The Rules and Costs of Traveling Abroad with Pets

Are you thinking about carrying your dog or cat to your next international vacation? Make sure that you have all the necessary documents when traveling in and out of the country. This is because getting the permits needed to   travel with your pet takes time, it is advisable to start the process early. 

Here is a guide on what you need to do if you want to travel abroad with your furry friend.

Visit a Veterinarian

Before anything, you need to tell your vet about your travel plans. They can help you meet the requirements set by your destination country regarding pets. More importantly, they ensure that your cat or dog is healthy enough to travel.

Some of the procedures your cat might undergo include blood tests, vaccination, and installation of microchips for easy identification.

Traveling with Your Pet

Every carrier has its unique rules concerning the transportation of pets. Regardless, the most critical aspects of flying with your furry friend are cargo, cabin, and crates.

According to many airlines, you can carry your pet in the cabin for a fee, provided its carrier can fit under the seat in front of you. These are pets that weigh no more than 20 lbs. You cannot buy an extra seat for larger animals.

If you have a large pet, the best way to transport it is as shipping cargo. Although this has been going on for years, animal rights activists advise against it. Some airlines do not allow it entirely.

The container that carries your pet while flying is called a crate. Each airline has detailed requirements for the box that holds your animal during the flight. Generally, the pet should be able to stand and turn around comfortably.

Not all animals are eligible to board a flight. This especially applies to the breeds of cats and dogs that are prone to health complications when flying.


If you want to board a plane with your pet, prepare to pay an extra fee that can be costly. For instance, most domestic airlines charge $125 for carrying your animal inside the passenger cabin. These charges are for one-way travel, meaning that you have to pay it again on your return flight.

Traveling with your pet as cargo is more expensive, with an average rate exceeding $200. Some airlines combine the animal’s weight with the crate’s weight, making the charges costlier.

Other expenses that you will incur include purchasing a pet crate and a pre-flight visit to the vet.

Emotional support animals and service dogs are exempted from some of the costs and requirements subjected to regular pets. If you have such, consult your airline for further information.


The most significant restriction regarding pets is vaccination against rabies. Since this shot usually takes 28 days to take effect, you will have to wait for a month before traveling if you are immunizing the animal for the first time.

When traveling, you need to produce a valid certificate of vaccination. This document must be valid for the entire duration of your trip.

Preparing Your Pet for a Flight

It is essential to put into consideration your pet’s comfort when traveling by air. The following are some tips on how to prepare your animal for a flight.

  • Familiarize your pet with its carrier before the flight.
  • Purchase direct flights or those with few connections and layovers.
  • Pick the arrival and departure times to avoid extreme temperature conditions. For example, if you are traveling to a cold region, it would be best if the plane landed during the daytime.
  • Consult a veterinarian. The International Air Transport Association advises against the use of tranquilizers and sedatives because they can harm your pets.
  • If your pet is traveling in the passenger cabin, arrive as late as you can to mitigate stress.
  • If your pet is traveling as cargo, check-in early and ensure that it goes to the quiet and dim end of the plane’s hold.

Illness or Death of a Pet during Travel

Unfortunately, your animal can get sick or even die while traveling. In such cases, public health officials must confirm that the disease cannot affect the passengers and other people on the plane. You will have to pay for an autopsy and further tests conducted to determine the cause of death. After this testing, the pet’s remains are not returned to you.

Final Words

The most crucial thing to do before flying with your pet is ensuring that it is healthy enough. If you have any concerns, consider leaving it behind with a family member or a trusted friend. If you do not have either, take another mode of transportation. 

With careful planning, your pet will travel to and from home and arrive in a sound condition.