Pet Travel: How to Clear Airport Security with a Pet

Pet Travel - Clearing Airport Security with a PetYou and your pet are traveling in the cabin of an airplane together. You have checked in at the reservation desk, your pet is quietly lying down in their airline compliant pet carrier, you have tickets and possessions in hand. Everything is going according to plan. You proceed to the TSA security checkpoint. As you wait in the line, you wonder – what is coming next? How will TSA officials deal with your furry traveling companion?

PetTravel has received many questions about how people traveling with pets will be treated once they get to the front of the security line. Certainly, with all the confusion at security checkpoints and the flow of passengers intent on clearing the line and proceeding to their gate as quickly as possible, it is helpful to know how you and your pet will be cleared through security.

According to TSA: “Our security procedures do not prohibit you from bringing a pet on your flight. You should contact your airline or travel agent, however, before arriving at the airport to determine your airline’s policy on traveling with pets.”

Security Screening

More from TSA: “You will need to present the animal to the Security Officers at the checkpoint. You may walk your animal through the metal detector with you. If this is not possible, your animal will have to undergo a secondary screening, including a visual and physical inspection by our Security Officers. Your animal will NEVER be placed through an X-ray machine. However, you may be asked to remove your animal from its carrier so that the carrier can be placed on the X-Ray machine.”

There is a good chance that you will be asked to remove your pet from the carrier so that the carrier can be run through the x-ray machine. You will walk through the upright metal detector with your pet. If you are traveling with a pet who is high spirited or scares easily, you can request a room so that your pet will not escape should you not be able to contain them when out of the carrier.

There has been a lot of news lately regarding the introduction of the controversial body scanners in many airports. If the old stand up metal detectors have been replaced with body scanners, both the pet and the owner are subject to pat down. Again, you will remove the pet from the carrier and make it available to security officers should they decide to inspect your pet. Should you require a pat down, you should put your pet back in the carrier first.

Being prepared is key to traveling with your pet. Give yourself plenty of time to get to your gate. Keep your accessories (coat, purse, laptop or other items you must carry) at a minimum so you will have free hands to handle your pet at security checkpoints. Take your pet out of the carrier after you have removed your shoes, belt, etc. and put your items on the table to be scanned. Be sure and carry a leash in the carrier to loop around your wrist to be sure that your pet cannot escape when you remove them from the carrier. Even calm pets can get nervous and scared when around groups of people and in unfamiliar environments.

We would welcome your feedback about your experiences at security checkpoints. Please make a comment so that you can help others who are traveling with their pet. We appreciate your time.

More information on pet travel by air

537 comments to Pet Travel: How to Clear Airport Security with a Pet

  • David – have the airlines indicated to you that you would have to change terminals in AMS? Generally, the airlines fly internationally in and out of the same terminal.

  • Hi-
    We are trying to travel on Delta through AMS to the US with a 10 week old pup from the Czech Republic (a rabies free country). We hope to have her in the cabin, but may need to have her checked due to her size. The layover is expected to be 2 hours on the same airline, but expect that we need to pass through customs as we move from terminal to terminal. We have yet to find any definitive documentation about this situation. Obviously, we are not intending to import her- those restrictions are clearly 15 weeks minimum. Any words of advise would be much appreciated!

  • Christian – I will send her your email so that she can contact you.

  • Cristian

    Monica, I have the same questions as you have. Only I am traveling from Oman to Bucharest via NL.
    Monica, did you travel already to Romania ? Did you had any issues in Schipol ?

    @Admin, PLEASE can you put me and Monica in contact ? I have to confirm my booking by tomorrow afternoon, and I am desperately trying to get in touch with someone that did this trip.

  • Hello Angela – Honduras does not require a microchip, but it does require an import permit. Details as well as links to instructions and forms required can be found here:

  • Monica – because you are flying on the same airline for the entire route, if your pet is traveling in the cargo hold and your layover is under 2 hours, the airlines will transfer your pet from plane to plane and there will be no need for documentation for the Netherlands. If your layover is more than 2 hours, then you will need to contact your airline to make sure they will hold your pet during the layover. If your pet is traveling in the cabin, you will stay in the terminal and not clear customs. This will also mean that no documentation will be required for the Netherlands. As long as you don’t enter the Netherlands, Romania will be your first point of entry in the EU.

