The 1-2-3’s of International Pet Travel

Whether  you travel down the block, to the next city,  or to the opposite side of the globe from where you reside, travel is good for the body the mind and the soul. It’s a great way to experience new cultures and make new friends. We live in New York City  where we have nearby access to three major airports, metro trains, and lots of great beaches and cities within driving distance and have had the luxury to travel frequently.

Although we’ve taken the pups on numerous occasions on our domestic USA travels I’ve always had this idea in my mind that Agador and Fred would be traveling with us on our next international trip. I couldn’t imagine leaving them behind. (Dog lovers you know this!) After some casual research, we determined that France is one of the most pet-friendly places on the planet and decided that this was to be our first international destination with the pups.

You’ll want to do two things before you do anything else to make certain that you are fully aware of processes, timing, and fees involved with the export and import of pets to and from the USA:

  • contact the USDA
  • contact your Veterinarian

Prior to making any ticket purchases, we needed to make sure our pups have an updated Rabies shot and a 15 digit microchip. These are very important and will be essential upon coming back from France. (More about this in a later blog – the drama!!) I’m going to outline the steps that we were required to take so it’s not confusing, because I too get confused. So here it goes:

1. Get a 15 digit microchip. Older dogs have a 10 digit microchip and if you don’t want to have them microchipped again, buy one of those scanners.
2. Rabies shot comes after that. To be 100% certain – we needed to make sure Agador and Fred had their rabies shot at LEAST ONE MONTH before the day of travel. Note that shots given prior to microchip inserts do not count.
3. 10 days before the date of departure, it is required to have a USDA approved veterinarian  to give our pups a clean bill of health. If your vet is not USDA approved, find one who is!
4. Once our paperwork has been filled out, the completed paperwork (health check up, usda paperwork, rabies certificate) had to be sent to the USDA to get stamped and approved. (ps. overnight delivery service, don’t forget to factor into your costs as it could run over $100 for return delivery services)
5. If you did all these steps and researched thoroughly your peticular situation then you should not have any problem!

The next step is booking a flight! How exciting! Which airlines would want to take my pets? Since we’ve traveled domestically with US airlines, it was a no-brainer to use them anyway. Airlines such as Delta, American and United almost always welcome pets in the cabin. I can’t really say for sure that non-US airlines would take pets in the cabin but to be certain always check with your airlines first before you hand over your credit card. Ooh! and don’t forget to call them and let them know that you are flying with a pet!

Airline pet carriers are very important for Agador and Fred. They treat their carriers as their homes and feel most comfortable in it during our travels. I love soft sided carriers because they can fit underneath the seat. Airlines have weird configurations and some hard sided carriers won’t fit at all! Who needs all that stress, right? If your pet isn’t familiar with a carrier, introduce it to them and make them feel like it’s their second home well before the travel date. Also try traveling on the metro or train, road trips and short flights. Practice is KEY!

Tickets. Money. Passport! And in Agador and Fred’s case – USDA PAPERWORK! We have everything that we need and we are ready to get out of New York City. We’re so lucky to have airports that offer “pet relief areas” within the airport itself. So…! Check your local and destination airport about availability and access to their pet relief area ahead of time! Very important! We also wean them from their food and limit water the night before and make sure they had already pooped before leaving for the airport so there is no discomfort during the flight   (Let’s be honest, we always worry about air travel poopies)

Onward and upward! Au Revoir New York City!