Throwback Thursday: All the Houses We’ve Rented
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I’m continuing to try and make good use of this pandemic-enforced downtime to do some long needed photo editing. Enjoy this weeks backlog from December 2017: The Christmas Markets of Hamburg, Germany!
As always, the photos are also on Flickr.
…which is a recreation of this photo taken exactly nine years ago to the day…
Fun fact: I was wearing the same camera bag (but different camera)
As always, the photos are also on Flickr.
You can also take a look at photos when Andrew visited Prague in 2009 with Quinn and Charlie.
I finally got around to finish editing these photos…
The photos are also over on Flickr if that’s your jam.
Editors note: I started writing this in 2017ish. The details should still be correct, but you should double check with your officials and airline. We have also since repatriated back to the USA with Ezra. This has ended up being a semi-organized brain-dump of our experience.
In March 2017 we moved from the US to the UK and decided we wanted to bring our dog, Ezra, with us. We started investigating if we could bring Ezra, and how to do it. After establishing that if was legally possible, we initially believed that we had to use a third party pet shipping organization. As it turns out, you do not need use a pet shipping organization — although you may want to consider doing so.
The following is the process we used to bring Ezra, our three year old American Cocker Spaniel from Seattle to the United Kingdom. We choose to do it ourselves, and although we ended up having an unexpected stay in quarantine, the process is pretty simple once you understand it.
Your needs and scenario will likely vary, but hopefully this gives you a good place to start.
Please note, this only covers taking your dog from the US (specifically Seattle-Tacoma International) to the UK (specifically into London Heathrow).
We have not moved back to the US yet, so while we know it’s possible to bring Ezra back we haven’t delved into the details. (We moved back successfully! Maybe I’ll detail this in another post.)
Additional assumptions that will be made:
In short: yes; the United States is a “listed” country and the UK will allow your dog to come. However it won’t be cheap: it was $1629.80 just for cargo fees. Both the US and UK have helpful guides, which is what most of this is based on. The basic requirements to bring your dog1 to the UK are that he/she:
You will also need to a third-country official veterinary certificate from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The UK has strict rules about how these items are performed and documented, and this is ultimately what caused Ezra to have to spend three weeks in quarantine: his 2015 rabies booster shot was was three-days late. We didn’t catch the problem, nor did our vet or USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).
It used to be that the UK had very stringent requirements that mandated quarantine. This changed in 2012.
The assumption is you are transporting by plane. Generally speaking, your pet must travel as cargo2. Additionally, only certain airlines and certain airports are allowed to receive your pet. For Seattle, there are only two carriers with direct flights: British Airways/British Airways World Cargo and Virgin Atlantic flying into London Heathrow.
There are three ways you can ship your pet via the airlines:
British Airways/British Airways World Cargo allows you to book your pet as cargo, either on the same flight or a different one (option 2). It cost about $1500 for us to ship Ezra as cargo, even through he was on the same flight as us.
I did not investigate Delta (at the time, Delta was operating the flight as a codeshare with Virgin Atlantic), however be aware that they only accept pets for international travel from known shipping companies: https://www.delta.com/us/en/pet-travel/shipping-your-pet
However, Virgin Atlantic does accept pets from individuals.
You can hire a licensed commercial shipper, which is originally what we started looking at because we thought we had to. I made some inquires with several companies and received responses from between $1500 and $2000. In retrospect, it might have been good to use a shipper if only because we had so much to do to get ready to fly.
I think my primary concern was the Principle-Agent problem: in short, no one cares more about getting my dog there safely than me. This was important enough that I wanted to be involved in everything.
We decided to book reservations our self. It was actually pretty easy once we figured out what we needed to do.
First, you don’t book through the normal airline booking, you book through the cargo company…which in the case of British Airlines means contacting IAG Cargo (formerly known as British Airways World Cargo).
Second, the earliest (at least with IAG Cargo) you can book your pet as cargo is two weeks prior to departure.
When you do call them up to book, they’ll have you fill out an “AVI Booking Request” form. It will have a section for what flight you are on thus ensuring your pet will (in theory) travel with you. It’s actually very anticlimactic.
Once confirmed, there’s one more piece of paperwork to fill out that IAG Cargo will send you:
Fax the completed C5 form (with an appropriate fax header) to the organization handling your pets arrival. In the case of IAG Cargo, they contract with JCS Livestock, and that’s included in cost you pay to IAG Cargo.
