Erin Ballinger, travel expert at BringFido.com, which provides pet policy information of travel-related businesses. It has a toll-free phone number (877-411-FIDO) that pet owners can use to find pet-friendly businesses.
Bottom Line: Rules are becoming less onerous in most places.
Traveling abroad with an animal adds to the complications—you’ll have to navigate the foreign country’s animal entry rules in addition to airline and hotel rules. These rules are becoming less onerous in most places—quarantines are no longer common—but expect plenty of paperwork, fees and other hassles. Don’t leave this to the last minute because it can take weeks to sort it all out. Five international animal travel tips worth knowing…
• Consult the US Department of Agriculture’s website to learn the rules for bringing a pet to a particular foreign country…and for bringing your pet back to the US. (www.APHIS.USDA.gov/aphis/pet-travel) Example: A dog might need to be inspected for screwworm by a vet before you can return to the US from a country where that parasite is a problem. Affected countries are mainly in South and Central America, Asia and Africa. BringFido offers country-by-country guidance as well (BringFido.com/travel/international).
• Vaccinations often must be administered well in advance of travel. Example: Some countries will not allow an animal to enter unless it received its rabies vaccination at least 21 or 30 days prior to entry, depending on the country.
• The European Union has a consolidated “EU pet passport” system that allows animals to enter and travel through the region with relative ease. But there’s a catch—these passports are issued only in the EU. If your pet doesn’t yet have one, it will need an “EU Health Certificate” to enter the region. To obtain this, the animal will have to be examined by a “USDA-accredited” veterinarian, typically no more than 10 days prior to the trip. The certificate this vet issues must then be endorsed by a Department of Agriculture office. (Visit www.APHIS.USDA.gov/aphis/pet-travel and click “APHIS Veterinary Services Endorsement Offices” for help finding a vet who can do this in your area.) The fees for the exam, certificate and endorsement can easily top $200. (If you expect to bring your pet to the EU multiple times, it is worth obtaining a passport for it to make future trips simpler.)
• Taking a pet from the US to Canada is comparatively straightforward. You generally need only a certificate signed by a vet confirming that the animal has been vaccinated against rabies within the past three years. (Visit the US Department of Agriculture website for details.)
• There’s a chance that your pet might be denied entry despite your best efforts. Occasionally, travelers spend weeks getting a pet all the paperwork and shots it needs…only to be told by a customs official at an airport in the foreign country that they’ve made some mistake. This can put travelers in a bind—they might have to leave their pet in quarantine, paying steep fees for the privilege…or get right back on a flight out of the country with their pet. Bottom Line: follow the pet rules of the countries you visit to the letter.