Traveling to a new country with your dog might sound complicated, and for good reason: it is. Technically, flying anywhere with your dog is complicated due to airline rules on what dogs can be in the cabin — but flying abroad adds on a few extra layers of restrictions, regulations and procedures. That said, once you understand the fundamentals of how to travel abroad with a dog, it's far less overwhelming.
The main reason why taking your pooch to a new country is a far more complex adventure than it is for humans is actually due to rabies. Unlike the U.S., which is considered only a rabies-controlled country, some countries have achieved a rabies-free status — and as you can imagine, they'd like to keep it that way. If customs let just any dog across the border, they'd risk contamination. So, there are regulations to ensure that every dog that comes from another country is healthy and not going to introduce disease or virus into their ecosystem.
The only other complication beyond this that can become an issue at customs is breed. Though it is totally unjust, some countries deem some dog breeds too violent, and if you show up at in a foreign country with one of these dogs — even if they have all of their vaccinations and paperwork — they can be turned down without any accommodations. In essence, you'll have to pay to have the dog sent back, and you'll likely have to go back, too. To check whether your breed is banned from the country you're traveling to, search for agriculture on that country's government website, and then search for importing and exporting animals to be sure. Breed-specific legislation is very controversial and hopefully on its way out the door, but until then, check with the destination's government website and your airline to ensure you and your pup will be welcome when you arrive.
If your dog is not on the banned breed list for the country you're traveling to, rabies are going to be your primary complication. Here's how to travel abroad with your dog.
Check On Quarantine Regulations
Before you even think about traveling abroad with your dog, you'll want to check out the quarantine regulations for your destination, as some countries require dogs be subject to quarantine periods that could even last longer than your trip. Though most countries do not quarantine if pets are certified rabies-free, some countries still have strict requirements — and quarantine periods can be as short as a week and as long as six months. Consult the USDA’s website or call the country’s embassy to find out the regulations for your dog before bothering with pet certificates and flights.
Quarantine alone is one of the biggest deterrents from international travel with dogs. As someone who barely feels comfortable leaving her dog with friends for a night, quarantine would be a huge issue for me. But if you're, say, moving abroad permanently, or going abroad for a lengthy period of time, it might be necessary for you.
Head To The Vet
No matter where you're traveling abroad, your dog must be vaccinated for rabies at least 30 days prior. Additionally, you must have your dog microchipped. Though many dogs get microchipped when they are puppies, your vet can perform the simple procedure to an adult dog. That said, it's important to know that the vaccination has to come after the chip is implanted, so if your dog is not currently microchipped, wait to get the vaccination.
Get A Health Certificate & Pet Passport If Needed
No matter where you go, you'll need a veterinary health certificate that needs to be approved by your vet within 10 days of your departure. This is basically a form that your vet signs off on (that you have to pay extra for) that certifies that your pet is up-to-date with vaccinations, not currently being treating for an infectious disease and is healthy enough to travel. To be safe, check out your country’s embassy to ensure that you don't need any extra paper work. If you're traveling through the EU, you can get your pet a passport that will allow your dog to travel between countries with ease and without risk of quarantine.
Double Check With Your Airline
Each airline's rules are slightly different, so make sure your airline knows what breed you're traveling with, what size the dog is, and how you plan to travel with them. There might be additional steps depending on the airline or health requirements so don't book the ticket before getting the 411 on that airline's pet policy.