Living Abroad in Nicaragua
Moving to Nicaragua with Pets
2006 © Randall Wood and Joshua Berman, from Moon Living Abroad in Nicaragua, 1st ed. Used by permission of the author(s) and Avalon Travel. All rights reserved. For more info please visit Moon's website, Moon.com.
Due to extremely low priority placed on spaying and neutering pets, Nicaragua is overrun with many thousands of unwanted, maltreated stray dogs and cats looking for a loving home. A group of expats in Granada is attempting to address the problem, but there will be no shortage of fuzzy creatures to keep you company should you decide to adopt. If, however, you simply cannot live without your beloved Fido or Kitty, moving with a North American pet to Nicaragua is far easier than moving with a Nicaraguan pet back to the United States—provided your pet is a dog, cat, hamster, or bird. If your menagerie contains snakes, reptiles, or exotic creatures you will have a little more difficulty. And if you intend to take along your favorite horse or pony you will have more trouble still. Several companies (see the Resources chapter) offer transportation services for small mammals, birds, reptiles, and the like, but not horses.
Within one month of your departure date, visit a veterinarian and have your animal inspected and vaccinated, and make sure you have an up-to-date record of that animal’s vaccinations over its whole life. If your animal has not already had a rabies shot, make sure to have it vaccinated, as rabies is still extremely prevalent in Nicaragua and your animal will be at risk. Next, have the veterinarian’s letters notarized and then submit them to the nearest Nicaraguan consulate to be authenticated. There will be a charge for this service. Upon your arrival in Nicaragua customs agents will request to see the letter from the vet with its notary seal and the authentication seal or document that the Nicaraguan consulate provides you. You will be charged US$10 per animal. Bear in mind that airlines require you to have the veterinarian provide this letter within 10 days of your flight, which requires you to deal with the Nicaraguan consulate within that time frame. If that worries you, it should. Be prepared to visit one of the consulates in person to facilitate the process, if you need to.
Once in Nicaragua, expect a bit of a runaround. To date, Nicaragua does not impose a quarantine on imported mammals (provided they are arriving from the same continent—Europeans will have it different) but might impose quarantine on your bird with the mostly valid pretext that it needs to guard against avian flu. You may be able to talk your way out of this one, possibly with the help of a small-denomination greenback.
Take transport requirements into consideration when planning. For example, airlines will not typically agree to transport animals that weigh more than 70 pounds. Some bigger dogs run the risk of surpassing that limit. Likewise, most airlines have a physical limit on the size and shape of the kennel in which your animal is transported. Your alternatives are close to nil if your pet doesn’t fit into a kennel of their dimensions, unless you are interested in driving it south and dealing with the combined regulatory requirements of the rest of the Central American isthmus and Mexico. And if you’d like take your horse, your challenges will be greater still. The expats who have talked about bringing their horse to Nicaragua—and actually done it—have driven, horse trailer, truck, and all, through Mexico and Central America to ensure they had complete control over the horse’s environment. This is no casual undertaking.