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International Pet Travel

Traveling to an international destination with your pet? Whether you’re making a big move or just taking your best friend along for summer vacation, you’ll need to begin planning early and get a good grasp of the process for international pet travel before you book your tickets. Traveling with pets internationally can be much more challenging than domestic travel with pets because of long waiting periods, quarantine requirements and other importation regulations

For example, did you know?

  • Many countries prohibit certain breeds of dogs
  • Some countries require blood tests at least 6 months before departure
  • Some airlines restrict the breed or number of pets than can travel on a flight

This guide will assist fellow pet travelers understand the process and provide necessary information to plan your international pet travel. We highly recommend pet owners review the entire process to have a solid overall understanding of all the pieces before making reservations.

There are 5 areas pet owners need to review in preparation for international travel. All of these are important!

  1. Country Rabies Classification
  2. Country Pet Import Regulations (see below)
  3. Airline Pet Policies
  4. Preparing Your Pet for Air Travel
  5. Choosing a Pet Transport Service

Here is an outline of the steps you'll need to take to travel internationally. Please be sure to click on the links for important details.

Step 1: Determine Your Country's Rabies Classification

Rabies is the most serious disease that can be brought into a country by a dog, cat or ferret. The International Standards Organization classifies all countries by rabies risk into one of the following categories:
Rabies-Free Countries are considered to be free of rabies according to many country standards.
Rabies-Controlled Countries have rabies but there is good control of rabies in domestic animals and pets.
High-Rabies Countries are considered to have high rates of rabies according to many country standards.
    Pet owners traveling with dogs, cats or ferrets need to review the rabies risk of the country where they live and where they are going. This rating will determine the requirements needed to enter and re-enter any country and whether your pet will need to be quarantined. Almost every country in Europe is considered rabies-free, while the US is classified as only rabies-controlled.
    See Countries Rabies Classification for a full list of countries and how they are classified.

    Step 2: Review Your Countries Import Regulations

    Whether you are going for a short vacation or relocating permanently, you need to “import” him/her to the country you are going to and “import” him again to the country you are returning to.
    Review the pet import regulations of the country you are traveling from as well as those you are traveling to so you can be sure your pet will be allowed to re-enter your country of origin. You don’t want to end up not being able to get your pet back home so make sure you review the pet import requirements for both ends of your trip!
    Regardless of what country you are traveling to, you’ll need to see your vet. They are the best resource to assess your pet’s health for travel and help you complete the necessary paperwork required for health certifications. Each country has different requirements but depending on your destination, the process may include:
    1. Blood tests
    2. Vaccinations
    3. Microchips for identification
    4. International Health Certificates* (see Note below)
    It can involve quite a bit of time to get all of the various things you may need completed, so contact your vet as soon as you know you will be traveling.
    If the destination country’s requirements are not met, your pet may be detained or quarantined upon arrival.

    European Countries (EU) Travel

    The PETS Travel scheme was established to allow dogs, cats and ferrets traveling within European Countries (EU) or into the EU from selected non-EU countries to avoid being quarantined. EU resident dogs, cats and ferrets can, having travelled to any of the non-EU countries or territories shown in this list, can return to the UK under the Scheme. Pets that come from any of these countries can also enter the UK under PETS as long as they meet the requirements. Choose your country below to see the specific requirements. Note: Pets must not have been outside any of the EU or non-EU listed countries in the six (6) calendar months before traveling to the UK to be eligible.

    If you are located within the EU and are traveling to other EU countries, you need a Pet Passport. (See country import pet requirements below for full details)

    If you are located outside of the EU and are traveling to EU countries, you need an official veterinary certificate (aka Annex IV) and you will need to complete a declaration stating you will not sell your pet. (See country import pet requirements below for full details)

    Country Import Pet Requirements

    Please select your country to view their specific import requirements. We will continue to add countries on a regular basis. NOTE: These requirements only apply if you are traveling with 5 pets or less and they are only applicable to non-commercial purposes.

    If your country is not currently listed, please contact the embassy or consulate about importing pets

    You can find a list of Foreign Consular Offices in the United States on the Department of State's website. Keep in mind the following questions to try to determine the general restrictions and requirements for international pet travel:

    • What are the restrictions for importing a pet?
    • What are the local quarantine requirements?
    • What documents will I need to import my pet?
    • What are the age restrictions?
    • What special vaccinations should my pet have?
    • How will my pet clear customs?

    *Note: If the country to which you're traveling with your pet requires an international health certificate (IHC), determine if the IHC needs to be in the country's official language or if it requires an official stamp. IHC's are completed by an APHIS-accredited veterinarian who certifies the pet's health status, conducts tests and records test results for the individual pet being exported. In order for the certificate to be valid, it must be endorsed by a Veterinary Services area office. Locate the VS Area Office for your State. The APHIS area office for your state can also provide you with details regarding fees for United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) endorsements.

    Step 3: Review the Airlines Pet Policy

    If you are traveling by air, there are number of additional considerations to review before booking tickets. For example, the best time and day of the week to travel, pet sedation, use of pet transport services, to name a few, are some of the factors pet owners need to review before booking. Each airline has their own pet travel policies so pet owners should contact the airline carrier with which they plan to travel for its latest airline pet policies as they are subject to change at any time.

    Step 4: Prepare Your Pet

    Just like the rest of us, traveling is stressful for pets, especially flying. Understand how to keep them safe and reduce their stress by properly preparing them for travel by reviewing flying with pets and preparing your pet for flight which provides specifics on what to do, when to do it and provides guidance on sedating your pet.

    Step 5: Pet Transport Services

    Finally, Transport services are a must for a lot of pet owners. Whether you want to fly with your dog, ship your cat by air or send your chinchilla across the country by ground transport, pet transport services can help eliminate the guesswork and make the trip as stress-free as possible for you and your four-legged friend. See how to choose a reputable company to transport your pet.

    Other International Pet Travel Resources

    The following information is from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) website on Taking Your Pet to a Foreign Country.

    You may also want to see:

    Pet Safety on Airlines

    Preparing your pet for travel and reducing stress is critically important. Pets trying to escape from its kennel often result in injury to their paws and/or gums or lost pets. Escapes can be for several reasons, such as a dog can chew its way out of the kennel if it can get its upper and lower teeth between slits or holes in the plastic sufficient enough to apply force; dogs and cats are able to push the door open or partially open and escape; the kennel lock is broken or not properly latched; or the kennel itself is not properly and securely assembled. For more information on the types of injuries of transported pets, visit the Department of Transportation's consumer report page. Scroll down to the last page for animal incidents. The reports are by month and year.

    Helpful Links for Pet Owners

    How to Get Your Passport in a Hurry

    Kanetix Itinerary Planner -- online travel insurance resource includes information on travel insurance and pet insurance, among others

    International Travel: Resource Library




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