Dog sitting in his transporterWhile your cat or dog isn’t able to help you navigate, he or she could be great company on a trip abroad. Whether you’re preparing to move abroad, traveling for work or leisure, or just make a visit across the border, international pet travel requires advanced preparation. As part of our focus on pet travel and roadtrips with your pet, we put together the following basics to help orient you skyward or onward to your foreign destination. Also consider contacting a professional pet travel business like Bring Fido to help with your pet travel plans.

Certain Specifications

Before starting the process, assess whether or not your pet is up for traveling across an ocean or continent. Senior and young pets, as well as infirm or antisocial animals, have considerable needs that can preclude international travel. If you’ve decided that your fur friend is up for the adventure, it’s time to start planning!

Your international travel destination may gladly welcome your four-legged friend, but expect to jump through a few hoops (some places require a 6-month quarantine) to satisfy your host country or countries about your pet’s health.

For your own peace of mind, microchip your pet before you travel, check that the chip registration information is up to date, and make sure that identification tags are correct and securely fastened.

Canada and Mexico

Any travel out of the U.S. can be tricky with your pet, but the borders of Mexico and Canada are relatively easy for pet owners. You’ll definitely need a valid rabies certificate and proof that your pet is free from any communicable diseases, typically verified on a veterinarian-signed health certificate. As part of your international pet travel research, we recommend checking on your destination’s pet regulations, and where you can legally take your pet. Then contact your veterinarian to plan vaccinations in advance and schedule a pre-travel exam. Waiting until a day or two before your trip to contact us means your pet may not be ready to travel in time.

Overseas Travel

Just one more reason to love Europe, many countries in the EU accept a pet passport for pets to travel legally and safely through borders without quarantine. The health certificate showing proof of wellness, lack of parasites, and current vaccinations, plus microchip information will be necessary for the passport though. Our two cents: Make sure you also understand the rules of traveling on trains and buses in (and between) European cities, and where your pet is (or isn’t) allowed.

Certain common diseases in the U.S. are not present in Australia or New Zealand. You’ll have to complete import protocols, known as AQIS. You can travel between Australia and New Zealand without a mandatory 3-day quarantine, but if it’s your first visit to either country, your pet will have to go through the process.

The bottom line is that whether your destination is India or Israel, your pet must have proof of health to protect pets in your destination country. He or she must also remain protected from diseases they may be exposed to while away from home. See Pet Relocation for a country-by-country guide to import regulations.

International Pet Travel Concerns

Now to the nitty-gritty of flying with your pet. Will he or she remain with you in the cabin or be checked in as baggage? This depends on your pet’s size and whether or not the travel crate will fit beneath the seat in front of you. Otherwise, while it’s stressful to imagine, your cat or dog must endure the long international flight alongside other larger pets and cargo. You must check with your particular airline for restrictions and fees, and present your pet’s health certificate within 10 days of your vet signing it.

  • If traveling to a hot spot, try to book a flight that lands at night; flying to a cold place, book a flight that lands during the warmest hours of the day
  • Book a flight with the least amount of stops or layovers
  • Exercise your pet before checking him or her in, although the crate you choose will be large enough for your pet to stand in and turn around, excessive or nervous energy can negatively affect the in-flight experience. For additional crate specifications, review the International Air Transport Association (IATA) website.
  • Offer a small meal a couple hours before departure, as your pet probably won’t eat a lot, if at all, during the flight

At Your Destination

Plan your hotel and transportation at your destination well in advance and ensure that they are pet friendly and expecting your pet to accompany you.

Blue Skies

Planning for international pet travel can be challenging, but can be worth all the worry and is sometimes unavoidable. We hope our tips make this less stressful on you and your pet. The Pet Experts at Naperville Animal Hospital will do all we can to make sure your pet is travel ready, and hope you’ll call us with any questions.