Airline Travel With Your Pet

As we get closer to the busy holiday travel season, it’s time to think about whether your pet is going to join you on your journey. We’ve addressed car travel here. Air travel can require more preparation, especially if you’re traveling to another country. As you will see below, traveling with your pet to another country may require many months of paperwork, vaccinating, tests and possibly even quarantine.

In general, small pets can ride in the airplane cabin with owners, as long as the pet is in a carrier that will fit under the seat in the plane. Larger animals must be checked as cargo, but they are placed in an area that is temperature and pressure regulated for safety. Many airlines do not allow pets in cargo during times of extreme temperatures, so keep that in mind when you are thinking of traveling during the summer or winter months. Tranquilization is not recommended (and may be prohibited) for pets in cargo. We can work with you to find other ways to calm your pet during travel if needed.

airline travel with your petWhen you’re traveling within the United States, it’s important to check with your airline to find out what their specific requirements are. You should check your airline’s website or call and speak to a representative as soon as you know your travel plans. This site has a good summary of different airlines’ requirements, but you should always confirm with the airline. Some airlines require a health certificate for interstate travel. If a health certificate is required, your veterinarian will need to examine your pet and fill out a government form stating that your pet is healthy. Most airlines want this certificate to be completed within 10 days before travel, so plan ahead and make an appointment as soon as you can.

Travel to locations outside of the United States can range from simple to very complicated. The first place to check for import requirements at your destination is on the USDA website.

This statement is taken from that site:

airline travel with your petGet started as soon as possible! The process could take a few weeks to many months, depending on the requirements of the importing country. Some countries require an isolation or quarantine period, lasting from weeks to months, before an animal is eligible for entry into that country. You should start investigating the requirements of your destination country as soon as you can.  Please inform your veterinarian of your travel plans as early as possible.  Their involvement is critical to the process.

From the USDA site, you can click on the country you are traveling to. You will be taken to the USDA information page about that country. From there, you can find out regulations, paperwork, certificates, and vaccine/testing requirements. You should look at this information as soon as you decide to bring your pet on an international trip, because many countries’ requirements are time-consuming and time sensitive. This is the time to contact your veterinarian at Animal Hospital of North Asheville also, so we can work together to make sure everything is completed properly before you leave.

airline travel with your petMany countries, particularly in Europe, require pets to have an international (ISO) microchip. Microchips can have several different radio frequencies in the United States, and most of them do not conform to the standard frequency in the rest of the world. Countries that require microchips also typically require that a rabies vaccine is given after the implantation of the chip, and that the chip number is on the rabies certificate. Often this process must be completed no less than 30 days before the travel date. A few countries, along with Hawaii, require a blood test to confirm that a pet is adequately protected against rabies. This test must be run by a certified lab at Kansas State University, and must be done within the country’s designated time frame. The most stringent countries, Australia and New Zealand, have such complex import regulations that it’s best to start planning about a year in advance and to work with an export company to make specific arrangements.

Once you have decided on your travel date, we will work with you to make sure all of the requirements are met. The final visit before you depart is typically scheduled 10 days before your flight, when your veterinarian will examine your pet, fill out a USDA health certificate, and complete any other paperwork that is required. All of this documentation, along with your pet’s original rabies certificate, must then be sent to the USDA export office in Albany, NY, for endorsement. We recommend sending the paperwork using an overnight shipping service, and sending a return airbill for the quickest turnaround of the paperwork. The USDA veterinarian will double check all of the documentation and make sure everything is correct, with the ultimate goal of making your pet’s entry into the destination as smooth as possible.

Whether you’re moving with your pet or visiting another state or country, we want your trip to be safe and enjoyable!