-of-pets/approved-air-routes-for-pet-travel
Also I liked export companies that gave me more than one option when they responded to me. That is how travel agents are trained to respond, so why not these guys? I didn't like the "this is the only option and price, take it or leave it' attitude that some exporters gave me. The guys I ended up going with gave me my direct option and also a cheaper one, but like I said above I wasn't splitting hairs on a few $100.
I used and would recommend:
- Duncan at Barker & Hood in Manchester
- Ophilia at Mitchville Pet in Singapore
Also previously used Jetpets for Aus - NZ (CNS - BNE - CHC - ZQN) - on a Qantas ticket & AeroPets for NZ - UK (ZQN - AKL - HKG - MAN) - on a Cathay Pacific ticket.
#movewithyourpets @dogsarefamily #loyald
Our next Moving Countries with your Pet Story will be between Singapore and the USA.