The day of your flight, you will drop you dog off at the Cargo location four hours before your flight.
IAG Cargo (British Airways/Iberia)
IAG Cargo Seattle Branch
SeaTac International Airport
2427 South 161st
Seattle, WA 98158
Once you land, it takes about four hours for your pet to clear customs. Meanwhile, you will continue through passport control and customs at Heathrow. You will then need to arrange transport for yourself to the Animal Reception Centre (ARC), which is located on the same grounds as Heathrow but not physically connected to it (i.e. you cannot walk to it):
Animal Reception Centre (ARC)
London Heathrow Airport
Telephone: +44 (0) 208 745 7894 and +44 (0) 208 745 7895
In theory, this is where you are reunited with your pet. Unless there is a problem.
You need a kennel with a food and water dish, but it has to be the correct size. Here is British Airways World Cargo (i.e. IAG Cargo)’s guide: How to measure your pet.
We ended up purchasing:
We also replaced the plastic wingnuts on the kennel with metal ones. This was recommended by several sites since some airlines require it. However, I don’t believe that British does.
The UK has very strict rules about who, how, and when your pet needs to be microchipped. Your dog must be microchipped before, or at the same time as, their rabies vaccination.3 You also have to document this fact, including having the microchip number clearly written on the paperwork.4
The USDA APHIS site has the best information on this:
The UK is very diligent when checking rabies vaccinations and there are two very important things that must be understood:
WARNING: This is what ultimately required Ezra to go to quarantine for three weeks. Ezra received his rabies booster 1 year and three days after his primary rabies vaccine was given. Furthermore, while the the rabies booster Ezra received is considered by some countries to be an approved primary vaccine, it is not approved by the USDA as a primary vaccine. Thus, Ezra had to be re-vaccinated in the UK (and wait three weeks in quarantine).
This is a relatively easy in principle, but has some important timing requirements:
The treatment must have been given no less than 24 hours and no more than 120 hours (5 days) before you enter the UK. It also must be recorded on third-country official veterinary certificate.
Check the vet has put the following details in the ‘Echinococcus treatment’ section of your dog’s pet passport or certificate:
Your vet will need to complete the EU Health Certificate, which I believe is legally called the “Model animal health certificate for the non-commercial movement into a Member State from a territory or third country of dogs, cats or ferrets in accordance with Article 5(1) and (2) of Regulation (EU) No 576/2013.”
I’ve also seen this referenced as “SANTE/7013/2016-EN ANNEX Rev. 1” and the UK typically calls it either a “third-country official veterinary certificate” or “Health certificate for pets entering the EU from non-EU countries and some territories”
Regardless of what you call it, it’s all the exact same form.
USDA APHIS has published both an example form and a blank PDF template you can easily fill out:
Note: original sources are listed below.
Once your vet completes this form, you will take it to the USDA APHIS for final review, signatures, and stamping (see below).
You will also receive an Official Animal Health Certificate.
With all your paperwork you now must visit the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). The closet office to Seattle is located in Tumwater. They will review the forms prepared by your vet and sign everything off.
Dropoff is relatively easy, though a bit nerve wracking. This is where everything comes together and you find out if you’ve done it right, knowing that if something is wrong you probably won’t have time to fix it. No pressure.
Get to the cargo dropoff at least four hours before your flight (make sure your dog has had one last final bathroom break).
They’ll review your paperwork and then you’ll pay. They’ll also do a quick once over of the kennel and your pet. British even takes pictures. Say goodbye and then off you go!
Once you’ve landed, you’ll go through passport control, collect your luggage, and go through immigration. It will take a few hours for the Animal Reception Centre (ARC) to receive your pet and process him. You can hang out at the terminal, or you can you hang out at the ARC.
In theory, once they clear him they just hand him over and you’re all set.
If you’re unlucky, as we were, your pet may be subject to quarantine.
This is not the end of the world.
Quarantine for us was just three weeks. ARC will provide you a list of approved facilities (we selected Eyersdown Farm Kennels, since they were the closest to us — they took wonderful care of Ezra).
The facility will arrange transport of your pet from ARC. They will also take care of inoculating your pet and doing whatever else is needed.
Note that while you won’t be able to see your beloved family member at ARC, you will be able to visit and play with him while in quarantine. We visited Ezra at least once a week.
