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  • Writer's pictureBianca

Can You Bring a Dog to Chile? Tips for Importing Your Pup

Updated: Mar 11

Some of you might know, I've gotten started on a journey to visit every country in South America with my dog Zeus (who I rescued in China), starting with Chile. While I'll be driving through all of the countries, I of course had to fly into Chile since Zeus and I were coming from New York. Before I made it here I wondered can you bring a dog to Chile in the first place? 

After scouring the internet for additional information and having to go from one website to another in order to piece together the details of what I need in order to make this happen, I decided to compile it all in one post with the hopes of making it easier for other pet owners out there looking to do the same! Keep reading for a detailed account of how I brought my dog to Chile and all the documents that I needed.

Health and Vaccination Requirements

First thing's first, make sure your dog is all caught up on vaccinations prior to departure. This pretty much applies no matter what your country of destination is, but the let's get into Chile's health and vaccination requirements specifically. Chile actually only requires the rabies vaccination which must be done more than 30 days and less than one year prior to entry into the country. Even if your dog has gotten a rabies shot previously, make sure you double check the date of vaccination as it may need to be re-administered if it was done too long ago. This was the case for Zeus so I had to get him a new rabies shot before our flight!


In addition to the anti-rabies vaccination, Chile also requires several other things before you can bring your pup. One of these requirements is an official foreign veterinary certificate of health in both your country's official language and Spanish. Travelers from the United States can find the form to be filled out here. The European pet passport can be used in lieu of this certificate of health. However, if your country of departure is different, you should search for the requirements on the website of your department of agriculture/animals or ask your vet if they can point you in the right direction! 

Keep in mind that only an accredited veterinarian can fill out this certificate, so make sure to check with yours to see if they are able to do this. I thought at first that any vet could do this, but was told that my vet wasn't qualified and had to reschedule so definitely get this confirmed ahead of time!


Chile also requires a clinical examination to be carried out within 10 days of travel to the country. This should be completed in conjunction with the foreign veterinary certificate.

The last requirement to be taken care of to ensure smooth travel plans is both internal and external parasite treatment, which will also typically be done at the time the certificate of health is being filled out (10 days or less before your flight).


While not required in order to bring a dog to Chile, you might still want to get your pup vaccinated for canine distemper, parvovirus, leptospirosis, and lyme disease as these are pretty common shots for your dog to have anyway! Since Zeus and I will be traveling a lot throughout the continent, I figured I'd err on the side of caution and get these all done.


You might see on some sites that ISO microchips are needed, but this is not the case. That being said, personally, I would recommend having your pup microchipped anyway.

Travel Logistics

Choosing an Airline

Next up is organizing international travel with your pet. In my opinion this was the worst part of the whole ordeal, given that all the vet stuff was pretty straightforward. Travel is much easier with a small dog as most airlines will allow you to travel with them in cabin of the aircraft. However, things get a bit more complicated with a larger dog (like Zeus). In this case, you will usually have to bring them on as checked or excess baggage. 


Once you know which part of Chile you want to fly into, you have to narrow down your airline choices - since you're traveling with a pet this means no budget airlines! Trying to navigate airlines' various pet policies can be a headache - the best way to go about this is to only travel on one carrier because you don't want to encounter an issue where your dog is allowed on one airline but not the other. 


My first step is to do a quick google search for "[Airline Name] pet policy" and scour their site to see if they only allow service animals or if they allow you to bring on a personal pet as well. Based on my findings, I check the flights each airline has available for the dates I want to travel. After this, I call each airline and ask them if they have space available for pets in the cargo hold for the specific flight route on that day (be sure to have the flight number ready). 


Only after you have confirmed that space is available, should you book the flight. Then you will need to call again to provide them with the details of your pet such as breed, weight, and crate size. Note that certain dog breeds might not be allowed to fly with some airlines. There will also be a fee to be paid either on the phone or at the airport, depending on the airline you've chosen. I've found that Avianca and Latam Airlines were the best pet-friendly option for international travel to South America. There are other airlines as well but none that worked for my specific days of travel.

Preparing for Your Flight

The most important thing is to make absolute certain that you are following the guidelines your chosen airline has for pet crates. Each airline will have their own requirements as to what material the crate should be made from and they may even have additional requirements such as muzzling your dog for the duration of the flight. 


Pet crates can be extremely stressful to your animal if they aren't used to them. This is why it can be beneficial to your furry friend to familiarize them with their travel carrier a couple of weeks before the flight. The way I did this with Zeus was by first simply introducing the carrier to the apartment - I left it in a corner and put some treats into it every now and again to get him to enter it on his own. 

After your dog is comfortable being around the crate, try giving him/her treats to go inside and then give the command to sit or lie down. Eventually the goal is to work up to having your pet sleep through the night in the carrier.


Another thing that will be helpful to do before the flight is to keep all of your pet's necessary documents in one place - honestly put the unnecessary documents there too. For example, I put Zeus's valid certificate of vaccination (even though not required), valid rabies vaccination certificate, international health certificate, and basically any document I have related to Zeus like his rabies titer test (again not required). It is always better to be over-prepared than under-prepared!

Checking In for the Flight

However early you normally show up for your flight, show up an hour earlier just to avoid anything going wrong. If the check in counter isn't ready yet, don't sweat it - check to see if your airport has a pet relief area you can take your dog to. 


Checking in should go pretty smoothly as long as you have the necessary documents ready. The desk agent will ask you for these prior to boarding, then you can carry on as normal if your pet will be traveling with you in cabin. However, if your dog has long legs like Zeus, or is just a really big pup, you will have to take your dog to an inspection area so they can x-ray the travel carrier and check the inside. Your dog will need to be outside of the carrier during this time, so don't forget to bring the leash!

After this step, your dog will be taken away to be loaded into the baggage compartment.


After the Flight

If your pup didn't fly in the cabin of the aircraft, then you're going to have to pick him/her up with your luggage. At the Santiago International Airport (where Zeus and I landed), pets were sent to the overweight luggage area which is a bit away from the conveyor belts. 


Following pet pick up, you'll have to fill out your customs declaration form and make sure to declare your dog in the live animals section! When exiting the airport, you'll need to go through the "good to declare" exit where they will redirect you to the Agricultural and Livestock Service who will ask about your country of origin and check to see that you have the necessary documents. The whole process takes maybe 5-10 minutes and there is no additional fee at this point. 


After that, that's it - you're free to explore Chile with your best friend!


dog resting on a lawn in front of museum
Zeus has officially made it to his third country - Chile!

Additional Tips for a Smooth Journey

  • Keep every single document related to your dog in one folder and easily accessible in your personal item or carry on (personal item is better)

  • Contact your chosen airline before booking your ticket to understand their specific pet travel procedures and requirements as well as to see if they have room available on the flight! (you can find the flight number on the airline's website without booking)

  •  Acclimate your dog to their travel crate gradually a few weeks prior to flying to reduce anxiety during the journey

  • Make your dog's crate as comfy as possible! This wasn't Zeus' first big trip since I found him one crazy day in Nanjing, but I still folded up a thick blanket in Zeus' crate and put a small blanket over him to keep him extra cozy


 

Bringing your dog to Chile can be a hectic experience, but it's worth it in the end because you'll be able to explore this vibrant country with your loyal companion by your side. By adhering to regulations and carefully planning your pet's journey, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable adventure for both you and your furry friend.

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