What is International Pet Travel and Transportation About?


Dog traveling in the mountains

Many travelers who have never brought their pets with them abroad don’t know the basics of international pet travel and can be intimidated out of pursuing it further. Traveling internationally with your dog or cat is often a much more straightforward affair than most people thing. There are 3 major important tasks you need to complete to be able to travel with your pet abroad but first you must begin with a very important one – timing. www.travelrows.com

Plan At Least 3 Months In Advance

Don’t book any kind of international travel plans less than 3 months in advance, since that’s the time it will take you to make the necessary preparations for most trips with your dog or cat. It takes time to organize the requirements, make the necessary veterinary appointments, have the paperwork approved, and allow for sufficient time for vaccinations to be shown effective. It sounds like quite a bit of work, and it is to an extent, but generally comes down to vet appointments and making arrangements with the airlines.

You’ll also need to call ahead to the airline you’ll be flying with and beware of any breed restrictions, crate requirements (almost all do), and if there is room on the flight if your pet is small enough for the cabin. Typically airlines only allow 2 pets total per flight in the cabin so by booking ahead you can be sure to get a spot. It’s important to do as more people are enjoying air travel with pets.

Origin And Destination

Your originating country and destination is what primarily determines the requirements you’ll be under. Generally if flying from the US to any EU country, you just need a valid rabies certification and signed note from the vet 10 days in advance. Coming back to the US from the EU you’ll need the same, as well as a bill of good heath. There are a few more forms as well, but it’s a straight forward process. Many EU nations are considered “rabies free” like Sweden, and flying anywhere from these places makes international pet travel much easier.

Many pet owners are worried about quarantine times – and while each country has their own requirements, pets from the US and EU won’t be held if the animal appears to be in good health and you have the appropriate paperwork with you. Islands, like Hawaii, Australia, and New Zealand however generally do have quarantine periods, although you can often shorten the time by arriving early in the day and paying for expedited service.

Breed Restrictions

You want to make sure that your breed of dog or cat is allowed where you are going. Many counties in the United States have restrictions against pit bulls, as do several airlines. The best place to find the appropriate information is through the embassy website of the country you are headed to. Don’t be shy and call directly if you have any questions. Also, keep in mind to call the hotel (if you’re staying at one) to see if it allows dogs and what kind.

International Pet Transportation

There are several ways your pets can travel with you internationally from one destination to the other. The first, and most common way, is in a special crate, checked in as luggage and placed at the bottom of the plane. For pets that are less than 25lbs (most airlines), then you can consider taking your dog or cat with you in the cabin. You’ll need an appropriate carrier for both; that means the pet carrier must meet the airline’s requirements for size, weight, and exterior material. These are the most common ways to bring your dog or cat along for international pet travel and consequently the cheapest. When you bring your pet along with you they are considered ‘luggage’ by the airline and charge you special rates around $200 for a single flight. It will also give you more peace of mind as you can see your pets immediately after landing, which reduces stress for you and your pets as well. When flying domestically you should see if Pet Airways flies anywhere along your route, it’s a great pet travel alternative.

Pets As Cargo

It is also possible to send your pets ahead of you or have a friend or family member send them to you after you’ve arrived at your destination. While many airlines offer this service, it is much more cumbersome and expensive. There are several things to consider, first of all, most airlines will charge you live cargo shipping rates, meaning each pet traveling will cost around $1,300-2,500, depending on the size and distance traveled. It is also much more complicated to ship pets as cargo internationally since any layovers may require additional paperwork and customs red tape.

Finally, when shipping your pets as cargo, you’re trusting the person dropping the pets off at the airport, the airline and staff the entire way, and won’t be able to track any problems or noticed them until the final destination. That said, sometimes shipping pets are cargo is the most logical choice in a given set of circumstances so know that it is an option in many cases.

Pet Travel Crates

A cat in a travel crateBefore you make any international travel arrangements with your pet, be sure to call all of the airlines you’ll be flying with and find out their pet crate and carrier requirements. All of them have minimum and maximum dimensions and often will require the bottom to have some absorbent or soft material on the inside, in case your dog or cat goes to the bathroom during flight. Finding crates that meet most airlines’ requirements is pretty easy and you can find them or order them online almost anywhere in the world.

Keep in mind once you’ve bought your crate that you need to verify it with the airlines you’ll be flying. Call them and give them the size, weight, and build information so they know well in advance and can tell you if something is missing or a crate is or isn’t acceptable. You don’t want to find out at the airport or during a layover on your way to your final destination.


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