I just put up a page, accessible from the top navigation, with a summary of information about moving and living in Italy. It is called “So you’ve decided to move to Italy”. I will constantly update it with things I learn that I think will be useful. Go to the page here.
Well. We have had a couple of issues with these boxes. They sent a list of questions from customs. I had declared that I brought cat food with me and turns out that is a no-no. I think U Pak – We Ship should provide a list of dos and don’ts for shipping things to Europe. Once I googled it I found lists of things that you should not ship to include pet food. Link: http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/customs/banned-restricted.htm
Customs first asked if it was meat based. Duh! Cats are carnivores. So I said yes and I explained it was prescription food because I was not sure I could get it here. Next they asked the weight of it which I provided. Time passes. Next we were told our shipment had been “selected” for a “detailed inspection” like it was a prize or something. Sigh. All I could think of was that all my careful packing was for naught.
After another week we got the word that it had been cleared for shipment. We are not sure whether the cat food got confiscated or not. When it gets here we will know. They say in 7-10 days we should hear about when it should arrive. I have re-iterated that they CANNOT come on market days (Wednesday or Saturday) and MUST give me 3 days notice so I can let the police know. Living right on the Piazza makes things a bit more difficult not to mention every one sees all of your business but oh well!
Today we bought a microwave and a 30 inch TV so we can at least watch streaming movies. We also may look into a satellite account. We need to see if it is portable to our other apartment.
Ciao till next time!
Well, we are all now here in Umbertide. It was a “fairly” smooth trip. First here is a picture of our empty townhouse in Alexandria VA.
I loved living there but I will not particularly miss it. I am happy a growing family has purchased it and it will be loved by them.
We had two suitcases to bring. They have a 50 pound limit. Turns out ours were both overweight on my sisters bathroom scales by a good bit. So we bought another suitcase and redistributed the weight. An additional bag costs $100. An overweight bag cost $200. You can do the math. When we checked them they weighted 46, 48 and 45 pounds! Once we got rid of them we were better. We had the cats in soft carriers that we could sling over our shoulders plus a carry-on for each of us.
The trip through the TSA security at the airport turned out to be pretty smooth. I got lucky and got a Pre-Check so didn’t have to remove my shoes or computer. Luther was not so lucky. We each had to remove the cat from the carrier leaving the harness on and walk through the detector. We then had to have our hands swabbed. Not sure why. But the cats remained pretty calm in the chaotic atmosphere. Whew!
We went to our favorite wine bar and brought the cats in their carriers in with us. No one knew they were there. They were very quiet. Ha Ha. I bet we would have been chucked out should they have known.
We boarded the plane and stuffed the boys under the seats in their carriers. They remained quiet thru the night. The calming medicine we gave them at 6 hour intervals seemed to help. I chuckle to remember the faces and comments of our fellow passengers when we were waiting to debark. We had pulled out the carriers and let the cats stick their head out. Everyone was so surprised they had traveled across the ocean with a pair of cats and had not known they were there. They all said they were so good.
Arrival in Italy was on time. We retrieved the ginormous bags and went through passport control. Just as I expected they didn’t even look at our visas or cat papers. An interesting aside, we paid fare to take the cats on the United flight but no one ever even noticed we had them. Or they didn’t seem to.
The car was a different story. We were supposed to call the Renault people, which we did. We were told our car was lost in transit. No one knew where the truck was. They would not send the shuttle to pick us up. We should stay at the airport. OK this was just not what I wanted to hear with two cats who hadn’t been to the bathroom in 14 hours. Luther called them back, he said they said the car was there. Finally we got a call and the shuttle van picked us up. We had had to wait about an hour and a half in the airport. Much tension. But in the end all was well. We got there and picked up the Renault Megane stationwagon – our auto for the next 3 months. I was still suspicious because the car was in the middle of a bunch of other cars and not at all clean as were the rest. Go figure. I didn’t care as long as we were on our way.
