Domestic Pet Travel
Now more than ever, airlines are making it easier for people to travel with their pets. While pet travel may seem daunting due to the extensive planning it requires, our team in Santa Monica is always happy to help. Whether you're traveling domestically or internationally, we have the information you need to be prepared for safe, healthy travels.
What Your Pet Needs for Domestic Air Travel
There are various types of requirements and documentation you may need for your pet to prove that they're ready to travel. These include:
- Rabies vaccination - The rabies vaccine is one of the most important vaccines your pet can get. Rabies is a very serious virus that can kill pets as well as people. Plan your pet's vaccinations well in advance of their travels and be sure to have copies of their rabies certificate and health records. Get in touch with your home state and your destination state for more information about their flight policies.
- Acclimation certificate - Check with your airline to find out whether your pet will need an acclimation certificate. This document includes regulations about extreme temperatures, which your pet may experience during the flight.
- Certificate of Veterinary Inspection - The CVI or health certificate is a document that must be signed by your veterinarian confirming that your pet is up to date on their vaccinations and tests and has been carefully inspected for diseases. These certificates have an expiration date, so be sure that yours is still valid before you travel.
Additional forms you may need include:
- Confirmation of feeding - if your pet had food and water before their flight
- Live Animal Checklist - contains instructions for airline handlers
- Tranquilizer consent forms - must be signed and approved by your veterinarian
Along with official paperwork, there are policies you'll need to comply with as well:
- Age limits - generally, any pet that will be traveling must be at least eight weeks old.
- Reservations - Depending on the airline you choose, pet travel fees can range between $50-$150 for one-way trips. Rates can also depend on whether your pet accompanies you as carry-on or needs to travel in cargo. Additional fees will be required for international travel.
- Carriers - All pets require a hard-bodied carrier that includes food and water sources attached to the inside. Carriers must be large enough for your pet to stand and turn around in comfortably, yet small enough to stow under an airplane seat (if your pet is on the smaller side).
- Movement - Pets should never be taken out of their carriers during a flight. This rule may also apply for when planes are parked or taxiing, and when you are waiting in the terminal to be boarded.
- Hawaii Travel Regulations - All animals that are brought into the state must have health and rabies certificates that are no more than 10 days old prior to travel. Honolulu is the only city in Hawaii with a quarantine center, so only airlines going into Honolulu can accept pets.
- Quarantine - Hawaii has very specific requirements for traveling pets. This includes subjecting cats and dogs to a 120-day quarantine. Granted you have satisfied pre- and post-arrival requirements, you can qualify your pet for a 30-day or shorter quarantine period.
Requirements for International Travel
Planning for international pet travel is more tedious and time-consuming thanks to additional requirements and regulations for importing animals. Every country has its own set of rules, so it's absolutely essential that you fully understand your destination's importation policies. Therefore, you should start planning for your journey as early as possible. Being prepared results in less stress for you and your pet and gives you reasonable expectations.
Furthermore, you should be prepared for a layover in a country that is not your destination. If this occurs, you will need documentation that satisfies that country's regulations as well. The most common requirements for international travel include international health certificates for pets and having your pet be current on certain vaccinations.
International Health Certificate for Pets
Certain countries will require an international health certificate (IHC). To acquire this certificate, you need to follow several steps:
- Contact the embassy or consulate of your destination country for information about their requirements.
- Find out if your pet's IHC needs to be in your destination country's official language, or if it needs an official stamp.
- Have the IHC completed and signed by an Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)-accredited veterinarian who can certify your pet's health status, conduct the necessary tests and document the results for exportation.
- To be considered valid, the IHC needs to be endorsed by a Veterinary Services area office. You can find your local VS area office here.
The key to successfully traveling abroad with your pet is to do as much research as possible beforehand. If you have questions for our team or need to update your pet's vaccinations and tests before a trip, contact us right away at (310) 393-8218.
Questions You Need to Ask
It's important to try to cover all of your bases when planning for international travel. We recommend asking yourself the following questions:
- What are my airline's restrictions for international pet travel?
- What documentation will I need to transport my pet?
- Is there a limit to the number of pets they allow in the cabin and in cargo?
- Are certain breeds not permitted on the flight or in my destination country?
- What are the carrier requirements?
- Will my pet need to change planes at any time during the journey?
- If my pet needs to relieve themselves during the flight, will they have somewhere to do so?
- When and where should I drop off my pet?
- Where will my pet clear customs?
While you may have lightly sedated your pet in the past for car travel, we do not advise sedating them for air travel. For additional questions to consider, see the American Veterinary Medical Association's Traveling with Your Pet FAQ.