Can I take my pet to Turkey and what documentation does it need?
Yes you can take one pet cat, dog, cat or bird to Turkey from abroad providing all necessary paperwork is in order and it has had all specified vaccinations. Your pet needs to have had a rabies vaccination with a certificate and an International Health Certificate issued no longer than 15 days prior to flying. It also needs an Identification Card (or Pet Passport) and a written statement from an approved and accredited vet that it is more than 3 months old. Pets that are approved should not have to undergo a quarantine period on entry to Turkey.
How to take your pet to Turkey.
1. Use of a pet transportation company. There are a number of companies in the UK that organise animal transportation to Turkey. It is certainly worth considering using one as they do save you a lot of hassle, walk you through the process and many airlines will only check a pet into cargo via use of an approved agent. One of the most popular is Pets Away UK.
2. Do your homework before booking flights. Before considering taking your pet with you to Turkey, check the airline will allow you to do so and, if so, if they require you go via an agent. Thomas Cook seems to be the most popular carrier but only some of their flights allow animals in cargo – call them first. Many schedule airlines, including Turkish Airlines, do allow smaller pets to travel with you in the cabin but conditions on size and weight do apply. Most budget airlines do not allow pets to travel onboard.
3. Get your pet immunised. Check in advance what immunisations are required (normally rabies, maybe others) and take your pet to an authorised and certified vet no more than 15 days before you plan to fly to get all the shots necessary. Make sure you keep the certificates and have the relevant forms filled out by the vet – you will be asked to show these at the airport and on entry to Turkey.
4. Buy a suitable pet carrier. You are required to purchase a pet carrier that falls within airline regulations. This is normally one that is stackable (if your pet dog or cat is travelling in cargo) with ample room to allow them to turn and move around.
5. Notify the airline again. You should have already checked your airline will accept your pet but notify them again a week prior to departure that you have booked, your pet has had the necessary immunisations, and that you do intend to take your pet with you on their flight. The airline will charge you additional so check the fees and check-in procedure. Normally you take your pet with you to the gate if it is travelling with you in the cabin, to the cargo desk check-in if it is travelling in the hold.
6. Go through customs on arrival. If you have taken your pet with you in the cabin, head through customs and passport control showing both your pets and your paperwork at the desk as normal – you are unlikely to be charged anything additional. If your pet has travelled in cargo you will need to head to the cargo customs desk to fetch them. Turkish customs may well charge you a hefty fee (sometimes more than 500TL) to accept your pet through customs and to get the paperwork authorised. This ‘administration’ fee won’t have anything to do with the airline and seems to vary considerably case by case. Be prepared for a delay whilst they sort everything out.
Tips on travelling to Turkey with your pet
Be aware that you may have to pay steep charges to get your pet through customs upon entering Turkey. Make sure you have sufficient funds with you in cash (TL) just in case.
Make sure you bring pet food with you if your pet is flying in the cabin. Supply feeding instructions and food to the airline assistant when checking your pet into cargo if they are travelling in the hold.
Be prepared for a wait at your destination airport whist your pets’ paperwork is checked and authorised. You may be lucky, but if travelling during high season or when the airport is busy, there is lightly to be a long delay.
Be aware that you may be asked to get your pets health checked by a vet periodically whilst in Turkey. This is to make sure that they stay in good health and comply with procedures.
Pet supplies in Turkey
Pet supplies are easy to source in most towns, cities and resorts. There are many vets and pet shops, especially in areas with a large number of ex-pats, and larger supermarkets like Migros and Tansas sell dried and canned pet food. Brand names and special nutritional pet foods can be pricey. Those with a number of animals often buy pet food in bulk, look out for special offers, or buy cheap meat, tripe or offal to make batches at home to save costs.
General Animal Welfare in Turkey
Turks do like animals but don’t tend to keep ‘pets’ as european countries. They keep and own working animals or those with a use like chickens, goats, cows, sheep etc. Some do own dogs but these are normally kept outside and used to protect other livestock or their homes. Cats and dogs do get a raw deal in Turkey and you are likely to see many street dogs and stray cats around towns, cities and resorts. There are not many animal welfare organisations or charities in Turkey. Strays breed quickly meaning Turkey does have a real problem controlling them with little in place to limit future numbers. Many foreigners and ex-pats do find animal welfare in Turkey disturbing and difficult to deal with, many animal lovers living in Turkey end up adopting local stray cats and dogs as a result.