Thursday, November 17, 2011

Bringing a Pet from Argentina to USA

*The instructions below are based on our experience of traveling with 6 cats from Buenos Aires, Argentina to Chicago, IL, USA in May 2011 - we traveled via American Airlines*

Dogs/Cats do not need to be quarantined when traveling from Argentina to USA. A veterinary letter stating that the pet is in good health and has been inoculated against rabies (for dogs and cats) is required. The letter must be dated with in 10 days of travel - a letter dated more than 10 days before travel will not be accepted by SENASA (SENASA = Servicio Nacional de Sanidad y Calidad Agroalimentaria).

A veterinarian must complete the health certificate and write a letter certifying the animal is in good health to travel. The letter must contain the following information: species of animal, male/female, breed, color, name, state that the animal does not have any disease, and the name of the person traveling with the animal. Below is a picture of a letter used to travel with a cat from Argentina to Chicago, IL USA. The veterinarian must sign and stamp the letter.

The certificate the veterinarian filled out for us was blue in color. It is similar to this - and this form can (supposedly) be used if the veterinarian does not have the blue one.

We took the blue certificate, along with the inoculation record, and letter of good health to the SENASA office. SENASA requires you fill out one of their forms before they will process all the paperwork - here is their form.The SENASA office is located at: AV. Paseo Colon 367 Cap. Fed. We had a hard time finding the place, and no taxi would take us there. You can not go to SENASA more than 10 days before travel. Beware there are a lot of random holidays and the office is periodically closed.

SENASA is open from 10am to 1pm and 2pm to 5pm on Monday thru Friday only. (Information from their webpage) Below is a map with walking directions from Casa Rosada - click picture to enlarge.

Here are a few pictures of what SENASA looks like from outside - please take a good look at the pictures, or print them out so you can take them with you.

While SENASA processes your paperwork you will be directed to wait in the yard. Look up and find some Monk Parakeets (quaker parots) nesting in the trees. Expect to wait up to an hour for them to process the paperwork! SENASA will keep the health certificate from the vet (the blue form) and the hand-written letter from the vet. They will give you a separate new certificate that you will give to the airlines. You keep the inoculation record. Make sure they return the inoculation record to you.

SENASA charged 120ARS + 435.72ARS - for a total of 555.72 ARS for 6 cats.
This comes out to 92.62ARS per cat. You need to take exact change to pay these fees. 
92.62ARS is about $20 - $25 USD

You must call and let the airlines know you will be traveling with a pet - as soon as possible - at least with American Airlines there is a limit of how many pets can travel on a plane. Reserve your spot early. On the day of travel, arrive at the airport at least 4 hours prior. The airline may require you fill out a form - it will be similar to this one. Do not be surprised if they require you to remove the animal from the carrier for inspection. They required us to do this upon leaving Buenos Aires, and upon arrival in the US. Be sure to pack zip ties/cable ties to secure the carrier door closed - bring extra because you will need to break them and open the carrier for inspection. If you have a connecting flight you will need to remove the animals so TSA can inspect the carrier - be prepared - if possible practice ahead of time. Your pet will be stressed during this experience.

Microchips are not required, but are a very good idea.