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Expat Life

Bringing Pets to Ecuador

[Editor’s Note: Pets are important to many expats. The following article is an excerpt from Expats in Ecuador: Life in Cuenca Second Edition by David Morrill and Deke Castleman. It mainly deals with bringing pets with you to Ecuador and was written about a year ago, so some of the facts might’ve changed. We’d appreciate hearing from anyone who’s recently gone through the process as to whether any of the details are different and if so how. And we invite all pet-oriented expats to share any experiences that might be of interest to newcomers and prospective immigrants.]

It’s not difficult to import a pet or pets to Ecuador and many expats do. The biggest challenge for most foreigners is meeting time restrictions for examinations and shots, plus the health certificate that requires legalization by an Ecuadorian consulate. The window of opportunity is narrow, so careful planning is critical.

The process is tedious and has a number of steps, some which can be a bit ambiguous. This is an outline of the steps, taken from the official Ecuadorian document and the experiences of numerous people who’ve gone through the process.

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But as always, keep in mind that different people with different animals have different experiences, depending on the local office of the USDA (or the like agency in countries other than the United States), the Ecuadorian consulate nearest you, the airline you fly, the city flown into, the Ecuadorian Customs officials present, the changing regulations and enforcement policies, and the x factors. It’s always best to do your own research.

FORM 7001

Your dog or cat (there might be a few different nuances for multiple animals) must be accompanied by a health certificate, known (in the U.S.) as Aphis Form 7001. This is issued by a licensed veterinarian who’s certified by the United States Department of Agriculture (or, again, a like agency in other countries). Once the vet fills out the form, it must be endorsed by the USDA, then translated into Spanish.

The 7001 health certificate must contain the name and address of the pet owner and the breed aphisand sex of the animal, and certify that the animal was examined within 10 days of traveling, was healthy with no symptoms of sundry diseases and parasites, has been treated against internal and external parasites at least 21 days prior to traveling, and has been vaccinated at least 21 days prior to traveling against distemper, canine hepatitis, leptospirosis, parvovirus, and parainfluenza.

In addition, dogs must be vaccinated against rabies at least 60 days prior to traveling.

Now, we’re sure that the vet’s exam has to be conducted no more than 10 days prior to traveling, but we’ve seen it both ways for the vaccinations. The website wording is a bit ambiguous: “The dog must have been vaccinated at least 21 days prior to the date of shipment.” The “at least” is the problem here. We’d understand “at most 21 days prior,” but does “at least” mean more than or less than 21 days? We don’t know. We’ve heard stories about it being interpreted by the vets either way and being accepted by Ecuadorian Customs officials both ways. Same for the 60-day requirement for rabies.

Once you have the form from the vet, you must get it stamped by the USDA in your state. If the office of the USDA that oversees the approved veterinarians in your area isn’t nearby, some overnight mailing of the form may be required.

From there, you present the form to an Ecuadorian consulate for stamping; this is now your animal’s “visa.” You’ll pay $50 per animal. All this must be done no more than 10 days before you leave.

Typically, we’ve heard from some people that USDA Aphis 7001 form doesn’t need to be apostilled, and from others that it does. Apparently, the Ecuadorian consulate in New York thinks it does, but the other Ecuadorian consulates in the U.S. think it doesn’t.

(Here’s what one person had to say about apostilling Form 7001: “When we tried to get the Aphis form apostilled from the Department of State, they told us that they don’t apostille federal documents. However, we were told by the Dept. of State that the way around this is to get an affidavit drawn up by a notary that states that the 7001 form is a true original. This gets attached to the 7001 form and gets notary verification and can then be apostilled. We brought our paperwork to our local EC Consulate in New York and they told us that what we did was correct. We had no problems at Guayaquil airport.) To double check, you can go to www.aphis.usda.gov/regulations/vs/iregs/animals/downloads/ ec_dg.pdf for a two-page pdf of the latest requirements for dogs.

