After rescuing an abandoned kitten in Bali, I made the decision to take her to the US with me when it was time to leave. However, to take a pet home from Bali is not a straightforward decision by any means.
First, pets are not allowed out of Bali. Yes, it is illegal to take a dog or cat off of the island.
Due to the island’s status as a high-risk rabies location, there is a ban on importing and exporting animals. It’s as simple as that.
When I discovered this, I was surprised to say the least and my heart sunk at the thought of having to leave my kitten behind.
But after I relaxed a bit, I thought to myself: There has to be a way.
Luckily, it turns out there is a way. Additional research, confirmed by some other people who had been in a similar situation, led me to the answer.
Here’s how to take a pet home from Bali:
Your cat or dog will need vaccines in order to travel. The specific vaccines will vary according to your final destination and the rules of the airline you will fly with. For my kitten, she needed rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, panleukopenia, chlamydia and rabies, which are all quite standard.
Keep in mind that it can take a couple of months to complete all of the vaccines as there needs to be a few weeks between shots. It’s best to start planning early.
You can expect to pay around 700,000 IDR ($50 USD) in total for all of the vaccines (at least for a kitten). Each time your pet gets a vaccine, it will be logged into a pet vaccine book, with the date, vet name, type of vaccine and the sticker from the actual vaccine bottle.
We used Sunset Vet for our kitten’s vaccines and all of her treatments. They have the best reviews by far, with locations in both Ubud and Kuta. Their prices might be slightly higher than other options but they offer professional, high-quality care. Our kitten had to be hospitalized for 6 days at one point with a muscle sprain and the vets and staff were incredible, sending us photos and video updates several times per day. And they had her back to normal quickly. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them at all if you want the best vet for your pet in Bali.
Your final destination may or may not require your pet to have a microchip. However, a microchip is required to complete the process of taking your pet out of Indonesia. Getting a microchip for a cat is simple. It’s one quick injection and costs approximately 450,000 IDR ($30 USD). You’ll then get a certificate with all of the cat’s details, and your details, that also proves the microchip is ISO compliant, something that is required to ensure the microchip is valid.
Getting Out of Bali
TRANSPORTATION AND PAPERWORK
As mentioned, it’s technically illegal for a pet to be taken out of Bali. This includes taking a pet from Bali to another island in Indonesia. However, it is perfectly legal for a pet to be taken out of Java, the neighboring island that is home to Indonesia’s capital city, Jakarta.
The main problem is how do you get the pet from Bali to Jakarta if that’s not legal?
You can’t do it yourself.
You can’t fly to Jakarta with your pet as the authorities in Bali won’t let you since it’s illegal. You can’t fly anywhere from Bali with your pet as it’s simply not allowed and you won’t be allowed to check-in.
You can’t take the ferry to Java (and then transportation to Jakarta) because the custom authorities at the ferry terminal in Java will notice and again, it’s illegal to bring the pet out of Bali. This could get you in big trouble.
So how is it possible to take a pet home from Bali?
You’ll need help. And it turns out that there are several companies that offer the help you need.
By ‘help’, here’s what these companies do:
- Transport your pet from Bali to Jakarta (takes 2-3 days via ferry and van overland)
- Obtain necessary medical certificates from a vet in Jakarta so there is no trace your pet is from Bali
- Obtain the required export permit to allow the pet out of Indonesia
- Accommodate your pet at a pet hotel in Jakarta throughout the process
- Bring the pet to you, most likely at the airport, and help you check in for your flight with all the documents
Basically, the company is getting your pet entirely new paperwork so that it appears your pet is from Java and not from Bali. Java (the island that Jakarta is on) is not a high-risk area for rabies so it’s perfectly legal to travel with a pet from this island. But the medical paperwork needs to be from this island in order to get the export permit for your pet to be allowed to leave Indonesia.
Animal Express Helps You Take Your Pet Home from Bali
The company I used to help me with this process is Animal Express. They had very good reviews, they responded right away to my initial inquiries and their price seemed reasonable for the complete service they provide.
The cost for everything I listed above came to 7,200,000 IDR (about $480 USD).
After talking with many people, this is the normal price to expect. To me, $480 USD is not terrible at all considering that they are helping you do something that’s technically impossible.
