Saturday, February 21, 2009

Pet friendly rentals in Antigua Guatemala

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Guatemala - Pet friendly rentals in Antigua, etc...
Expert: Bethany - 11/6/2007

Question
Hi Bethany!
I have a lot of questions, they don't all have to do with my pets but any insight would be greatly appreciated! My boyfriend and I, having just completed a certification to teach English as a foreign language, are moving to Antigua in September. We will be in Mexico for awhile before we arrive and are flying to Guat City from Guadalajara and our dog and cat will be coming from Virginia once we are settled. Do you have any advice on transporting pets into the country by air? The State Dept web site lists procedures but we are worried about the actual process. Is it difficult to find housing that accepts pets? We want to find somewhere with a kitchen and parking (we plan on buying a car too if you have advice on that!)that we can rent month to month in case we can't find a job in Antigua and we have to go elsewhere.
We relatively familiar with the area having spent summer 2006 in Antigua and this past summer working in Belize and near Tikal. We realized we will need a car in order to cross a border every 90 days with our pets, as we wouldn't possibly leave them at home for the 72 hours. Do you think it will be difficult getting our pets back in forth across the border as we renew our visas until we can (hopefully!) procure a work permit when we (hopefully) find a job? I imagine we will be going to Honduras towards Roatan or to Belize. Borders we have crossed and re-crossed before but not with animals in tow.
Also, is there any way that you know of to get permission to enter the country by air and get a visa without having a return plane ticket? We plan on staying in Antigua indefinitely and when we do leave it will probably be to go further south wherever we can find a job-not back to the US.
Sorry this is a huge question! Thanks in advance!

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Answer
Hi Jamie

Congratulations on your certifications!
We hear about job openings every now and again. A law firm and a Dr were both looking to hire bilingual office help last month. If you'd like, I could put some feelers out for you closer to your arrival.

As for housing with the requirements you listed that accept pets. It's here but you'll need to give a property management company at least a month notice or you'll pay almost double the amount per month you would have otherwise. We got a great deal on a place that would accept pets for 675 per month. We were paying 1,400 for the exact same place, 3 bedrooms, 3 baths, maids quarters, Internet, cable, 3 car parking, hot water, walk in closet, private garden and so on but you have to give notice. Most rentals come fully furnished, again you'll pay higher for these. At this time I know of a fully furnished two bedroom with private yard, private parking, hot water, Internet and cable for 400 per month but the kitchen is very small. Month to month rentals are easy to come by in Antigua. Great for people not wanting a long lease, but looking into at least a 3 to 6 month lease will be cheaper and make it easier for you to find a place for your pets.

Keep in mind, in Antigua the rule with property management firms is RENTER BEWARE! We moved 4 different times in 3 months last year. You can get good prices on rentals, but you have to be careful who you deal with. I can give you a referral to an honest property management team if you'd like.
We learned the hard way.

I understand and appreciate your concern for your pets, not wanting to leave them while you exit the country.
If you apply for permission from the Guatemalan Embassy (10 dollars per pet) to bring your pets here legally, the form they give you will make bringing your pets back into the country a snap, it's good for the life of the pet as long as the pet appears healthy at the time you cross the boarder. Honduras is a much better choice than Belize when exiting with your pets. Belize has stricter entry requirements, sometimes charging you a fee per pet or even in some cases demanding you pay for quarantine.
Did you know that there's a way you can stay in the country for six months on your tourist visa? Do you know that a one year temporary residency is easy to obtain and that once you apply you are not required to exit the country? If either of these are options you'd be interested in but didn't know about, let me know and I'll help you out with them when you get here.

I don't know of any way you can get a tourist visa by air without a return ticket. You sound very well traveled, have you considered renting a car and driving your pets down? If you had the time it might be an option with the money you would save on your round trip air fare, and the cost of flying your pets. You may actually come out ahead by driving. If you know the ins and outs you can drive a car down from the states, even if it's financed. That would save you from having to buy something your not familiar with when you get here. Again let me know if you would like any help in this area.

As for flying pets, the rules are very strict. The only advice I can give is how to go about getting them on the plane.

The same requirements that apply to flying dogs, apply to cats and other household pets.
When you arrive at the Guatemala airport there may or may not be someone there to check your pets paper work. Sometimes customs may ask to see it, sometimes not. If no one asks to see the paper work, you leave with your pet. If they do ask, it takes all of 3 minutes for them to check it. Fast and painless. Please make sure you have your paperwork for them incase they ask, if not you pet may be quarantined or refused entrance.

What you need to do now, is call your nearest consulate and ask them to email or send you the forms you need to bring your pet into Guatemala. The form will be a Veterinary certificate stating that your pet is free of parasites, free of open wounds or diseases communicable to humans. Your pet must also be vaccinated for rabies more than 30 days before travel and less than 12 months before travel. Have your veterinarian complete the Veterinary Certificate, and attach the rabies certificate to it. Send the certificate back to the nearest consulate of Guatemala with a check in the amount of $10.00 with a brief cover letter stating why you wish the certificate issued (you will be attending Spanish school for a few months) with a self addressed/stamped return envelope. They will send you back an endorsement and you're good to go. It's really easy and inexpensive. It's important you get the forms from the consulate because the form has to be Bi-Lingual or they will turn it down. You will also want to make sure your pet is on a good flea, tick and heartworm preventative.

If there is anything else, please let me know.
Never look back.

Bethany

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Panajachel, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

Panajachel, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
View of Lake Atitlan and volcano from my apartment balcony in Panajachel. Taken by Catherine Todd June 2008.