FAQs about Pet Travel Documents

We've answered the most common questions pawrents have about pet travel.

General Pet Travel FAQs

There are many different things you should take into consideration before deciding to travel with your pet:

  • Ensure your pet is comfortable with travel
  • Make sure that your pet's identification tags and microchip are valid with up-to-date information
  • Check with your destination to ensure that your pet is allowed

What you need to bring will vary based on your destination, but here are some of the most important things to pack:

  • Health Certificate, Rabies Vaccination Certificate and other required documents
  • Pet's collar or harness, leash, and identification
  • Pet's food
  • Food and water bowls
  • Treats and toys
  • Crate or kennel
  • Bed or blankets
  • First aid kit for your pet
  • Your veterinarian's contact information
  • List of veterinarians along the way and close to your destination

The following are important to contact as you prepare to travel:

  • Your Veterinarian
  • Airline you will be traveling on (if flying)
  • Hotel/accommodations

Use our Find-A-Vet tool to locate a veterinarian in your area who can assist with health certificates and other required documentation. Be sure to take the list of required tests and documentation with you to your pet's appointment!

Yes, but keep in mind that the destination country sets the entry requirements for pets. Ensure that your pet is allowed by consulting the destination country's entry requirements before making plans to travel.

If you don't take your pet in the car often, start with short trips to destinations that are fun for your pet, such as a dog park or hiking trail, to help your pet adjust to riding in a car.

If your pet gets car sick, talk to your veterinarian about alternative traveling suggestions or medications that may keep your pet comfortable.

  • Make frequent stops, every 2 - 3 hours if possible, to allow your pet to go to the bathroom and exercise
  • Restrain your pet in the car to prevent injury to your pets, you, and other drivers
  • Do not let your pet ride in the back of a truck
  • Do not allow your pet to ride with their heads outside the window, as dirt and other debris can enter their eyes, ears, and nose, causing injury or infection
  • Pets should not be allowed to ride on the driver's lap or near the driver's feet
    • Small pets should be confined in crates or in travel-safe dog beds, and larger pets should be appropriately restrained with harnesses attached to the car's seat belts
  • Cats should always be transported in carriers
  • Bringing along a familiar blanket or toy can make your pet more comfortable during the ride

Pet Airline FAQs

Each airline has specific requirements for pet travel. These requirements may include age and breed restrictions, documentation, and flight time duration. It is recommended to consult the air carrier's website to learn more about specific requirements.

On most flights that accept pets, the cargo area itself is climate-controlled, similar to the passenger cabin. In addition, pressure in the cargo area is regulated, similar to how the air pressure in the cabin is regulated. Pets traveling in cargo may be stored near other pets traveling, or near other secured cargo. The cargo hold is dimly lit and can be loud, as compared to the cabin of the plane.

There are a number of factors that contribute to determining if a pet is fit to fly. Each of these should be considered before certifying a pet fit to fly.

Breed:Brachycephalic breeds are prone to developing heat stroke. Many airlines will restrict brachycephalic breeds from flying in the cargo hold.

Age:Young pets may have an increased risk of hypoglycemia, especially small toy breeds. Older animals may experience issues when flying due to pre-existing medical conditions that come with age.

Weight:Colder weather can have more impact on underweight pets, whereas warm weather can more severely impact overweight pets.

Health:Pre-existing medical conditions should be taken into consideration before certifying that a pet is fit to fly. Considerations like;

  • Does the pet require daily medications that may be limited by flight schedules?
  • Does the pet have cardiovascular, respiratory, CNS or musculoskeletal disease?
  • Is the pet pregnant?
  • Does the pet have separation anxiety?

There is no general rule of thumb when it comes to airline breed restrictions. However, a majority of airlines have banned brachycephalic breeds, which are more prone to respiratory problems. In addition to this, some larger more historically aggressive breeds may be restricted for the safety of air cargo handlers. To see which breeds are restricted, visit the respective air carrier's website.

Yes - For domestic travel, federal regulations require pets to be at least 8 weeks old and they should be weaned at least 5 days before flying. However, some airlines will require the pet to be older.

For international flights most airlines will require the pet to be 12 weeks of age to travel. Check the air carrier's websites for specific age restriction guidelines.

Excessive high and low temperatures can impact pets when traveling via air cargo. Depending on the airline, or even the specific aircraft, travel embargos for pets flying to or from certain regions during high temperature seasons may be instituted.

An acclimation statement or certificate may be required by an airline. The statement or certificate, signed by the veterinarian, will waive the Animal Welfare Act low-temperature federal regulations for animals traveling in the cargo hold.

