I don't want to admit the hours I have spent worrying about getting Stella into India with us. She is a source of great joy in our lives and to not have her with us would be devastatingly heart-breaking.
After all of my worry and research I've learned the bottom line is this: there are airline- and country-specific regulations and they are subject to change. Furthermore, using the internet to search for clarity is like using Google to self-diagnose symptoms in the middle of the night: the common cold easily turns into CERTAIN DEATH SYNDROME. Cue panic. Which is exactly what happened to me a few nights ago when I thought we had missed a deadline to get Stella's NOC. I don't wish that kind of dread on anyone so here's some info that I hope will be helpful if you're in a similar situation.
The best sources for information for us ended up being: the USDA office and website, our airline websites and customer service centers, and a pet relocation company in India.
Here is a list of steps we took and the documents we obtained for import along with some notes on each. I want to point out that this is only our experience and as I mentioned before, regulations change. Your case may be different depending on how old this post is when you read it, where you're coming from, what airline you're flying, what kind of dog you have, and a slew of other variables.
I've listed them by the order in which we completed them because we needed some of them in order to get the others:
-- Annexure I form
-- Vaccination records
-- A copy of every page in the primary owner's passport, (very important to scan the Indian visa)
-- A copy of primary owner's job offer letter to support that we are transferring residency
-- Copy of Airway Bill (air shipment) and Bill of Lading (sea shipment) from our household goods shipments to support transfer of residency
-- Copies of our plane tickets
-- Recent picture of Stella
-- There are also additional forms and letters we needed to fill out, but they supplied us with the templates so that it was relatively easy to just put our information in.
Right now we are waiting for the Bill of Lading from our household goods shipment, which we can't get until our liaison in India clears it for transit. After that, our pet relocation agent will get our No Objection Certificate and we should be cleared to fly. It is my understanding that we will not receive the NOC, but rather it will be kept on file for retrieval upon our arrival by the quarantine officer.
We're flying Lufthansa from Newark (EWR) to Frankfurt (FRA) to Mumbai (BOM), and Jet Airways to Pune (PNQ) over a two day span. We chose Lufthansa and Jet Airways because they were recommended to us by several people. They only allow a small number of pets on their planes, and dealing with them has been smooth so far.
Frankfurt has a Pet Hotel where the airline will feed, water, and take Stella to the bathroom during our 5-hour layover. We need to fly into Mumbai before heading to Pune because only certain airports have quarantine centers that can process animals. They are: Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, and Kolkata.
We used our airline's websites to guide us through setting up her crate, and I'll post pictures when it's all set up.