(Don’t worry, this has nothing to do with covid)
When you want to cross a border with a pet, most countries demand (among other papers)a health certificate no older than 14 days. For this certificate you have to go to the vet. They check out the animal and then fill in a form, which is different per country. It basically states that the animal is healthy, free of parasites and contagious diseases. Now to be honest, most countries couldn’t care less that you have a pet with you, well at least not if it is a cat. So far Binkie has crossed the borders of 21 countries, some of them several times. I think it is safe to say he crossed borders about 50 times. Exactly one country wanted to see his papers; Bulgaria. They were actually quite thorough and even checked his chip. Perhaps this was because we were entering Bulgaria from Turkey, a non EU country.
Despite this lack of interest we do try to get a new health certificate every now and then. After all we never know when a customs officer decides to check everything possible. Now getting a health certificate should be easy, it is just a simple piece of paper. But outside of Western Europe, only the vets in big cities know what you mean. So our last health certificate dated back from March (2021), which we had gotten in Istanbul, just before we drove in to Bulgaria. Which, as you’ve just read, was a lucky coincidence. Early July we wanted to get a new health certificate before driving in to Georgia. We were at the Black Sea coast, Turkey and had not managed to find a vet yet. Also because we had driven a different route than planned. The vet in Artvin, when he finally showed up, had no clue and obviously no interest in helping us. The last big town before the border was Hopa. Here we were in luck because we met a Dutch women living in Turkey who called the vet for us and translated. But he insisted that it would take 45 days to get a new health certificate, so obviously he had no clue either, luckily for us, the officers at the Georgian border also couldn’t care less.
We decided to try again in Tbilisi, because well, you never know, right? So we went to the vet and they did know what I meant. However from there it got a bit complicated.They stated the certificate was only valid for 72 hours?? It turned out that they write a form with which we would then have to go to the ministry of agriculture, also in Tbilisi fortunately. They would then issue a certificate, valid for 14 days. Oke, more complicated than expected but doable. The vet filled in the form which took quite some time, also because Binkies passport is mainly in Dutch. All this time she didn’t look at Binkie, he never even got out of his backpack. She just copied the info from his passport and my name etc. I thought this was a bit strange but she told me Binkie would have to come with me to the ministry, so I guessed they would check him out there. We got the form and paid the 30 Lari’s, about €8,- and drove through the chaotic city traffic to the ministry of agriculture. It was supposedly open all day, but it was lunchtime, so closed. No problem, while we waited we had lunch too. The man who helped us spoke some English. He started copying the papers from the vet. He gave a cursatory glance at Binkie in his backpack, started going through his passport, also needed my passport and wrote a form we couldn’t read. We then had a confusing discussion about which border we would cross as he had no idea Ninotsminda also had a border crossing and tried to get us to go somewhere else. But eventually, after Kilian had gotten a map from the van, he resigned and filled in Ninotsminda. What does it matter what border we cross??? He then send us to the cashier where we had to pay 101 Lari and no we could not pay with card… We had exactly 100,95 Lari, so… The cashier counted the money, gave it another look and then fortunately thought the better of it and put the cash away, phew! I then had to sign a form that was completely in Georgian, what the heck I just signed, so far I still have all my internal organs 😉. The man then took all our papers in a back room and after some more confusion about Binkies vaccinations we got a pretty blue certificate. Then we could leave. The whole thing had taken us about 3 hours and had costed €36,- And no one had examined Binkie!
After all this I was determined that they would check his papers at the Armenian border. Crossing this border took about an hour. During this time I literally shoved Binkies papers under the nose of 3 custom officers who I just happened to see, saying quite loudly; we have a cat, here are his papers! They gave me a funny look but not the papers. I answered; yes a cat, to the question if we had something to declare, but no questions were asked, no papers seen. I walked in to the office “something to declare” and set of the alarm of some detection gate, but nobody came. 😡
So until, we fly to Latin America with Binkie, we are not going to bother again about a new health certificate, the hell with it.
However I will never forget the funny incident we had at the border of Bosnia-Herzegovinia (2018). Now our experience was that the BH officers weren’t really friendly. This time an officer was checking out our van when he saw Binkie in his backpack. Suddenly he changed completely! He bended over slightly, clasped his hands together in delight and exclaimed; oooh, a kitty! He then called a colleague to come look. The colleague came, and the first officer said ( in a high pitched voice) “look at that cute cat!” The colleague gave both Binkie and his colleague an unfriendly look and walked away without saying a word. The first officer, smiling from ear to ear admired Binkie some more and then waved us through! (Without seeing Binkies papers of course)