Bringing a Pet Back from Honduras Into the USA or Canada
“How to Ship Your Dog or Cat from Honduras Back with You”
The good news- the people who have done it all say “its fairly simple”. So while you don’t need to stress about it, you do need to plan ahead to get things in order.
If going in-board, under the seat, plan for total costs to be about $300 usd total. ($60 for the papers, $40 for shots, $125 for the “ticket”, and $80 for a small crate. Soft sided okay)
If going as cargo, plan for total costs to be about $450 (the crate is often the most expensive part!)
- $60 for the Vet paperwork (as of 8/28 it was 1100 lps or $58 usd)
- $40 usd if you have shots you still need to get
- $3o0-350 for airline fees.
As an example, for 45 lbs, including dog and create the air rate is $229 + $10.00 Fuel fee+ $ 1.00 Security fee+ $ 25.00 Terminal Fee +$ 55.00 handling)
- $100 to $200 for a crate
As of 8/2011, a large crate from Dr. Caulderon costs 3300 lps or $174 usd for a LARGE crate- 36 inches long and up to $100 lb dog)
Puppies: In general need to be at least 8 weeks old, as stated on the Continental Animal Accepatance Checklist. There are some additional steps for travelling with puppies here: http://www.continental.com/web/en-US/content/travel/animals/puppies.aspx
Plan Ahead: Start early if you can (3 weeks ideal- longer is better to ensure you can reserve the space with airline), but really- if you happen to rescue a dog, you only need about 1 week minimum for papers and such.
Main steps: (Full details, tips, and comments follow further down in the page)
1) Reserve with the airline. Certain hot months you can’t fly out of Roatan- must be SAP
2) Get your carrier
3) Get your Animal Vaccinated and get the animal’s Exit papers together
- Start with Vaccinations, (see details in #3 below)
- You will also need a Medical Veteranarian Certificate and Zoo Sanitary Certificate
- - These last 2 above, the vet gets for you and they must be dated less than 10 days from when animal departs- see below for details.
4) Prep animal, crate and yourself for travel
5) Get to SAP (if you are travelling during months they don’t fly out of RTB or LCE with pets)
6) Check in at airport and cargo
Okay, Now the Real Scoop:
Below, we have added tips, hints, and details from those who have actually done this. Thank you to the many contributors, including members of the Honduras Living List Serve , La Gringa’s Blog, the Roatan List Serve , as well as Penny Leigh from the Roatan Renegade Rescue , Michelle Carr, Patty from Trujillo, La Gringa, Lisa Gunter , Lisa Cody, and various other folks who have shared their experiences and tips bringing their pets or ones they rescued back from the Honduras to the States or elsewhere. (Yes- we’ve blatantly copied from your posts and letters- if you want any credit, just email us. ) We thank you all for your contributions.
This is primarily for dogs and cats- we do not have information on other animals, but will post it here if you find anything. Parrots may not be exported from Honduras
**PLEASE- we want to keep this updated!!! If you have anything to add, or find something incorrect, please let us know!! We welcome all suggestions, corrections, tips, etc.**
1. First Things First: Finding the Airline and making the Pet Reservation
Depending on the time of year (temperature of the tarmac & how full the flights are) you need to check which airlines will fly the animal This can often depend on what your destination is and what kind of animal you are transporting. Animal size and space availability will determine if the animal travels in cabin or in cargo.
A helpful tip from Patty in Trujillo: “Remember you are TRAVELING with your pet, not EXPORTING him”. Make sure you say it that way, because it could make a difference.
Whats this about an Embargo on Dogs from Roatan April to September?
Yes, there is an “Embargo” on flying dogs in cargo out of Roatan and La Cieba during the hot months, which is generally April to September , unless the dog is small enough to fit under the seat inside. Those aren’t rules set by an airline, or by any particular country- but is a joint agreement of the international veterinarians association – of some sort. So if you are flying during this time, and you need to fly your dog as cargo (won’t fit under the seat), you will need to plan to fly out of San Pedro Sula.
You can generally fly with a pet in cargo out of Roatan Dec- April 1st (or it might be March 15th), but you’ll need to confirm with the airline.
In the Cabin or as Cargo?
If it is a small dog that you can bring in a carrier on the plane, its much easier than shipping via Cargo. You basically just make a reservation for your pet- you will have to pay an additional fee. Be sure to do this as far in advance as possible, as there are restrictions – On some airlines there can be no more than 2 animals total for the plane in economy section, and only 1 in first class for example.
