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How to Travel with Pets

Put the dog in the carrier—check. Put the passport in the bag—check. Traveling with pets being this easy? Uncheck! Traveling with pets sounds simple, but in reality it is an arduous process, especially when moving abroad. Follow these guidelines to ensure you and your pet travel safely around the world.

Mode of Transportation
Depending on the destination, travelers may choose to drive, fly or sail to their vacation spot. First, it is important to figure out what mode of transportation is best for your pet. Things to consider are bathroom, food and play breaks.

Airline Policies
For those traveling across country or moving abroad, it is important to check airline policies. Some airlines do not allow in-cabin pets because they fly, or stopover to island countries, such as the UK, where pet quarantine and imports follow strict rules. Make sure your carrier meets dimension and material requirements. Every airline differs, but check with the airlines to see if they require an airline health certificate.

Country Import / Export Policies
For those traveling abroad with pets, contact the USDA Veterinary and the Center for Disease Control website for every country’s import and export regulations (including the USA). Most countries require a health certificate that is certified within a certain timeframe of landing in the country. Pets may have to visit a USDA certified vet pet export instead of their traditional veterinarian.

Veterinary Advice
For pets that are vocal or have issues being in tight spaces, talk to your veterinarian about the best travel approach. Not all pets can handle tranquilizers because of altitude side effects. Veterinarians can best recommend if a nonstop versus stopover flight works best so the pet can have a break. Pets who fly in the luggage area may benefit from nonstop flights as taxiing (due to extreme cold or hot climates) is what increases the risk for error.

Airline and country regulations may require a pet to have a microchip. However, not all microchips are made equal. Many abroad destinations require an “ISO Certified” microchip, which is a 15-digit microchip number. If your pet currently has a microchip, contact the USDA Veterinary pet export staff to determine whether the pet can have two microchips implanted, or must surgically remove the non-ISO microchip.

Some countries are rabies free countries, which will require proof of the pet’s current rabies certificate. In addition to rabies, pets may be required to be updated on other vaccinations to enter the country. The USDA Veterinary website displays every country’s vaccination requirements.


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