Taking a Cat from Taiwan to South Africa: Complete Guide

Taking a Cat* from Taiwan to South Africa: The Complete Idiot’s Guide, version 1.0

*note: Taking a dog follows the same procedure, but is more expensive. The cost increases exponentially with the size and weight of the dog. Also, CATS ARE NOT QUARANTINED IN SOUTH AFRICA, BUT DOGS ARE. For dogs, the pet travel agency will need at least two months to book quarantine kennel space for the dog.

OK. It’s finally all over. I’m back in South Africa, and this morning I went to the airport to pick up my cat, who was very relieved to finally be let out of her travel crate after about 20 hours of travelling. While I was in Taiwan, I was massively stressed out and worried about all of this because it all seemed like such a complicated procedure, but as soon as I saw her again, I felt tremendously grateful that I had taken all the trouble to bring her back with me. She recognised me instantly and despite what must have been quite an ordeal in the long flights, transfers, checks, handling, etc, she immediately started purring and rubbing herself against me fingers which I stuck through the door of the crate. As soon as I let her out, she was overjoyed, and has been very content and relaxed the whole afternoon.

Anyway, without any further ado, let me detail the exact procedure needed to transport a cat from Taiwan to South Africa.

STEP 1: Time: As soon as you start thinking about transporting your cat.

Budget about NT25,000 to cover all of the costs of transporting the cat. Purchase a sturdy plastic carrying crate for the cat. You can pick them up from Carrefour or Dollars for about NT500 or so. It must be big enough for the cat to stand up in without touching the top, and the cat must be able to lie down fully, and turn around. It also has to be ventilated on the top three sides (not counting the door). I’ll post a pic of the one I used as soon as I have one. It should have a bottom inside the crate under which absorbent material can be placed. It also needs to have a water bottle which is attached to the outside of the door. You should buy a small plastic feeder (from the pet store, about 70NT) in which you can place some cat biscuits.This is all the actual equipment necessary for the transportation of the cat.

*The door should be ventilated, but the gaps shouldn’t be large enough for the animal to get its paws out through them. I fixed this problem on my box by buying some fine wire mesh and attaching it to the door with cable ties. I’ll post pics ASAP.

**Remember, in line with SA regulations, animals CANNOT be carried as checked or unchecked luggage. They need to be flown as air freight/cargo. This means that in all likelihood, you will not be travelling on the same flight as your cat. You could send it a few days before you and have a friend or family member pick it up from the airport for you, or do what I did and get friends to send it soon after you have left Taiwan.

STEP 2: Time: At least 3 months prior to departure, but not more than 1 year from departure.

Get your cat vaccinated against rabies, and get a microchip put in. Make sure you go to a reputable vet to do this, and make sure that he gives you all the necessary paperwork to indicate that the cat has been vaccinated against rabies. You’ll need your passport (and ARC, I think, for this). DO NOT LOSE THESE PAPERS! Keep them in a very safe place. Without them, you can’t get the export permit needed to get the cat out of Taiwan. Make sure he tests the microchip to make sure it’s readable.

STEP 3: Time: Minimum 2 months prior to departure.

Contact a pet travel agency in South Africa. I used Animal Travel Agency (www.animal-travel.com). They will organise the import permit for you in South Africa. They charged me about NT10,000 to do this. This was the cheapest rate I found. They will keep the original import permit, and use it to clear your cat through customs when it arrives in Johannesburg Airport. After they have obtained the import permit from the government, they will email you a copy of the import permit. You don’t need the original import permit in Taiwan; they have to keep it to get your pet into the country. Still, you must print out the copy that they send you, because you will need it to get the export permit.

They will also email you a copy of the Health Certificate which needs to be filled in by the State Vet in Taiwan. This needs to accompany the cat on the flight. Print this out too.

STEP 4: Time: Within the final month, preferably at least 3 weeks prior to the intended departure date.

Contact a freighting company. From my experience, you’ll need to be able to speak Chinese, or have a Chinese-speaking friend help you out with this. I’m not sure about the rest of Taiwan, but I’ll post the number and contact person of the company I used in Kaohsiung here.

IMPORTANT: Keep hounding and bothering them so that they get done what needs to be done. Assure them that YES, you DO have the correct papers (The Health Certificate (not filled in yet) and the COPY of the Import Permit) and that you DON’T need any other papers aside from the Taiwanese Export paper provided by the State Vet. I’m not sure if you can get this before you can get the Health Papers signed. It would be much easier if you could get the export permit at least 3 weeks prior to departure, so maybe try to do that.

IMPORTANT: You CANNOT get the State Vet to sign the Health Papers further than 10 days from departure. These are South African regulations.

Get the freighting company to book AND confirm a flight for your cat. I believe the only two routes are through Hong Kong and Singapore (Sing. from Taipei, HK from Kaohsiung). You’ll need a transit permit for both of these routes I think, but Singapore is cheaper). These permits need 7 working days to be issued, so make sure that the frieghting company applies well in advance (preferably 2 or three weeks) when booking our flight. I went with the Hong Kong route (Cathay Pacific) and everything turned out fine.

The flight and transit permit should end up costing between NT12,000-NT15,000.

STEP 5 (2/3 weeks (??) up to 10 days prior to departure)
Get the Export Permit from the State Vet. I’m not sure if you can do this separately from getting the Health Papers filled in by the vet. I think you may need to do them at the same time that you get the Health Papers filled in, but it will be easier for you if you can get the Export Permit filled in before the 10 day prior to departure date in which the Health Papers need to be filled in. Anyway, you could also have them done at the same time.

To do this, you need to take your ARC, passport, rabies vaccination papers and cat to the State Vet. There’s a branch in Kaohsiung near the harbour.

It’s a relatively easy and painless procedure. The vet will ask you a few questions and fill in the Health Papers* and stamp them for you. He’ll also check your cat’s microchip number to see that it corresponds with the one on the rabies papers. He will then issue the Taiwan Export Permit. There are three copies of this. Put them all with the cat. You’ll need to fax copies of them to your freighting company. The vet will also give you a tag with an export permit number that you need to attach to the outside of your cat’s travel box.

*Remember the Health Papers must be filled in 10 days prior to departure. You cannot do it earlier than this (ie 11 or 12 days), South African regulations.

STEP 6 (Day of departure)
Attach all of the necessary papers (Health Papers, Taiwan Export papers, Transit Permits (I think), export number tag) to your cat’s travel crate. Fill up the dry food feeder and put it in the box. Fill up the water bottle and attach to the door of the box. Maybe put an old tee-shirt or somethin with your scent in the box. Put some newspaper or absorbent fabric under the platic bottom of the box. Put your kitty in the box, take it to the airport cargo department well in advance of the scheduled leaving time for your cat’s flight. Check your beloved in, bid a teary farewell until your next meeting in a few days. Try your hardest not to worry, your cat will be OK…

Finally, you (or your friend) go to the Air Express/Cargo department of the arrival airport in South Africa (whoever does this will need their ID book) to pick up the cat and take it to its new home in South Africa!

OK, I hope this helps![/b]

If you’re in Kaohsiung, call 07-8069667 ask for Ms. Wang (freighting company). It’s best if a Chinese speaker can do this. Good luck!