Bringing your pets on holiday is a dream for many pet owners. In recent years, some have actually done the seemingly impossible, bringing their beloved furry friends abroad with them, the most popular “dog friendly” holiday destination being Japan. Taking your dog on a Japan travel trip makes a lot of sense– there’s plenty of dog friendly activities to do on a holiday in Japan.
Hong Kong pet owners choose Japan as the holiday destination for Hong Kongers. Not a fan of long-haul flights? No problem, Japan is only a few hours’ flight away. Here is a country with gorgeous nature backdrop, scenic beauty and famous hot spring hotels (onsen) that are pet friendly. On top of these attractions, Japan travel regulations for pets from Hong Kong do not require quarantine. Combined with the favourable exchange rate between HKD and Japanese Yen, planning an unforgettable trip with your beloved pooch is something that could be done. That said, planning a pet friendly holiday to Japan does not come cheap, and you will need to do your homework beforehand. What this means is a schedule of paperwork, application for documents etc. Still interested? Here are guidelines on what pet owners need to prepare prior to the travel:
210 days prior: Make sure your dog is microchipped. If he/she isn’t already, be sure to have them microchipped now. Japan travel regulations require at least two rabies vaccinations on record. Again, make sure your dog is vaccinated.
180 days prior: By this time, your dog should be due for a trip to the vet for a blood test called Titer Testing. This will test for antibody concentration, which is a good indicator of immunity against parvovirus and distemper. Expect a 4 week wait for test results. After this is done, pet owners should submit an immigration application with MAFF (The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan), along with your dog’s license and test results. More info on MAFF here.
90 days prior: Now is the time to book flights for you and the dogs. When booking, be sure to give all relevant info with your airline, such as your dog’s breed, crate dimensions and weight etc. Airlines like Cathay Pacific charges your pooch as baggage per kilo. For the return flight, a cargo flight must be organized, as it is required by HKSAR government that all incoming live animals arrive by cargo. That will set you back around $7,000.
40 days prior: Now is the time to apply for an import quarantine permit with AFCD. Each dog will cost $432, and $120 for each additional dog.
7 days prior: Have one last health check at the vet, on top of getting de-worming, flea & tick procedures done. But wait– you still need to fill in a health declaration via AFCD at $155 a pop. Submit this along with your dog’s Japan travel permit, then email the entire package to MAFF in Japan for the final stamp. Nearly done– lastly, call AFCD to inform them your dog’s departure and arrival time.
(Reminder: Be sure to buy travel insurance before your trip! Consider insurance plans from MSIG, ACE, FWD, Zurich and Hong Leong. )
On the day of departure: Bring all relevant documents with you when checking in. Airline staff will be able to assist your pet on boarding the plane. When arriving in Japan, your dog will need to check-in with the health authorities before pooch is free to go with you.
When you return to Hong Kong: Pet owners will need to arrive 8 hours before flight time for check in. First, pets will need to check in with Japanese health authorities, before checking in with the pet export company. Once pets are settled in cargo, they will be fed two hours before flight time. When arriving in Hong Kong, pet owners can settle the last set of paperwork with Immigration Department and AFCD. From that point, you’re free to reunite with your pet at the drop off point.
Sounds like a lot to take care of for a trip to Japan? We did say so. The good news is, some travel agencies in Hong Kong are already offering pet travel services at a packaged rate. Despite the hassle and cost of a Japanese holiday with your furry friend, Japan will make a pet friendly holiday truly unforgettable. Few have tried, and it could be your next trip of a lifetime!
（Photos by：Bonnie Li、老友狗狗 / Translated by Animo）
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