Saturday, June 28, 2008

Just a Little More on Animals

Steve has written a detailed account of the process of getting the required certifications and having them apostilled in the comments sections of Bringing In Animals.  That's exactly what we did.  We were lucky that our vet was an APHIS vet so that I didn't have to go through the extra stage--which a friend of ours had to--of getting the certificate from (in our case) Olympia, which would have added a minimum of at least one day to our process.

These days, you'd have to live in a really out-of-the-way place for your vet not to be aware of what it takes to ship animals internationally.  Always a good place to start.

But as I added in the Comments section and wish to emphasize: the rules for bringing in animals may have changed.  ALWAYS check with the Panamanian Consulate or Embassy, always.  Make no assumptions.

Also, for those who may be interested, Steve has given José Saenz's email address.  Again, you can do it on your own, but especially if you are bringing in animals in pet cargo, it is advisable to go through an agent.

I should mention, too, that if you arrive when the official vet is not there, your animals will go into quarantine overnight at the airport, for which you will pay (I have no idea how much).  Those with whom I've talked who had had to go this route say that the people in charge are kind and courteous, and helpful.  Panamanians love animals.  Steve's comment about drawing a crowd because of their dog's unusual breed is right on.

As for Eugene Malek International Airport in David: yes, they are lengthening the runways so they can use larger planes, but I have no idea when that's going to happen.  Perhaps they will then add animal immigration but I doubt it.  The airport itself is small, and while it's touted as being 'International", it just means routine flights entering from Costa Rica and I think, at this time, Columbia, but wouldn't swear to it.  My guess is that the Panamanian government will still funnel all formal immigration through Tocumen for the foreseeable future.  With immigration to Panamá from the US (and quite possibly soon from western Europe) dropping off, they don't have a lot of reason to expand services to David.

All great information.  Please send any additional, and I'll post it.


sharon said...

Hi Joyce
Although things may have certainly changed, when I brought our cats in we didnt pay an overnight fee. We did have to pay $35. to customs and make out a bunch of paperwork but there was no mention of an overnight charge. I think everyone pays that regardless. Of course, my experience was three years ago and is probably hopelessly outdated

Joyce said...

Actually, Sharon, your experience is more recent than mine. I'm going on 4 years ago, when we were told we would have to pay an overnight fee.

things change, all the time.


sunshine said...

Thanks Joyce, Steve and Sharon (and any one else who left comments).

A worry that springs to mind, is the temperature thing - i.e. if I recall correctly it was either 75 or 85 degrees (I think the latter) at which point one is not permitted to fly a pet into Panama. But surely most days it would be over 85 degrees....and one can't plan your arrival around such a variable.

I wonder if this rule just applies to animals that fly in the cargo hold. Perhaps if the pet is flown under one's seat, it doesn't apply? Anybody know?

Joyce said...

Actually, will, it applies ONLY to cargo--I didn't make that clear. In fact, a number of the things I said apply only to cargo, NOT to flying in the cabin.

The cutoff temperature is 85 degrees. That's why you schedule your flights for the morning. Yes, you MUST plan around that variable if the airline you're using refuses to fly animals in. Actually, that same restriction applies in the southern part of the US--or did. We had to worry about it because at one point we were thinking of flying from Seattle to Houston and found out we couldn't because of the temperature restriction. That's why we chose to go to Los Angeles and take the midnight Copa flight to Tocumen.

The blackouts only apply to certain times of year.

The temperature restriction is one the airlines impose, not the Panamanian government. We noticed that different airlines had different blackout periods. You have to check with whatever airlines you're thinking of using.

Again, this only applies to pet cargo, because of the way they unload and get the animals into the terminal. When you're taking your pet in by means of the cabin, none of it applies because you're in climate controlled conditions all the time.

Joyce said...

Will, because of the way i wrote up this post, certain things may not be clear as to which applies to all animals and which applies to cargo only. Even if I had written a Pulitzer-Prize winning piece, the fact remains that you can't depend on what I've said precisely or even Steve's for that matter, because of the rumors--and that's all I know--of possible rule changes that supposedly go into effect on August 1.

1. Check with your vet. Most likely he/she will know a great deal about flying animals internationally. These regs will apply to any animal.

2. check with the Panamanian consulate and make sure your getting the most recent requirements.

3. Start researching the airlines. It's highly likely that they will have the most restrictive requirements.

4. Stop saying "Surely they won't..." They will. Denial will get you trouble for your animal.

Hundreds of people have brought their animals in successfully and safely. I've heard one or two people say that it's been no trouble, it's easy, etc. I suspect them of being rank liars. It's a hassle at best but it can be done. You'll have it easier than most because you're only bringing in one. but make sure you have a reservation for that animal if your airline turns out to have restrictions on how many animals can be in the cabin during any particular flight.

Just check, check, check. the airlines will be your biggest worry. You're close enough to a Panamanian consulate that overnighting the documents you need to have apostilled won't be a big problem. Because of where we lived, ours got to us the day before we were scheduled to fly.