Other than the different shots (rhinotracheitis, panleukopenia, and calicivirus), the procedure for cats is the same as for dogs: examination by a USDA-approved vet, countersigned by the USDA, translated into Spanish, and stamped by an Ecuadorian consulate.

SHIPPING YOUR PET(S) ON THE PLANE

The next step is to coordinate with your airline(s) to ensure that your dog or cat can travel with you. You can also ship animals on their own, but this is more complicated and might require an animal shipping broker, or a very good friend who’s coming to visit you and will chaperone your pet.

An airline can refuse to ship if the flight is fully booked, in which case all the cargo space is reserved for baggage, or if a particular embargo against animals is in force, for example during holidays.

Generally, pets up to 20 pounds can accompany you onto the airplane.
Generally, pets up to 20 pounds can accompany you onto the airplane.

Most cats and some dogs can fly in the cabin if they’re carried in an approved cage or box that fits under the seat in front of you, same as any carry-on luggage (though there are extra pet fees involved; we’ve seen them as high as $150 per animal). We’ve heard that on most airlines, the weight limit for animals in the cabin under the seat is 20 pounds. If the animal doesn’t fit under the seat, some airlines will allow you to buy a seat for it in its cage; others force you to check it as baggage.

All airlines have high-temperature limits (generally 85 degrees) for departure and arrival cities for pets traveling in cargo.

It’s been suggested (in some cases strongly) that you attach a copy of the certificate to the cage if your animal is checked as baggage. It’s always a good idea to have plenty of copies of whatever Immigration/ Customs form(s) you need.

You might consider flying into Quito to avoid the high-temperature complication in Guayaquil. That said, we’ve heard that no Ecuador airlines permit pets inside the cabins of their airplanes. For that reason, you might want to fly into Guayaquil, so you can catch a ride with your animal to Cuenca, instead of flying.

Likewise, we have conflicting information on whether or not you can check your dog or cat at the ticket counter of the Quito or Guayaquil airports as baggage; some people have had to go to the cargo area of the airport to ship their pets. So be sure to check with your local airline to Cuenca.

ENTRY PROCEDURES INTO ECUADOR

Here, all we can say is you’re on your own and good luck. Most people don’t have a problem bringing in their pets, but we’ve heard some stories from people who were sent on wild-goose chases for phantom paperwork, Agrocalidad approvals, and different carrier cages.

We can tell you that unless you’re importing animals as a business, you don’t have to deal with Agrocalidad (the Agriculture Ministry) in Ecuador, or at least you’re not supposed to have to. An exception, of course, is if some Customs official thinks you do.

Ecuador has no quarantine requirement for pets.

HOUSING CONSIDERATIONS

Bringing your pet with you to Cuenca may affect your housing options.

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to find Cuenca rentals that accept pets. Condo associations that at one time had no rules about pets are now restricting them, or forbidding them outright, and some have rules that allow pets for owners, but not renters.

Owners of rental properties, both North American and Ecuadorian, are responding to bad experiences. Some have had to replace carpet, upholstery, and rugs, which cost much more than the pet deposits paid by tenants, according to one property manager, who recently had to pay $700, against a $100 deposit, for repairs to a dog-damaged apartment and, unfortunately, no longer rents to pet owners.animals

Pet owners planning to buy a condo need to check the association rules before committing to a purchase; we know of several cases in which they didn’t, with expensive consequences. Houses are obviously the best option for pet owners planning to buy.

ADOPTING PETS IN ECUADOR

Both Deke and David have had plenty of animals throughout their lives. David grew up on a farm and Deke has adopted more cats (the last few named Please Dad Please) than he can remember. So we know how attached you can become to pets.

That said, the stray-animal situation throughout Ecuador is dire, compared to North American and Europe, and Cuenca is no exception. If you don’t have a pet to bring with you, or you can leave one at home, you’ll find no shortage of strays — on the street, rescued and languishing in the pound, or being given away by expats who are leaving — that need loving homes.

