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 TO 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.

EXPLORE 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.

LEAVE 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.

HEALTH TIPS FOR COLOMBIA 

 

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.

MORE INFORMATION

Read my post about “Traveling with a dog in Colombia” (my experience, dog friendly hotels and trips…) and watch my video 🙂

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 2015-2018

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travel in colombia with a dog

13 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 😉

  • michel & ursi says:

    If you come by car or by the sea nobody cares about your dog 😉 Only if you come by air plaine they will make a big thing out of it. We also have an exact explanation how it went when we arrived in Cartagena by air plaine while our car was being shipped from Panama. Going out of Ecuador and coming back nobody cared about the dogs. Only when leaving again Bogota by air plaine was complicated as you explain above.
    If you come from Panama by boat most likely nobody will care about your dog 😉

    Cheers
    Michel

  • Ana Panizo says:

    Hello, i want to travel with my dog to different cities in Colombia. We arrive to Bogota and i would like to stay for 20 days. Do you know a good route where we can enjoy the nature and climate? I would like to travel by bus with it, do you know safe buses where we can travel? I know the site of Redbus were you can buy bus tickets. I want to know what bus companies allow pets so i can buy the tickets now. Thanks!!

    • Hello Ana! Sorry for the late reply, I am on vacation 🙂 Well, if your dog is small enough to be carried on your knees you can buy a small soft container and ask nicely the driver if he allows you to take him on the bus. Most of bus companies don’t allow pets. Some allow them in the hold of the bus in a cage. But actually it’s up to the driver if he will allow the dog in the bus or not. As I explain in my article, it took me a lot of negotiation to travel with my dog through Colombia. I never booked my tickets before. I would check the departures on internet and arrive at the bus terminal one hour before and just ask each counter if they allow pets and if I could speak to the driver. Sometimes I paid an extra ticket to the driver so that it would let my dog in. What kind of dog do you have?

  • Wayne......Molly,Mozart,Koby&Princess says:

    i am thinking about going to colombia and taking my 4 border collies
    can you give me any feedback on this?

  • Pauline says:

    Hello,

    We’re thinking to move to Colombia from Spain, our dog is 85lbs and he’s a rescue dog from Hong Kong. We travel around with him and we decide to go somewhere warm. Did you a lot of homeless dog around in Colombia? Any special document for the dog to enter Colombia? I did some research, seems they just need some basic documents?!
    Thank you so much!!

    • Hello Pauline,
      I’m sorry for the delay of my answer… I was busy for the holidays. I’m so glad that you are traveling around the world with your dog! Colombia is a good choice. If you want to live in a warm region, you should go to the Caribbean coast. The rest of the country is cold during winter. Well, there are homeless dogs in Colombia and all over South America, but it never was an issue in the 4 countries I traveled to with Shark. They were not aggressive. As to the documents, indeed Colombia requires the basic documents. The only thing is that you need to follow the steps that I talk about in the article about ICA.
      I wish you a happy new year and safe travels with your pup! 🙂

  • Great article! Colombia has many amazing places that are perfect to visit with a pet. Especially the places full of nature. It is possible to travel by bus in the country, you only need to know some tips! I share with you an article that shows how to travel by bus with pets in Colombia: https://colombiabybus.co/things-to-know/travel-bus-pets-colombia/

  • Stephanie Weilnau says:

    Hello-
    I am planning on taking my dog to Colombia for the month of January 2019 and then travel onward from there to other countries. You mention that you traveled to 4 South American countries with your dog- can you tell me what countries they were and what you needed to do to go from one country to another.
    Thanks in advance.

  • Hi Stephanie!
    Thanks for your comment. Your plan to travel to Colombia and other countries with your dog sounds great! From Colombia, I have been to Peru, Bolivia and Chile with my dog, mostly by air. Be aware that a lot of bus companies don’t allow pets onboard. In Chile, it’s even forbidden by law, so I didn’t stay long over there…
    You can read my experience and my tips for Peru in this article: https://thetropicaldog.com/en/traveling-with-a-dog-in-peru/
    More tips about Colombia in this one: https://thetropicaldog.com/en/traveling-with-a-dog-in-colombia/
    My article on Bolivia is coming soon 🙂

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