Monday, December 10th 2018

Flying with a Dog Internationally

Written by

Rafael Bracho

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How do you fly with a dog overseas

If you have been planning on flying with a dog, then there is likely a lot on your mind. Whether you’re planning on moving to another country with your pet, or whether you’re simply considering flying with a dog on your dream vacation with you, WeExpats has put together some helpful tips that can help when you’re flying with a dog.


Every airline has their own requirements when you are flying with a dog. You should research the requirements for the airlines before you book your flight. Consider getting a direct flight to limit the stress on your dog. Some airlines have breed restrictions, so it is a good idea to call them up and speak to an airline representative before flying with a dog—especially if you have a large breed.

Some airlines allow pets to be flown as excess baggage, while others only allow pets to be flown as cargo. If you are flying with a dog, WeExpats recommends flying with them as cargo. We will cover more on that a bit later, but for now be sure to check the restrictions. Not all airlines will allow flying with a dog in the cabin, and those that do will only allow it if you have a crate that will fit under the seat in front of you. Furthermore, the dog must be able to stand up and turn around inside the crate—therefore, this is likely only an option for toy breeds and puppies. Some airlines only allow flying with a dog in the cabin for domestic travelers, while others have hefty fees for those who do.


A pet passport is not necessary when flying with a dog, however it can be a great help. A pet passport is defined as “a collection of all identifying and required documents for entering a given country”. Pet passports can greatly reduce the amount of red tape when you are flying with a dog. For example, the United Kingdom used to require a substantial quarantine when flying with a dog, however since the formation of the EU, they introduced the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) to accommodate travelers from the European Union. Since that time, other countries have been included in PETS, such as: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States. You must have a pet passport when flying with a dog under the PETS program.

Flying with a dog


– The Argument for Flying with a Dog as Cargo –

Most everyone recommends flying your dog as cargo. This is for several reasons: They are not attached to your ticket, instead they have their own ticket with their own international regulations. These regulations include making sure that the pet has temperature ranges that are hospitable to the pet (not only on the airplane, but any subsequent transportation in a vehicle must be climate controlled). If you are flying with a dog as excess baggage, there is a chance that the carrier may not know there is a live animal among the baggage. Furthermore, those acceptance personnel who retrieve your dog as cargo have been trained to handle live animals—certainly more than baggage handlers and other terminal staff. Remember that if anything happens born from the ignorance of the staff (such as deficiencies in crate security, crate size, documentation, or microchips. . . etc.) your dog could be shipped back to its original location of departure. Not to mention, baggage is lost every day—especially if you have a connecting flight.

– Critique of Flying with a Dog as Cargo –

Personally, I would like to mention that for all the above reasons, I flew my dog as cargo from the United States to Cancun when I moved to Mexico over 5 years ago. However, it was far more expensive than flying her as excess baggage—hundreds of dollars more expensive. Furthermore, though all the paperwork was executed by an experienced and trained dog breeder and handler, when I arrived in Cancun, they insisted on keeping my dog for 24 hours. When I got there the next day, the customs officials said that one particular stamp was not the right color. Yep, you heard that right. I had to pay $360 USD in fees and renewed paperwork. Blame it on a bureaucratic culture that is so prominent in the Riviera Maya if you’d like—however I had a terrible experience when I flew my dog as cargo.

2 years later, I flew from the Riviera Maya to Central Mexico where I live now. I flew with her as excess baggage. She was X-rayed to see if she had something in her body and her crate was scanned for drug residue. Once nothing was found, she was put on the plane. Upon arrival, I picked her up at the airport on the luggage carousel and we moved on with our lives.

I could not in good conscience write in this article about the differences in flying with a dog as cargo and flying with a dog as excess baggage without mentioning this story. That said, if safety of your dog during air travel is your first concern—over finances or stress to your pet because of bureaucratic delays—flying your dog as cargo remains the WeExpats recommendation.

*For more information on the differences between flying with a dog as cargo and flying with a dog as excess baggage, click here or click here.


Preparing your dog for air travel is an important step in flying with a dog. Make sure that they are comfortable in the crate. Having them properly crate trained will help avoid messes when you land. Do not feed your dog two hours before travel. Also, ensure that your dog’s nails have been clipped because if a dog panics and attempts to claw their way out of the crate, they could snag or tear a nail while in flight. WeExpats recommends that you avoid flying during times of the year that are too cold or hot for travel to ensure optimal comfort when flying with a dog.

*For more information on flying with a dog, click here.

*For a solid, step-by-step procedure on how to travel with your pet, click here.

Flying with a dog overseas


There are several websites that can help you when you are flying with a pet. WeExpats has compiled a short list of resources that can help you find the precise information that you need when you are flying with a dog.

– Before Purchasing a Crate –

If you are flying with a dog, then you should look into purchasing a crate that complies with International Air Transport Association’s guidelines for carrier requirements. This is the basis that most airlines adhere to. You can read their guidelines by clicking here.

– AFSA –

The American Foreign Service Association has an entire section based on travel guidelines loaded with information that can be hugely valuable in traveling with your pet. To see this section, click here.

– PetFriendly Travel –

This website is loaded with information, including: testimonials from people, finding lodging, and most importantly—a multitude of information on airline guidelines that can be beneficial when you’re flying with a dog. To see their section on air travel for you pet, click here.

– Pet Travel –

Another comprehensive website filled with a wealth of useful knowledge is Pet Travel. This website has a full list of country-specific pet immigration rules, and an option to purchase all necessary forms. To learn more about Pet Travel, click here.

– The US Department of State –

The Department of State has an entire section based on Pets and International Travel complete with emergency planning for your pet, the European Union Pet Scheme, and the certification requirements. To access the Department of State’s section, click here.

– Pet Relocation –

Pet Relocation is a pet transport service that provides door-to-door transport for your pet. If you don’t have time for the hassles and logistics of transporting your pet abroad, you could consider a pet relocation service like Pet Relocation. Click here to learn more.

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