Cat Export Preparations Update #6

Things are going right on schedule.  We had kind of a hang-up on Saturday with taking the cats to the vet because it was a public holiday.  I didn’t even realize it!  The vet was closed.  Someone let me know on Friday night.  Coincidentally, it was the person that recognized me from my blog at Teadot.  She noticed the blog post and contacted me on Twitter.  Apparently, we’d chatted a bit on Plurk before I stopped actively using the service.  I guess social media paid off for me this weekend, because it saved me a wasted trip to a closed vet.

Thanks @_rasyidah!

It turned out to be a blessing in disguise.  The vet we were going to take the cats to wanted 104 per cat for the rabies shot and health certificate, but when we called around we wound up finding a vet that would perform the same service, including an application of Frontline to meet the “treated for external parasites” requirement for import to the Philippines, for only 84 dollars per cat.  That’s 60 bucks in savings.  Plus, the clinic was closer so we saved on taxi fare too.

I’ll list the places we went in my “roll-up” post on how to import cats to the Philippines from Singapore later, on my Philippines blog.

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We really had to get the cats to the vet over the weekend to fit our timeline.  Immediately after returning home from the vet, I filled out the online form with AVA to have the certificates converted to AVA certified versions.  That included scanning them and uploading them along with the application.

So, after this I still have to go pick up the certificates from the AVA, which will hopefully be available by tomorrow afternoon, and then take them to the Philippines Airlines office to present to the customer service officers there.  They require that you show them the paperwork before they allow you to board their planes with pets.  I suppose it’s a good policy, but it adds a bit more stress.  The health certificates have to be obtained within 7 days of arrival at your destination and you have to show it to the PAL office no later than two days before the flight.  It creates a sort of time-crunch that we’ll hopefully get over without issue.

As for the cats themselves, this trip was a little less traumatizing for them I think.  On their last trip to the vet we were in a much noisier area, with a lot of traffic and then to cap things off we got caught in one of Singapore’s flash rainstorms that left us pretty drenched.  They did panic a bit when a dog the size of Marmaduke came into the vet, but I don’t blame them.  That thing kinda worried me too.  I’m sure it outweighed me by about 30 pounds.  It was HUGE.

So, that’s it for now!

Total damages so far: 1075 SGD

Total to go (approx.): 260 SGD

Cat Export Preparations Update #5

It’s almost time to go and rather than winding down, things are winding up, especially our stress level.  There are only a few things left to do, in regards to the cats, but it’s still troublesome.

On the 28th, the carriers showed up as scheduled, which was a relief.  It’d be time consuming to try to get a refund and then go elsewhere.  The cats don’t seem to mind them.  In fact, as soon as I put them in the room, they wanted to investigate.  I read that it’s best to let your cats get comfortable with the carriers so they’re more at ease during the trip.

So, what’s left?  Tomorrow I have to take the cats to get their rabies shots and health certificates.  Immediately afterwards I need to file those health certificates along with an application to have them converted to AVA health certificates.  Those should be ready to pick up on Monday.  Immediately after picking them up I have to go to the Philippines Airlines office and present the documentation to them.  They won’t let the cats on the plane without me performing that step first.  They want to verify the documents and make sure everything’s legal.

My stack of paperwork involving the flight and these cats is growing…

Stay tuned for more updates tomorrow!

Cat Export Preparations Update #4

Another piece of the puzzle has fallen into place.  I was having an issue getting the export permit from Singapore because I couldn’t get the AVA’s site to work.  It was a mix of problems that started with the site being horrible in terms of navigation and ease of use.  It was harder than it should’ve been to find the information I needed and then to find the form.

The form itself was the next problem.  The AVA has sacrificed ease of use for practicality and merged the export and import permit for both personal and business use into one form.  To further complicate matters, many items that don’t pertain to people looking to export personal pets are marked with a red asterisk, inviting you to try to fill in the box with some sort of data since you assume it’s required.  Then, when the data is erroneous, you’re not allowed to proceed.  It took me a few phone calls and some waiting to get past that hang-up.

Once I knew what was going on it was no problem to get the form filled out and submitted.  That was Friday.  Today I checked the form status and saw that it was approved so I was then able to make payment through the AVA’s site.  Once I did that the download link was unlocked for me.  I downloaded the export permit in pdf form and then printed it out.

So now we have the import permit, export permit, tickets for Philippine Airlines, and the cats have had their first round of vaccinations.  Next up is a return to the vet sometime between the 29th and the 3rd for rabies vaccinations and the health certificate.  I may get them the 1 month boosters while we’re there as well to save hassle later.  I don’t know if that’s possible though because I’m not sure if there might be a reaction between all the vaccines.  Guess I’ll ask the expert when I get there.

I’ll also have to give them all a dip in flea & tick treatment shampoo and get my wife to cram a dewormer pill down their throats.  She’s much better at it than I am.  They always spit it out when I try to do it, but they don’t give her any trouble.

We’re still waiting on the replacement cages to show up on the 28th as well.

Relocating pets is a serious pain in the butt and requires a lot of double-checking to make sure things are done, but it’ll be worth it when they’re all sitting at the window staring out at the Philippine and enjoying the space and privileges they’ll have in their new home.

Total cost for export license

: 50 SGD! Yay!

