Sailing with Pets


Taking your pets along while sailing to foreign countries is not only doable, but enjoyable. We've had dogs, cats, parrots, and hamsters (no frogs!) on board rally boats. But you must do your homework and start well in advance of your passage to have the proper paperwork to clear your pet into a country. Requirements for pet clearance or importation vary a bit from island to island. Remember, you are in another country and you MUST follow their rules.


    For those entering Antigua with the Salty Dawg Fall Rally to the Caribbean, a vet will be available in Falmouth Harbor to check your pet into the country. Antigua has extensive requirements, including insertion of a microchip, for bringing your pet to their country. Click here for details.


    Conditions of entry for Dogs & Cats into Bermuda Click here for details.


    The Bahamas do not require that your pet have a microchip, but have other regulations for you to comply with. Click here.


    The BVI have extensive requirements, including insertion of a microchip, for bringing your pet into their country. Click here for details.


    French Islands (Martinique, Iles des Saintes, St. Martin (French), and Guadaloupe) are self-reporting. Distemper has been reported on St.Martin.


    Recent hurricanes have devastated the health care systems; disease outbreaks are occurring.


Thanks to Schooner and MacDuff (along with their two-legged crew on Salty Pause and Stealin’ Time) for providing information about traveling with pets based on their recent cruising experiences. Please contact us if you have additional information that maybe helpful to others with pets aboard. Click here.


  1. Start well in advance of your departure. It can take months for the tests and vaccinations to get done. The Rabies Titer (FAVEN) test takes 6 to 8 weeks to receive the results back from Kansas State University. Departing from the USA you must obtain a Health Certificate from a USDA Veterinary Officer. Your local Vet can not issue this Health Certificate.
  2. Most islands you will visit require insertion of a microchip. Get your pet micro chipped with a 15 character ISO certified microchip. Vaccinations must be done after micro-chipping so that the micro-chip number is listed on the vaccination certificate and other health records.
  3. Most islands do not accept the 3 year rabies vaccine, so even if your pet received the 3 year, you'll need to do it annually. The blood draw for the rabies titer should be done AT LEAST 30 days after the rabies vaccine is administered.
  4. Always be courteous and friendly. Don’t try to talk your way into a country without complying with local rules. Your pet could be confiscated, quarantined, sent home or, even euthanized.
  5. Always keep a copy of your pet’s import certificate with you when going ashore. This is necessary especially in St Lucia, Dominica, and Bequia. Organize and scan your pet’s health records that way you have hard copies and electronic copies. Pam Mellon on Stealin' Time wrote up a separate sheet showing all of Macduff's vaccinations with the lot number of the vaccine and date administered and had her vet sign and certify it. She did the same with his tests. This makes it easier for the importing countries' vets to find the information they need.
  6. If you are leaving a rabies-free country, it's worth it to pay the extra money to get an export health certificate from that country.  Montserrat and St.Kitts/Nevis typically require quarantine for US and Canadian dogs, but Pam was able to get the Montserrat and St. Kitt's vets phone number from the Antigua vet and call them.  They agreed to waive quarantine based on their length of stay in Antigua provided a Health and Export Cert from Antigua was available.
  7. Each country has its own rules. They change all the time. If you don’t find the entry requirements you are looking for here, an internet search for the country name and the Agricultural Department is a good place to start.
  8. Pets that do not leave the boat to go ashore still need to follow the rules. They should be inspected in the US by the USDA vet and vaccinated and rabies-titiered.Be sure your paperwork is in order in case of an inspection.
  9. All pets should be on heart worm medication while traveling and have flea and tick prevention applied as prescribed. Suggest you carry antibiotics according to your vet's recommendation.  Many islands also require the Lyme vaccine for dogs. They will also require evidence that your dog  tested negative for Ehrlichia and Lyme.
  10. Try to call the Government Agricultural department or Government Vet ahead of time to go over requirements and procedures; find out how they want the records (emailed or hard copies); how long it will take to get your import certificate and which clearance port they want you to use. Some countries require you have the certificate before you arrive and it could take 2-3 weeks. It is also recommended that you call the Government Vet again 24 hours ahead of arrival to give them your ETA.
  11. Many countries in the Caribbean islands use rat and other poisons to control varmints. While WHO programs have tried to discourage this widespread use, partly due to the threat to humans, poisons are still broadly used outdoors. Carry Vitamin K as an antidote to rat poison.