Moving to Belize with Pets

Moving to Belize with PetsI have been asked a few times now what the process is to bring a pet in to Belize.  When I moved to Belize in 2008 I brought my cats with me and it was a relatively painless process.  The hardest part about the whole thing was my cats’ reaction to being on two planes and traveling for a day in their carriers.  I thought it may be helpful for others out there if I outline the steps I took to bring my pets with me from the USA to Belize.  The steps I took were the following;

The forms that I needed to have completed and with me when I crossed the Belize border were;

  1. Approved Import Permit – I was allowed to list all three cats on one permit application
  2. International Veterinary Certificate and valid Rabies Vaccination Certificate
  3. The pets will be inspected by a quarantine officer once you arrive at the border

The steps I took (in the order they are here) are as follows;

  1. Received the BAHA (Belize Agricultural Health Authority) application by emailing baha@btl.net – they were very prompt in getting the application to me and answering any questions.  This is the form you will submit to receive an import permit.  I completed the application and faxed it to their office in Belize.
  2. BAHA faxed me the approved import permit which I carried with me to Belize.  All three cats were listed on one permit.  There is a small charge ($15USD) for the faxed permit which you will pay along with the rest of the fees at the Belize border.
  3. In addition to the import permit you need an International Veterinary Certificate, and a valid Rabies Vaccination Certificate.  I found a vet who specialized in the International Vet Certificate so I wouldn’t miss anything and received my certificate from them.  I also had them do the rabies vaccinations.  The rabies vaccination can be no less than one month and no more than four months old.  The vet also told me that Belize required de-worming internally and externally so we did that as well.  The total vet costs to me were about $250 for all three cats and everything I needed done.
  4. I took all paperwork with me to Belize – including the approved import permit I received from BAHA and presented it all to the BAHA official at the airport.  The official inspected all three cats and looked over all paperwork.
  5. I had to pay $85 US dollars total once inspection was complete; $50 for the permit, $15 for the faxed import permit I received in the states from Belize and $20 for an inspection fee (I was not prepared for this one).  This is what my receipt stated and the prices may have increased since then.
  6. Once I paid I was free to take my animals into Belize with no trouble.
  7. If you don’t follow their process there is a fee of $100 that may be charged to you.

I ran in to one big problem at the Portland International Airport (my first airport of the trip).  Since we had the cats we had to go through the screening first, individually, and then to a special room where the cats had to come out of their carriers and the carriers themselves had to be run through the screening process.  We had bought a spray recommended by the vet to calm the cats down a little since we weren’t allowed to sedate them (airline policy) so that had been sprayed all over the carriers.  At this point the cats hated us – they were freaking out and I wasn’t happy about removing them from the bags.  We had to though so they were out in the little room with cat hair flying everywhere, trying to find any possible hiding spot they could.  The security officers came back after a little while and said we needed to come with them for additional screening.  They were suddenly very serious and my heart skipped a beat while we went out of the room and followed them.  We each had to have full body scan with the wand they use again, and then they had to search through all our other stuff again.  After they had scanned us all they told us that whatever we had sprayed on those cat carriers should never, ever be used again for airline travel.  It had set off all sorts of alarms.  A little embarrassed we nodded and went on our way.  That spray is Feliway made by Ceva – DO NOT USE THIS SPRAY GOING THROUGH AN AIRPORT.  So if you are contemplating products like this make sure that it is airline approved.

If you have had experience traveling abroad with your pets (specifically to Belize) please feel free to comment with any additional advice.  The fees I have listed were from 2008 and may have increased slightly over the last couple of years.

20 comments for “Moving to Belize with Pets

  1. @EmilySNC
    October 7, 2010 at 6:41 pm

    Thanks so much for this informative post! We’ll be bringing our sweet Paisley (Boston Terrier) to Belize next year, and this lays everything out perfectly. Your blog never fails to be helpful!

