Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Here kitty, kitty...

I have two cats.

They're kind of annoying, but I feel obligated to keep them since they were abandoned by previous owners, and have served me well by killing lots of rodents, including rats. (My aunt tells me that there are quite a lot of rats in her La Ceiba neighborhood, and has already asked to borrow my furballs when they arrive!)

So now the question is: how to transport the yowlers?

I found two sources, which differ slightly in their advice. The first is from an article on roatanet.com, written by Ryan Bernal: (I am snipping to the relevant info)

(...) Getting a Health Certificate for Roatan
A recent health certificate from your veterinarian (no older than ten days) is required for each pet entering Honduras and for check-in at the airport. As a precaution you can also have your vet fill out a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) form and have it authenticated by a local Department of Agriculture office: $45. An even further precaution is to take the USDA authenticated form to a local Honduran Consulate for their authentication: $30. However, most times a ten-day recent health certificate will suffice accompanied by vaccination (including rabies) records.

The forms should be available at your local veterinarian or on the USDA website.

Pets Arriving in Honduras
Pets can fly into most airports in Honduras including Roatan International (RTB) and San Pedro-La Mesa International (SAP). Upon arrival with your pet you will go through immigration, but then be directed to the Honduran Department of Agriculture office (found in or near customs). There, the office staff will call for a veterinarian to come and inspect your pets.

You will have to wait for the veterinarian to arrive and if he or she is unavailable at the time you will be asked to come back at a later date and permitted to leave the airport. When your pet is inspected by the veterinarian you will be charged $50 and will need to show the health certificate and vaccination records. (...)


The second source is a post report from www.ediplomat.com, filled with various instructions for foreign service workers moving to Honduras. Here's what they say:

Pets Last Updated: 6/2/2004 1:12 PM

If you are planning to bring a pet to post, you must check airline restrictions on pet travel and make reservations well in advance. All U.S. airlines now restrict pet travel during the summer months. It is important to check and double-check that your pet is still confirmed for travel on the date scheduled, and to have alternate plans in the event your pet's travel is delayed. Detailed information on pet travel is available at the Overseas Briefing Center at the National Foreign Affairs Training Center, or by visiting their web site at http://fsi.state.gov/fsi/tc/default.asp

If you bring your pet with you, you must have a health certificate from a U.S. veterinarian, dated no earlier than 10 days before your arrival, as well as proof of immunization against rabies and parvo between six and twelve months prior to arrival. A Honduran import permit must be presented to the airline when boarding in the U.S. and to the Honduran customs authorities upon arrival in Honduras. Your official sponsor will obtain this permit through a Honduran veterinarian. Your sponsor will need fax copies of your pet's U.S. health certificate, the photo page of your passport, and information on the type/breed, color, sex, weight and age of your pet. The cost of the import permit is approximately $50 per animal. The document normally takes several days to obtain, so you should provide the necessary information to your sponsor as soon as possible after receiving the (10 day) U.S. veterinary certificate.

You may also arrange to ship your pet separately as air cargo, but this is a more costly option. Arrangements on the U.S. side must be made via a commercial pet shipper. In addition to providing the above documentation, you must arrange for a local customs agent to clear the pet upon arrival in Honduras. GSO can assist by providing a list of reputable customs agents. There are additional fees for the commercial U.S. shipper, the actual shipping costs and Honduran customs agent.

All incoming pets are considered livestock by the Honduran customs authorities. As such, they are subject to import fees. These charges vary widely, depending on the breed and size of the animal. The fees cannot be waived for diplomatic personnel. (...)

Note the difference between these two sources - the ediplomat.com one indicates that you should obtain an import permit (via "your sponsor" which I guess I don't have... shucks) through a Honduran vet AHEAD OF TIME. Conversely, the article by Mr. Bernal seems to indicate that this can be obtained onsite at immigration in San Pedro Sula.

Hmmm.

Anybody know which is right????

12 Comments:

At 2:34 PM, Blogger thephoenixnyc said...

My gut feeling tells me option one will be fine and that ediplomat is going too far by the book.

 
At 2:39 PM, Blogger Bound for Ceiba said...

I dunno... I spoke with people at the USDA and the Honduran Consulate and they both said I needed an import permit. Funny though, nobody seems to know how I go about getting that - even at the consulate!

Nice.