15 thoughts on “Bringing Pets to Ecuador

  1. Yes, it is a process. I arrived in August 2014 with 2 cats, whom I brought on board. You have to have one person, one animal, so I had to bring a friend with me. The process is time sensitive, especially the part of the final certificate as you only have 10 days. I left from Tucson AZ, and my vet was in Nogales, AZ (an awesome vet and person). The closest DOA to my location was in Albuquerque NM which wasnt exactly close. My vet, at his expense, flew his son from Tucson to NM to hand carry the papers, and they arrived the night before I left. The rest of the process was just timing and pretty easy and once I arrived in Ecuador, no problems. The tricky part with the airlines is you have to make reservations for the people before they will guarantee the animals can come on board, so then you have to call a different number and make reservations for the animals, and then the airlines dont know there own rules, so my advice is learn those before you even call the airlines. After getting here it has been easy.

  2. I complied with all of the requirements for bringing my two Bichon Frise dogs with me to Ecuador but still encountered what I would classify as torture to both my dogs and me when I arrived. My advice is to keep your dogs with you at all costs and schedule your flights so that you can take them out frequently enough to relieve themselves.

  3. Sadly this information is way out of date. A change happened in Nov 21 2014 and the form 7001 is no longer used. A new inoculation is now required. The form does not get apostilled and the EC consulate does not need to certify the form. There are too many changes and if bringing animals, go to the usda website and call to be sure the latest documents are used and the time frame is followed exactly.

  4. We brought two dogs to Ecuador the end of November 2014. We followed the requirements from Ecuador and could not find anywhere it said papers need to be stamped by the Ecuadorian Consulate. We got our vet papers filled out in Spanish and English and had them sent to the USDA in Florida. I spoke with our shipper and our visa facilitator and both said we didn’t need the Consulate stamp. We arrived in Guayaquil and all they wanted was a copy of the vet and USDA papers in Spanish. Easy, no problems.

  5. We brought our dog and cat to Cuenca in June 2013. Getting the paperwork was a hassle. The cat was no problem he rode with us in the cabin. The dog we tried to book as baggage but the plane was over 75% booked so she could not be booked as baggage. So we found an animal shipping company and they came and got her. Guess what, our dog was shipped in baggage on the same plane we were on to Quito!!

  6. I arrived in Ecuador recently – Nov. 2014. Differently to most others here, I came from Australia. If you are bringing pets from countries other than USA, from my experience I can tell you:
    you can telephone the Ecuadorian Embassy of your country and they will email you a list of all the pet importing requirements; shots, Aquis reg. vet. requirements and so forth. There was no requirement for the documents to be Apostilled, nor translated into Spanish. They had to have a parasite treatment, internal and external, within 72 hours of leaving Australia.
    I had an international pet travel firm in Australia organise that and the boarding for my pets – which was a mistake. They handled the pets OK, but overcharged me hugely (I could have saved over $2000 by simply booking my ticked directly with the airline, and with accompanying pets tickets also).
    However, they also used the wrong paperwork, listing my pets as luggage, (so, you need to find a way to check the paperwork and make sure it does list them Accompanying Animal Companions) which meant they got bumped on the Santiago to Guayaquil leg at the last minute (due to the airline taking on board perishables in dry ice. Animals cannot fly with dry ice in the hold).
    This did lead to considerable complications at Guayaquil airport with authorities, and I dont’ know what I would have done had I not engaged an international pet transporter here to meet me at the airport to deal with the authorities. I can’t recommend this course of action too highly for anyone coming who has (a) little to no Spanish and (b) no experience dealing with Ecuadorean bureaucracy.
    I have left a recommendation on this site for Maria if anyone should wish to use her services.
    That said, after a trip lasting longer than planned, an extra few hundred dollars over what I had planned and an agonised hour or so on getting here, everything has been great.