In total, it was about $900 (for three weeks), all inclusive:
To put that into perspective: most kennels charge about $30/day for boarding ($210/week). So it’s really not too much more than if you were to go on vacation for three weeks and leave your dog behind.
or cat or ferret ↩
There are a few exceptions for guide dogs ↩
If you don’t, they will need to be vaccinated again. ↩
This caused us several headaches because some of the older vet paperwork omitted one of the zeros from the ID number ↩
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Here are some deets on the process of getting my license in the UK so you’re not into the nitty gritty, or aren’t planning on moving to the UK anytime soon (totally understandable) feel free to skim this post. But if you’re a curious cat, by all means dig in (meow)
I (Rachel) passed my driving test last month and am pretty pumped about it! I just received my drivers license in the mail am considering framing it 🙂 I would if my picture wasn’t the required level of terrible for such things.
Here is a not bad picture of me immediately after passing my driving test
Andrew passed his test back in March after having to reschedule due to a freak snow storm (link). Our US licenses allowed us to drive in the UK for 12 months, requiring us to get UK licenses after March of this year. We both drove our rental car without incident since we arrived in March 2017.
Some friends and acquaintances have seemed surprised that I drive in the UK as many of the expat wives refuse to drive (not sure if it’s fear or disinterest) but I never gave it a second thought. It may be something in my nature:
Full disclosure: even though I’m a confident and arguably good driver it was stressful to drive in the UK initially as it required me to reprogram my brain! Andrew, who had been driving in the UK frequently during 2016, was a good coach and gave me a few tips that helped put my mind at ease. So when March came to a close it was time to get back in the saddle…
The Theory Exam
Actually, back in the office chair: the practical exam can only be registered for once you pass your theory exam. I spent about 6-8 hours studying the material as I wanted to be sure to pass the first time. Luckily “there is an app for that” which prepared me well for the exam.
The test includes videos where the test taker is required to click on the screen when a hazard emerges. There is a five second gap during which you can click and the test taker is assigned points based on how early the hazard is identified. This part of the test was a bit crazy making for me as I never felt sure if something on the screen (car, pedestrian, cyclist) was considered a hazard or just a normal part of traffic. A car starting to pull out of a driveway may not initially be a hazard, but if they proceed to pull out in front of you, they are a hazard. But at what point is the determination made when the car changes from not a hazard to a hazard? If you click too much you fail that section of the test. “Click the screen! but not too much! click now! no, now! not now! you clicked too much! don’t click on the cat!” Ahhh!
After I passed the written theory exam I began driving lessons. I spent about 2 months taking 1 lesson per week. The average is for students to take about 10 lessons so I’m perfectly average 🙂 Luckily I had a very good and chill driving instructor who Andrew and his co-worker, Robb, both recommended.
Here are main things I worked on:
The Practical Exam
The actual test was 40 minutes and included
In the weeks leading up to my test I learned that a maneuver could be attempted more than once. This made me feel like the test could be easily passed. But then I learned that doing the maneuvers correctly was not sufficient: every action must be done “in a safe manner”. This means always checking your blind spots and swiveling your head round and round like an owl to make “adequate” observations of emerging hazards. So not only do you need to execute maneuvers and drive around, you need to ensure you are always swiveling your head, which sounds easy but took practice for me to do consistently. For example, I was able to perfectly parallel park, but if I wasn’t checking my mirrors and blind spots while doing so, I would fail the test. :/
My instructor was very good at helping me to become more observant and swivel my head like a doll. There are lots of videos online with info about the test that helped me prepare but ultimately the test came down to staying calm and confident, but not too calm to the point of complacency. I had a lesson right before my test where I remember telling myself silently “don’t freak out” as I had drove over a curb and was getting too in my head about the test.
The Big Day
On test day I was pretty calm. I passed my mock exam and felt confident I could pass. Things went well with the exception of when I had to pass a cyclist: my confidence wained momentarily when I had to navigate oncoming traffic and the cyclist. I completely support sharing the road and love to ride my bike but this emergent situation was not something I had extensively practiced like every other aspect of the test. This is not something I would normally stress about but having the instructor evaluating me made me doubt myself. Skinny roads + cyclists + oncoming traffic = 🙁
In the end I passed with only one mistake! (You are allowed up to 15) My instructor was pretty sinking happy too and gave me a great big hug! It was such a relief to pass!