Airline requirements regarding acclimation statements or certificates vary. Check with the air carrier to determine requirements. Acclimation statements or certificates are often required if the pet is traveling in the cargo hold and temperatures at the departure or destination airport are at or expected to be below 45 degrees fahrenheit. However, some airlines will require acclimation statements or certificates even if temperatures are not expected to be below 45°F.

Acclimation statements or certificates are written at the discretion of the veterinarian and are based on the veterinarian's assessment of the pet's health and the temperatures the pet is accustomed to.

There are baseline standards that the airline must follow and animals will NOT be allowed to travel in the cargo hold when:

  • Temperatures are lower than 45°F (7.2°C), if the airline cannot guarantee that the animal will not be exposed to these temperatures for more than 45 minutes when transporting between terminal and the plane OR for more than 4 hours in the holding facility.
  • Temperatures are higher than 85°F (29.5°C) for more than 4 consecutive hours while in the animal holding area in the terminal, or for more that 45 minutes when being transferred between the aircraft and terminal holding area.

Domestic travel, regardless of mode of transportation, is governed by state regulations. Many states require a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI) from a licensed and accredited veterinarian for interstate travel. The CVI should list all current medical history, including any vaccinations and/or treatments. Rabies vaccinations are required by most states for travel.

International travel will have more requirements, as these are set by the destination country. For a complete list of requirements visit the USDA Pet travel website athttps://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/pet-travel

Beyond local and federal government requirements, airlines may also have immunization requirements for travel. It is recommended to visit the specific air carriers website to learn which immunizations are required.

Required documentation will vary based on where the pet is traveling (domestically or internationally) and which airline they are traveling with.

Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI)Domestic Travel
International Health Certificate (IHC) - country specificInternational Travel
Rabies CertificateDomestic & International Travel
Permit/LicenseInternational Travel - not required by all countries
Air Carrier Specific Forms, may include:
  • Certificate of Acclimation
  • Behavior Acknowledgement
  • Service Dog Paperwork
  • Breed Verification
  • Live Animal Checklist
Domestic & International Travel

Crates used for pet travel by air should be air travel approved. These crates should be purchased from the airline or at a local pet store. Crates should be:

For Air Cabin and Air Cargo travel:

  • Large enough for the pet to stand (without touching the top of the crate), turn around and lie down.
  • Have a leak-proof bottom with plenty of absorbent material
  • Be ventilated on opposite sides, with exterior knobs and rims that will not block airflow

For Air Cargo travel:

  • Be strong and free of interior protrusions, with handles or grips. Most airlines will not allow snap-sided kennels, modified or adapted snap-side kennels or collapsible or folding kennels
  • Be clearly labeled with owners name, home address and phone number, destination contact information and a sign stating “Live Animals” with arrows showing which way is upright
  • Airlines may also have additional requirements regarding crates. The pet owner should contact the air carrier's cargo department to ensure all requirements are met before the pet's travel.

Tranquilization or sedation is not recommended, except for in unusual circumstances, as it can increase the risk of heart and respiratory problems. Pre-conditioning the pet to the travel crate is recommended over sedation. Note, some airlines may require a signed statement from the pet owner stating that the pet has not been sedated prior to flying.

Depending on if the pet is traveling with the pet owner in the cabin, traveling as checked baggage or as air cargo, arrival times at the airport will vary.

  • If traveling by cabin or as checked baggage, check in as late as possible to reduce the amount of time your pet will have to wait in the terminal.
  • If traveling by cargo, most airlines will require the animal to arrive within 2 hours of departure time, and no more than 4 hours.

There are multiple agencies who regulate live animal transportation.

International Air Transport Association - Live Animal Regulations
  • Shipping Container Requirements & Shipper's Responsibilities
  • Air Carrier Responsibilities
USDA - Animal Welfare RegulationsCompliance with Animal Welfare Regulations
US Fish and Wildlife ServicesConvention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES)
Airline - Department of Live Animal PracticesVary by airline:
  • Embargoed breed list
  • Temperature limits for travel
  • Check with airlines to make sure all restrictions and requirements are understood before booking the pets travel.
  • Have the animal examined and a current Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI) issued within 10 days of travel.
  • Acclimate the pet to the kennel well in advance of any travel. The more acclimated the pet is, a better travel experience should be expected.

FlyWithMyPet FAQs

In order for FlyWithMyPet.com to provide you with a list of pet travel requirements, you will need to enter the following information:

  • Species (Cat or Dog)
  • Destination
  • Date of Travel

Use the Find-A-Vet tool to locate a vet near you who can complete the required exams, tests, and documents. Contact the veterinary clinic to set up an appointment and be sure to take the list of travel requirements from FlyWithMyPet.com to the appointment with you!

Visit AnimalRegs.com to find the domestic travel requirements for other species.