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Pet Travel - Transiting a Country

What does your pet need when they are transiting a country?

In general, terms transiting a country with your pet means that the pet does not actually enter the country but just passes through it. In most cases no documentation is needed for that country if it is truly a "transit" although there are a few countries that require a transit permit such as the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Singapore. These permits must be secured in advance of travel from a government agency that is responsible for the import and export of live animals.

Pets traveling in the cabin of the aircraft
If your pet is traveling with you in the cabin of the aircraft and you get off of one flight and go to the gate of the next flight (which is served by the same airline) without going through customs then you are "transiting" the country.

You should check with your airlines to see if the arrival and departure gates are in the same terminal. If you clear customs with your pet then you have entered the country and must comply with those countries' rules. If you have a long layover and wish to take your pet outside for a walk then you will go through customs and will also enter the country.

Pets traveling as checked baggage or air cargo

In most cases, if the layover is under 3 hours and if your pet is traveling in the cargo hold as checked baggage or air cargo, it will be transferred from one airplane to the next as long as you are staying on the same airline. In this case, your pet is just transiting the country. This is only true if your pet arrives in the layover country on the same airline that it will depart on to its next stop or the final destination.

If, however, your pet is changing airline companies in the layover airport, then the owner must pick up the pet at the layover airport baggage claim (checked baggage) or the airline's cargo facility (air cargo), clear customs and recheck it on the next airline. In this case, your pet does enter the country and you must comply with that country's import regulations. As an alternative, it may be possible to arrange for a licensed pet transport agent in the layover country to pick up your pet from the first airline and deliver it to the next airline. This can be done by a licensed pet transport agent.

Transiting the European Union

If your pet has a layover in the European Union (EU), even if it is staying on the same airline, it should conform to regulations to enter the layover EU Member State. An endorsed transit EU health certificate will be required. This requirement is stated in the EU Animal Welfare Law. The only exception to this regulation is if your pet stays on the same plane and does not leave the aircraft. This is the case when flight numbers do not change during the layover.

Advance Preparation

If your pet is originating in a country with a high incidence of rabies and the layover country is an EU country or a country that is not rabies-free, then advance preparations must be made if it is not possible to "transit" the country. In most cases a rabies titer test (FAVN) must be done and other documents prepared. This only applies if it is not a true "transit" but, for some reason, such as changing airlines or an exceptionally long layover the pet must enter the intermediate country.

Be Prepared

In most cases, the cost to carry both the forms for the final destination and another set of forms for the layover country is very little. If you are not sure if you qualify for transiting a country, then we recommend you prepare your pet to enter it.