(Updated as of December 2016)
Moving is always stressful on everyone, including our pets. Moving to Saudi Arabia with a dog is even more of a challenge as it is not exactly "canine friendly". Our dog Nino is the like a child to my husband and I - leaving him behind was not an option for us. There are some prior requirements when bringing a dog into Saudi Arabia including vaccinations, tests, certified documents, and a import permit. Saudi Arabia also maintains a "banned list", which can be found in the Facebook link provided at the bottom of this post.
Issued by Vet
• Rabies Vaccination (sticker from vile including batch number and manufacturer)
• ISO Compliant Chip
• Tests Confirming No Parasites/Infections
• Letter Signed by Vet (blue ink)
• USDA APHIS 7001 (Must state that "Guard Dog")
(Update as of December 2016 Saudi Arabia requires a country specific APHIS click here)
The rabies vaccination must be administered to the dog at least 30 days prior and no more than 6 months, and only 1 year vaccinations are accepted (no 2 or 3 year vaccinations). I had my vet, Dr. Christina Belew of the Union Hill Animal Hospital (Kansas City) sign all documents in blue ink, including all lab results.
The country specific USDA APHIS must be completed by a USDA certified vet and must be endorsed by the governing states USDA office. I personally drove 3hrs each way to ensure the endorsement was done in a timely manner, as it was only valid for 30days from the date of issue. Once the USDA office has completed their endorsement, the APHIS must be endorsed by the Saudi Arabian Embassy and US Department of State. Given that I resided in Missouri at the time and was still working, I was unable to personally take the documents to DC and therefore utilized a visa service (Click Here For TraVisa). The visa service was able to complete both endorsements and had returned my documents within 7 business days.
Once these documents are returned, you can now apply for the Saudi Import Permit. This is typically applied for through an agent in Saudi Arabia however, if you are importing a pet I suggest checking out the Facebook page "Pet Imports Saudi Arabia", which is ran by Joy Nueman. Joy has a great deal of experience when it comes to importing a pet into Saudi, she also has posted the contact information for the vets who can issue the Import Permit through each city. When applying for the import permit it is important to provide the Saudi Passport or visa issued, all of the previous documentation issued and endorsed in the US, along with a deed/home instruments (indicating that the home in Saudi is not an apartment), and we were also asked to provide a electricity bill (provided by my in-laws). If you are moving to Saudi Arabia on a expat on a Employment Visa, most companies will be willing to provide housing documentation; some may even apply for the permit for you - given this, I would advise inquiring with your employer directly.
The import permit is only valid for 30 days but given the time length it takes to obtain the necessary paperwork, we only had about a week before our APHIS 7001 was set to expire and left just a few days after.
When importing a dog to any country, it is important to check with the airlines prior to booking to see what specific requirements is needed. My husband and I flew with Lufthansa, this airline only requires the same documentation as the country of import, and then of course a crate that is large enough for the dog to stand, sit, and lay down comfortably. The price to fly Nino from Chicago all the way to Dammam was only $200 USD. This price also included a stop at the "Pet Hotel" at the Frankfurt, Germany airport; where he was cleaned up, fed/watered, and allowed to stretch.
Due to some unforeseen issues with the vet in Saudi, my husband and I were not able to obtain permission to import Nino through Jeddah. We were able to obtain permission for Dammam; from here we shipped Nino on a domestic flight via cargo on Saudia Airlines, he did fly on the same flight as us and were able to retrieve him from the cargo pickup in Jeddah.
Everything in total was approximately $1500 USD compared to the quote from a pet relocation company, which quoted me $5000 USD.
I have heard that the process to import a cat is similar but still less restrictive.
Note: If you do not typically crate your dog; it is highly suggested to get them used to the crate a few weeks prior to departure; put them in the crate and utilize positive reinforcements and rewards for the behavior. This is something new to them and the extensive travel can be extremely stressful on them.
All information in the post is provided and to be utilized in good-faith, I will continue to update as new information becomes available.