If you are taking your pet in the cabin, see this site here by Continental: http://www.continental.com/web/en-US/content/travel/animals/in_cabin.aspx
Things to Know for Shipping Pet as Cargo (as opposed to carrying it on under your seat)
If the dog doesn’t fit under your seat (generally 9 inches tall for the cage which is very small for a dog, but you can fit a cat and a very small dog) you will have to go Cargo.
Some airlines will not fly animals in Cargo if the temperature exceeds 83 degrees, for the animal’s safety.
People have suggested that Houston is the best place to have a connection because they have a special pet service and for 25 us$ they take them out of the kennel and walk them and such.
With some airlines, the dog needs to stay 3 hours wherever your connection is, so make sure your connection the same or you may get to final destination before your dog.
The fee for cargo will be about $100-300, depending on animals weight. They can tell you when you make the reservation.
You have to reserve at least 2 days before you fly, but we suggest you do so as soon as you know your dates. You can make it over the phone, but we definitely suggest sending a follow up email to confirm the reservation is for the animal, with all specifics, and getting a written response confirming your animal reservation.
Ensure that that if you are shipping the dog in cargo, it will be on the day and flight you are planning to travel. Be SURE you have a print out of the reservation and we also suggest ensuring you get a name and phone of who you talked to in case there are any issues. They likely will have a form you need to fill out with dogs name, weight, etc and scan/fax back to them.
If travelling with the pet in the cabin, you can pay for the reservation by credit cart. If you are travelling with the pet as cargo, you will likely need to pay in cash when you check the animal in at cargo. Continental Cargo does not accept credit cards-it has to be cash.
Tracking Number:You will get a tracking ID number for your pet after reservation is confirmed. In some cases you will get a reference/prebooking number with the actual booking number coming like 6 days before the flight (you will need to follow up). This information should be carried with him and attached both inside and outside of the dog kennel with his ultimate destination. That ID number is as critical as your passenger ticket number. It guarantees the dog a place in cargo and that it is paid.
- Don’t plan to fly on a Sunday. Some airlines say a vet needs to meet you in the States (we don’t know anyone who actually had that happen, but did hear of someone who wasn’t allowed to fly on a Sunday because the airline represenative said a vet in the States wouldn’t work that day.)
- Houston requires 3 hours for customs, so take into consideration if you are transferring. Otherwise your pet may be detained and arrive on a later flight than you.
- Continental operates the only on-airport kennel managed by an airline in the United States at its Houston Bush Intercontinental cargo. For fee they will walk the dog, etc and have overnight facilities: facility http://www.continental.com/web/en-US/content/travel/animals/iah_kennel.aspx .
- You can track your pet on Continental through its site: http://cargo.cocargo.com/cargo/track/
Continental Airlines Information:
As of April 2011, we could only find one airline that will ship in temperatures above 80 degrees- Continental Airlines, but only out of San Pedro Sula, not Roatan. (We understand American Airlines will do it in the fall and winter.)
When making your reservation, we have heard to first start with the Continental in Houston since they have more information than Continental staff in Honduras. The number for the Continental, 24 hour Live Animal Desk at 1.800.575.3335 or 281.553.5052 at the email Petsafe@coair.com and we we suggest following up in writing with the local Honduras representative below as well.
We have been told that to ship with Continental, you work with what is regarded as an “independent shipper”, which just means they go as cargo, not as baggage. The shipper partners with Continental Cargo and is essentially the same .
USA Continental Contact for Shipping Pets: Continental Airlines Pet Safe Program:
- WEB: http://www.continental.com/web/en-US/content/travel/animals/default.aspx
- USA Phone: 1-800-575-3335 or 832-235-1541.
- Here is a nice checklist for flying with Continental:
Honduras Continental Rep for Shipping Pets:
Martha Serrano, Sales Manager, Continental Airlines Cargo, Ph (504) 2501-0481, Cel (504) 9970-0732, E-mail:email@example.com. She works with Houston to coordinate everything on this end
update Aug 2011: Apparently this person is no longer there. The new rep:Walter N. Dueñas Customer Service, Continental Airlines Cargo Ph (504) 2501-0481 Cel (504) 9970-0732 // 9878-0205 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org . He speaks some limited English and responds very quickly.
2. Get Your Airline Approved Carrier
BE SURE to look up on the airline’s webpage the specifications. Here is a link to Continental’s- look at the 2nd page: http://www.continental.com/web/en-US/content/travel/animals/petchecklist2010.pdf
- They have some specific requirements for the size of the kennel depending of the size of the dog. Its basically needs to be as long as the dog’s lenght + 1/2 its height.
