I have been meaning to do this post for a while now. Many people wonder what it’s like to bring dogs into South Korea. Many people also ask “Can I bring my dog to South Korea?” It’s hard to find straight forward information about taking a dog, or pet for that matter, to South Korea and it’s also hard to find information on how life is for dogs here. Hopefully I can answer some of that below!
When I first started researching on how to bring a dog to South Korea, I had the hardest time finding a good resource to let me know exactly what I needed to do. I called embassies, airports, searched blog forums and talked to vets. It seemed that everyone had a different answer or directed me to another person. Regardless, I was able to find a somewhat clear answer on the steps you need to take to bring a dog to South Korea. I would recommend that if you are thinking about brining a pet to South Korea, you start getting all your pet’s paperwork done about 4 months prior to departing.
Here are all the steps we needed to take, as of June 2013, for when we arrived. I don’t think anything has changed but its always good to check!!
Number 1: Make sure your dog is Microchipped.
Microchipping our dogs cost about $30 per dog (not too bad!). You must make sure that your microchip is ISO-compliant (ISO11784 and 11785 standards). The microchip number must be 15 digits long and must start with 985. If you mention this to a vet, they should know which microchip you need. If your dog is microchipped and it doesn’t match ISO standards, I would recommend you microchip them again to make it easier. They will scan your dog for a Microchip when you arrive at the airport!
Number 2: Make sure all your dog’s shots are up-to-date, especially your rabies shots
We started updating our dogs’ shots about 4 months prior to leaving for Korea. It is a good idea in general to vaccinate/update your dog for the year, but the most important shot that you must have up-to-date is the rabies shot. Try to update your dog’s rabies shot at-least a month before you send the blood work for the Rabies Titer Test (they recommend that you send the blood 30 days+ after the rabies shot, so if you get it updated 5 months in advance, for example, you’ll be fine!)
Number 3: You need to get a Rabies Titer Test
The Rabies Titer Test, also known as the rabies-neutralizing antibody test is a test that checks your dog’s blood to make sure that it has the antibodies to fight rabies. The test must be administered by an internationally approved laboratory or by the competent authority of the exporting country, no more than 30 days but no later than 24 months prior to boarding with a positive result of at least 0.5 or higher.
In other words, you must send your dog’s blood to an approved laboratory to get it tested. The blood work must come back with a test result of 0.5 or higher. The results of the titer test must be in the health certificate.
Make sure that your dog is microchipped prior to getting the blood work done. Laboratories keep track of the blood through the microchip numbers.
We got our titer test done by Kansas State University Veterinary Services. It takes 3-4 weeks to get the results so make sure you do this early! You also need to do this through a veterinarian. We did it through our vet and it made things much easier. I would recommend printing out all the paperwork and then have your vet go through it with you to make sure you get everything you need.
Once we talked with our vet and got the appropriate papers, our vet drew blood and then had us ship it via FEDEX, overnight to the laboratory. It was nice because we were able to check the progress online by using our dogs’ microchip numbers. After about 4 weeks, our results came and we passed. It’s always good to do this early incase you might need to resubmit your papers. Costs for the test should be on the website, along with any costs your vet might have.
Number 4: You must get an International Health Certificate no earlier than 10 days before your flight.
10 days before you fly out to South Korea, you will need to go to your vet to get an International Health Certificate. The window for this is very small because if you get it any earlier than 10 days, it will void. You must get the International Health Certificate within the 10 days that you will be going to Korea. We got ours about 2 days before we flew out of the country, to give us 8 extra days, incase our flight might be delayed. This was about $60 per dog, from our vet. The vet will fill out this health certificate and it will include your dog’s entire health history.
Make sure that the results of your rabies titer test is on the health certificate!
I also made sure to get multiple copies of this incase I needed it anywhere else.
Number 5: After you get your International Health Certificate, you must get it endorsed by your State Veterinarian at your state USDA Office.
The day after we got our International Health Certificate, we went and got it endorsed by our State Veterinarian. We were lucky that our USDA office was an hr drive from us. Definitely plan ahead for this, incase you need to make a long trip, because you only have a 10 day window for this.