  7. I am in the process of trying to get my Shitzu to Quito, and it has been a nightmare. I have been unable to get anyone to ascertain if my 12-pound Shitzu can ride under my seat. This is because the IPATA regulations demand that a dog must be able to stand in its carrier with at least 2 inches of head space. She can fit into the carrier fine and is well within the weight limit – but she doesn’t have the 2″ – yet, I have people telling me it’s okay.

    Like Arlene, I have also had shippers say they can confirm my pup in cargo on the same airlines I am to travel on – the same airlines that said it that would not confirm my dog in baggage. All and all, it has been the most difficult part of my move. And the irony of all of this? I am heading to southern Ecuador to begin an animal rescue organization.

  8. In Florida, didn’t have to have the 7001 form translated into Spanish. Overnighted it to USDA office in Orlando (spoke to them first to make SURE of what they needed). I was bringing two cats with me. The cats DO need rabies shots AT LEAST 60 days out; not WITHIN 60 days. The Ecuador site was so confusing, the best thing I can tell anyone is to call the embassy and find out from them the papers you’ll need. I didn’t even know until the last minute that I had to get the cats papers stamped at the Consulate. When I came last year, that wasn’t specified at their site.

  9. My wife and I arrived from Cali, Colombia into Quito accompanied by our 13 kg.standard size schanuzer, Tommy this past Christmas Day. The only hassle we had was getting all the Colombian dog export forms filled out and approved. The LAN representative went over the completed form with a “fine-tooth” comb. Once she accepted it…we moved his kennel onto the luggage scale and a LAN guy took him away. We thought we were supposed to pay a $27 import fee in Quito but nobody was around to bother. There Tommy and his kennel were…over in the oversize luggage area. I think he had arrived before we did. Anyway…no check by Ecuadorian authorities at all for a dog. We DID get nailed for our 32 inch tv set immediately. We had to pay a $118 import tax on that electronic baby!

  10. Getting your pets on the airline is more difficult that getting them into Ecuador.
    Having vaccinations and a Health Certificate is not that difficult and I never had anything translated to Spanish, nor was anything done by the Ecuadorian Consulate. In fact, arriving in Ecuador only meant that no one looked at the paperwork I had ready.
    So, it was not an issue of arriving in Ecuador, the issue is leaving the U.S.

  11. I have been trying without success, to get permission to bring my two rescued pet rabbits to Ecuador. Has anyone had luck bringing their rabbit? If so, would you please tell me details about how to do so?

  12. Not sure how helpful this article is. At the end of 2014, the USDA updated their form…I’m still a bit unsure as to whether the form needs to be stamped by the Ecuador Consulate. In my case, it will require a flight to Phoenix…so would love to know the answer. Too bad the Consulate doesn’t answer their phone…

  13. I flew on January 2, 2015 from NYC. I went to a USDA approved vet and then to the APHIS vet at Kennedy airport. I was told by the APHIS vet that I had all the papers that I needed, despite what the consulate said. I was going to jump through the hoops set up by the Ecuadorian consulate, different instructions from different people but it was going to take me days, around XMas and I decided to believe the APHIS vet, who has more experience with this kind of thing than the functionaries. She was right, GYE airport was no problem. Also, Form 7001 has been replaced by a 2 page form which is bilingual, what a concept- forget paying someone $100 to translate it. I actually found LAN terrific. The biggest problem is that the information does not agree and also changes.

  14. Hi , I m Ecuadorian me and my husband move to Cuenca for work but its been dificult to find a place who allow our golden 3 year and husky 13 years to live with us. Like you said in your article housing options are limited and it s hard for us find a home with them . Do you have a program whi host pets for adoption . We love our dogs and we dont have kids but we can not giev them this life where they suffer because there is no place for them. The husky need medical atention becasue he is getting old and we cant afford it. The golden is a such of lovely dog it break my heart i have to give her away. We want to give her a good family. Is there any way you can help us. Thanks.

  15. Hi,
    It is 2017 and does anyone have current requirements and process for bringing a dog into Ecuador via in-cabin travel on American?

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