Total damages so far: 820 SGD

Total to go: approximately 500 SGD (I realize that’s higher than before, but I must have miscounted somewhere. 300ish for rabies & health certificates and about 200 for airline shipping, rough guesses.)

Cat Export Preparations Update #3

Well, we’ve encountered two hang-ups.  One isn’t so bad and one is making me want to claw my face off from frustration.

I received the airline certified cat carriers this afternoon but there was a problem.  They were smaller than what I’d thought when I originally bought them.  They looked roomy and more than adequate when I was in the store, but when I put one down and stuck Dapper in it, it was obvious that it was not going to be appropriate, or even acceptable by the airline.  Dapper could barely fit inside, couldn’t turn around and couldn’t even stand up.  Maybe it’s because she’s so fat, but regardless, I had to jump in the shower and take them back to the store for an exchange to the next bigger size.

When I went up there I was a little worried about how the whole thing would go.  I’d never tried to exchange anything in Singapore before and while it would be an easy swap process in the US, you never know when it comes to Singapore retailers.  Thankfully, this standard of exchange is in use here in Singapore as well.  I just had to show that the carriers were still in new condition, with the packaging on them, and present the receipt and it was a quick process to request a “top-up” to the next size.

So, I was able to bring home one carrier in the next higher size and I’ll have to wait until next week to get the other two.  I imagine it’ll take 7 days again, which means I’ll get them on the 28th, just in time to take them to the vet on the 29th for their rabies shots and health certificates.  I’m glad I bought those other cages when I did, leaving myself room for fixing this sort of mistake.  I’m also glad that the people at PetLover’s were pleasant and quick to help me out with the exchange!

That was the easy fix problem.  The next problem is the one that has me banging my head against my desk.  Well, not literally, but I want to.

Part of the process of getting my cats out of Singapore is requesting an export permit from the AVA.  Getting an import permit from the Philippines BAI was as simple as sending an e-mail with the details of the cats, the shipping method and date of arrival.  There was a slight hang-up due to technical issues but once we contacted them we had it back on the same day by e-mail.  The AVA is proving to be much, much more difficult.

When you go to their site there are clear links for export permits for personal pets, and it indicates that you can fill out a form online for two day processing of your request.  The problem here is that all of the links point to an online form that seems to be geared towards businesses.  There is no personal form that I can find.  The form we keep getting directed to requests some business identification number and another number I don’t recall right now, but either way, you can’t progress past the first page of the request form without filling those in.  We obviously don’t have them, and the average person wouldn’t have them either.  I keep getting the feeling that I’m looking at the wrong form, but no matter how many links I click I always wind up on that one.  My wife tried with the same results.

So, tomorrow I’m going to have to call up the AVA and figure out what the deal is.  I hope they don’t tell me something that’s going to make me throw my phone through the wall.  This process has already been stressful enough, both on my wife and I, and on my wallet.

This whole process has been a real lesson in how difficult an international move really is.  Before this, any time I’d ever moved I’d had it all arranged by the military.  Well, except for my coming to Singapore in the first place, but when I did that I gave away my furniture, electronics, and anything I couldn’t immediately use to my family, packed a few suitcases and hopped on a plane.  I suppose this wouldn’t be too much different, except for there being two of us now, if not for our cats, but we aren’t about to abandon them either.

Anyhow, the “top-up” on the carriers wasn’t free, so here’s the update:

Total damages so far: 770 SGD (approximately)

Total to go: 380 SGD (approximately)

Cat Export Preparations Update #2

We are well under way!

Last week I went to the pet store in White Sands and found IATA certified Ferstar travel carriers that will meet our needs.  They were a bit pricey at 75 bucks apiece, but since they’re airline certified I know we’ll be able to use them multiple times in the future, since the Philippines isn’t a destination so much as another stopping point to learn and enjoy life.  I opted for home delivery both because it was free and because they didn’t have 3 carriers on hand.  They had to order them from their warehouse.  A few days later I got a call saying that the carriers would take a bit longer to come in because they had to be ordered from overseas.  That’s a little troubling, since I don’t have a lot of time to play around with anymore.  They’re supposed to arrive tomorrow, so here’s hoping it pans out alright.  When we get them in, I’ll be sure to throw up some photos of the carriers and point out some of the details.

Beyond that, I called up Philippine Airlines to discuss having the cats transported along with us.  The procedures are fairly simple.  You book your tickets and then within two days prior to the flight you have to go down to their office to provide them with a copy of the export permit, import permit and health certificate.

If you’re wondering, cats (and other pets) can’t ride on the budget carriers.  You have to take one of the full fledged airlines and the only two offering the service between the Singapore and the Philippines are Singapore Airlines and Philippine Airlines.  The difference in ticket prices between SIA and PAL was about 400 SGD, so we went with the cheaper option.

Total cost of the carriers: 213 SGD (after PetLovers members discount of 5%)

Total difference in cost between premium airline tickets and budget tickets: roughly 400 SGD

Total ‘Damages’ So Far: 713 SGD (approximately)

Total to go: 380 SGD (approximately)

Stay tuned for more updates!  Also, I’ll later be compiling all of the details into a more refined post for a good walk through on how to bring cats from Singapore to the Philippines.