- Also needs to be equipped with food and water containers- get a funnel and duct tape (you’ll be taping the bowls to the door, and the funnel is so they can give water/food without opening door)
- Should have no wheels,
- Must be properly labeled. See items 11-23 here: http://www.continental.com/web/en-US/content/travel/animals/petchecklist2010.pdf
- Obviously, if going as cargo, it must be a HARD sided carrier.
- For animals under the seat, you can use a soft carrier– there is a strict height guideline as to how big the carrier can be, so check with the airline on its web pages.
Here is Continentals site for carriers for in cabin flights: http://www.continental.com/web/en-US/content/travel/animals/in_cabin.aspx
Getting a crate:
- If you are on Utila, you need to plan ahead as you can not buy one on island.
- If in Roatan, you should be able to find one at the vets office in Roatan
- In La Ceiba, you can buy at ACE Hardware (try the one in town, but also the Ace Femosa by the bus station. There is also an animal supply/feed store that may have one.). They will likely be cheaper at the hardware stores - About $80 usd-$120usd. You can also get at the veterinarians office for a bit more.
- If in Utila or Roatan, you can also contact Jackie at 9-550-1908 who helps Dr. Calderone. You can coordiate with her to bring the crate to Vern’s Catamaran, which leaves Roatan daily at 1pm. Its a little more b/c its through the Vet’s office, but she is English speaking, super easy to work with and very helpful (helped us when we were in a bind of a time crunch too!). Let her know Andi from Utila sent you!
Don’t wait for the last minute for this- it may take a while to find your size.
You may also be able to post the Honduras Living List Serve , the Roatan List Serve to see if anyone has one that you can buy. And if you are on Roatan and its a rescue dog, you can ask Penny Leigh from the Roatan Renegade Rescue.
If you have pet carriers the you won’t be using again, please donate them to the Roatan Renegade Rescue too or if you are on Utila, we can accept them at the Utila Realty office for the next person in need!
3. Get the Vaccinations and EXIT Papers through a Honduras Veterinarian
You will need to connect with a Honduras certified veterinarian to get your “exit papers” for the animal. Ensure you know what the DESTINATION Country requires. For going to USA or Canada, you will need to present the following Exit Papers at the ticket counter:
a) Rabies and other vaccination certificate. Also known as the “Vaccination card”-basically the booklet where you have the rabies and other shots recorded. Start here. In Utila, you can get the rabies certificate at the Centro De Salud. If you are on Utila, we sometimes have volunteer vet services 1-2 a month where you can get the other shots- every other Tuesday. Contact us through Utila Guide or stop in at Utila Realty office and we can call for schedule.
Animals need to have all their vaccinations current, including leptospirosis – It’s a new thing in Honduras that all dogs have to have this to leave or come into the country. Also, the US requires the rabies vaccine be given a minimum of 30 days prior to entering the US and the parasite exam being within 5-7 days prior to arrival.
b) “Zoosanitary certificate/ “Certificado Zoosanitario de Exportacion”. This is the International health certificate. Its a form with carbon copies.
c) Medical Veterinarian Certificate / “Certificacion Medico Veterinaria”. This is a certificate with carbon copies from the vet stating that the animal is healthy & up to date on vaccinations and free of parasites
For Items B and C, the paperwork will be in Spanish, but that will not be a problem for bringing into the USA. IMPORTANT: For Items B and C, Paperwork must be signed/dated LESS than 10 days before departure. But vet needs to send to Teguc to get stamped, so needs at least 1 week. Read on…
Basically you call the vet and tell him you need the papers for your pet to go to the States – items b and c above. Bring your rabies and vaccination record (item a), if you have, otherwise he can do. Also your flight information. Once he gets the rabies and vaccination record and other details on the animal, he sends the documents off to a government office ( The office of Secretaria de Agricultura y Ganaderia along with the application form - “Servicio Nacional de Sanidad Agropecuaria (SENASA)” ). Then they send him items b and c back. If you are on Utila, they will then put them on the ferry back to you.
Tips: Plan this all so you get your documents back at least 4 days before you leave, because you will want to scan them to the cargo rep and also in case any mistakes.
Tips: Be sure you talk to the vet directly- and not one of the people at the counter, to ensure he understands you need the papers so you can enter the US. He should be able to take it from there. Also, be sure you get his cell phone number for your day of travel- should there be any issues that you need to ring him.