We drove the 2 hours and met up with our friends who took us to their apartment that they generously loaned us. The cats were freed, the litter box was filled, the food and water bowls were filled and they very quickly took care of business.
To be continued…
It was not a good story. It did not have to be that way though. So because of that I will write of our difficulties in getting our cat paperwork completed.
We read many posts. We checked the Embassy site. We thought we had done it all right. About a month before our move date we took the cats to our vet to have them micro-chipped. The next hoop was to take the forms that we had downloaded from the Italian Embassy site to our vet. This could be done no more than 10 days before our flight out. They filled them all out. We next had to either FedEx these forms to the USDA in Richmond VA to have them certified and stamped and overnighted back to us. Problem was we were moving targets with no address and to assure we could get them done we decided to drive to Richmond with them.
It helped some that we were staying with my sister at that time in Wintergreen Virigina which is 2 hours from Richmond on a very dull but traffic-free interstate.
We presented our forms to the person at the counter. Suddenly I heard. “there is a problem”. Well it turns out that the rule is that the cats have to have rabies shots AFTER they are microchipped. Our vet did not tell us this although she does these forms a lot. The lady must have seen me turn white as a ghost. She says “OK, OK we can fix this”. All we had to do was get the cats rabies shots again and come BACK to Richmond.
Being in an unfamiliar place with only a day and a half to get this done and back to Richmond this was not an easy task. I enlisted my sister who is always good in a crisis. She searched out vets in this very rural part of Virginia. We managed to get a 4PM appointment that day and got the shots. The vet was nearly an hour from my sisters house so we had been in the car for over 6 hours this day and had the prospect of driving back to Richmond the next day. Oh joy!
So we did drive back. We did get all the stamps etc. We are not actually, technically, perfect though. The rule is the shots had to be more than 21 days before we leave and they are more like 5 days. The lady told us we may get our hand slapped that we could quarantine them in our apartment since we were living there and it should be OK. Well, that doesn’t make me feel totally secure but there you have it.
So to anyone out there who is bringing their pet to Italy, here is the proper order. First get your pet microchipped at least 1 month prior to your trip. Personally with hindsight, I think you should just go ahead and do it the moment you know you are going as it is never too early. After that (and at least 30 days before you leave) get a new rabies shot even if they already had one. 10 days or less before your flight download the official dual language forms to bring a pet into Italy from the Italian Embassy website. Take that form no more than 10 days before you go and have your USDA certified vet fill it out. Make sure you have your rabies certificate from the shot about a month ago. Then go find the United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Veterinary Services in your state. Either FedEx all your forms (Italian form and Rabies certiicate) to them or take them to them for certification. Then you should be good to go.
Here are the links to sites with forms or information that is useful.
This is the Italy embassy information about bringing pets
This is the form that your vet must fill out – and the vet must be USDA certified.
This is the USDA site
I have read in nearly every blog that the authorities in Italy never look at these papers but it would just be my luck that that would be the day they did and I didn’t have everything I needed!
We finally finished packing our UPak cubes and following all the instructions got them wrapped, strapped, stickered and ready to go!
Friday the UPak people picked them up at our house and they are on their way. In 4 to 6 weeks they should arrive.
I have arranged to have them unpacked remotely from our apartment and loaded into a van and then the team of movers will take them to our apartment.
SO final steps. Our nephew Dave and his girlfriend Shira came by yesterday and packed up what they want to take. Their moving truck comes Monday afternoon. Then the house will be empty except for a couple of boxes and some carpet that goes to the storage unit.
We have an appointment Monday afternoon at our Vet to get the cats checked over and the Italian forms filled out. This must be done no more than 10 days before departure.
We go to Settlement on the house on Tuesday morning. Then we have to pack up our enormous suitcases along with the cats and head to my sister’s house at the Wintergreen resort until Sunday.
Finally we sell our car Monday and and fly out Tuesday.
Next thing for me to worry about is getting us and our cats through TSA. I will report back once it’s done. We have purchased little harnesses and leashes so they can’t get away in the terminal.