The process can be a very overwhelmed for first timers, but this step-by-step guide tells you everything you need to know.
Step 1: Do your research
First off, head over to your airlines “Pet Policy” section of their website and learn the terms and conditions regarding pet travel. From my personal experience, I would recommend flying with American Airlines.
American Airlines is the best option for international pet travel. First off, you are allowed to take your dog in cabin (medium and small dog-size only.)
Step 2: Call your airline to make a reservation for your pet
Once you book your flight, make sure you give the airline a call to reserve a spot for your pet. Many airlines have a maximum of 7 pets per cabin/flight.
Step 3: Make an appointment with your vet
Let them know that you are traveling outside the United States and that you need a official health certificate for the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) to review and approve. Also, make sure all vaccines and records are up to date.
Step 4: Get the official certification to travel at the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture)
Once you have your vet’s approval and proper documentation certifying that your pet is good to travel, head over to the USDA for them to ensure the official certificate.
Give them a call to make an appointment. Walk-ins are also welcomed, just be mindful that you might have to wait a long time. If you choose this option, I recommend showing up very early in the morning to avoid long lines.
Do not bring your pet to the USDA. Pets are not allowed to enter the USDA office.
Also, bring cash with you! You’ll need to make a payment in the USDA and, like most government offices, they do not take credit cards. $100 is good!
Once you submit your documentation to the USDA agent, they will let you know when can you pick up the official travel certification (two business days.) For this reason, make sure you start the process at least once week prior to your travel date.
Step 5: You’re ready to go!
Now that the USDA has given you the OK to travel with your pet. Make sure you have all the pet travel essentials before you check-in to the airport. Usually, give yourself a little extra time to check-in to your flight because the airline’s agent needs to review the pet’s documentation.
Also, be ready to make a payment! In most airlines you need to pay a pet travel fee. The costs varies within airlines, so make sure you do your research. In American Airlines, the fee is approx. $125 per in-cabin pet.