International travel with a pet can be stressful. One way to ease the stress is to be fully prepared. If you’ve never flown internationally with a pet before, we are here to give you some simple ways to be prepared.
We recommend starting the research and planning at least 30-40 days before your travel date to make sure you have enough time to take care of the recommended protocols. The list below includes topics for planning a trip from the United States to an international location.
1. Research your airline’s pet policy.
The first step in safe and efficient international flight travel with your pet is understanding your airline’s pet policy. The size of your pet and the breed will determine whether you can bring your pet in the cabin with you, or if your pet will need to be stowed underneath. There are also specific kennel instructions that need to be followed.
2. Book a direct flight.
This helps shorten the length of your trip, reduces stress on your pet, and prevents mishaps with pet transfer between planes. Some airlines will not accept pets to travel on their aircraft if a flight is longer than 12 hours, and this includes both in the cabin and in the cargo area. If your destination requires more than 12 hours in a plane, you may need to consider a layover.
3. Talk to a veterinarian.
Your vet is the best source of information when it comes to going on a plane with your pet. Health risks are very real with flight travel, so talking with your veterinarian will help you determine if this is the safest mode of transportation for your particular pet. They will also help you determine if your pet meets foreign pet health requirements.
4. Get an International Health Certificate.
Some airlines require a health certificate in order to fly, but if they don’t you will need one for arrival into a new country. Health certificates must be issued by a licensed veterinarian who examines the pet within 10 days of departure. Check with your veterinarian for specific information.
5. Get in contact with the embassy or consulate of your destination country for pet regulations.
You may be able to find this information online or you can give them a call.
6. Know the requirements for getting your pet back into the U.S.
Contact the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) before you leave for information and requirements for getting your pet back into the United States after your travel is over, or when you are ready to re-enter the U.S. They will also be able to give you any additional advice on international travel in general. Visit www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/pet-travel/ to review requirements by country for exporting your pet and for getting your pet back into the U.S.
7. Know how you will get your pet from point A to point B.
The U.S. Department of State provides 3 options for your pet’s travel:
8. If your pet is returning to the U.S. as Manifest Cargo:
You will want to review this site https://www.state.gov/m/fsi/tc/34600.htm for U.S. Customs and Border Protection regulations.
9. Review these tips.
Review these tips for shipping your pet provided by the U.S. Department of State here: www.state.gov/m/fsi/tc/34594.htm.
10. Know how to label your pet’s crate/kennel.
The U.S. Department of State provides a great diagram on what your kennel labeling should look like https://www.state.gov/documents/organization/247119.pdf
11. Make sure your pet has proper identification.
This includes I.D tags containing the owner’s name and phone number, contact information for the place you will be staying and, and a microchip that gives your pet a permanent form of identification in the case the I.D tags are lost. If your pet already has a microchip, ensure the contact information is up to date and include information for your travel destination.
12. Understand the extra fees associated with international travel.
Some airlines may charge an extra fee if your pet is traveling internationally to cover customs clearance, storage of your pet upon arrival, shipping rates, or any other services used during your travel.
13. Carry a color photo of your pet.
This should be attached to your pet’s crate for easy identification in case they escape.
14. Pack any items your pet needs.
Including a bed, medication, toys, water, leash and food.
15. Talk to the airline staff
When you arrive at the airport, make sure the airline staff knows you have a pet with you. Whether you are taking your pet on the plane with you, or if he or she will be in the cargo hold, notifying the staff will help make sure your pet gets what he or she needs, especially if there is a delay and your pet is waiting to be put in the cargo area. They can help you ensure your pet receives proper care, including food and water.
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