One of SmartShanghai's most popular articles over time is our guide to taking your pet out of China. With the borders still closed and airlines operating with restrictions, we've reached out to Lee-Anne from SCAA to give us an update on what has changed. Another situation that has evolved with the border closure is that more expats are in need of flight volunteers. Scroll down to read what's that about and how you can help.

What Hasn't Changed

Pets leaving Shanghai must meet export requirements and meet import requirements, which can be different depending on the destination. It can take anywhere from a minimum of 30 days (i.e., for the US, Canada, Malaysia), 4 months (i.e., EU, Singapore), to 8 months (i.e., Japan and Taiwan) to get your pet ready to fly.

Requirements at a minimum include an ISO microchip, a rabies vaccination, and a 7-day pre-flight health check to apply for the Animal Health Certificate issued by Shanghai Customs. The medical preparation and application for the Animal Health Certificate are done at the Shenpu Pet Hospital. Additional requirements for certain destinations include: a rabies titer blood test at least 30 days after the microchip and Shenpu clinic rabies vaccination, followed by a 3 to 6 month before pets can do their pre-flight health check to travel.

What Has Changed



Since March 2020, Shanghai Customs will only issue an Animal Health Certificate for pet export for dogs with a Shanghai dog license (read about how to register your dog in Shanghai here). Shanghai has a one-dog-per-household registration rule. Owners traveling with more than one dog may get an export permit with a consent letter from the dog’s registered owner. There is a simple form letter for this purpose to be presented at the pre-flight health check.

Limitations on How Many Animals

The biggest challenges to moving pets in the pandemic are airline policy changes on HOW MANY pets a passenger can move and HOW pets move (see three ways below). It’s important for pet owners to research airline pet travel policies thoroughly before purchasing their tickets. Airlines move pets one (or more) of 3 ways depending on policy and destination import rules:


    • Limited spaces in the cabin (size restrictions) for a reasonable fee


    • In the hold as excess baggage (US$200 an up), and


    • In the hold as cargo/freight. This being most costly at several thousand dollars per pet and requiring a professional pet transport agent for Customs Clearance.


Owners can book cabin and baggage space themselves, with their pet booking tied to their ticket. Cargo space requires a pet relocation agent and Customs Clearance. It’s important not to confuse cargo with excess baggage in the hold when choosing your airline.

Some destinations like the U.K. and South Africa ONLY allow pets flying in as cargo/freight. However, in some cases, flying together with a pet as excess baggage or in the cabin to a neighboring country, and either shipping your pet using an agent or traveling by land across the border, is possible.

Covid Airline Policy Updates

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