Guiri Guest Janine talks about how life brought her to Madrid. Answering the question “Where are you from?” has never been easy for me … after being born in England and raised all over the United States, I finally decided on a home in New York city with my partner Will and our beagle, Ella. Earlier this year, we decided to complicate things further and move to Madrid! An avid traveler, I love exploring new places, tasting different foods and digging through markets and boutiques to find something unique. Some of my favorite spots are the Cyclades islands in Greece, Machu Picchu in Peru and both the north and south islands of New Zealand. I am excited about our move to Malasana, Madrid where I’ll be working part-time at my job in Management Consulting, taking much-needed Spanish lessons and taking some time to explore this beautiful city.
When moving to Madrid, many people consider bringing the furry members of their families along for the experience. As many have commented on this blog, Madrid is pet-friendly and dogs abound in the parks and barrios. I recently moved to Madrid from New York and while I found a lot of information on the requirements to exit the USA, I was not quite prepared for how to clear my beagle, Ella, through customs after arrival. But don’t be afraid, while it may take a little time and patience on the day you enter the country, it’s well worth it to have your favorite pet learning the ways of Madrid at your side!
Most airlines in the US have guidelines on their websites on the paperwork, kennel requirements and logistics of travelling with your pet (check these links for Continental, Delta, United and British Airways). A couple of key things to note:
- A health certificate from your vet must be dated within 10 days of travel. Some websites state 6 weeks, but to avoid the extra vet fees, check in with your vet closer to your day of travel.
- There must be 3 inches of clearance above your pet’s head when they are standing in their kennel. It’s only 1” for domestic flights, so, you may need to upgrade. My research found that the Petmate Sky Kennel was the brand used by most airlines and I purchased one online from FuturePets.com. Some hub cities do sell kennels if they deem your kennel is too small at the airport; however, availability is not guaranteed and prices are up to 50% more.
Check with your airline to ensure you understand all the rules … I found Continental’s PetSafe staff were helpful and happy to chat to ensure I met the requirements.
Now on to the more challenging and less explained portion of the journey. Once I arrived at Madrid-Barajas airport, I claimed my baggage and cleared customs prior to picking up Ella. Luckily, I found a Continental representative in the baggage claim area to ask about retrieving my pet since there were no signs or information readily available (nor was any provided in the US). The rep provided me with a phone number to call WFS*, the transportation company who handle pets for several airlines. I was then given very basic instructions on how to reach the facility … luckily, my taxi driver, David, was a lifesaver and helped me navigate the stops required to claim Ella.
So here’s what you need to do …
- Head to the WFS office in the Terminal de Carga (Cargo Terminal) … it’s a bit hard to spot since it’s not on the main road when you enter the Cargo Terminal area. As you drive in, there will be a large Correos (Postal) building on your left. You must drive past the building, to the roundabout and back down towards the Correos building. Before reaching it, turn right to a parallel road and from there you should be able to see the sign for WFS. Unfortunately, there’s not an easy way to get directions, so I’ve marked up the map below to show where the office is located:
- Provide your reference number and pay the requisite documentation fees and taxes to import your pet into Spain. This is an additional Spanish charge on top of what you paid in your departure city. For my 35lb dog it cost about €70. Credit cards are accepted.
- Next, take the paperwork from the WFS office, to another building a couple of doors down (Centro de Carga Aerea de Madrid) to get them approved and stamped before returning to the WFS office to claim your pet. Note that you may be asked for proof of travel (boarding pass) by the agent if you travelled on the same flight as your pet.
- Once you return to the WFS office they will review your papers and approve for your pet to be released. Before long, you’ll be happily reunited with your furry little friend. Be prepared that pickup is on a loading dock, so watch out for moving cargo!
Now it’s time to head off to your new home and start exploring Madrid side-by-side!
Worldwide Freight Services (WFS)
Centro de Carga Aerea, Aeropuerto Madrid-Barajas
Edificio WFS, Parcela 1.2b
Tel: +34 91 746 15 80
Fax: +34 91 746 15 92