So you want to bring your dog into Columbia by air. You can do it! But, take the advice from this article, and decrease your stress.
This is our experience entering Colombia from the US on 8/30/2022 and exiting Colombia to Argentina 10/19/2022. When we were planning our trip, our focus was getting our dog Gypsy out of and back into the United States. We did not know that every country has a similar process as the US for entrance and exit. Of course they do, don’t be the dumb American.
For international AIR travel with dogs and cats, there are two key professionals you need to be working with in each country: the travel vet to issue a health certificate and the government agency in charge of the entry and exit of pets: USDA in the USA, ICA in Colombia, Senasa in Argentina and on and on. Also, countries restrict which airports are able to receive pets, mostly capitals depending on the staffing of these agencies. Check each country.
We weren’t aware of the ICA (https://www.ica.gov.co/) in Colombia and it’s requirements for entry and exit from Colombia despite many hours of research into how to take Gypsy to Colombia.
Airlines are happy to book your dog’s flight but they do not provide instruction for health certificates or entrance permits. They do provide regulations regarding the kennel, set the price for travel and provide the travel space. They also want the vet and government agency paperwork at check in but have nothing to with the country’s entrance policies.
Columbia requires an online application through ICA prior to you landing by air with your dog and an online payment of $52,000 COP. We did not know this before landing in Bogota at 1am, August 31st, 2022. We were met by an angry member of the ICA who asked me rapid fire questions in Spanish that I wasn’t prepared for. In the end, he wrote instructions about how we were to register with ICA and he approved Gypsy’s entrance into Columbia.
We did not end up paying the $52,000 only because the agent’s card scanner wasn’t working. Looking back on the interaction, I imagine that the officer was called from bed because we landed with an unexpected dog import that wasn’t registered with the proper authorities. He was angered also because the payment I presented wouldn’t go through his machine.
Not one blog or airline mentioned the online registration. The USDA issuing our exit certificate from the states didn’t mention this type of requirement. So, lesson learned is that blogs about land crossings do not necessarily apply to country entrances by air. And each country knows it’s own regulations but nothing about where you are going.
Here are the action items and costs that got our dog out of the US and into Columbia:
- US local vet consultation to begin review of current vaccinations and tests required by the country you are going to and regulations required by US to re-enter: cost is whatever your vet charges for this service. We paid $208, two months prior to travel.
- Travel vet appointment to create health certificate. This vet will then submit the health certificate to the USDA to petition an exit certificate. This vet can guide you through all the timing of when this in-person appointment needs to be. Holidays and weekends influence the USDA turnaround times. Also, the appointment must be within 10 days of exit travel per US regulations. Cost:$400
- If in Houston, here is Dr Vaughn’s number and website. She has been extremely helpful. Her visits are mobile, ours was in a park. Very helpful for travelers. https://pethealthcertificates.com/
- Receive your exit certificate from the USDA, our vet emailed this to us and we printed it out at a copy service.
- Check your airline’s requirements for the kennel. Our dog flew cargo in an airline approved kennel. We had to switch out the outdated plastic bolts for metal ones. We ordered a kit online for the bolts, live animal stickers, water and food bowls to attach to the kennel door: $13.
- Avianca Airline charged about $210 to host Gypsy in the hold.
We are traveling for a year through South America, so leaving Gypsy at “home” was not an option. She is a border collie who lives for her family. We have had terrific interactions with people and Colombian dogs as a result of bringing Gypsy along. And, she seems very happy to be here learning new environments and foods with us.
Now to exit Colombia after a month of travel, we did this the hard way despite knowing more Spanish and about ICA. Instead of doing what we did, I suggest contacting one of the companies below to assist. But, in the meantime, here is the process we went through.
- Register with ICA online if you haven’t already: https://www.ica.gov.co/importacion-y-exportacion/otros-procedimientos/requisitos-para-importar-mascotas.aspx
- We registered with ICA online and received an ICA number. The confirmation email is sent by Sensa, not ICA, so search for that, not ICA.
- Make an appointment within 5 days of your flight. The vet appointment for a health certificate must be no more than 5 days before your flight (our cost:$100,000 COP).
- List of ICA approved vets to do health certificates: https://nam12.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.ica.gov.co%2Fimportacion-y-exportacion%2Fotros-procedimientos%2Flista-veterinarios06072022.aspx&data=05%7C01%7C%7C7349e96bac604f7fb38608daac7105ad%7C84df9e7fe9f640afb435aaaaaaaaaaaa%7C1%7C0%7C638011898677459971%7CUnknown%7CTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7C3000%7C%7C%7C&sdata=yzr4GBdsCI04zLfoUod29VLZv1PNa9f9HSzFeCEZVIk%3D&reserved=0
- The vet will give you a ICA application number that is different from your online registration number. This new number is needed at the ICA airport office visit with the vet health certificate and associates the vet’s application to ICA with the health certificate you are bringing to the airport.
- The day before your flight, you go to the ICA office at the Bogota airport, El Dorado and the certificatado de salidad is obtained by paying $52,000 COP online. The agent needs to see your dog at this time, so bring her!
Or, hit the easy button and hire an agency to help you through this process:
This service assists with the vet and ICA process. We witnessed a dog being processed at the ICA airport office by a company representative while the owners waited outside. They may provide same day processing? This would make only 1 trip to the airport.