During our time in the UAE, we acquired two rescued sighthounds, Ramlah and Rahhal and it has always been our intention to take them back to our native Scotland when our time is done in the Middle East. My time there is not completely over, but my husband has repatriated a few months ahead of me and I traveled home with him for a few days to see the dogs home safely. I struggled to find reliable information on internet about the procedure so here are our experiences.
Microchips, vaccinations and tests
It is always a good idea to get your pet microchipped as soon as you get them and it is mandatory before travel. Most rescues, including ours, are chipped before they are put out for adoption.
The most important vaccination to have is the one for rabies, but the authorities like to see a full set of vaccinations stamped in your pet’s passport book. There is a requirement for tapeworm treatment to be administered less than 120 hours before arriving at the UK border.
Incidentally we moved from the UAE to Oman a year ago (you can read about that export/import procedure here) and dogs traveling from the Sultanate require a TITER test to check that rabies vaccinations have taken. This cost us 175OMR (350 GBP) for both of them at Muscat Vets and we had this done as soon as we realised they would need the tests if we needed to move them to the UAE or UK. Note that if you are taking them from the UAE to the UK, currently no TITER test is required.
Your pets will require a good health certificate issued by a vet up to 48 hours before travel.
A few years back I watched a reality tv show about one airport/border/customs in the UK and it featured a pet owner trying to import their pet from the Far East. Something was amiss with the paperwork and the dog was refused entry to the UK; the owner had to choose between returning it to the country of origin – where there was no-one to care for it – or putting it to sleep. It was heartbreaking TV to watch and we decided we would have Al Qurum Vets (aka Muscat Vets) do all the necessary paperwork, to ensure this did not happen to us.
We booked an appointment with them around a month before travel to check all our paperwork was ok, that the dogs’ chips scanned correctly and to have their advice on travelling.
We supplied them with a copy of our ticket, whereupon they booked the dogs’ flights and started the paperwork process.
The day before we flew we took the dogs in for a health check including tapeworm treatment, and collected the paperwork.
Most airlines have specific requirements for crates and we were fortunate to pick up one second hand and to be able to buy a second, new one at a big discount. We used the crates to take them through the airport and also in the taxis at Rotterdam. We took them on the ferry and at Hull donated them to Oakwood Dog Rescue.
If you fly your pets direct into the UK you can only do this as cargo which is extremely expensive and has some potential logistical problems. If they fly cargo rather than excess baggage, they may not be on the same flight as you and if they should fly before you then someone will need to pick them up at the airport soon after they land.
We opted for
- Flying Muscat to Amsterdam
- Taxi to/from Hotel in Rotterdam
- Overnight Ferry Rotterdam to Hull
- Number One Son to drive down from Scotland and take us from Hull to Edinburgh
KLM has an excellent reputation for pet transport which is why we chose them. The check in process was easy and the staff were super-helpful and made quite a fuss of our pets.
We flew overnight with a stop (staying on the plane) at Daman in KSA, arriving in Amsterdam at 0630hrs.
Most passengers on the plane were transitting AMS so we had a short wait for our baggage, and the dogs were trolleyed through to us, customs cleared, around 20 minutes later.
Taxi Companies in Amsterdam/Rotterdam
We booked our taxi from Amsterdam to Rotterdam through Kiwitaxis and their driver Yousef was very much on the ball, checking our flight status, calling us once we had landed, meeting us in the arrivals hall and assisting us with our entourage. He expected us to have dogs/crates and he asked us to put the dogs in the crates for the journey which was fine with us. He let us walk the dogs outside the airport before we set off, which was kind of him.
Kiwitaxis could not supply a car for our evening journey from Rotterdam City to the P and O Terminal, a distance of about 45kms, so we chose someone else. Their driver appeared with a minibus but not enough room to put the crates on the floor so after covering the seats with a blanket the dogs beside me. He had not been told by the taxi agency we had dogs, nor that we had oversize luggage but he was good humoured about it and got us all to the ferry port with time to spare. The problem was not with the driver but the agent, who had not conveyed all the information we supplied.
We stayed in the Eurocentral Hotel in Rotterdam, a slightly shabby round the edges 3 star; however the beds were comfortable and it was only five minutes walk from shops/cafes and the same time from the historic harbour area. The hotel was booked through dayuse.nl.
In an ideal world the old Rosyth Ferry would have still been running to save us a 300km drive from England to Edinburgh. Another option which would have made our life a little easier would have been taking a ferry from the Netherlands to Newcastle, however not all ports accept foot passengers with dogs, and sadly Newcastle was not one of them and this is why we opted for the next nearest port, Hull.
We were pleasantly surprised at the terminal when one of the supervisors instantly arranged for a porter for us, without us even asking; checking in took a few minutes while the clerk checked the animal’s paperwork but with all in order we were issued our tickets and cabin key.
Foot passengers must lodge their pets in a kennel area on the car deck – this is indoors and heated, though I imagine it must be rather hot in the summer; not a problem in early December.
We opted for an outside cabin and with the help of dizinil, taken to combat sea-sickness as a force 8/9 gale was expected, we slept not too badly. Breakfast at the Kitchen restaurant was very good and well worth taking.
UK Border Control
Bad weather saw us bused off the ferry as too windy/dangerous to use the walkway, which meant that we were one of the first in the queue. The officer was very pleasant and efficient, complimented us on our full set of paperwork for the dogs and told us she was glad we had it or it could have been a long wait for us. All in all this took about 10 minutes (sorry if you were in the queue behind us!)
Travel from Hull to Edinburgh
We were lucky that our son Andy was able to come and get us from Hull; other options we looked at were a one way hire car or the train. We had a few stops on the way up and finally arrived 50 hours and 20 minutes after leaving our old villa in Barka.
And a final word on the journey…
Once left the Middle East, we couldn’t believe how friendly everyone was to the dogs. With their striking looks and decked out in matching hand-knitted jumpers Rahhal and Ramlah attracted attention everywhere they went!
Having had a heart-stopping estimate for transporting the dogs via cargo to the UK – total cost around 4700 GBP including paperwork and cages, this is what it actually cost us.
Cages – 75 OMR (145 GBP)
Al Qurum (Muscat) Vets initial consultation fee – 18 OMR (35 GBP)
Al Qurum (Muscat) Vets paperwork fee – 317 OMR (613 GBP)
KLM flight – 155 OMR (300 GBP)
Taxi Amsterdam to Rotterdam – 92 EUR (81 GBP)
Hotel Rotterdam – 92 EUR (81 GBP)
Taxi Rotterdam to Terminal – 88 EUR (77 GBP)
Ferry – 220 GBP
Total in GBP – 1418 for the two dogs.
There was not much by way of blogs on the internet to even let us know what to expect on our journey. If you are transporting your dogs back to the UK from the Middle East, I hope this blog is helpful.
Further info – https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/pet-travel-approved-air-sea-rail-and-charter-routes-for-the-movement-of-pets/pet-travel-sea-routes-and-companies-you-can-use