How to travel in Colombia with a dog

travel in colombia with a dog

In January 2016, a job opportunity brought me to Colombia for a year. For those of you who follow our adventures, you know that I never leave my dog Shark behind, a mixed Border Collie adopted 3 years ago in the Indian Ocean. So I flew from Paris to Cartagena de Indias, a city full of history and colors on the Caribbean coast. We spent most of the year over there, enjoying my free time to explore the rest of the country. Therefore, I share with you the essential information you need to know before travelling to Colombia with your dog.

travel in colombia with a dog

  • Documents

Whether you arrive by air, sea or road, you need to present the following documents: a health certificate issued by the official sanitary authority of the country of origin within 10 days before arrival + a vaccination certificate.

  • Forbidden breeds

Staffordshire Terrier, Pit Bull Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier and crosses or hybrids of these breeds.

  • Must-read

Consult the official website of the Institute of Agriculture of Colombia (ICA) to learn more about the documents to present and to contact them if needed (in Spanish or English).

  • Important

Once you have taken your dog back, you need to go to the ICA office at the airport/port/border with your animal and all the documents in order to get a sanitary inspection certificate. It is mandatory and has a fee (around $15 in 2016). Good to know: if you arrive outside office hours (Monday to Friday 8.00am-5.00pm), you need to contact the ICA previously by mail or phone to make an appointment. The fee will be increased.

travel in colombia with a dog

  • By car

You can rent a car to travel with your dog with no problem. Provide a sheet or a towel to cover his seat, water and ideally a dog seat belt to be attached to his harness.

  • By air

It is possible to travel with your pet on the 3 major airlines operating in Colombia: Avianca, Latam and VivaColombia. Your pet will travel in the cabin or in the hold according to his weight. VivaColombia only allows the transport of animals in the cabin up to 10 kg including the container. Consult the conditions and prices of pet transport on the official sites of Avianca, Latam and VivaColombia. To learn more about how to fly with your dog, read this article.

  • By bus

In Colombia, a law prohibits the transport of animals in the passenger space of buses. Some companies accept to transport dogs in the hold. The service is generally free but you have to bring your container. Flota Occidental offers free cages (subject to availability). My advice: go directly to the land transport terminal of your city and go around the agencies to find the ones that will accept to transport your dog. If you have a small dog, you can ask the bus driver nicely if he wants to make an exception. Be careful, never put a snub-nosed dog in a hold. They have trouble breathing in some circumstances and it can be fatal.

Regarding small buses that do not have a hold, you will have to negotiate directly with the driver to ask if he allows you to travel with your dog. Normally, it won’t be a problem with a small dog. Personally, I always managed to negotiate to carry my big dog with a big smile and by paying the driver for an extra seat. In this case, you should seat at the back of the bus so that other passengers won’t be disturbed. Check the itineraries, rates and bus companies on this site.
  • By boat

To get to the islands near the coast, like the Rosario islands near Cartagena, you will have to take a motorboat. Most agencies refuse dogs on board or ask you to pay for an extra ticket. Again, it will not be difficult to negotiate if your dog is small. For the larger ones, it’s always more complicated but not impossible. Same as for the buses, just go ask each agencies at the port and compare the offers. In Cartagena, for example, the agency Ocean & Land Tours accepts dogs on board at no extra cost.

travel in colombia with a dog

  • Documents

Whether you leave by air, sea or road, you first need to learn what the pet regulations of your next destination are and make sure you have everything they ask. In any case, you need to present the following documents at the Colombian border: a health certificate issued by the official sanitary authority of the country of origin within 10 days before arrival + a vaccination certificate.

  • Must-read

Consult the official website of the Institute of Agriculture of Colombia (ICA) to learn more about the documents to present and to ask a question (in Spanish or English).

  • Important

To leave the country, you need to go to the ICA office at the airport/port/border with your animal and all the documents in order to get a sanitary inspection certificate. It is possible to go to the ICA office the day before or the same day of your travel (make sure you arrive at least 4 hours before your departure). It is mandatory and has a fee (around $15 in 2016). Goor to know: if you arrive outside office hours (Monday to Friday 8.00am-5.00pm), you need to contact the ICA previously by mail or phone to make an appointment. The fee will be increased.

travel in colombia with a dog

In addition to maintaining your dog/s vaccinations up to date during your stay, I strongly advise you to give him an antiparasitic treatment (for internal and external parasites). The tropical regions of Colombia, such as the Caribbean coast, the Pacific coast, the Amazon region and the islands, constitute a favorable environment for ticks, fleas and mosquitoes that can transmit life-threatening diseases to your dog.

So use an effective treatment before arriving and throughout your stay, as advised by your veterinarian. Most of these diseases do not present symptoms until it is too late. The only way to track them is to perform a blood test after staying in a high-risk area. This is not very expensive in Colombia and can save the life of your dog. Indeed, treatments exist but must be realized in time.

BONUS: OUR VIDEO ON COLOMBIA!

Ready to explore Colombia wity your dog? Already been there? If you have a question, leave me a comment below.

Photos & contents @ The Tropical Dog 2015-2017. 

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travel in colombia with a dog

2 Comments

  • Ken says:

    Hello, I was wondering if you found any restaurants or bars in Cartenega that allows pups?

    • Hi Ken! Well as Cartagena is hot, I used to eat outdoors, on the terrace. But I remember that they let me in with my dog at el Cafe del Mural in Getsemani (Cra.9 # 29a). But most of places don’t allow them… But you can spend a beautiful day at the Beach Hostel on Isla Tierra Bomba with your dog. They have a dog friendly boat and beach bar! More information in the TRAVEL -> COLOMBIA section of my blog 😉

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