We started this website with the intent of making sure that when it comes to airline pet travel, travelers have an organized source where all of the necessary pet travel information can be found in one place. We’ve collected and published a lot of information for domestic travel, covering a large selection of US-based airlines and airports.
In listening to feedback from our audience, we recognize there is a need to provide this type of information for international pet travel as well. What follows is our general guide for international pet travel. For a full list of the airlines we’ve covered, international and domestic, take a look at our Airline Pet Policy and Travel Reservation guide.
How to Travel Internationally with a Pet
International travel can be a very enriching experience. While most pet owners don’t take their animals on a short vacation, there are other times when it’s necessary to bring your pets along with you, like for a permanent relocation or a longer stay abroad. Bringing an animal internationally comes with its own unique requirements, and we’re working to bring you the best available information on airline policies as well as international import and export guidelines for animals.
One of the more difficult aspects of traveling with a pet internationally is getting organized. Different countries have different laws, and you may have to acquire various health documentations and exams from your veterinarian prior to your travels. Depending on your destination and the length of time you’ll be there, you may also need to get visas and arrange for your pet to go through a period of quarantine. All of these requirements might make some pet owners apprehensive to travel with their animals, but rest assured that it’s not impossible. By expanding the number of airlines we cover, we’re working hard to help you iron out the details in your travel plans.
People who require service animals, for instance, will find most international airlines have similar regulations and protections—at least for service dogs in particular. Many airlines are also more accommodating than ever before to people that will need to bring their emotional or psychiatric support animals. While many airlines are more welcoming to these animals, each airline has slightly different requirements that should be checked before you make your travel plans.
FAQs about International Pet Travel
To help bring more clarity to this topic, we’ve created a FAQ for some of the questions we get the most. Hopefully, this will answer some of your initial questions and help you get started planning your travel. Note that many of these answers will ultimately depend on your final destination.
What kind of health documents will I need to have for my animal?
This will depend on the breed and species of animals that you have. For many people, the first step will be to ask their vet if their animal is healthy enough for international travel. Generally, you will at least want to get copies of vaccine records. Additionally, if your dog is an emotional or psychiatric support animal, you will likely need to get documentation from your doctor or psychiatrist.
Which kinds of animals are not allowed on planes at all?
In most cases, snub-nosed dogs are prohibited from traveling by air. Snub-nosed refers to dogs or cats that have a shorter snout than usual, also known as brachycephalic animals. It might initially be upsetting to know that these dogs aren’t allowed on planes, but it’s really for their safety. The snouts on these animals to prevent them from getting enough air into their lungs while in-flight. There is also the possibility that they could overheat because they cannot pant as effectively. Dogs like bulldogs, pugs, boxers, and several others are not allowed on planes.
How can I send an animal abroad unaccompanied?
Many people find it necessary to ship an animal. If this is you, you will need to make yourself aware of the import and export laws associated with the animal’s destination and be sure to fulfill them. Then, you can book your animal onto a cargo plane and send your animal without human accompaniment. It can then be picked up at the airport or delivered to its destination using a pet transport service, which some airports even provide.
What happens if I have an overnight layover and I get separated from my pet?
Some airlines, like Air Canada for example, prefer to board a pet in an airport kennel rather than have its owner pick it up and put it through security again in the morning. This may also help both the pet and its owner keep stress low. Double check the airline’s policies first. If you are flying through a major city, or through an airline’s headquarters, there may be more options for overnight boarding.
What do I need to know about bringing my service animal on a plane?
The Americans with Disabilities Act requires that service animals should be accepted in public spaces without proof of disability, but this does not fully apply on airplanes. However, under the Air-Carrier Accessibility Act, or ACAA, airlines should try to accommodate you and your service animal. To make things go smoother, notify the airline you will be travelling with at least 48 hours prior to your flight. Service dogs usually fly free of charge.
There are several other requirements for emotional and psychiatric assistance animals. While these animals and their owners are usually welcome on the plane, there are some necessary documents to complete. These will vary based on the airline.
What if I’m not flying into a major city?
Sometimes, animals will need to go through the largest airport in a country, or through an airport in a major city. Not all airports have kennels and other equipment needed to house and care for animals, even for a short amount of time. When you book your flight, check to make sure that your animal can come through to your final destination, or if you will need to utilize a local animal transportation service.
Planning for International Pet Travel
Traveling with animals can be difficult and confusing when you don’t have all the information you need. We’re working to make it easier to book reservations and prepare for international travel with a pet.