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MA Y 2 0 1 2 / F OR E I GN S E R V I C E J OU R N A L
hipping a beloved pet is one of the
most daunting challenges Foreign
Service employees face when transi-
tioning to and frompost. The process can
be complicated, time-consuming and
expensive. It involves a varietyof tasks that
cantry thepatienceandgoodnatureof even
the most seasoned globetrotter. Yet year
after year, despite frustrations andstiff chal-
lenges, theygothroughthedrill becausepets
are an integral part of their families.
For more than 30 years, the Foreign
Service Institute’sOverseas BriefingCenter
hasworkedwith thousands of FSpet own-
ers, Department of State offices, overseas
posts and outside experts to fit the pieces
of the pet shipping puzzle together.
Getting Ready for Post
As you sort out your bid list, find out
early what the pet entry requirements are.
Depending on the animal and the coun-
try, the process can take anywhere from a
month to six months. Once you receive
your assignment, let post management
know you will be bringing a pet. This is
also a good time to reconfirm pet entry
requirements with the post’s general ser-
vices office.
Shipping Your Pet
Your first stop should be the Overseas
Briefing Center, where a variety of helpful
documents are available. OBC’s popular
“Shipping of Pets Checklist” provides pet
owners with a brief overview of the myri-
ad items they will need to consider: certi-
fications, inoculations, pertinent U.S.
Transportation Security Administration
regulations,microchip requirements, basic
methods of airline shipping, specific
American-carrierpet shippingpolicies, pro-
fessional pet shipper links, an explanation
of possible partial reimbursements and
In addition, OBC’s pet section on the
department’sOpenNet (
offers crucial information, including a chart
listing each country’s pet restrictions or
quarantines and other post-specific infor-
Count on OBC
OBCupdates and verifies its pet infor-
mation by working with State’s Office of
Transportation and Allowances and the
U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal
and Plant Health Inspection Service in
Annapolis,Md. It alsomaintains contacts
withpet shipping agents andairlines to stay
abreast of developments.
Pet Owners Class
Each year, the FSI Transition Center
sponsors its popular Traveling with Pets
seminar in mid-April. The class features
five subject-matter expertswhoaddress the
crucial aspects of pet shipping and pet
health considerations. Videos of the sem-
inar are available for loan at theOBC. For
more informationon the course, pleasevisit
The Annual Pet Cable
The cable is drafted by the Office of
Transportationandgoes toall posts inearly
spring. It includes general pet-related infor-
Game Changes
As of March, FS pet owners faced an
additional hurdle. After United Airlines’
merger with Continental Airlines, United
no longer accepts pets as accompaniedbag-
gage (pets small enough to meet United’s
in-cabin requirements are still accepted).
United’s new PetSafe® policy requires pet
owners to ship their pets as cargo, a more
expensive and complicated procedure.
Tomake the situationmoredifficult, the
TSAnowrequires that all pets entering the
U.S. as cargo be shipped by a profession-
al pet agent. Reports from some posts
already indicate that these fees add con-
siderably to the cost.
Following concerns expressed by U.S.
military pet owners, United agreed topro-
videmilitarypersonnel embarkingonaper-
manent change of station a waiver to the
new rules. Pet owners —whose pet and
kennel have a combinedweight of 99.9 lbs
or less — now have the option to check
their animal as accompaniedbaggage toany
destination for a set fee of $250.
After sending a letter to United’s top
management, AFSA President Susan
Johnson coordinated a 48-hour FS pet
owners e-mail blitz that resulted in more
than3,000messages to the airline request-
ing waiver parity with the military.
AFSA’s campaign was ratcheted up a
fewnotcheswhenoffices andorganizations
inside and outside the department joined
the cause. These included the Under
Secretary for Management, the Bureau of
Administration, theTransitionCenter, the
and theAssociates of theAmericanForeign
Service Worldwide.
In Conclusion
Despite the many challenges, we are
confident that Foreign Service pet owners
will continue todoall they can tokeep their
cherishedcompanionswith themwherever
theygo in theworld. It isnever aneasy task,
but usingOBC’s resources earlyonwill help
to answer yourmany questions. Formore
information, please e-mail FSIOBCInfo
Maureen Johnston is a resource specialist in the
Overseas Briefing Center, a division of the
Transition Center at FSI, and an expert on ship-
ping pets, as well as logistics for an overseas
move and returning to the Washington, D.C.,
Traveling with Our Pets
Transition Center Internet:
Transition Center Intranet:
FS Pets Yahoo Group:
Foreign Affairs Friends of Animals
Network (FAFAN):
Office of Transportation:
AFSAWeb site: