The Ins and Outs of International Pet Travel: What You and Your Pet Need To Know and Do

Traveling with your furry best friend to foreign lands can be challenging. International pet travel involves navigating regulations, preparing essential documentation, and timelining your travels so your pet is out of quarantine and able to spend time with you.

While you work on convincing your skeptical Springer Spaniel that international travel is a good idea, let's start you planning a seamless international adventure with your pet.

See how our travel protection plans can help with pets and service animals


Microchipping: Your pet should be microchipped before you leave. If your dog is lost, a microchip or tattoo will help the authorities unite you that much more quickly.

Vaccinations: Pretty much everywhere on earth requires an up-to-date rabies vaccination. Your pet may also need additional vaccinations depending on the destination.

Health certificate: For most international travel you’ll also need a health certificate from your veterinarian, typically dated within 10 days of your departure date. This certification confirms your pet's fitness for travel and vaccination status and can be obtained from your pet’s vet.

USDA endorsement: For most international travel, the health certificate needs an endorsement from the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, and that usually means the health inspection needs to be performed by a USDA-certified vet. You can find a list of qualified vets here.

Import permits: Some countries require an import permit for your pet submitted well in advance of your trip. Research your destination's specific requirements.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has a guide to international travel for pets. It’s a valuable read.

More tools: Dog Travel Packing Checklist


Some countries can be very picky about what they allow in and out of their territory. That is especially true when it comes to your pet.

These countries’ solution is to put your pet in quarantine. The duration of quarantine varies depending on the destination and your pet's origin.

In real terms that translates to:

  • Australia and New Zealand: Expect extended stays in government-approved facilities.

  • European Union: The EU Pet Travel Scheme lets pets travel between member states, often without quarantine. Of course, the U.S. is not a member state, so structure your trip accordingly.

  • Rabies-Free Countries and States: Islands like Japan and Hawaii may have lengthy quarantine periods due to their rabies-free status.

Also read: How Travel Insurance Helps When You're Sick and Stuck Abroad

Flying with your pet

Not all airlines allow pets in the cabin or cargo hold, but some do. Some consider a pet to be a carry-on, so if you thought you saw someone trying to stuff a Great Dane in an overhead bin, it wasn’t your imagination.

Because airline policies vary, just like everything else regarding pet travel, do your research. Also research the airline’s safety history with pets.

Check carrier requirements
You’ll want to ensure your pet's carrier meets the airline's size and ventilation regulations. If the requirements make you think, “My Shih Tzu has more room on a plane than I do,” you’re not alone in your quest for more leg room.

More tips: Traveling with Pets By Plane, Train and Automobile

Book in advance

Notify the airline well in advance that you're traveling with a pet, as space may be limited.

Prep your pet

A vet visit is always a good idea – not just because you have to get clearance from a vet, but because a vet visit can address health concerns and obtain useful medications you might need on your trip.

You should also get your pet used to their carrier by gradually increasing the time they spend inside. In addition, short car rides can help your pet adjust to being in transit.

Tips for Finding Pet-Friendly Places to Stay

Pet-friendly international destinations

It’s not your imagination – most of the world is becoming more pet-friendly. Among the leaders:

  • France: Parisian cafes, picturesque villages, and many dog-friendly attractions.

  • Italy: Historic cities, charming beaches, tipping towers, and a generally pet-friendly culture.

  • Canada: Stunning natural landscapes, national parks, lots of green space in general, and welcoming accommodations.

  • Mexico: Vibrant culture, pet-friendly resorts, and dog tacos.

Also read: The 10 Best Dog-Friendly Vacations Around the World

As you can see, there’s a lot of hoops to jump through to vacation with your pet, especially when you go abroad. But the payoff can be an incredible vacation with your best friend. And who wouldn’t love that?

Fewer travel headaches mean more time for pets and snuggles, and Generali Global Assistance is all for that. Our travel insurance and assistance services plans can help in a lot of ways on your trip – and getting a quote is easy.

Check us out today.


Travel Protection is great for trips with pets!
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