  • Angela lopes

    We moving from America to honduras, we take our small dog with us. We have all shots( rabies too), we have USDA health sertificate.
    Do we need microchip for honduras?

  • Monica

    Hi ! I will travel from Peru to Romania via Amsterdam with my dog like an accompanied baggage…I will stay in the same airline for the entire route….I really appreciate if you could told me where will be check his documents ? In Romania because is the final destination or in Amsterdam because there enter in the E.U? Thamk you

  • Aaron – technically, your puppy must be able to stand up and turn around in the carrier. We can’t predict enforcement of the rules. There is a carrier that will allow for extra height if it would help:

  • Aaron

    My puppy is just fine laying in pet carrier but has long legs. Will we get denied ?

  • As for your agent, IATA does not approve agents, nor does the TSA. Your agent in China should arrange for an agent in the states to clear your pet. That agent should be licensed with the USDA, but anyone can clear a pet, even an owner. Your dog will need to have evidence of a screwworm inspection by a licensed vet in China between one and five days of travel as China is on the list as a screwworm country.

  • T

    Hi, I am taking my dog from Shanghai to San Francisco ( then will drive with him to Denver since I don’t want him to fly for such a long time and it’ll be a road trip). He will be traveling as Cargo since he is quite large. I have arranged a pet shipping service to help me with all the paper works in China that was recommended to me via United Airline. But from what I read online, the pet shipping service needs to be a “regulated agent” or “IATA-approved Agent” aka TSA-approved agent. Is this true? Also do you know if my dog will need to be inspected for screw-worm or not since this was not mentioned anywhere (either via the pet shipper nor the standard procedure health certificates) other than one section of the USDA APHIS website?

    Thank you so much.

  • Jasna – to address your second question first, you will need to decide whether your cat’s personality can handle the cargo hold. It is better for any animal to stay with their owner when they are put in environments that are foreign to them, but your kitty may not settle down and behave itself for a flight that long. It depends on their personality. You would be the better one to make that call.

    If you are flying to Serbia first, you should start preparing now. The reason for this is that Serbia considered to be a high-rabies country by the EU and you will need to prepare to enter Hungary from Serbia. Have your pet microchipped (15 digit microchip) then vaccinated for rabies. Wait for 30 days and have a titer test done. Assuming acceptable results, your pet can enter Hungary from Serbia with an Annex IV form for Hungary. Backing up, to enter Serbia, you will need proof of rabies vaccination and a health certificate completed within 10 days of entry. You can find requirements to enter either Serbia or Hungary here with links to forms and instructions if you need them:

  • Jasna

    Hi, my family is traveling from USA (layover in Frankfurt) to Serbia (stay 2 months) and then to Hungary (for ever). How do I handle the documentation? The cat will fly with me in the cabin but would it be easier to fly in cargo?

  • Sarah – if your dog is flying as accompanied checked baggage in the cargo hold, then you will claim her at baggage claim and proceed to customs where you will clear together.

  • Sarah

    …and Lufthansa is my airline.

  • Sarah

    Sorry, I’m slow…
    Frankfurt is my final destination and my port of entry into the EU.

  • Sarah – how long is your layover in Frankfurt or is that your final destination? What airline are you flying?

  • ANA – the US requires that pups are vaccinated for rabies no sooner than 3 months and wait for 30 days before entering the US. However, puppies entering the US intended for re-homing or re-sale have a minimum age of 6 months of age before they can enter. If your cousin is accompanying your pup, he should do so as the owner of the pup and a visitor to the US. The puppy will need a health certificate translated into English and proof of rabies vaccination with details on the manufacturer and expiration date.

  • Sarah

    Hi Jerry,
    I’m flying from Canada to Germany with my dog. She is flying in the baggage compartment. I’m interested to know how she will be handled at the airport in Frankfurt. Will she be taken out of her crate by a vet? Can I be present? I’m a bit worried how she might react in a situation like that, after a long flight and with people she doesn’t know. Any information would be great!