    • October 3, 2012 at 7:56 pm

      I AM TRYING TO MOVE TO BELIZE AND I HAVE 2 TOY CHICHAUS, I NEED TO TALK TO SOMEONE THAT HAS DONE THIS. I NEED TO KNOW ABOUT ME ALSO. I AM REALLY ALLERGIC TO LIVE VIRVIS, THE SHOTS I NEED I MAY NOT BE ABLE TO GET SO WHAT DO U DO ? i need a 1 bedroom, safe place, a furnished place, not elaberate but affordable. i have emailed somepeople but i have to know what i have to do, the ins and outs i guess. i will feel better if i talk to a person who has done this.
      carroljeanneogden@gmail.com
      carrol ogden i am coming from indiana,usa thanks

  2. Harry Bushwitz
    October 11, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    Hi!
    Your list and directions are as accurate as they come. Our Belize Import permit is waiting for our arrival at BZE International. I’ve been in close contact with Ms Melody Robateau, Administrative Assistant/Permit Officer, (animalhealth.baha@gmail.com), Tel:(501)824-4899/4872. Ms Robateau has been a dream to work with, is quick with her replies and follows thru (5 Star Service!).
    The only “hickup” we’ve experienced was in finding a vet to do the International Veterinary Certificate. What we are doing is driving to the USDA to get their Stamp on the document (which our vet could not do; as an alternative, he suggested we overnight the document to USDA).
    We’ll see how things go on Friday, Oct 15 when we fly to Belize.
    Hope you rest easy and become inspired for your blog.

  3. October 20, 2010 at 8:53 pm

    We made it!

    We arrived at the Belize City Airport with zero problems this past Friday the 15th.

    From the moment we landed we heard the dogs howling and barking. It was funny at first, but after an hour it got very tiresome, to say the least. They had to stay in their crate until we cleared customs.

    We ran into a little snafu with the import permit for the dogs not being on file at the airport (I had double checked before leaving to make sure that it was at the airport waiting for us before we left, and was assured that it was there).

    Any way, the Belize Inspectors were fine with the dogs not having an import permit so long as I was willing to pay an extra $100 – which of course I wasn’t willing to do. So, I said I’d wait until they got the permit. It took them about an hour to finally get the document faxed over and allow us enter Belize.

    I will have to double check, but the costs you sited in your blog I believe are accurate.

    We have been here only a few days now and our dogs (two miniature doxies) couldn’t be happier. Our younger one loved to chase squirrels. His new sport is chasing iguanas.

    By the way, Chris Crowell the owner of Cotton Tree Lodge remembers your earlier visit, and sends his greetings.

    • belizedragonfly
      October 26, 2010 at 12:14 am

      I’m so happy to hear you both made it okay with the dogs! How did you fare during the hurricane? Corozal didn’t get hit too hard but from the sound of it Southern Belize took a beating. I hope I can make it to Cotton Tree Lodge sometime in the next few months to pay a visit – it is such a beautiful place! Tell Chris I say hello as well – I had a great time getting to know his story a little while I was there. Have fun!

  4. carrie
    March 22, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    This was all extremely helpful. I know Im about 3 years late in reading this, but Im wondering if you can still answer one question for me…
    Ive been searching through thousands of websites trying to get all the information I can to be able to move my three cats down to Belize in a few months – my question for you, since you also had three to move – is where were they on the plane? Did you have to send them as cargo?
    All the airline websites say you’re only allowed to have one pet with you as “carry on.”

    Thanks in advance for your time, and your help!

    • belizedragonfly
      March 23, 2011 at 11:46 am

      Hello Carrie – thanks for reading!
      You are correct and the way we got around this was that there were three of us traveling so we each took one cat. Otherwise you would have to put them in cargo. Hope that helps! If you have other questions please feel to comment or email me through the Contact Me section.

  5. @EmilySNC
    May 9, 2011 at 11:57 am

    I’m a little confused. Harry (above) stated that he needed to get a USDA certificate/stamp; however, according to this site, this is not required for Belize: http://www.pettravel.com/USDA_countries.cfm

    Does BAHA now require this? I am inclined just to have the International veterinary certificate and skip the USDA certification, if it is not required. I found the vet. certificate online here:
    http://www.aphis.usda.gov/library/forms/pdf/APHIS7001.pdf

    • belizedragonfly
      May 9, 2011 at 12:55 pm

      Hello Emily; I think Harry just had a hard time finding a vet that could do the International certificate. From what I understand Belize does not require the USDA certification but does require the International veterinary certificate. Hope that helps!

