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  • Flying with Pets

    Whether you are moving abroad or you just want your favorite cat to go to the Bahamas on your upcoming vacation, there is a lot to know when it comes to traveling abroad with your pets. Makes sure to cover all of your bases so you and your furry friend don’t run into any surprises; surprises can be stressful to you and your pet, so your best bet is to arm yourself with information!

    Check with your Vet

    Many countries want to see that your pet has been to the vet in the last 6 months, and is up to date on vaccinations. Contact your vet to make sure your pet is current, and get copies of any needed paperwork. You may have to take your pet to the vet to become current, or to prove that you have been there in the last 6 months. If you have questions about crating or medications to calm your pet for travel, now is a good time to ask.

    pets welcome on board

    Check with your Airline

    Determine what your airline carriers pet policies are on live animals as excess baggage, cargo, and in-cabin before booking your pet. Make sure that you are compliant with their policies as well as the policies of the country you are entering. Assuming you want to bring your pet back with you upon return, you should also look into the USA return policy to ensure that you don’t have any surprises or quarantine issues. The Pet Policy by Airline guide is a great place to start.

    Check with the State Department

    According to the US Department of State, “If a pet owner ships a pet to the U.S. as cargo using a pet shipper, and the pet owner plans on having the pet collected by a professional shipper, the pet owner should download CBP Form 7501. After completing the appropriate sections of this form, the owner should fax or scan this information along with a copy of the airway bill, the health certificate papers and a copy of the owner’s driver’s license or passport to the pet shipper. The shipper can deliver this form and accompanying papers to the Custom’s office at the airport prior to the pet’s arrival. In essence, this will mean that the owner is authorizing clearance—not the shipper. This avoids the need to hire a customs broker. A friend or family member may collect and clear the pet without this form because they are not being paid for this service.”


    You should determine the rabies classification of the country your pet is leaving from according to the country your pet is traveling to. The World Organization for Animal Health classifies countries as rabies-free, rabies-controlled or high-risk. Although the European Union has a uniform list of country classifications which is considered standard, many countries have their own classifications. You can find links to that information here.

    Pet Passports

    “Pet Passport,” is a term, it’s not like a human passport. In Europe, vets create a little blue passport that contains relevant medical information, but most vets in the US do not do that.

    Customs officials will need to see these documents in order to clear your pet, it is fine if it is in a stylish passport type holder, or if you travel with the paperwork in a folder. Loosing the paperwork can be problematic, and can prevent your pet from entering a country. Swift suggests keeping the paperwork on you, affixed to the kennel, and also stored electronically on your smart phone so you have copies at all times.


    PetTravel.com has a lot of information regarding quarantine. “The countries of the world have been divided into three classifications that relate to rabies: rabies-free countries, rabies-controlled countries and high-rabies countries. Before your pet travels internationally, it is important that you know the rabies classification of your pet’s originating country as well as the rabies classification of its destination country. If your pet has layovers on its trip longer than 2 hours or you are changing airlines, you need to be aware of quarantine requirements of countries in which you must clear customs.”

    Best of luck flying with your pet! We hope they enjoy their final destination as much as you do!

    Additional Resources

    US Department of State


    Pet Policy by Airline

    Flying with Emotional Support Animals

    United Airlines | Service Animals

    Pet Partners

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