Of course, there are other options out there too. I heard about IndoAnimal Travel and while they seemed nice enough, they were slower replying to my questions than Animal Express. A few people also recommended Seventh Heaven Pet Transport but their prices are astronomical (they wanted $3200 USD for the same service) and given the decent communication I had with Animal Express, I couldn’t find any reason to pay such an amount.
*Keep in mind that I wanted to take my kitten with me in the cabin of the plane. Your situation might be a little different if you want/need to put your pet under the plane as excess baggage or ship your pet home as cargo.
Making a Reservation
You should start the travel process to take your pet home from Bali at least 3 weeks before you plan to fly out of Indonesia or else you risk not having everything in order or the transportation to Jakarta for your pet being already full.
Once you do confirm the service with whatever company you choose, the real process starts. They’ll first make sure you have all the proper vaccinations and documents for your pet. Then, they’ll let you know when your pet will be picked up in Bali (usually about 4 – 6 days before your flight out of Jakarta).
You might have to send your pet’s medical documents by mail to their office in Jakarta ahead of time in order to speed up the process. But this is as simple as spending 5 minutes and 22,000 IDR ($1.50) at an office of one of the local shipping services in Bali, such as JNE Express.
You’ll also need to email them your flight confirmation, and in the case of Animal Express, they will contact the airline for you to make the reservation to take your pet in the cabin with you. Once they’ve confirmed the reservation for your pet with the airline, it’s a good idea to go into your flight booking and choose an ideal seat. In my opinion, this would be a window seat so that you and your pet won’t need to deal with too much foot traffic.
If your pet needs to be checked as luggage under the plane (which is usually the case if your pet and carrying case are over 8kg or the airline you are flying with does not accept pets in the cabin) it’s best to ask about that particular procedure.
Once things are in order, you’ll pay a deposit of 50% to the company. The rest is to be paid the day you fly out of Indonesia.
My Experience and Timeline
As for my situation, it all went like this in the end:
- August 6th: Matcha (our kitten) was picked up in the morning at our rental house in Bali. The transport van was clean, the cages were secure and the driver was friendly and helpful. There were two dogs in the van also going to Jakarta.
- August 7th: I flew to Jakarta and checked into the Ascott Jakarta Hotel (it’s one of the few pet-friendly hotels in the city and they don’t charge extra to bring a cat or dog).
- August 8th: Matcha arrived in Jakarta in the afternoon and she was delivered to me at my hotel. Alternatively, Animal Express can keep your pet at their pet hotel until your flight.
- August 11th: A representative from Animal Express met us at the airport check-in area and helped us check in for our flight. They had all of the necessary paperwork and the process was smooth. Animal Express gave me all of the documents to take with me and off we went.
From there, it was a long journey to the US but we made it without any issues at all. And while it was a somewhat complex process to take a pet home from Bali, it’s definitely possible and just requires some patience!
Take a Pet Home from Bali – Important Notes:
- Not many airlines flying to/from Asia allow pets in the cabin. Turkish Airlines, Korean Airlines and Asiana were three that I found that do allow it from Jakarta to the US or Europe. There are more airlines that will allow you to check your pet as excess luggage (where it is kept in the cargo hold) but I didn’t want to attempt that with such a long journey and the young age of our kitten.
- Most airlines require your pet to be at least 10 weeks of age to fly.
- Definitely start the planning process as early as possible. It can take a couple of months to get all the vaccinations and microchip in order, as well as the transportation confirmed.
- Pet-friendly hotels in Jakarta are few and far between. Again, I stayed at the Ascott Jakarta Hotel (around $50 per night). There is also the Antoni Hotel (around $15 per night).
Hope this helps and if you have any questions, just let me know!
Reading this gave me so much hope. Thank you
If only it was this easy to take cats to Australia. I wanna bring 2 and been quoted almost $20kAUD….and they have to be in a cat 2 or 3 country for at least 6 months as indonesia isn’t recognised…..such a painful process yet it’s so simple for the US..crazy
Hi I am moving to Bali from New Zealand I wish to take my nine year old cat with me who is quite nervous when I am not around her,I have experienced many a sleepless night not knowing how to go about the process I will be flying into Denpasar via Sydney.please any helpful information as to how to start this process would be very greatful to receive I am leaving New Zealand 15 June 2022.
Hey Cheryl – You cannot take any pets into Bali by air. You will need to fly to Jakarta and find a service that will transport your cat overland to Bali as no airline will accept any pets on flights to Bali.
