Bringing a pet to Spain

So you gather up the courage to teach English as a foreign language in Spain. You confidently inform your parents, family, and friends. They have questions, but you have answers. Your mind is made up. You have mustered up the money for the deposit to secure your position in the course. But after you click the mouse to transfer the money to ITA, your four-legged, furry, love of your life, truly-man’s-best-friend, looks at you with those eyes (you know the ones) which seem to have a voice of their own … a voice that says, “What about me?”. Then I had the task of bringing my pet to Spain to accompany me on my new adventure!

Yes, what about your furry best friend? Your four-legged child? How can you possibly leave the country, for perhaps some undefined amount of time, without your Fido? I, too, was faced with these questions as I decided to take action on a long-time dream of living abroad and becoming multi-lingual. Fido, in this case, was my Peanut who I rescued from a pet shelter over 2 years ago. No one in my family or circle of friends was able to take care of him and placing him back into a shelter crushed my heart at the very thought. Honestly, I could not bear to move away without him.

So what did I do, you ask? Well, I found a way to bring Peanut with me. Now let me tell you upfront, what I am about to describe is a very complicated, detailed, time-sensitive, and expensive process. BUT, it is achievable. You can, most definitely, bring your pet with you overseas from the United States. When there’s a will, there’s a way!

The following are a list of considerations – not all inclusive, admittedly, but pretty close 😊

  • Veterinarian/United Stated Department of Agriculture(USDA) Paperwork: You need to prepare to have your pet’s Veterinarian complete a thorough check-up of your pet and sign paperwork. The USDA will have to review the Vet’s paperwork and notarize the paperwork. This paperwork is very time sensitive. If you are seriously thinking about bringing your pet, you should speak to your vet immediately! Do not wait! Your pet will need to be up-to-date on shots and must be micro-chipped with an identification number. Requirements vary for each country and will vary again depending if you decide to travel with your pet or send your pet overseas alone. Take a look at this website for more specific information regarding the process regulations and time-sensitive paperwork needed: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/pet-travel
  • Pet-friendly Airlines: You will need to research the airlines that allow Trans-Atlantic travel of pets. Depending on the breed, size, and weight of your pet, you may be able to take your pet with you in-cabin under the seat. Make sure to research the specific size and requirements of pet carriers. This is very important! *Note: some airlines will not accept flying pets in-cabin on flights with layovers. Therefore, if you want to travel with your pet, you may have to pay more money for a direct flight to your destination overseas.
  • Emotional Support: Will you register your pet as an Emotional Support pet? With most airlines, Emotional Support dogs fly in-cabin with you under the seat for FREE or for a greatly discounted rate. There are reputable and legal websites that streamline the process of registering your pet as an Emotional Support animal. You will need to take a short quiz and pay a fee (normally under $50) for a licensed professional to complete the process and mail the certificate to you. No need to even leave your house for this!

As I had already purchased my airline ticket to Barcelona, which included one layover, the airline (Norwegian Airlines) did not allow me to take Peanut in-cabin with me. Norwegian Airlines also did not allow pets in-cargo. Therefore, I had to book Peanut a separate flight with United Airlines for him to fly in-cargo from Atlanta, Georgia to Barcelona.

  • Cost: The cost of the flight will vary depending on the airline you choose and the size/weight of your pet. Be sure to check all requirements outlined by the airline as there are VERY specific restrictions and instructions that must be adhered to. If not, the airlines could prohibit your pet from flying. In-cargo pet travel is safe, believe it or not, and there are attendants available to check on your pet. Again, be sure to inquire with the specific airline you choose about how your pet will be taken care of before, during, and after the flight.    
  • Spanish Customs: In the end, Peanut arrived in Barcelona safe and sound a day after I arrived. However, picking Peanut up from Spanish Customs was just as complicated as bringing him overseas. It took four hours to complete the process because everything in Spain moves slow! But, if you have all the paperwork mentioned above in order, it can be done without any hiccups.
  • Pet Shipping Services: Are you getting a headache after reading all of this? Well no need to fear! There are companies that will make the process extremely easy and take care of everything from appointments with vets and the USDA to picking the pet up from your house in the US to getting the pet through Spanish customs and dropped off safely at your residence in Spain. The catch here is the price. Expect to pay close to $1,000, if not more. Expensive but it may be totally worth the stress-free experience.

Spain is a great country for pets especially dogs. There are many restaurants and shops that welcome dogs inside and plenty of parks where dogs are welcome. Dogs truly live the “good life” here in Barcelona. The hard work of planning and preparing your dog for the long travel overseas is all worth it when you and your dog can both enjoy the beautiful city of Barcelona … together!

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