You will need to take your International Health Certificate, your original Rabies Titer Test Results Certificate, a rabies shot certificate (you can get this from your vet), and money for the payment. Ours was about $120 for both dogs, in the state of Florida. *Check your State’s USDA rules incase you might need anything else.
The state vet will endorse all the documents and will give you 4 copies with your original paperwork. You will give a copy to immigration when you bring your dog to Korea.
Next: You need to make the proper travel arrangements for your pets!
This is something you definitely need to do as soon as you know when you will be flying to Korea. We knew ahead of time, even before we finished getting all the stuff mentioned above finished.
Many airlines have strict pet policies so its very important to research them early! I know with dogs flying in cabin, they have to be a certain weight and height. Some airlines even restrict breeds. The dogs also need to be in airline approved dog carriers. We used Teafco’s Argo Petaboard, and both our carriers were great!
Each airline has its own rules so please check up on them in advance!
I have never flown a dog in cargo, only in cabin, and I can recommend to bring pee pads! From time to time we were able to take the dogs (in their carriers) to the bathroom and lay the pee pads out for them and let them stretch their legs!
Flying is different for every dog but you can talk with your vet to see what options you want to take. If you want to read about how our poms did, you can click here!
**Update July 2017**
The Teafco Carriers that we used on our dogs, don’t seem to be in production anymore. I know that if you go to Teafco’s Website here, you will find other carriers they make that might be similar to the ones we have. Amazon sells Teafco products as well, but they are more costly than I remember buying ours for in 2013! Airlines update their policies all the time, so the standards might have changed, but just make sure you do your research to find the best carrier to meet you, your dog’s, and your airline’s needs! 🙂
Finally: Make sure you have their paperwork on hand.
Once all above is said and done and you land in Korea, you just need to make it through animal quarantine. We did everything mentioned above and when we got to inspections with Milo and Luci, the Korean Inspection Officer looked at our papers, scanned our dogs for microchips, documented that our dogs were in Korea, and then we were on our way! All we had to do was leave a copy of our papers with them. My biggest fear was that we would have to quarantine our dogs. Luckily, being prepared helped. Not only did we get through but it only took about 15 to 20 minutes.
A Dog’s Life in Korea
Honestly, besides a traumatic plane ride and some crazy new smells, I don’t think my dogs know anything different about where they are. Koreans are still not as dog/cat friendly as America but they are definitely getting there!
I have had no trouble finding pet stores, veterinarians, and even pet hotels (and our dogs had a nice time staying at one when we went to Japan). There are also a lot of vendors who sell pet supplies and even doggie clothes. I don’t know how it is in other cities but Seoul is a good city for pets. I have seen a lot of Koreans with small dogs and even some big dogs! Most people smile when they see our pomeranians, though there are the occasional people who are afraid. Seoul has many parks and trails where people take their dogs and dog parks are starting to sprout around in places.
If you are thinking about coming to teach/live in South Korea and love your dog/cat, I would definitely think about bringing them. It does take a lot of research and paperwork, but its worth it in the end! It’s also much easier to take them back to the States, once your time in Korea comes to an end (though I don’t know all the complete steps you need to do). For some people, having a pet might hold them back, but I can’t imagine my life without my pups! It’s definitely something that is possible if you want! 🙂 I hope this can help!
Resource Website: Animal and Plant Quarantine Agency Korea
**UPDATE** April 9th, 2014 – Apartments & Dogs
This is just a small update of information. I have many people who email me and ask me about my apartment situation with my dogs. I will talk about my experience here, but I know that this might not be the case for everyone!
When John and I applied to schools in Korea, we were very honest about our dogs. With that being said, when we found a school that allowed dogs, we also made sure the housing was pet friendly too! My advice for anyone trying to bring a dog is to be honest with your school. It makes the entire process much easier!
Many people have also asked me about apartment hunting with a dog. Unfortunately, I cannot help too much in that department because my housing is through my school, but I do want to say that South Korea is becoming more pet friendly each and every year. I think many people are adopting dogs and that landlords are becoming more accommodating. The best advice I have for apartment hunting is to also just be honest! It will save you so much trouble!
Hope this can help and good luck!
All the pictures below or above are of my pups in Korea 🙂