Bringing Pets into St. Maarten

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

39 comments to Bringing Pets into St. Maarten

  • Lisa Perez

    Hi there!

    I have found your blog really helpful, as a lot of things I have read on the internet have only bad things to say about Caribbean medical schools, and as a recent applicant for January 2013, I was starting to get nervous! I was mainly worried about not being about to match into a residency. Anyhow, I was wondering what it was like to have a pet with you. I have a small dog that I am dead set on bring with me, but some of the people I have talked to at other caribbean schools (admissions counselors) have told me that they do not recommend that students bring their pets because you will spend most of the day in class then studying. I am pretty attached to my little guy, and I couldn’t imagine leaving him behind. I know having a cat is a bit different as they are more independent, but do you think having a pet is reasonable? Or are they alone too much of the time for it to be fair to them? Thanks!!

    • Benji

      Hey Lisa,
      Thanks for visiting my site! Yes, I say if you love your pet, bring him/her down to the island! There were quite a few of us who had pets, both cats and dogs. Some of us (like me) even adopted their pets while on the island. Pets are great: they bring you joy, they give you unconditional companionship, they are a stress reliever, and honestly, nobody studies so much that their loved ones are abandoned. You’ll always have free time here and there. I’d say, if you can’t imagine leaving behind a furry friend, bring them! 🙂
      Best of luck in your applications!

  • Carver

    Your kitty is SOOOO cute!

  • Angela

    I will be attending AUC in September 2013 and I will too be bring my labrador. I was wondering if you knew of any apartments that take larger dogs.
    Any ideas?
    Thank you

    • Benji

      Hi Angela,
      Congratulations on your acceptance to AUC! There have been students here who have brought larger dogs, but I’m not sure where they lived. I guess it depends on the landlord’s pet policies. I’d contact the apartments to see.

    • Chelsea

      Hi Benji, your blog has been super helpful and has answered many of my questions as I get ready to go down to St. Maarten! Angela-I just got accepted into the Sept 2014 class and am also bringing my Labrador. I am now trying to figure out how I am going to get him there-all of the flights have various connections and take a really long time-too long for him to stay in a crate. It also makes me nervous to put him in cargo during the hot summer months, but I can’t find any company that will ship him directly there. How did you get your larger dog to the island? Any other tips you have about bringing a larger dog (with all the young lab energy) to the island would be greatly appreciated!

      • Shelly

        Chelsea, did you ever get an answer to this question? I am tring to figure out how to bring my larger dogs with me (about the same size). The airlines have an 85 temp limit and it is usually over that in Anguilla/ St. Martin.

  • sarah

    Did you have to have a micro chip put into your cat? Our cat is coming with us on vacation since she’s diabetic and needs her insulin. We’re flying in from the states and are concerned with what needs to be done when arriving in SXM. I can’t find any direct sites that list out what we need to do so I want to make sure before bringing her on the plane.

    Thank you!!

    • Benji

      I got my cat on SXM, and she didn’t need a microchip to go to the states, so I doubt you’ll need one to come to SXM. You could always contact your airline to see what their policy is.

  • Dan

    Do you know if it is possible to somehow bring a puppy down to the island? Puppies are too young to receive a rabies vaccine, so is there any way around bringing your lil guy to the island??

    • Benji

      Hmm.. good question. I got no idea. I’d contact the airline or the sxm tourism officials to see what they say. I’m guessing the little guy’s not gonna grow up in time?

  • Daphne

    Thanks so much for this post. It is very helpful. We are looking forward to bringing our small dog on vacation to St. Maarten this December and so I was happy to find your blog.

    The papers I have received from my government state that I need to get permission from the St. Maarten authorities before I bring my dog with me. Do you know if this is true?


    • Benji

      Hi Daphne,
      I haven’t heard of this before. I would check with the St. Maarten authorities then for the most updated policies, since things may have changed since I was on the island a few years ago.
      Have fun on your trip!

  • Daphne

    One more question…. Are small dogs allowed on the beaches? Thanks!

    • Benji

      Hi Daphne,
      It should be fine to bring a dog onto the beach. I brought my cat to the beach a few times. There isn’t anyone manning the beaches, so it should be ok.

  • Lusha


    1. The animal(s) – [dog(s)/cat(s) is/are thirteen (13) weeks of age or older.
    2. The animal(s) must be accompanied by a valid official International Health Certificate issued and endorsed by the Official Government Veterinarian and signed by a certified veterinarian with a validity of not more than two (2) weeks.
    3. The Health Certificate must attest that;
    a. It/they has/have been vaccinated against Rabies with an inactivated vaccine at least 30 days but no longer than 12 months to 36 months (as registered by the manufacturer) prior to departure.
    b. The dog(s) has/have adequate levels of immunity conferred by being actively immunized against the following diseases: Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvovirus, Leptospirosis, Adenovirus and Coronavirus.
    a. The animal(s) is/are free of internal parasites as determined by a negative fecal flotation test and should be treated within 14 days prior to departure with a registered medicine as instructed by the manufacturer. (Mention the date, time and the product used on the health certificate).
    b. The animal(s) is /are free from external parasites particularly Amblyomma sp. and Boophilus sp. The animal(s) should be treated with a registered insecticide 24 to 48 hours prior to departure. (Mention the date, time and the product used on the health certificate).
    c. The animal(s) is/are free from observable cutaneous diseases.
    d. The dog(s)/cat(s)/ferret(s) must be transported in (a) suitable kennel(s) according to IATA regulations.
    2. The animal(s) has/have to be registered electronically with an ISO (International Standards Organization) microchip. The number must be mentioned on the health certificate.
    3. The animals must be presented to a licensed Veterinarian within twenty four (24) hours of arrival in St. Maarten. A copy of the Veterinary Health Certificate(s) and this Permit must be submitted to the Inspections Department TEZVT – LVV, St. Maarten.

