Seasonal Care

How to Travel Internationally With Your Pet

How to Travel Internationally With Your Pet

No one likes to be separated from their pet for a length of time, even when there's a need to travel a great distance. Whether you want to bring your dog or cat on vacation with you, are moving to another country, it is possible to travel with your pet across borders — as long as you learn and follow the rules.

Breaking the Rules

Failure to meet the requirements of a destination country can result in serious problems. It wasn't long ago that actor Johnny Depp and then-wife Amber Heard were accused of smuggling their two Yorkshire Terriers, Pistol and Boo, into Australia on a private plane.

It turned out to be a paperwork snafu, but the Australian authorities didn't take it lightly. Ms. Heard initially was charged with two counts of breaching quarantine laws, which could have led to 10 years in jail, and providing a false immigration document upon entry, which carries a maximum penalty of 12 months in jail and a $10,200 fine. Charges were dropped in exchange for the two stars recording a public service announcement about the importance of obeying Australia's strict biosecurity laws.

Following the Rules

Before you embark on your own journey, understand that you will need to adhere to foreign laws regarding bringing a pet into another country as well as airline regulations.

A good place to start is the United States Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection service Pet Travel page. Using the USDA's drop-down menu, you can determine the requirements for taking your pet from the US to a specific country as well as bringing your pet into the US from another country.

Many nations have their own unique rules and health requirements for the entry of animals. The importing country, establishes these requirements.

If the country you plan to visit doesn't require a specific form, download the USDA's International Health Certificate. Ask your veterinarian to assist with it and update your pet's vaccinations if necessary. FYI: Some countries require that such forms be filled out very close to one's departure date.

Flying with Your Pet

The airline you plan to travel with should be your primary source of information regarding regulations for traveling with your pet and the cost. You can also compare pet policies of multiple airlines here.

Generally, pets are allowed to fly three ways: in the cabin, as checked baggage or in the cargo section. IATA (the International Air Transport Association) provides information on the types of carriers and containers that can be used to ship animals.

The season you travel and the temperatures at your departing and arriving airports will matter. When a runway temperature is below 45 degrees and above 84 degrees Fahrenheit, pets generally are not permitted in the checked baggage or cargo sections.

Additionally, many airlines will refuse to accept certain breeds as checked baggage or cargo. As one example, Cathay Pacific, which does not permit pets in the cabin, also will not transport the following breeds elsewhere on the aircraft: Affenpinscher, Tibetan Spaniel, Boston Terrier, Boxer, Brussels Griffon, Bulldog, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Chow Chow, Dogue de Bordeaux, English Toy Spaniel, Japanese Chin, Lhasa Apso, Mastiff, Pekingese, Pit Bull Terrier, Pug, Shih Tzu or Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Himalayan, Persian and Exotic shorthair cats are also banned.