Moving to another country is a long and tedious process, especially if you are moving with fur babies on board. You have to figure out the costs involved for each pet, time-sensitive regulations and any restrictions imposed. All of this must be considered, on top of the logistics for your move between two different countries.
In this article, we will cover the ins and outs of importing your cat or dog to Malaysia from countries like Australia, New Zealand, the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada. From documentation and fees, this guide will help you plan and simplify the relocation process both for you and your pets.
How to buy and import a dog from another country?
We break down the buying/adopting process by countries around the world. Check them out below.
Buying a dog in another country
When you are a pet lover living abroad, you have a natural tendency to have a furry family member at home. Having pets is good for your health, with a lower risk of cardiovascular diseases and an opportunity to stay fit by spending time outdoors (especially for dog owners).
So what processes are involved when buying a dog in another country?
Adoption is typically the first choice for pet owners in Australia. So, if you are looking to buy, you will have to buy from a breeder. Here are some useful tips when doing your research on dog breeders:
- Breeder provides conducive living condition for their dogs
- Breeder is highly concerned for their dogs’ welfare
- Breeder is willing to provide a complete history of the puppy and clear any doubts from pet owners
- Breeder is actively looking for suitable and happy homes for their dogs and puppies
Similar to Australia, New Zealand is a huge advocate for pet adoption and encourages pet parents to adopt, unless they are particular about the pets that they wish to own. When visiting a breeder, here’s what one should look out for:
- Breeder is not running a puppy farm
- Avoid breeders which breed puppies with exaggerated, unhealthy features
- Ensure that both puppies and their parents are in good health and have gone through health screening
Similar tips apply, which is to consider adoption first and foremost, before deciding to buy from a responsible breeder. Other requirements include:
- Avoid buying from a pet store
- Avoid buying from puppy mills under the notion of ‘rescuing’ the puppy
- Breeders ensure the welfare of both puppies and their parents
Importing a dog or cat to Malaysia
There are several things to take into consideration when importing your pets to Malaysia, including:
- Forms and documentation
- Vaccine and health certificates
- Transporting your pets
- Pet quarantine in Malaysia
Forms and Documentation
- Complete Form A from the Department of Veterinary Services (DVS). This is an application form for a permit to import/export live animals. The applications must be addressed to the Director General (DG) of the respective Malaysian state to which you are moving. For Sabah and Sarawak, applications are addressed to the State Veterinary Departments.
- Get an import permit from the Malaysian Quarantine and Inspection Service Department (MAQIS) before departure. This permit is valid for 30 days from the issuance date.
- Additionally, you will have to fulfil these requirements set by the DVS.
Vaccine and Health Certificates
The next step in importing dogs and cats to Malaysia is preparing your pet’s vaccine and health certificates. Most countries have their respective vaccination rules but concerning importing pets to Malaysia, here’s what you need to know.
The following are required for vaccine certificates:
All cats or dogs heading into Malaysia must be vaccinated against rabies between 30 days and 12 months before travelling. This has to be accompanied by a certificate outlining all routine vaccinations.
Apart from rabies, imported cats should also be vaccinated against:
- Feline panleukopenia (distemper)
- Viral rhinotracheitis
- Calicivirus; and
If you are importing a dog from Australia, dogs must be vaccinated against the following diseases:
- Canine adenovirus type 2
- Parvovirus; and
The health certificate must be obtained from the country of origin before importing cats or dogs to Malaysia.
Requirement for health certificate:
- Contains vaccination records
- Must be issued by an accredited veterinarian of the origin country
- States that the pet has lived in the country for 6 months in good health
- Certificate is issued not more than 7 days before departure
- Certificates must be endorsed by respective governing authorities
Here is the list of respective health authorities:
- The United States: United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
- Canada: Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)
- Australia: Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (DAWE)
- New Zealand: Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI)
Otherwise, the governing authorities for importing and exporting animals in the departing country should endorse the certificate.
Be sure to prepare extra copies of the health and vaccination certificates to stay on the safe side.
Pet quarantine in Malaysia
Upon arrival in Malaysia, imported cats or dogs are required to be quarantined. This is to ensure that they are free from any infections and/or rabies. There are 3 animal quarantine stations in Malaysia, so do ensure you arrive at either of these arrival points. They are located in KL (KLIA), Penang (PIA) and Padang Besar, Perlis (near the Malaysian-Thailand border).
The quarantine period for animals depends on the country they were imported from. Generally, imported pets will be quarantined at Malaysia’s arrival points for a minimum of 7 days. For pets arriving from Australia, quarantine lasts for a minimum of 10 days.
Upon arrival, imported cats or dogs will be inspected by a government veterinarian. Import agents will then take the animals into their respective quarantine centres.