  • Jessi

    Thank you so much!!!

  • Patrick


    What do you make of the (new?) import requirement effective 10/4/14 for dogs in st-Maarten. The form looks like the one used in early 2014 on this site


  • Sarah

    Somewhat off topic but I was bitten by a stray dog on SXM today and I can’t find any information on the possibility of catching rabies.I’m not vaccinated.
    Should I see a doctor?

  • Tener

    Hi Benji, Thank you so much for this site. It was the best blog on St. Martin and bringing pets into SXM that I have found. I’m currently in St. Martin now with my dog (his name is Benji and my last name is Ho…isn’t that weird????) and I wanted to thank you and update everyone on how we got here!
    So I went 11 days before the trip and the vet said most airlines want 10 days before your trip for the health certificate. So we got him checked out -he had all his vaccinations, rabies, microchip, and I brought his heartworm and flea/tick meds to show the vet (I’m from NY). Then after he issued the health certificate, I had to go to the JFK agriculture department to get the USDA vet to certify it. They are only open from 9AM-11AM. crazy right?!
    Then scan the health certificate and the import form (found here to
    Then you’re off. Really the only ppl who checked anything was American Airlines when we checked in (but if you check in online I don’t even think they check). Then you get to SXM, go through passport control (and they don’t care about the dog…i asked), and was directed to customs, which consist of a couple of empty stations right before the exit. I was going to head out but thought…i put SO MUCH WORK into obtaining his certificates, he’s going to be officially here in SXM! I found a door behind one of the custom stations, and an empty office except for one guy on his phone all the way at the end. He said ok, I’ll make a copy of your forms…and that was it.
    It also says you have to visit the vet w/in 24 hours of landing on St. Martin, but I landed on a Saturday afternoon and they said it was ok to visit a vet on Monday. We saw a vet (whole thing took about 10 min). They gave me a certificate, and that was it. We’re flying back Saturday, so hopefully it’ll go just as smoothly. It was so much work to get the papers, but it seems like no one cares or wants to see them! haha
    Oh also ahead of us on line was girl with a cat in a black carrier. she passed passport control, straight past customs and out the door

    • Benji

      Thanks Tener for sharing this. I’m glad you found the process smooth and easy. When I was living in St. Maarten, I had a cat as well, and it was pretty easy getting her out, maybe because the island is overpopulated by them anyway. As long as you got all the proper documentations and recent vet visit, you are set.
      – Benji Ho (the blogger, not your dog ;p)

    • Brittany

      Hi Tener- after you scanned the documents and application permit to, did you have to wait for them to reply or send another document to you before you left? Or you just took the documents you had, and left?

      Also, I’ve never heard you have to visit the vet on the island. We’ve been taking our dog for 4 years and haven’t encountered that. Is it new?

      Thanks- this whole process is so confusing and I’ve gotten like 3 different answers for the same question from the USDA office so I really appreciate the feedback!!!

  • Chris

    Hi Benji,
    First off, Happy Holidays to you and your family!
    I’ve just finished my first semester at AUA. And I did very well, which makes me eligible to apply for a tutor/TA position for next term, something that I’m considering. Each position requires somewhere from 2 hrs to 10 hrs/week.
    My main concern here is time management; that’s what still holding me.
    After talking with current tutors/TA’s though I was told that holding such a position looks great on resumes, which may help when applying for residency.
    So here is my question: based on your own experience what advantages do tutoring offer?
    Thank you for your time.

    • Benji

      Hi Chris,
      First, I would recommend tutoring only if you enjoy tutoring. Second, yes, it looks great on resumes. If you let them know that you were a tutor, the attendings writing your letters of recommendation will think more highly of you and write good letters. Tutoring experience also shows that you like teaching and had good enough grades to teach, and many residency programs are looking for applicants who can teach med students. Third, tutoring is a great way to keep up with knowledge, to help you on the steps. Best of luck.

  • Chris

    Hi Benji,

    I hope this finds you well. I’m a student at AUA. This Fall (August 2016) I was supposed to start second year but because of some immigration issues I’ve been forced to take a leave, planning to return in January in the Spring.

    That’s going to be a semester gap in my medical school education. I would like to know when it’s time for residency application, how much negative impact this gap may have on my application.

    Also, is there any activities you would advise me do get involved with? I’ve been thinking about volunteering in a research lab but right now I’m cash strapped and it going to be very tough for me to give my time away for “free”

    Thank you


    • Benji Ho

      Any sort of leave of absence is suspicious, and you better have a good reason for it when it’s time to explain gaps in your education. Always fill that gap with something productive. If you can’t find a job in medicine, then at least find a free position in medicine.

  • Randee

    Hey, I’m starting school on St. Maarten in September and I’m bringing my dog. Are there many dog friendly beaches?


  • Brooks

    My husband is wanting to apply for AUC, but we have 3 big dogs and he is concerned about taking them with us. Do the apartments allow 3 dogs over 50 lbs? Or is there houses to rent there that allow dogs? Also, do you recommend a certain airline to use when traveling with dogs?

  • Emily

    Hi Benji,

    I have been accepted to AUC for September 2017 and your blog has been very helpful to me!
    I have a larger dog that I will have to move to St. Maarten with me. Do you know if there are any dog parks in the area where dogs can roam around and play with other dogs off of their leash?


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