      • July 4, 2012 at 9:51 pm

        I DID have a real hard time getting the right vet. We lived in Jacksonville, FL and were told by the cyitiferng vet that only the USDA could fulfill the requirements for entry into Belize.I wanted to make sure we had as few problems as possible, so I chose to go the route of getting a USDA Certificate.By the way, we flew American Airlines. Our dogs HAD to fly cargo. We have two miniature doxies. A friend of ours gave us the crate they used to ship their doberman so they had plenty of room for themselves, their toys, blankets, etc.

        • belizedragonfly
          August 2, 2012 at 1:57 pm

          Thanks for the comment about your experience! I think I got lucky (with a friends as a vet tech) finding the right vet to help us out. I’ll try and put a resource together listing some international veterinary services by state. If anyone has suggestions please either comment here or email me at belizedragonfly@gmail.com. Thanks!

  6. @EmilySNC
    May 9, 2011 at 6:39 pm

    Thanks, that helps! I will have to check with my vet — hopefully she can do the international health certificate. So many little details to attend to!

  7. Harry
    May 13, 2011 at 8:11 am

    @EmilySNC – I DID have a real hard time getting the right vet. We lived in Jacksonville, FL and were told by the certifying vet that only the USDA could fulfill the requirements for entry into Belize.
    I wanted to make sure we had as few problems as possible, so I chose to go the route of getting a USDA Certificate.
    By the way, we flew American Airlines. Our dogs HAD to fly cargo. We have two miniature doxies. A friend of ours gave us the crate they used to ship their doberman – so they had plenty of room for themselves, their toys, blankets, etc.

  8. November 30, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    Thanks so much for all the info.
    I’ve been in touch with Ms. Melody for the past few days to have the permit. She’s been so helpful! I hope everyone in Belize is sweet like she is.

    I will be traveling to Belize for 6 months on January 1st 2012. My cat (NiouNiou) will be accompanying me, I’m afraid what his reaction is going to be in the AirPlane or during our transfer in Atlanta but I can’t do nothing.

    Thanks again! I’ll come back here once I arrive in Belize.

    Steve Jesiolowska

    • July 24, 2012 at 7:47 pm

      I promised to let you know how was the trip… Excellent, all thanks to your blog! YOU ROCK!

      • belizedragonfly
        August 2, 2012 at 1:50 pm

        Thanks! I’m glad things went well!!

  9. January 4, 2012 at 9:33 am

    Oh thank you for laying out all the steps. Sometimes it is so hard to find out where to do what and you really helped my mittens get reunited with my mother. Thank you for the post!
    -Patricia

  10. Paul Carver
    February 2, 2012 at 7:24 pm

    My son is coming to Belize later this year. He wants to bring his yellow Labrador and miniature Russian Hamster. He contacted and requested the paperwork. He got a reply from who wrote “Sir we would need for you to please send us the information of your animals,we then will fill out the application and start to process your permits as to the hamster,the director of animal health will advice if you can bring it,the information that we need is as,
    the name ,age,breed,sex and color of he dog your address and the port of entry into Belize.the food you would need to also send information of it the brand name and quantity,we also register the the brand of food.and for each its ($50.00 Bze dollars)
    please feel free to contact us if you need more information.”
    I’ll keep you posted regarding his progress.

  11. July 4, 2012 at 8:25 pm

    This was all extremely hefpull. I know Im about 3 years late in reading this, but Im wondering if you can still answer one question for me Ive been searching through thousands of websites trying to get all the information I can to be able to move my three cats down to Belize in a few months my question for you, since you also had three to move is where were they on the plane? Did you have to send them as cargo?All the airline websites say you’re only allowed to have one pet with you as carry on. Thanks in advance for your time, and your help!

    • belizedragonfly
      August 2, 2012 at 1:56 pm

      Hello Nayara – the ‘one cat per person’ policy applied when we flew as well. It just happened that there were three of us flying together so we each took one cat as a carry-on item. We paid an additional $125 (I believe) to be able to do that. If you have additional questions please email me at belizedragonfly@gmail.com. Thanks! Good luck!!

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