I am so happy to find this information! Thank you!
Hi Derek, any advice on doing the reverse of this and bringing my dog into Bali? I’m looking to move there this year indefinitely and just learned about the ban on dogs. I’m trying to stay hopeful that if you’re able to tale dogs out, there’s a chance I can bring my baby with me. She’s a mix breed rescue. Thank you for your help!
I don’t know for certain but I assume the same can be done in reverse with the same company I used.
Hi I have the same question
I am wondering how your process is going if you have some information please respond me thanks
Hi Derek! Thank you so so much for this, I have been extremely unhappy here in Bali and wanted to leave but stayed because I didn’t see an option of taking my furry son with me. I fly out on the 2nd and I have been using animal express also and they are great! I just wanted to ask you if you know if they feed and allow the animals to go to the toilet and everything on this journey. I am extremely nervous about getting him out of Bali in terms of the drive and ferry part. I worry about his mental health and how he is cared for during this part.
Yes, they do take care of the animals on the journey. They don’t let them out of the enclosures usually but they set up an area in the enclosure for them to go to the bathroom and they clean it often. They take very good care of the animals and send you photo updates several times per day.
Thank you for sharing your story. I am considering retiring to Bali and will more than likely adopt a dog. This is great information to have ‘Just in Case”
Thank you so much for such a detailed post about this process. I am planning on taking my dog in a few months to Europe, so this was super super helpful. I’m just so scared about the Bali – Java bit!
I’m wondering if your cat was terrified after the road trip. Did she eat and drink during the trip? How was she when she arrived? I can’t imagine my cat together with dogs in the same space for 2 days.
Hey Darren – She was okay. The driver sent me photos throughout the journey and she was eating and drinking normally. When she arrived I brought her into the hotel room and she began playing like normal. She’s super chill. Even on the two 12 hour flights she just stayed in her carrier, ate when I gave her food and all was well overall.
I’m glad to hear. Sounds like she’s a brave cat. Is she brave and relaxed in general? My cat is a wuss and scared of everything. How old was she when she did the trip?
Thank you so much for giving all those details! Could you tell me also what happens once you get into US with your cat? I have a cat as well and there is no way i will leave her behind if i leave, but the process is super complicated. I need to go to my country and then to US at some point, I am just wondering if I should maybe go home and come back for my cat, or take her with me at home and then fly together to US…
Hey Denise – If you are a US citizen, it’s not that complicated. Nobody asked me for any paperwork or anything. We just landed in Miami, went through immigration, passed customs without them asking anything and out of the airport we went.
Were you at any time informed of the consequences of your pet being discovered being smuggled out of Bali?
Hey Ron – After talking to a lot of people who used these kind of services (at least those who used what seem to be the top 3 companies offering this service), I felt confident that there would not be any issues. From what I gather, it’s not actually smuggling the pet, as in hiding them. I think it’s more obvious than that and through various connections with custom agents on each island, such transport is allowed to happen.
Hi Derek, if i am non resident in US is it gonna be complicated to bring my cat ?
Hey Dessy – I’m not sure the rules about that, sorry. I only know for residents/citizens.
Hello! I adopted a Bali Dog back in February, and I’d like to import her to my country (Brasil). Thanks for the detailed description of process, I’m going to do it in a while, either on a yr or two, not sure. I’ve been wondering whether it’s better if I travel to Indonesia and do it myself OR pay a company to relocate her to my country, due to cost and time (I wanna stay 2 weeks in Bali and don’t pretend to spend more then a week in Jakarta, tbh).. I already adopted her and she’s fully vaccinated, so I guess I’d just pay her microchip + transport out of Bali 🙂 u think it’s more cost-effective if I travel w her rather then pay the company for sending her as cargo ?
You have forgotten to state that if caught, your pet will be destroyed and all perpetrators will be fined and jailed. There have also been cases of ransoms demanded by your illegal perpetrators, who sometimes take the money and kill the pets.
From what I gather, this really only happens if you use a service that is not reputable. There were plenty of people and ‘companies’ offering this service but a small amount of research made it quite obvious who the actual 3 reputable companies are. For the others, I would not trust them at all.
Hi what airlines do you use from Bali to Jakarta? I also considering animal express, thanks before
I flew with Citilink and I’ve used them several times in my travels. Always been reliable and good airfares too.
Great info!! Thank you for thoroughly describing the process!