#TravelingTink - International Pet Travel
After my #travelingtink adventures to Dominican Republic, Rome, and Venice we’ve received multiple messages asking if we could write about international travel with a dog, details on “how to”, the requirements and any tips. So, here it is!
When deciding where you want to travel, there will be certain pet travel prerequisites. Each country has it’s own specific requirements and these are all listed on the USDA International Pet Travel webpage.
Our most recent destination was Venice, Italy. The dog requirements for Italy were:
- a current rabies vaccination
- a microchip
- an international health certificate signed by an accredited veterinarian* AND endorsed by APHIS Veterinary Services 10 DAYS BEFORE TRAVEL
*Be sure to ask and confirm with your personal veterinarian that they are USDA accredited to sign international health certificates. If yours isn’t, they will probably know of one in your area, or you can always google search for one.
We have found the only thing that is a little tricky is the 10 day window and getting the endorsement from APHIS. Luckily we live in New York, not a short distance from the APHIS office at JFK airport, so we always opt to make an appt. and go in person for the endorsement. But, you can also overnight the papers from your veterinarian to be endorsed by your state’s office. For us, that would be the APHIS office in Albany, NY. The APHIS office will then return the papers via over night mail to you directly or to your Veterinarian’s office.
Once you receive the papers, I would recommend making at least 2 copies of the original documents and also keeping a digital .jpg or .pdf copy file on your smart phone. Keep the original papers with your passports and put the extra papers in a safe place while you travel, just in case.
We chose to fly Alitalia/Delta en route to Venice and back home. Tinkerbelle is only 5 lbs. so it is pretty easy to travel with her. Depending on your dogs size, the rules for pet travel are stated on all airlines websites. For this flight in particular, we had to register Tinkerbelle with the airline via phone after our flights were booked and have an approved pet carrier.
Tinkerbelle is a great traveler, and does not have a problem flying. I know some veterinarians recommend a little benadryl or a calming jacket, etc. but Tinkerbelle has never had an issue. She really enjoys it and is totally relaxed on a long flight. If you are nervous about your pet traveling for so long, we would recommend trying a shorter domestic flight with your fur-friend before attempting an over-seas flight.
Once we arrived in Italy, we had to go through customs with our passports and the International Health Certificate endorsed papers. Customs in Italy is very welcoming of pets. We showed our passports to the customs officer and he didn’t even check/ask to see the papers for Tinkerbelle. ALWAYS have your papers on hand though, because they can ask for them at anytime depending on the customs officer.
When checking in for our flight back home to the US, the airport in Italy did check the papers and USA customs 100% will check them as well before you are welcome back in the country. This is why we recommend you have multiple copies, including the digital copy, just in case anything gets lost.
Overall, international pet travel has a lot of steps, but if you follow the requirements it can be very rewarding and exciting to have your fur-friend along your side as you explore a new exciting country! Below are a few bullet point insider tips we’ve learned.
DOUBLE CHECK REQUIREMENTS - Each country is different with their own specific requirements, and some are much more stricter than others.
COPIES, COPIES, COPIES - Always have extra copies of the endorsed international travel certificate papers.
CALL YOUR AIRLINE - Make sure you call the airline you are using to find out all the rules & requirements and to register your pet. There might be other specific requirements as well that you weren’t aware of.
POTTY PADS - For long flights, we always bring at least 2 potty pads in our under the seat carry-on. When Tinkerbelle has to go, we take the pad in the bathroom and she does her business. She is trained to do this and if you feel your pet isn't up for the task, you can always go with a doggy diaper for the long flight.
We hope this shed some light on international travel with your fur-friend, happy travels!