We don’t blame you for wanting to teach abroad with your best friend—even if that best friend has four legs, an adorable nose, and tail wag that makes your heart melt. The truth is, it’s not impossible for your pet to become an expet (expat? Get it? Oof, we tried); however, it will likely add a bit of uncertainty, and a heavy dose of stress, to coordinate bringing Fido along for your big international move.
Before you teach abroad with pets, here’s our round-up of things to think about.
7 questions to ask yourself before you teach abroad with pets
1. Is your pet chill?
If your cat or dog (or ferret or goldfish… you get the picture) gets a little uneasy when you plop ‘em in the car for a little road trip across town or across the country, do you think they are going to handle the stress of flying hundreds or thousands of miles to a new and unfamiliar place? While humans tend to adapt to the challenges presented before them, and have the cognitive privilege of weighing the pros and cons of a lifestyle change like this, pets aren’t so fortunate.
If your pet struggles to handle changes in your everyday situation at home, you might reconsider if Rover can handle something as extreme as a cross-continental relocation.
2. How pet-friendly is the country you’re going to?
The reality is, some countries where you’d like to do TEFL abroad are potentially dangerous for pets to visit. For example, there might be pet bans, unforeseen restrictions and regulations, and immigration challenges—they might even prohibit your pooch from entering a country. Or worse, confiscate your pet at the border!
One example is Taiwan, a popular TEFL location for foreigners. Taiwan, as an island nation, is very strict about pets—the country has almost zero rabies. Upon arrival, pets are all quarantined at the owner’s expense for an unspecified amount of time. The longest we’ve heard at Premier TEFL is two months, so you can imagine these costs can add up quick! During this time, you can’t see your pet, and, even worse, if your beloved Fi-fi shows any signs of being sick, they will actually put your animal down without consulting you. The HORROR!
This is just one instance of a country’s pet policies—moving to Korea with pets, for example might look a lot different.
Additionally, you should consider the potential health threats to your pet overseas. Rabies may have an immunization, but there are other potential hazards, parasites, and diseases that can’t be vaccinated for, like canine babesiosis (from dog ticks) or avian flu. If you are teaching in the jungles of northern Thailand or India, there might be more natural predators than you’re accustomed to—like leopards—or less dramatically, hawks, eagles, and other birds of prey.
It is up to you, would-be TEFLer, to research an ideal (and safe) destination to bring Sir Whiskers along with you.
3. Do you have your pet’s paperwork in order?
Before you can teach abroad with your pet, you need to get their affairs in order in your home country. That can mean a couple of things:
⚕️ Take your pet in for a full checkup at the veterinarian. Most countries require a health certificate that states your pet is in good health prior to entering their country. Check into your TEFL destination to see if additional certification is needed; for instance, some require a health certificate that is backed by a specific accrediting body, such as the USDA.
✅ Get proof of an updated rabies vaccine. Almost every country will provide proof that all of your pet’s vaccinations are up to date. This information is often times included in your above health documentation.
Consider securing a pet passport. Yes, pet passports are a thing (that’s kind of cute, right?). This document may be required in your TEFL destination and asks for information like its microchip number, its proof of rabies vaccination, and most importantly, your veterinarian’s signature.
Other required documentation for your destination. Depending on where you’re headed, you might need additional paperwork, such as translated health documents or notarized certificates from a foreign consulate in your home country. Whew!
4. How’s your pet going to get there?
Pet travel abroad can be stressful for your animal. If you’re traveling via plane (and we’ll bet your money that you are!), it is important that you research how different airlines treat pets for long-haul journeys. With the recent 2018 United Airlines fiasco, it’s more important than ever that pet owners are well educated in the requirements and procedures that are kosher for pet transportation. Be sure to check every claws before moving overseas with cats!
Research pet-friendly airlines and what special requirements need to be fulfilled, such as the type of carrier/kennel or whether or not animals besides cats and dogs are free to travel. See which airlines allow in-cabin travel for pets and which will put your animal in the belly of the plane.
Pro tip: Pets tend to travel better when they’re worn out, and they love having some of their favorite toys in their carrier.
As well, planes aren’t your only option—you might look into transporting pets overseas by boat.
5. How much is this going to cost me?
Make sure that you add some line items to your teach abroad budget for covering the costs of your pet. You will have added expenses for transporting animals overseas (roughly US$100+) and then may incur costs at immigration (for instance, the quarantine procedure in Taiwan). Once you’re there, you’ll have to cover extra costs for the proper food for your pet—which may or may not be as easy to find as in your home country.
Remember: If you’re buying imported Kibbles & Bits, expect a price hike.
You might also consider investing in International Pet Insurance just in case Coco gets into a spot of trouble while on the road. Shipping pets overseas ain’t cheap!
6. What’s the repatriation process like?
One thing that ESL teachers don’t always consider as they prepare to teach abroad with pets is how the process of returning home with their pet will go. Sometimes, this can mean even more expenses (many countries, like Ireland, have policies for quarantining animals that are returning from countries with high instances of rabies) and even more stress on your animal. Research your home country’s pet repatriation policies prior to going abroad so you’ll be armed with proper expectations for your return. You’re not only transporting pets overseas but back home too.
7. Is there someone back home who can care for your pet?
Most often times, given many of the above factors, we recommend Premier TEFL participants try to find a family, friend, or trusted caregiver to oversee their pets while they teach abroad. This possibility will obviously depend on how long you are planning to move abroad, and/or how tight and reliable (not to mention pet-loving) your community is at home. But, if this an option for you, we definitely recommend exploring it, as it will free you of excess stress during the transition to life abroad and might ultimately be the best thing for Spot, too.
Teaching abroad with pets: Possible, but not generally recommended
In general, pets can be OK in some TEFL jobs (for example, independently secured jobs rather than our internships with shared housing and all), but require much consideration. Think through your anticipated costs (transport, quarantine, vaccines, access to proper food) and how your pet will respond to climate changes, housing style changes, and the potential for overall trauma.
We at Premier TEFL aim to support you through your ideal international TEFL experience—so if this is a dealbreaker for you, let’s chat! We will do our best to secure the right TEFL job abroad, regardless of your ferret-needs. We’re here for you.
Want to talk to us? Request a callback – we’d love to help!