Quarantine may be extended for up to 6 months if deemed necessary. Reservations before arrival are required, at least 2 weeks in advance. For more information on quarantine, the DVS has provided a thorough quarantine procedure on their website.
Govt Vet will examine animals upon arrival, import agents will assist to bring your pets to the quarantine station. Daily visits are encouraged so do check their opening times to plan your visits. This is important in maintaining an environment in which your pets can spend time with you every day.
Additional requirements to import a cat or dog to Malaysia
- Pets must be above 3 months old.
- All pets are required to be microchipped with ISO 11784 pet microchip.
- Imported cats and dogs have to be treated for internal and external parasites 2-7 days before departures such as nematodes and cestodes, fleas and ticks.
- If you are importing dogs to Malaysia, check and make sure that your dog breed is not on the DVS’ restricted or banned list.
- If you want to import a dog that is from the restricted list, there are additional requirements to adhere to, such as:
- Obtain a pedigree certificate issued by an approved organisation from the departing country
- The imported dog must have a microchip installed and this is reflected in the DVS permit application
- Home in Malaysia is required to be inspected by MAQIS
- Have a written declaration stating that the animal is your pet that will be kept on a leash when it’s outside, not intended for sale purposes and will only be handled by a skilled owner
Airline Policy for importing cats or dogs to Malaysia
All airlines have their requirements for importing animals to Malaysia, so depending on the airline, there may be additional requirements you need to take note of.
The International Pet and Animal Association (IPATA) has a comprehensive list of suppliers to help you decide on your choice of airline.
Here are some of the options for pet transport services:
How much does it cost to import a cat or dog to Malaysia?
The overall cost to import pets to Malaysia may vary on multiple factors. Below are the things to consider when budgeting for relocation costs:
- Animal crate for your pet, which has to be IATA-compliant
- Flight ticket for both you and your furkid(s)
- Required vet visits before relocating
- Pet transportation (ground and air) including impending transits along the journey
- Government authorities’ approval, which includes health and vet certificates, as well as import permits and applications.
- Quarantine fees
- Pet relocation services; if you choose to use them
Here are some of the well-known pet relocation service providers. The full list is available on IPATA's website.
RF Pets Relocation Services
Worldwide Animal Travel - for importing/exporting pets to and from Canada
Global Paws - for importing/exporting pets to and from South Africa
PetAir UK - for importing/exporting pets to and from the UK
Snoopy Pets - for importing/exporting pets to and from Dubai
JetPets - for importing/exporting pets to and from Australia
Each service provider has its rates for different types of pets. Get in touch with them for a quote for their services.
FAQ on importing dogs or cats to Malaysia
- What are the dog breeds which are restricted or banned in Malaysia?
Restricted dog breeds include bull mastiff, doberman, german shepherd and rottweiler. On the other hand, banned dog breeds include akita, american bulldog and pit bull terrier, or pit bull. The full list is available on the DVS website.
- Do I need a licence for my pet or dog?
Generally, pets that are legal in Malaysia (such as cats, rabbits, fish, and hamsters) do not need a licence. However, all dogs are required by law to have a licence to be legally owned. This is to ensure all dogs and pets are responsibly taken care of. In the case of importing dogs to Malaysia, you can apply for a licence once you and your doggos are settled here.
As for non-typical pets, you may need a protected wildlife licence. For pet parents in Peninsular Malaysia, this can be obtained from the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (PERHILITAN). For Sabah and Sarawak pet parents, you can apply for the licence from Sabah Wildlife Department and Sarawak Forestry, respectively. This should be done before applying for an import permit from DVS.
For example, certain birds can be imported with a permit from MAQIS and a health certificate issued by a government-certified veterinarian which states that it has lived in the current country for 2 months and is free from diseases. Additionally, it must go through a health check 48 hours before departure and must be transported directly to Malaysia without transits and layovers.
For rabbits, they need to be certified disease-free 60 days before import from the country of origin.
As for turtles and parrots, check if the particular species is protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). If they are, a special permit is required.
- Should I hire an agent to help me with the relocation process or do it myself?
Deciding between handling the relocation process yourself and hiring a personal agent is up to your individual choices. This depends on your personal preference and budget. Pet relocation involves a long list of procedures and paperwork, which can be overwhelming to some.
Hence, hiring a relocation service can help to ease the process, as they will assist you in preparing the necessary documents and approvals, up until quarantine completion in Malaysia.
If you only need help with certain parts of the relocation procedure, you can alternatively get in touch with an import agent who will help you do just that.
In conclusion, importing your cats and dogs to Malaysia is a tedious process, but doing your research and planning will be a significant help during relocation.
Additionally, you can have peace of mind by hiring an import agent or a pet relocation service, if there is room in your budget. Either way, you have to be actively involved in the process as a responsible pet parent to ensure that your furkids get imported to Malaysia safe and sound.