Updated: Mar 18
Yes, it is possible to bring your pet to Japan. The process will require time, attention to detail, and funds. Although I am sharing my experience and process. There are other ways to successfully bring your pet to Japan. Depending on your timeline, budget, number of pets, etc. There are a lot of variables, but I will provide information and advice based on our experience because that's what worked for us.
Where are you going? If you have a choice in what part of Japan you will be moving to. You are not obligated to any specific location. I would advise researching the area/areas you are considering before moving specifically to see what resources are available. Please work with a real estate agent to find housing, as their relationship with the property owner can help make all parties more confident and informed. This is important because renting with pets can be challenging. If buying a house is an option you can increase your control over whether pets are allowed, but that's not feasible/wise for everyone. For housing, the number one takeaway is to plan ahead!
2. Timing is EXTREMELY important! You have to have a lot of documents completed before importing an animal to Japan. It's crucial to give yourself adequate time to prepare, I would recommend a minimum of 7 months, but I started preparation 11 months before moving (before I had a confirmed job offer).
3. Money is hard to talk about because everyone has a slightly different financial situation. Moving your pet to Japan could easily cost you Thousands of dollars in shipping costs, vet bills, specialty crates (IATA approved), boarding fees, and more. Please prepare yourself financially.
4. You need a good veterinarian. You may need more than one because not all veterinary offices have the certifications mandated to issue a Certificate of Health. I can't stress this enough, you need a skilled and qualified veterinarian. Preferably with lots of experience in import/export requirements.
5. If you use a shipping company as I did for my three babies. Do your research, read reviews, call multiple companies, and talk with them. I asked other people on social media about their experiences before choosing a shipper. When I called companies, I had talking points ready and took notes. When I finally selected a company, I felt more confident knowing I had shopped around first. I used AirVets Pet Relocation and had a great experience. Based on my experience, I would recommend them to others.
6. The Japanese government has a website https://www.maff.go.jp/aqs/english/animal/im_index.html which has instructions on the process for importing your pets. To include the submission of forms needed to request entry for your pets (required a minimum of 40 days before importing your pet).
To summarize, planning is everything! If you plan in advance makes a big difference, and although it can be costly, it's possible to safely bring your pet to Japan. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact us.
Safe Travels 🐾