I remember my driving test at 15 being super easy and kind of a joke compared to the work that went into ensuring I passed in the UK. My high school offered driver’s ed and had a minimal cost compared to the hundreds of £s paid for the tests and driving lessons: the grand total was in excess of £500.
While I dreaded the lessons and the tests were stressful I’m glad I polished up my driving and learned how to navigate roundabouts with confidence. I wish I would have taken a few lessons when I first moved here to clear up confusion, especially about the dreaded roundabouts. Being informed has made me more confident and the process taught me good skills that I can practice in the UK and the US. And now I even know how to flip someone off in the UK! (It’s with 2 fingers!) (Not that I’m ever going to do that…hehe)
So glad to have that crossed off my list! Rachel’s Taxi Rides at your Service!
Here’s what my license looks like. Do you like my blonde hair? My license is good for 10 years although technically I’m supposed to relinquish it when I am no longer a resident but I’m definitely keeping it for my scrapbook! I earned it!
When I moved to Seattle in 2012, Andrew and I were not yet engaged and I struggled to find my place in the Emerald City. A group of women living next door to Andrew’s Green Lake bachelor pad reached out to me and became fast friends. Out of that group a women’s bible study was born. This bible study later morphed into a book group held at a house in Queen Anne inhabited by some of those same women. This group of women became one of the most important communities of my Seattle life. Once a week we gathered for prayer, fellowship, laughter, tears and some zaniness. Sometimes we would even discuss a book. The group was a constant in my life. A safe place where honesty was always welcomed.
A few months ago the rent on their Queen Anne house was raised to an untenable level necessitating the relocation of said friends. While this is bitter, there is also sweetness, as one friend is moving out of state to pursue a dream and another just got engaged. These are happy things, and yet, I struggle: The band is breaking up (on good terms) and I am mourning the loss of a community hub.
The houses inhabited by these women were the location for general hang-outs, celebrations, movie binges, house parties, low-key and fancy dinners, and general merry making. The number of friendships and romances that were born and tended in these houses is a credit to my friends. I want to emulate the way they prioritized community and hospitality. In these houses our community had a place to land and was always welcome. What will I come back to? Will there be a house where we all gather? Do I have a part to play?
While I couldn’t have verbalized this a year ago, I realize now I had the idea that I would return to a Seattle untouched by time. Like Sleeping Beauty, I believed that I could enter a state of altered reality and the world would do the same, waiting for me. The reality is that friends are buying houses, getting engaged, married and having kids. A golden era may be ending.
Lately, I’ve really come to embrace what I call the “greyness of life” in which two, seemingly opposite things are true simultaneously. I can be wonderfully happy in my present circumstance, while also being sad that something beautiful is ending, changing and shifting. “How am I?” “I’m happy AND I’m sad.”
In my brain, I know that something new and equally delightful may come into my life or a new iteration of that community life may emerge. But right now, in my heart, I’m sad. I am surprised and sad to realize that something I thought of as a constant will no longer look the same when I return. It makes me feel a little naive and a bit vulnerable to admit.. But that’s where I am. And I’m going to sit with my sadness for a while.
Life changes and people move on, but I’m not quite ready to do that yet. ~
When we moved to the UK in March of last year the official plan was to stay 10-12 months. When we moved, we didn’t know how long we would stay, as 10 months seemed like a long time. But as December approached, we knew we weren’t quite ready to quit our adventure. We choose to extended our stay another 9 months through to August 2018.
We’re excited to announce that, while we aren’t coming home to Seattle in August, we have set a date! Our last chapter in this book will wrap up at the end of this year.
We still have some things to cross off our UK bucket list but feel our hearts being drawn back home. Friends in the states are expecting babies, getting married, and making big life changes and we believe it’s important to be around for such events — especially after missing out on some of these things while we’ve been abroad. We’re also missing our Seattle church family and community. And finally, while Andrew could continue with his current position with work in the UK, he has accomplished much of what he came here to do.
Several questions remain:
There is still time to visit, British summers are wonderful 🙂
Drone (DJI Spark) footage from our trip to Galway and Cliffs of Moher, Ireland in April 2018.
Soundtrack is a remix (by myself) of “Celtyc dream” by Damiano_Baldoni (released under CC BY-NC-SA) and is also licensed under a Creative Commons License (CC BY-NC-SA).
Photos should be posted later this week.