What to Know About Traveling Internationally With Your Dog

Published August 2, 2022
traveler woman and her dog at the airport. information screens background.

Traveling with your dog is one of the most exciting parts of being a dog owner, but it's also one of the most challenging. This can be especially true when you're traveling internationally, as there are specific rules and regulations for taking a dog out of their home country. Luckily, there are plenty of tips and tricks that will help make your international trip go smoothly and if you plan ahead, they'll even make it safe and enjoyable.

International Pet Travel Regulations

You'll want to research the international pet travel regulations of each country you plan on traveling with your dog. The laws and regulations vary by country, and it's important to make sure you understand what is required before attempting to enter another country with your dog. It's also good practice to be prepared for any changes in policy that may occur between now and the time you travel.

Some countries require a microchip, health certificate, rabies vaccination, or blood test. You may need other vaccinations depending on where you are traveling as well as proof that they were administered after they were given. You will need to grab these records from your veterinarian.

In general, the following are required by all countries:

  • The following is a list of international pet travel regulations:
  • All pets must have an implanted microchip
  • All pets must be healthy, well-fed, and have current vaccinations (including rabies)
  • Pets must be at least 8 weeks old to travel internationally. (And if traveling to or from Hawaii, they must have an approved health certificate.)
  • Pets must have been in your possession for at least 48 hours before you depart the United States; this includes any time spent in quarantine at an approved facility.
  • Your pet's carrier needs to be large enough for your pet to stand up, turn around, and lie down comfortably; the carrier must also have adequate ventilation.

Vaccinations and Health Certificate

You'll have to make sure that your dog is up to date on rabies and distemper vaccinations. If your dog isn't up-to-date on its rabies vaccination, you may be required by law to get it done before you travel.

A health certificate is another requirement for international travel with dogs. The certificate should show that your dog is healthy, fit, and free from any contagious diseases. It's a good idea to schedule a checkup before traveling with your pet internationally, just in case there are any issues you haven't been aware of until now.

Check with Your Airline

The next task you'll want to accomplish involves checking with your airline. Some airlines don't allow pets, so make sure that your airline allows dogs and that they have an open policy on having them on board.

Then, check with your destination airport, city, and country's customs and immigration officers when it comes time to depart from the country and return home. Some countries require people traveling with pets to have special documents or permits to do so legally while others do not require anything at all.

Your Dog's Carrier

small dog pomeranian spitz in a travel bag on board of plane

Before you go, make sure your dog is used to the carrier. Your dog should be comfortable with the carrier so that when you put them in it at an unfamiliar location they won't panic or try to run away. When putting your dog into their carrier, it's best if they are on a leash so you control them quickly if necessary.

Microchip Your Dog

If you're traveling with your dog, it's important to microchip your pet.

A microchip is a tiny electronic device that's implanted under the skin and carries a unique ID number. The number can be used to identify your dog in case they become lost or missing. Microchips are about the size of a grain of rice and are injected into your dog's shoulder area using a syringe. In most cases, there are no side effects, and recovery time is usually very quick.

The chips are generally placed between the shoulder blades where they cannot be seen by the human eye. However, if you want to see where the chip is located, ask your veterinarian when they insert it into your pet's body. If you're planning on traveling internationally with your dog, make sure they have been microchipped before departing for their destination.

Returning to the United States

When returning to the U.S. from another country, you may need to prove that your dog meets U.S. import requirements. You may also need to pay fees and obtain certain documents before boarding your flight. The USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, APHIS, regulates the importation of dogs and cats into the United States.

If you are traveling to the United States with your dog, you must have a rabies vaccination certificate that is valid for at least 30 days beyond the date of your arrival. The vaccination must be administered by a licensed veterinarian and include the following information:

  • The name of the dog being vaccinated
  • The owner's name, address, and phone number
  • The date of birth or age of the dog
  • The type of vaccine used (rabies)
  • The serial number or lot number from the manufacturer's label on the vaccine container, if available. This information is not required but may help facilitate inspection at ports of entry.

The United States Department of Agriculture, or USDA, is responsible for issuing passports to pets entering or leaving the country. Dogs must have a USDA form 7001-9 completed in order to enter or leave the country.

Get Everything Together

If you plan ahead and make sure that your dog is healthy and up to date on vaccinations, as well as having the right paperwork and carrier, travel can be a breeze. Consider your dog's demeanor and comfort level. If you have an older pet who has never been in a carrier before or is uncomfortable with them in general, take some time before your departure date to train them so they get used to it.

Take precautions when flying with your pet. Airlines require separate carriers for cats and dogs depending on their size and weight requirements, so double-check these requirements before booking flights; airlines also typically require certain vaccinations for pets traveling internationally. Check online for more information about what's required by specific airlines before booking flights outbound from the United States; some countries require pets entering from other countries to have proof of rabies vaccination. Make sure this is included in any paperwork issued by local authorities at the point of entry into foreign soil.

Make the Trip Stress-free

Most people want to take their dogs on vacation, but they are worried about the stress it will put on their pets. There are many steps you can take to make your dog's travel experience as stress-free and comfortable as possible. Take some time to research the regulations for international pet travel and make sure everything is in order before you leave for your destination. If you do these things ahead of time then traveling with your dog will be a breeze.

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What to Know About Traveling Internationally With Your Dog