Bringing a pet down to St. Maarten is easy. There are only two documents you need in order to bring Fido or Fluffy into paradise:
- First, go to your vet and get a USDA veterinary health certificate saying that your dog or cat is in good health. It needs to be issued at the most 14 days before you arrive in St. Maarten.
- Then, you’ll also need a rabies vaccination certificate that shows your pet was administered between 30 days to a yea r before you travel. As St. Maarten is one of the few places in the world that is rabies-free (designated a “Rabies-Free Jurisdiction” by the WHO), the vaccinations are required at immigration. Although all the friends with pets that I’ve talked to have said they were checked for documents, I have heard elsewhere that some people were not asked. If somehow they forget to ask you, please remind them to do so. Rabies has been eradicated from the island for the last 75 years — please let’s keep it that way!
Fido and Fluffy will really enjoy their new home. There are plenty of students and locals here who have pets that Fido and Fluffy can meet. And since they will be in a place that pretty much stays 80+ degrees all-year-round, they’ll look forward to being walked everyday! Well, maybe not Fluffy. Although the dorms do not allow pets, there are plenty of apartments that do, but often with an extra fee of course.
It’s easy to find dog and cat food, litter, and vets here. Any of the grocery stores would carry them, including Le Gourmet Marche 15 minutes away from campus by foot. As for vets, there are several on the island. My cat’s vet is Dr. De Ceuster Virginie at the Animal Care Center in Cole Bay.
And remember, please pick up after your pets! I can’t tell you how many times I… anyway, you get the point!
As for bringing pets back into the United States, the rules vary by state and airline. While technically a health certificate is not required by the CDC for dogs and cats to enter the US, many (if not most) airlines may require them to board the plane. The same goes with rabies. While generally your dog doesn’t need a rabies shot if it’s been on the island for at least 6 months, different airlines and states may have different requirements. I’d recommend checking your airline and state’s requirements regarding importing animals back in the states beforehand.