Calla’s First Sailing Adventure


My husband’s lifelong dream was to have our labradoodle (Calla) join us on a sailing vacation on our new boat. This sounded like a daunting task given my countless hours of research and the lack of clear guidance available, which is why I wanted to take the time to share the intricacies of importing your furry friend. The BVI vet was very responsive from the get-go and was probably tired of my emails by the time we arrived in the islands.

The number one thing I would recommend is to plan in advance as you will need to complete FAVN testing prior to your arrival (the results are sent directly to the BVI and your vet will receive a copy of the results). You will also need to make sure your dog’s vaccinations are up-to-date to include not just Lyme disease testing, but a two part vaccination (something we were not aware of until the last minute). The biggest hassle was having to mail the health certificate overnight to a USDA veterinarian along with all of your ORIGINAL proof of vaccinations for endorsement and ensure you have it back prior to travel. The USDA takes 24-48 hours from time of receipt, so plan on at least three days minimum before it arrives back to you. Also, don’t forget to include a pre-paid overnight envelope in the package you send or else it will be sent back “snail mail” and you could end up missing your trip after spending a lot of time and money. 


Once you arrive in the BVI’s

Once arriving in the BVI’s you are asked to contact the veterinarian an hour before arrival in order to meet you at customs and your dog MUST remain in a carrier until they are inspected and the appropriate fees are paid. The veterinarian was running about 30 minutes late and we had to call them again to request they meet us at customs.  Once he arrived it was an easy check of documentation and a once over of the dog checking for fleas and ticks. There was some confusion about the FAVN results as they are sent directly to the BVI’s, but the vet wanted an original copy anyway. However, an original was never sent to us or our stateside vet so he finally agreed to just review our copy and find the original back at the office. A few minutes later we wrapped up and were able to start enjoying our sailing vacation for the next two weeks.

Leaving the islands was a whole other adventure, or pain in the ass if you asked my husband. We were told we needed to visit the Department of Agriculture in Paraquita Bay, Tortola before we departed to receive an exit permit. However, this is not the case and after multiple back and forth attempts at the Department of Agriculture we finally found someone that could process the paperwork only to find out the health certificate was all that was required to exit the country (this is only needed if your health certificate is older than 30 days or you are flying out of the country).

*As a caveat, if you are flying back to the United States there is a veterinarian in Nanny Cay, Tortola that can complete a US health certificate, which is required within 10 days of flying (they also have an office on St. John).

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