Exporting a cat from the Maldives to the UK is a very time-consuming process. As mentioned above, the wait time from when you decide you want to rescue a particular cat is at least 4 months from their rabies vaccination. However, if you need to get your cat out of the Maldives sooner, quarantine could be an alternative option – albeit an expensive one.
(Please note: quarantine is only an option for cats travelling to the UK, as there are no quarantine facilities in mainland Europe. The list of quarantine facilities can be found here, however some are currently closed to make space for Ukrainian pets).
By using quarantine, you can reduce the waiting time for export from 4 months to a few weeks. However, this does mean that you may be separated from your cat for over 4 months in the destination country, dependent on how far along in the rabies vaccination process you are.
For example, if your cat has not been vaccinated against rabies yet, then the entire process must be completed in the quarantine facility, including the vaccination, blood test and total of 4 months waiting. However, if your cat has already been vaccinated for rabies over a month ago (but within a year), then the quarantine stay will be only 3 months, as long as the blood test is done as close to arrival as possible. Likewise, if you have done the blood test already and it is positive for rabies antibodies, you only need to place your cat into quarantine for the remaining time of the 3 months.
Of course, the longer your cat is in quarantine the more expensive it is. In the UK, prices differ between quarantine facility, with quotes ranging from £1500 to £2500 for a 3 month stay. This includes board, an initial vet examination, transport from airport to quarantine and rabies blood test. The quarantine facility will also take care of the UK Animal Health Certificate, if not completed before hand. Below is a breakdown of final quarantine costs at one of the facilities, Ryslip Group Ltd:
Once you have found your quarantine facility, you will want to start arranging your cat’s flight and customs clearing agent. This is where things can be very turbulent – prices are very inconsistent and which airlines offer pet travel can change at any given time. For this, the best thing to do is to research which airlines are currently accepting pets and to get quotes from as many clearing agents as possible.
Luckily, you do not need to be on the same flight as your cat, which means you can send them with Qatar or Emirates while you can take a cheaper alternative! Just make sure to travel within 5 days either side of your cat’s flight.
It is also worth noting that is not possible to bring any cat into the UK in the cabin – all must be in the hold, even with airlines which accept cabin pets to other countries.
As of December 2022, the best option was to use Qatar Airways to fly to London Heathrow (which was the closest airport to the quarantine facility) and Tailwings as the clearing agent.
To prepare your cat for its flight, you must ensure it is microchipped and that you have a fit for travel document from a licensed veterinarian. You must also obtain an Export Permit from the Ministry of Fisheries, Marine Resources and Agriculture.
Additionally, you will need to provide a copy of your Boarding Document and Landing Licence, which your quarantine facility will provide and help you complete.
The cost of the flight will change dependent on demand and the weight of your cat and its case. In December 2022, for a 2kg cat and carrier, the price was $319.80 (£262). However, at other times, quotes have been as much as $900 per cat.
The cost of clearance also differs between agents, but for Tailwings it is as below.
TOP TIP: Put the quarantine facility, airline and clearing agent in contact with each other – this will make it easier to coordinate!
• Your cat will be in the safety of quarantine and less at risk of getting injured or killed
• Allows you to take home a cat even if you are only in the Maldives for a short period
• Gives you the flexibility to travel when suits you best, instead of when the ‘waiting period’ is over
• Very expensive!
• You will be separated from your cat (although visits are allowed)
• Your cat is cooped up in a small space for a long period of time
• If a kitten, it may delay your cat’s socialisation
• Ensure your cat has a UK registered microchip
• Determine how much you’d like to complete in the Maldives vs UK and start process if necessary (Rabies vaccination, blood test etc.)
• Book a quarantine facility
• Book the flight
• Book the clearing agent
• Provide the necessary documentation: