If you think moving overseas is hectic and stressful, imagine how your pet feels! When traveling internationally with your pet, it’s important to learn the customs regulations for importation, have all the proper documents, and ensure your pet is healthy, comfortable and safe during the trip. Knowledge is essential, so make sure to conduct thorough research before boarding an overseas flight with your furry friend in tow.

Contact the consulate

Regulations for importing your pet into a foreign country vary greatly, so make sure you are informed of the specific guidelines relevant to your destination. Some important questions to ask include:

What is the necessary documentation? Many countries will require your pet to have an official health certificate issued by a licensed veterinarian and vaccination records.

What inoculations are required? Find out the details of required vaccinations, and the time frame within which your pet must receive them prior to your move.

Is quarantine required? Find out if there is a mandated quarantine period for your pet at customs before he or she is permitted entry.

Are there any restrictions? Some countries will not permit certain types of animals or breeds into their country, such as exotic animals or allegedly violent breeds (such as pit bulls). There may also be a limit to the number of pets permitted to enter the country.

Does my pet need a microchip? Many governments are now requiring your pet to be identifiable by a microchip. As small as a grain of rice, a microchip is inserted between your pet’s shoulder blades with a needle in a mostly painless procedure. The chip allows your pet to be easily scanned for identification should he or she become lost.

Preparing your pet for the move

Your pet is in for a long, stressful trip to your new home country. It’s imperative to take every measure to ensure he or she is safe and comfortable as possible during the journey.

Purchase a carrier.Make sure the container is large enough for your pet to move around and lie down comfortably. It should also be sturdy and secure to keep your pet properly contained. Make sure there is no way your pet could pry open the carrier door, chew through any materials, or otherwise escape. While it’s essential to ensure that the container is properly aerated, any spaces between metal gratings should be small enough to keep your pet from getting his or teeth stuck between the spokes – this can cause serious injury or death.

Include familiar articles. Line the container with a towel or blanket with your home’s scent to bring comfort to your pet during travel. A favorite toy to snuggle with can also help alleviate stress.

Provide ID. Make sure the carrier is also labeled with your pet’s name, any dog tags, and your name and contact information so your pet can be easily returned to you if he or she is lost.A picture of your pet is also helpful in case your pet gets loose.

Visit the veterinarian. Before taking your pet with you to a new country, it’s important to ensure he or she is healthy enough for air travel. You will also need a clean bill of health and proof of up-to-date necessary vaccinations to pass your pet through customs. If your pet takes any medications, make sure you have the prescription filled so you will have an ample supply when you arrive at your new country.

Flying with your pet

Your pet is your most precious cargo – make sure he or she is safe and sound during air travel by knowing and adhering to all applicable guidelines.

Find out the policies.Every airline has different regulations for traveling with pets. Pets under a certain weight can usually be stowed under your seat, while larger pets will have to travel as cargo. There may also be specific container requirements or breed restrictions as well. Contact a representative from your airline to find out more information on their company’s procedures.

Book early. Booking your flight in advance can help ensure your pet gets a spot on your plane. Many airlines limit the number of pets permitted on board, and it is a much better idea to have your pet travel on the same flight as you. Additionally, making travel plans in advance will allow you to book a nonstop flight, which is less stressful for your furry friend.


Feeding time. The USDA requires you to give your pet food and water within 4 hours of checking in. Overfeeding your pet or feeding him or her too close to travel time can make the trip uncomfortable. Food and water is usually not permitted in the container during air travel, but, frozen ice cubes may be used to keep your pet hydrated without spills. Ask the airline about the possibility of an attendant providing food to your pet during extended flights, layovers or emergences.

Don’t sedate! Though your pet may be the nervous type, it is not advised to supply sedatives before the flight. High altitudes can effect animals differently and tranquilizers may be unsafe for your pet.