Tuesday we leave for the Dominican Republic. I am happy to say that Spanish class is a thing of the past, and the Consular training flew by in six short weeks. Highlights included a visit to the DC Medical Examiners, numerous mock visa interviews, and some crisis management that gave me the chance use those high school drama club skills!
Somehow I managed to get our visas, submit the paperwork to ship our car, arrange for pack-out number two, figure out what Dave needed to ship the pets, and check-out of FSI and Main State without screwing something up. There were a few moments where we were close to fouling up the whole process. But we made it, and I hope nothing has been forgotten. Here are my tips:
1. If you car is registered in Virginia, or in any state that has electronic titles, it may take several weeks to several months to get a paper copy. Luckily were were able to use something called a title transcript that cost us 25 dollars and was accepted by the shippers.
2. Know the restrictions and rules on shipping pets to your country of destination. Like the back of your hand. I'm not kidding. We spent hours and hours making sure we were right about the regulations so we could straighten out our pet shipper. She was confused about what was required for the Dominican Republic and the airlines. It would have cost us an additional 300.00 dollars if we did it her way. The main hang-up was the USDA certificate of health and whether or not we needed a countersignature. We didn't, I think. Mostly it is needed for the European Union. Although we checked with the US Embassy in the DR, the DR's own Embassy here in DC, the agriculture service in the DR and the airlines, the shipper still insisted. I hope we are right.
3. Another note on the dogs: if your dog is taller than 10 inches and it is summer when you fly, remember that almost all airlines will not fly warm-blooded creatures if the temperature is over 85 degrees. We decided to ship the dogs as cargo to avoid potentially being grounded while we wait for the temperature to fall. It is a little scary because it means we are leaving before them, not traveling with them, and have to hope that they arrive safely in one piece. And it is more expensive. But I'd rather not be late for my first day at the Embassy because it was too hot for the plane to take off.
4. About the pack-out. There are a lot of things you can take with you to a new post, even if it is not a consumables post. If you only plan to ship 5,000lbs of stuff, take the opportunity to buy non-perishable things like dried spices, shampoo, kids toys, etc. Usually the allowance is 7200lbs to post.
You'll likely hear from me more now that we are actually getting ready to depart to post. However, the rumor is that we often start business at the Embassy as early as 7:00. Yesh. We'll see how motivated I am to blog at the end of the day.