PAPERWORK TIMING: This is really the part you have to pay attention to- The paperwork of B and C must be signed (dated) less than 10 days from when the animal departs. So that means there is a 10-day window from the time your vet fills out your paperwork to the time you must leave the country. BUT …it takes about 5-days for the Vet to get you the paperwork as they have to send the papers to Tegucigalpa to get verified.
- As an example, if you are leaving on Sept 15, you will want the papers back by Sept 11/12 and papers B and C above need to have a date on them AFTER Sept 5. So Sept 3/4 is when you should visit vet and put your call to him about Sept 1/2 to make the appt. 2 weeks ahead is best, but if you only have 1 week, it can be done.
- Make sure the vet knows your departure date so they can time it accordingly.
- The vets do this a lot, so know the process. If your vet sees your baby on a regular basis, he can probably fill out the paperwork and have it ready (i.e, you might not need to bring the dog in if he knows the pet and just saw it recenlty), except maybe the test for worms, which takes about one minute to do.
La Gringa, of the well-known and followed La Gringa’s Blogcito summed it up in easy terms: “Basically you need an International Health Certificate showing proof of rabies vaccination and that the vaccination was given 30 days prior to entering the States. It also has to say the pet has been checked for parasites, especially screw worm and tapeworm. It identifies the pet by breed, sex and color. It is good for 30 days if you are coming back to Honduras.”
Here are 3 vets in Roatan and La Ceiba:
- Dr. Soto: on Roatan
- Dr. Caulderon: on Roatan Wednesdays (? to confirm) and main office in La Ceiba: 441-1812 (La Ceiba), 9995-2260 (cell). He works very well with Utila and will send the final docs via Utila Princess, etc.
- Dr. Bueno:440-2539 - La Ceiba.
Costs for the exit paperwork will run about 1100 lps per animal.
DO YOU REALLY NEED THE PAPERWORK? YES! Be sure to get these the Exit documents A,B, and C above -they are simple enough to get and are really the biggest thing you need. Michelle Carr, former owner of “The Pet Shop” on Roatan wrote in, “The problem is not so much with getting into the US if you have all your papers; the problem is in leaving Honduras if you don’t have the Honduran set of documents — vet exam etc, history of shots. In many cases, the US fines the airlines and/or countries who do not strictly follow instructions in a variety of areas. “
4. Prep your Crate and Your Pet:
- Try and get your pet comfortable with the carrier before you leave- put some toys in there, a little food, etc- so they have a week or two to feel comfortable being inside it.
- Be sure to label according to the requirements. They are spelled out in page 1, Items 11-21 here: http://www.continental.com/web/en-US/content/travel/animals/petchecklist2010.pdf
- Get some type of food/water dish
- Get a funnel so they can fill through the closed gate. They most likely will not refresh, but if there are delays and pet is in transport over 12 hours they are required too. We’ve seen folks duct tape the bowls near the door, and zip tie a funnel right above door- the key is for personnel to be able to refill without opening door.
- Put a little food in a strong ziplock and tape to top of cage.
- Ensure there is something absorbant in the cage
- 4 days before flight, send the papers to the airline rep you have been working (for Contintal to Walter Dunas above) and ask him to review and confirm everything is okay.
- Be absolutely sure you have your name and contacts at destination and a back up contact on the crate- and inside too! We put a copy in a plastic bag and taped it to the inside wall of the crate and one to the outside.
- Also, be sure you have at least 3 additional copies of all you exit papers, and be sure to keep one copy with you at all times. Tape an additional set on top the cage in the plastic bag with your name/contacts, and an additional set inside the cage with that bag too. Be sure to put the reservation/tracking number in all 3 spots too.
- If you go somewhere where the temperature will be colder then Honduras, be sure to have some blankets for the dog.
- If going in cargo, do NOT to give the dog anything to make it sleep as it doesn’t do well with pressure changes. Check with the airlines- some actually prohibit any kind of tranquilizer if cargo, and may refuse the animal if they feel it has been giving something.
- If going under your seat, a mild tranquilizer prescribed by the vet may be okay. Put blanket and newspaper on the bottom, (though most dogs won’t pee during travel).
- Give pet plenty of time to walk a lot before the trip,
- No food 4 hours before the kennel and water only 2 hours before kennel (unless airline regulations are different).
5. Getting to San Pedro Sula with Dog or Cat
* Pets ARE allowed on the Utila and Roatan Ferry.