    Thanks, Sarah

  • ANA

    My parents want to send from Peru a 3 months dog for my children with my cousin who will be coming to Miami soon. The dog has all shots required. Do I need to translate the shhot records to english? What other papers will be required in Miami to let the puppie enter to USA?
    Please help. My children were in Peru for vacation and saw the dog but it was so baby to bring it.

  • Katerina – you puppy should be vaccinated for rabies at least 30 days prior to entering Peru. You can find regulations here:

  • Katerina – you should ask your vet that question. We would not expose a puppy to unsafe conditions, but your veterinarian may have a different response.

  • Katerina

    Flying with a 10 week old from the USA to Peru. Could you let me know about regulations and also if water is not safe for humans would it be any different for a puppy?

  • Hi Mari – your puppy should not be vaccinated for rabies prior to 12 weeks. You are good to go with 2 original copies of the health certificate. If you can also carry a Spanish translation, it would be great, but not a requirement.

  • Sam – it totally depends on which country in Africa you are traveling to. Each country has different rules and several of them are stringent. You can go here and click the drop down button on the page next to the GO button and find out regulations for (almost) every African country.

  • Mari

    Hello, I plan to take a 14 week old puppy from the USA to Mexico. He will be travelling in cabin with me, however, I Cant find anywhere the requirements to bring a puppy into Mexico. I will have a vet health certificate and proof of a rabies shot. Anything else I need to consider? Thank you

  • sam

    hello am travelling with my Labrador 3 months old from EU to Africa what do i need to do now? Please help me.

  • Robin – when you arrive at LAX, your pets will need to clear customs prior to traveling further. The process depends on whether your dogs are traveling as accompanied checked baggage or manifest cargo. Once your pets custom clear, the appropriate health certificate (if there is one required) will travel with them on domestic flights until you reach your final destination. You will need to ask your airline about their procedures and the cost involved in transporting your pet. (Try to stay on the same airline for the entire route if possible) There are no costs for clearing customs.

  • Robin

    I’m moving to the U.S. from Australia next month with 2 dogs. I’ve had rabies shot and had my vet OK both animals for travel. My main concern is once I get to LA. They said I needed a minimum of 6 hours there with dogs. Then what? When I fly through US with connecting flights, do I need to do anything special with the dogs? Are they well taken care of for such a long period of time? Can we see them in LA? What’s the easiest way to organize everything? Is it going to cost me a fortune?

  • Laura – China’s requirements depend on where you are entering the country. If you enter through Shanghai or Beijing, there will be quarantine. If you enter through Hong Kong and Guangzhou, it will not be subject to quarantine. Either way, you may consider hiring an agent in China to assist with clearing customs. You can find one at

    You need to keep your pet on the same airline if at all possible so as not to have to clear customs and enter a layover country. An agent can help you with this.

  • Laura

    Hi, I will be moving from Denmark to China with my husband and a pet, dog 10-12kg. I have no idea where to start planning the travel. If we travel alone without pets, the flight normally takes 2-3 changing spots. How to arrange a travel with a pet, if the flight is not direct and implemented by different airlines? Is our size dog allowed to fly with us in the cabin or not?

  • Arushi – the United States is very pet friendly. Your Lab will need proof of rabies vaccination administered a minimum of 30 days prior to entry and a health certificate issued within 10 days of travel. Find an airline that flies the entire route and try to stay our of London if possible. Keep layovers under 2 hours.

  • Hi, i am moving to united states America from India and i want to take my Labrador retriever, can i take him along ??

  • Tess – try calling the Shenpu Pet Hospital at +86 21 5301 8000 if you have not done already. It is a pick up location for pet export certificates. Perhaps they can help you. Otherwise, we would recommend that you contact an agent to help you with the export. You can find one at

  • tess

    I am taking 2 kittens out of China but someone told me only one animal Per PassPort. Anyone else dealt with this. I have no one else to fly with me and would be unbearable to leave one of my Pets behind. Please helP!!!!

  • Ann – you mention that you are flying via KLM and Delta. Are you changing airlines in Amsterdam? If this is the case, then you will likely need to conform to Netherland’s import regulations for live animals. Because China is considered to be a high-rabies country by the EU, this will involve a microchip, rabies vaccination, 30 days wait and a Blood Titer Test 3 months in advance. You can find import regs for the Netherlands here:

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