Can I take my pet to Turkey and what documentation does it need?
Yes, you can take two pet cats and dogs to Turkey from the UK and vice versa providing all the necessary paperwork is in order and they have had all the specified vaccinations. In recent years, the procedure for taking pets into or out of Turkey has become more or less reciprocal between Turkey and Europe as well as the UK. Of course, there could be changes for the UK following Brexit. You will generally need to allow four months before the pet can travel and, as a guide, to complete the procedures as follows for either cats or dogs:
What do I need to do to take my pet to Turkey?
These procedures must be followed before you can take your cat or dog to Turkey.
The dog/cat must be microchipped
The dog/cat must be vaccinated against rabies (this can be done on the same day as the micro-chipping)
After 30 days following the vaccination, a blood sample needs to be taken by your local vet and this needs to be sent to the relevant state-approved laboratory in the home country for a titer test to be carried out in order to ensure the efficacy of the rabies vaccination. Allow a month for this, although the results should be back in about two weeks.
After this, there is a 'home quarantine' period of three months. Again, it is important to ensure a full 90 days has lapsed from the date of the local vet's blood test in the case of the pet travelling from Turkey. Animals leaving the UK can travel prior to the 90 day wait but they may be required to complete home quarantine in Turkey arranged at local customs on arrival.
In the case of the pet departing from Turkey, 48 hours before departure, your pet will need to be treated for parasites (worming, fleas and ticks), the passport (or equivalent pass book in Turkey) will need to be updated and stamped by the local vet, and a Health Certificate gained from the State Agriculture Department in accordance with the method of travel (air or overland) at which stage the microchip will be checked to ensure it scans correctly. Your local vet can arrange this. In the case of a pet departing from the UK, a DEFRA export licence will need be to gained and completed by a UK government vet and similar health checks and parasitical treatment will be needed. In all participating countries, the animal will need to be examined prior to departure and the passport or passbook stamped to confirm the animal is in a healthy state for travel.
The pet now has five days in which to reach its destination.
How to take your pet to Turkey.
1. Use of a pet transportation company. It is highly recommended you use a reliable agency to ensure the above procedures are carried out strictly. There are various pet transportation companies available to help with transporting pets from the UK by air. Some pet owners opt for the easier option of airline travel into Europe, such as Belgium or The Netherlands, for onward travel to the UK and deal with the relevant European airline directly.
Sending pets overland is also popular option when transporting animals to the UK.
2. Do your homework before booking flights. The only airline that will currently transport pets to and from the UK to Turkey is Turkish Airlines and only via Istanbul. To transport pets by air from the UK, we highly recommend the use of a specialist transportation company. From Turkey, most people opt to fly their animals into Belgium or The Netherlands for onward overland travel from there, as the procedure is deemed to be more straightforward and there is more choice of airlines carriers over and above Turkish Airlines. Animals under 10 kilograms in weight are treated as excess baggage status and can travel with the passenger in the aircraft but you would need to check with the airline regarding what they consider a suitable pet carrier.
3. Get your pet immunised. Planning is key to ensure you have the correct immunisations carried out together with all the relevant forms in order. You will need to plan up to four months in advance of the date of travel.
4. Buy a suitable pet carrier. Each airline is likely to have differing requirements, as stated above, so you will need to check what these are. Using a pet transportation company will make life simpler as they will be able to provide suitable carriers and be aware of the various regulations in the case of both air and overland travel.
5. Customs on Arrival. In the case of animals entering into Turkey, ; clearance costs are likely to be in the region of US$700 (for two pets) covering IMP documents fees, stamp fee, customs clearance, storage fee, veterinary charges and agriculture formalities. These costs are over and above the fees charged by pet transportation companies although they will be able to recommend a suitable agent. There are other considerations to bear in mind as well as to how long customs clearance is likely to take, whether this facility is available at weekends and whether there are animal hotels available if needed for onward travel.
Tips on travelling to Turkey with your pet
Make sure you bring pet food with you if your pet is flying in the cabin. Supply feeding instructions and food to the airline assistant when checking your pet into cargo if they are travelling in the hold.
Be prepared for a wait at your destination airport whist your pets’ paperwork is checked and authorised. You may be lucky, but if travelling during high season or when the airport is busy, there is lightly to be a long delay.
Be aware that you may be asked to get your pets health checked by a vet periodically whilst in Turkey. This is to make sure that they stay in good health and comply with procedures.
Pet supplies in Turkey
Pet supplies are easy to source in most towns, cities and resorts. There are many vets and pet shops, especially in areas with a large number of ex-pats, and larger supermarkets like Migros sell dried and canned pet food. Brand names and special nutritional pet foods can be pricey. Those with a number of animals often buy pet food in bulk, look out for special offers, or buy cheap meat, tripe or offal to make batches at home to save costs.
General Animal Welfare in Turkey
Turks do like animals but don’t tend to keep ‘pets’ as such as we do the UK. They keep and own working animals or those with a use like chickens, goats, cows, sheep etc. Some do own dogs but these are normally kept outside and used to protect other livestock or their homes. Cats and dogs do get a raw deal in Turkey and you are likely to see many street dogs and stray cats around towns, cities and resorts. There are not many animal welfare organisations or charities in Turkey. Strays breed quickly meaning Turkey does have a real problem controlling them with little in place to limit future numbers. Many foreigners and ex-pats do find animal welfare in Turkey disturbing and difficult to deal with, many animal lovers living in Turkey end up adopting local stray cats and dogs as a result.