If you’ve flown with an animal, you understand that finding an airline-approved carrier and navigating the airport is only half the battle. Researching and securing the required documentation for your destination takes time and patience. Government websites are notoriously confusing, and finding the necessary information can take hours. We know. We’ve done the research for five of the most popular flight destinations around the world.
We hope to add to this list and update any information that changes. For now, here is the basic pet documentation and travel rules for the continental United States, Hawaii, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, and Hong Kong.
Flights into the Continental U.S. and Alaska
To enter the United States, the Center for Disease Control requires you to obtain an Export Health Certificate from your vet. This must be completed within ten days of your departure. Essentially, this document serves as a “fit to fly” letter—a professional recommendation that the animal will not be a liability for the airline. This document must be provided on a veterinarian’s letterhead.
Additional restrictions and rules apply to individual states. Information regarding the animal’s rabies inoculation is the most popular and widely spread necessary addition. When traveling to the United States, we recommend having this information on-hand regardless; upon vaccination, you will automatically receive a rabies certificate. If your dog is imported from a rabies-free country, such as Fiji, New Zealand, Uruguay, and Finland, the CDC will not require a rabies vaccination.
Flights into Hawaii
Hawaii is the major exception to the United States’ relatively lax pet import regulations. Animals arriving in the state of Hawaii—as well as the territory of Guam—are subject to quarantine requirements. These islands do not have any documented rabies cases, and they take this history very seriously. If you take the proper precautions, your animal may qualify for direct release. However, unless you are moving to the State of Hawaii (or taking a very, very long vacation), we do not recommend bringing your pet. If the dog even appears to be sick at the port of entry, he can be quarantined for up to 120 days—at your expense, nonetheless.
Flights into the U.K.
If you are bringing an animal into the United Kingdom, your pet must pass the U.K. Pet Travel Scheme. If you are traveling to the UK from an EU member or other designated country, you will need to obtain a pet passport for your dog, cat, or ferret. Additionally, if you are shipping your animal to the U.K., the pet must arrive no more than five days before or after you. Otherwise, you will need to follow a separate set of rules.
To pass this scheme, your animal must have a microchip implant and a certified rabies vaccination—pretty standard as far as pet travel goes. However, you should also treat your animal for ticks, fleas, and tapeworms anywhere between 24 and 48 hours before your flight. This time limit is strictly enforced. You should also collect a veterinarian’s letter or certificate to confirm the animal’s fitness to travel. Failure to conform to these regulations may result in up to four months of quarantine.
Flights into the UAE
If you are flying to the United Arab Emirates with a pet, you will need to obtain an Import Permit from the Ministry of Environment and Water (in Dubai). To receive this permit, you will need a vaccination card or certificate for each dog or cat you plan to bring. You must also supply a copy of your passport and the animal’s microchip number, which should be clearly marked on the vaccine book or microchip certificate.
You should obtain a veterinary health certificate from your home country and all rabies inoculation certificates (or a pet passport containing rabies inoculation details). The animal should be microchipped, and the rabies vaccination must be administered between one year and thirty days prior to the inbound flight. UAE authorities will not issue import papers more than one month prior to your arrival—it is necessary to plan ahead, get your documents in order, and apply for a permit as soon as you are within one month of your flight.
Flights into Hong Kong
To enter Hong Kong with an animal, you will need an Import Permit from the Hong Kong Agriculture, Fisheries, and Conservation Department. Distribution of this Import Permit will depend, in part, on your home country. When entering Hong Kong, you will need to look up which “Group” your country is in. These groups determine necessary documentation and likelihood of quarantine. If you are traveling from a Group I country, such as Australia, there is almost no likelihood of the animal going into quarantine. If you travel from a Group III country, such as Malaysia, your animal is subject to a minimum of four months in quarantine. To look up your country’s group, see the Agriculture, Fisheries, and Conservation Department’s website.
These groups will also determine the documentary necessary to secure a permit. Group I and Group II countries have the fewest required documents—a passport and veterinary health certificate. Animals from Group III countries have additional requirements, which can be found at the following link. The permit fee is HK$432—around US$55 at the time of publication. The permit will be delivered by mail to the address indicated on the application form.