 
At 3:23 PM, Blogger PARLANCHEQ said...

I guess sneaking them in clandestinely is out of the question? ;)

 
At 6:53 PM, Blogger DON GODO said...

My wife checked on this in Tegucigalpa, because we were planning to bring our dog. Unfortunately, during the summer time, it was not possible to bring him because the airlines have heat restrictions. If its over 85 degrees in the departure city, you can't bring animals. Well, in New Orleans, in the summer, there is not a day below 85. So I sold the dog. Actually he was kinda cute, he was a cavalier king charles, but he's history now.

The point of this is that my wife actually checked with honduran customs, health authorities, etc. and I think she actually knows the answer. I'll ask her to send you an email.

 
At 8:25 PM, Blogger Bound for Ceiba said...

I'm sorry about your dog, DG... and yes, please do give your wife my email!

 
At 10:52 PM, Blogger La Gringa said...

I can tell you what happened to me.

I had the health certificates, notarized and authenticated by the Honduran Consulate (I think it was $50). They never told me that I needed import permits.

As a result, when we landed in San Pedro, they were going to take my 14-year-old dogs away from me and put them in quartantine somewhere (where god only knows what would have happened to them) until we went to Tegucigalpa to obtain the import permit and brought it back to them. No amount of money (El Jefe offered) or crying (I did, loudly and profusely) was going to change their minds.

We got a vet to come out and give us some sort of certificate to take to Teguc. She was supposed to keep the dogs in quarantine but let us take them with us with the promise that we WOULD get the import permit (and of course a hefty fee).

We went to Teguc a few days later, spent an entire day driving around because no one could tell us where the damn place was. When we finally found it, it was 4 or 5 pm and they were closed so we had to spend the night and go back the next day.

The next day we were told that it would take 2 days to get the certificate. Another bribe and we were able to get it the same day, but only after El Jefe groveled on his knees before the queen of import permits who demanded that he write a letter saying why we had to have it in one day.

This was especially disturbing to me because I do take care of my dogs and of course they are vaccinated, unlike the 1000's of mangy, starving dogs you see roaming this entire country.

Get the import permits. And sorry, I have no idea how to get them from the U.S.

Eeeewww, this brings back bad memories!

BTW, beautiful cats. I wish I would have known you were bringing them, I could have lent you my soft-sided carriers (airline approved)-- do they let cats ride in the cabin?

 
At 6:29 AM, Blogger Bound for Ceiba said...

Thanks for sharing that story LG, I remembered it from talking to you, (ack, how to forget such a traumatic thing!) and that's the main reason I'm trying to get to the bottom of this now.

BTW, I have to confess, my cats are less than cooperative about being photographed, so I swiped the pic of these two beauties off the internet... :-)

 
At 7:17 AM, Blogger Jill said...

Can I borrow your cats? I am having a little rodent problem...

 
At 10:33 AM, Blogger Bound for Ceiba said...

UPDATE - After emailing with a very nice gentleman in Roatan, I learned that someone he knows just brought two cats in without import permits. HOWEVER, this person flew directly into Roatan with no stopover on the mainland.

Perhaps it's worth flying straight to Roatan and ferrying back over to La Ceiba?

Hard to say though, since that flight is nearly twice the cost of going via the mainland, though.

 
At 11:42 AM, Blogger Liar_Liar said...

There has got to be a better way. Could you imagine the cats after the ferry ride?? If it was anything like the Utila one anyway.

 
At 11:52 AM, Blogger Bound for Ceiba said...

ANOTHER UPDATE -

There is a website called www.pettravelstore.com that sells immigration forms for pets. They claim to include the application for an import permit in their Honduras package.

I was skeptical, but for $10.50, decided to give it a try and order the package.

I subsequently received an email from the guy at the website stating that my forms were being mailed, but that there was some amount of confusion as to how the Honduran Govt wanted these import permits handled, and that he would try to find the info and get back to me. I was like:

Uhh...... confusion???

Ya don't say!!!!

 
At 1:15 PM, Blogger Bound for Ceiba said...

PS: Parlancheq - they are such yowlers that I'd have to drug 'em up pretty good to sneak 'em in, unfortunately.

Jill: you can borrow the cats for as long as you like, especially if you want to pretend to be our "local vet" when the SPS immigration officals say the animals need to be quarantined!

 

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