*At this time, you can NOT take a dog on Hedman Alas bus. However, you can get a taxi from La Ceiba to Roatan for about $115-125 usd. You can reserve one in advance to meet you at the ferry dock.
* We also heard from someone who used CM Airlines, working through Nicole, based in Tegus, who they said “she bent over backwards to help them get a dog to SPS from RTB and then to Continental Cargo.” On Utila, contact Alice to let her know.and get confirmation in writing.
*On Utila, you can also use SOSA airlines- just be sure to let Frank or Alice know and get confirmation in writing.
Guanaja Air (www.Guanajaair.com) also is available for transport to La Ceiba/San Pedro Sula with animals. They have a ten seat Britten Norman Islander. They recenlty helped with transport for a family with three very large Greyhounds in cages and two cats from Utila to San Pedro Sula. Angelo adds that “We are happy to work with anybody needing to move their pets by air throughout Honduras.”. Let ‘em know you saw them in Utila Guide!
*Get to the airport plenty time in advance, plan at least 2 hours earlier than the normal 2 hours that they want yout here. Trust us- dealing with this when not in a time crunch or all stressed out makes everything much easier.
**We’d love suggestions of hotels in LCE and SAP that allow pets- please write in and tell us!**
6. Once at the Airport:
Confirm in writing before arrival if your airline wants you at the check in desk or the quarantine/cargo (also known as SEPA) first. The cargo area is about 1 mile away, so its best to clarify before sending your taxi off. Note: The Continental Cargo is located in Custom Bulding, Swissport next to the airport, about 1 km from the airport at the end of the road.
With paperwork in hand (Items 3 a-c), you present the animal in an airline approved carrier at the airport on the day of departure. It is weighed and if different from what you told them when you reserved, you may have to pay the fee in cash(or the whole fee if you didn’t pay in advance as noted in Step 1.). They do not accept credit cards.
If you are flying with Continental, the drop off Location/Cargo Office for their independent shipper noted in #1 above is at: La Mesa Aeropuerto De Carga Oficina De Carinter. You will likely make the payment at the time of drop off as they typically don’t have you do it with your reservation. If you pay in the Cargo office, it has to be in cash…or you can make a deposit ahead of time to BancoFicohsa $ USD 26-10748660 or LPS 26-10130466.
Either at the counter or quarantine/cargo, they will look at your pet’s exit documents (The papers in 3 a-c above), input the information and stamp them. They may also take a copy of the documents to put in the carrier.
There is no exit fee for the pet.
After you check in your pet, if you are at quarantine/cargo, you may need to bring the papers BACK to the counter and check in yourself.
ARRIVAL in the STATES-
Upon arrival, you are to declare the pet on your customs form, even if dog is travelling on cargo. They will then reunite you with your animal. Unless your dog is a service animal, it has to stay in his carrier until you are out of the airport. One of our contributors specified “ MIA is not pet friendly and does not have a dog run, unless things have changed in the past year.”
To pass the Canadian borders there were no additional documents needed above what the USA needs.
We have had multiple people say that no one asked them anything about their pet once they arrived in USA. The papers above are necessary to GET OUT of Honduras, but once you get to USA, no one seems to care.
Some airlines say that they arrange for a vet to meet you upon landing in USA/Canada, but the people that we’ve talked to haven’t seen that. In our case, we just walked off the plane with our animal who flew in the cabin and right through customs- declared the animal but no one at all asked about it once in the states. HOWEVER, we did have a friend who had a plane reservation on Sunday, but when they arrived at the airport, they were told they weren’t allowed to fly b/c airline said a vet had to meet once in the USA. (Nobody met them on Monday either!)
We had someone else who wrote in putting in a little more simply “ The Dept of Agriculture in Houston’s Intl Airport, quite frankly, could care less”
**FOR TRANSFERS-i.e after Customs in USA- We don’t have specific information- we would love input!**
We have scoured old posts from the Honduras Living List Serve , the Roatan List Serve , as, as well as cornered folks we know who have done the trip with their animals into giving us the details above. But remember you need to check your airlines webpage on Travelling with Animals.
Also, here are 2 links for importing pets into the USA that you can take a look at as well:
US Department of Agriculture (USDA): http://www.aphis.usda.gov/import_export/animals/animal_import/animal_imports_pet\
If you find something we missed or have incorrect, please let us know- you will be helping a lot of people- including those that have saved street dogs and are trying to make them a permanent member of their homes back in the States or Canada!