Traveling or Moving Out of the Continental U.S. with Your Pet

Some pet owners vacation or even move out of the continental United States with their pets. Both traveling and moving out of the country involve extensive planning and preparation, said Dr. Susan Nelson, assistant professor of veterinary medicine at Kansas State University.

Manhattan, Kan. – infoZine – Nelson said pet owners need to be aware of the extra planning and time it takes to travel outside the continental United States with your pet. She said a pet owner needs to plan at least six months and preferably 12 months ahead of time.

Although you may want your pet to go with you, it’s important to consider your pet’s needs, Nelson said.

“If you’re not going to be there very long, look into the pros and cons,” Nelson said. “You’d like to have your pet, but how is your pet going to fare on the trip and adjust to its new environment? Is your pet healthy enough to travel?”

After making the decision to bring your pet along, Nelson said pet owners have many things to take care of.

“The first thing a pet owner should do is contact APHIS — the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service,” Nelson said. “It has the regulations for different countries and what pet owners need to do to get into these countries.” Current guidelines are listed online at

“There are different things they’ll have to be vaccinated for. It just really varies with where you’re going,” she said.

The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service recommends that pet owners contact their state veterinarian’s office for Hawaii travel requirements. For U.S. territories and foreign countries, the inspection service says to contact the appropriate embassy, governmental agency or consulate.

Nelson said the minimum vaccines usually needed for pets to travel out of the continental United States are the rabies and distemper combination vaccines.

When traveling or moving out of the country, pet owners usually have to consider air travel for their pets.

According to the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, no airline will guarantee acceptance of an animal it has not seen. Some of the important considerations for acceptance of animals include the health and disposition of the animal, proper health certificates and kennel markings and sizing.

Federal regulations require that pets be at least 8 weeks old and weaned at least five days before flying. Nelson said a health certificate not more than 10 days old generally also is required for pets to be allowed to fly. She said it is also a good idea to carry a valid rabies vaccination certificate.

“It’s more difficult to go to states and countries that are rabies-free, such as England and Hawaii,” Nelson said. “The regulations for bringing in animals are much more strict and usually require quarantine time for the pet. This quarantine time can be up to six months.”

Nelson said owners should contact airlines and hotels well in advance for specific regulations and to secure the pet’s reservation.



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