Pet Travel: Layover and Transit Requirements at Airports

Pets, International Travel and Layovers


Layover and Transit Requirements for Traveling PetsWe received this question recently and thought it was worth sharing, as it addresses a common pet travel concern:

Q: I am traveling with my pet from India to Seattle via Amsterdam using KLM. There is a layover at the airport for four hours in Amsterdam. Will I need a microchip or a blood titre test for the layover? Thanks.

This is certainly a valid concern. When traveling with pets internationally, what do you need for layovers in different countries? The answer is, like most answers about pet travel, somewhat complicated and depends on two factors:

Factor #1: Whether you're switching airlines (not planes, but airlines). 

If you're flying into another country and then changing airlines, then the first airline you are flying will treat your layover city/country as the final destination. You will be expected to fulfill the import requirements for that country and clear your pet through customs prior to re-export on your next flight. 

This means you would also need all necessary export paperwork for the layover country (another health certificate endorsed in that country, for example).

However, if you're staying on the same airline and simply changing planes, your final destination is still considered by the airline to be wherever your last flight lands—you are simply transiting through the layover country with your pet. In that scenario, you will only need to fulfill the import requirements for your destination country.

Note: Some countries do require 'transit permits' to transit through them—check with the airline you are flying with in advance to see if this will be necessary.

Factor #2: How long the layover is. 

If you have a layover longer than 24 hours in any country, chances are the country will no longer consider it to be a transit. You will need to fulfill the import requirements for your layover country in that instance.

The Answer

As to the question above, since the pet owner is flying on the same airline (KLM) and the layover is only four hours, she will not need any additional documents to stop in Amsterdam on her way back flying with pets to the United States.

 

Contact PetRelocation if you'd like some assistance planning your pet's safe relocation, and happy pet travels!

 

Editor's Note: This post was originally published in May 2009 and has been updated with new information.

Author:

PetRelocation Team

Topic:

Air Travel, Airlines, Airports, Ask the Experts

Pet:

Cats, Dogs

Country:

United States

Comments

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By Speat on November 6, 2018 at 9:44 pm

Hello! I’m travelling from Phnom Penh Cambodia to Vancouver, Canada.I have a flight through Seoul via Korean Air (both legs), but the layover is 12 hours. Will this mean further paperwork / requirements for Korea because the layover is long? Also, is it possible to spend time with the dog during this long layover?Thanks!
Reply

By Maegan at PetRelocation on November 14, 2018 at 9:52 am

Hi Speat! If you are flying on Korean Air the entire time, your pet will be considered transiting Seoul so you will not need to meet import requirements for Korea. Unfortunately only authorized personnel can handle pets during layovers in Seoul, so you can not spend time with your dog. However, you might be able to hire a local pet shipping company to check on your pet during this layover. From what we understand, no pets will be let out of their crate while transiting on Korean Air, they will only be given water during layovers. Hope this helps!
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By Speat on November 26, 2018 at 7:29 pm

Thanks very much for the info Maegan.
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By kayla on October 21, 2018 at 8:18 am

Hi, I am going to be traveling with a puppy (12 weeks) from London direct to Seoul. Does anyone know how much time in advance you need to be at the airport (Heathrow) to clear the documentation with DEFRA and where to go? Many thanks and all the best! Kayla
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By Maegan at PetRelocation on October 22, 2018 at 3:51 pm

Hi Kayla! You typically can take care of any export procedure the morning of the flight. Feel free to reach out to the ARC with any questions/concerns and they can direct you. Thanks!
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By Frankie on October 17, 2018 at 2:06 pm

I am traveling with my dog in cabin from Canada to Italy, via Munich through Lufthansa as there is no direct flight to Turin. (Italy is the final destination.)As Italy and Germany are both EU, do I need the health certificate in German or Italian?
Reply

By Maegan at PetRelocation on October 22, 2018 at 3:42 pm

Hi Frankie! We suggest using a bilingual EU health certificate for your trip.

Our services are specialized in door-to-door international pet relocations, so if you'd like to speak to a consultant about how our services might be a good fit for your family, please fill out our Arrange a Move form and a consultant will reach out to you. Thanks!
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By Frankie on October 23, 2018 at 8:38 am

Yes, the certificates are bilingual German/English and Italian/English.I was informed that it should be in the language at the first point of entry in the EU--so it's German. Thanks.
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By Ana Maria on October 14, 2018 at 10:43 am

Hello I want to travel from Bucharest to Toronto with 1 hour 30 minutes stop on Istanbul My question it is if I need titer test for my dog to transit Turkey Thanks a lot
Reply

By Maegan at PetRelocation on October 22, 2018 at 3:41 pm

Hi Ana! If your pet is changing airlines during a layover, then your pet must clear customs during that layover. This means, your pet must meet the import requirements (i.e., get a titer test) in the country you are transiting/clearing customs. Our services are specialized in door-to-door international pet relocations, so if you'd like to speak to a consultant about how our services might be a good fit for your family, please fill out our Arrange a Move form and a consultant will reach out to you. Hope this helps!
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By Georgia on October 7, 2018 at 6:15 am

Hello, Traveling from beirut to canada with a layover in Paris. Going from beirut with Middle East airlines and then switching to Air Canada from paris to Canada. The layover is a very short one ( 1h30). How does it go during layover ? I know sometimes this short layover has us running all over to catch the AC plane. Is it a requirement to pick up the dog in cargo and check him in again? or will they simply transfer the dog from one plane to the other ? What about having a dog in cabin ? do we have to do any extra customs then usual for the dog ? Thankyou
Reply

By corine colors on October 20, 2018 at 10:07 am

Hello We are facing the exact same issue at the moment. Could you receive any answers? I would appreciate if you could share ur findings!
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By Maegan at PetRelocation on October 22, 2018 at 3:38 pm

Hi! Typically we find that if you are changing airlines during a layover, then you & your pet must clear customs during that layover. This means, your pet must meet the import requirements of each country you are clearing customs. If your pet is flying as cargo, it's likely that you'd need at least 6 hours for a layover and you'd want to hire a local company to clear customs for your pet. If your pet is flying as excess baggage, you will need to get your pet and clear it through customs during this layover as it is tied to your plane ticket (again, you'd want to plan at least 4-6 hours for a layover). Our services are specialized in door-to-door relocations, so if you'd like to speak to a consultant about how our services might be a good fit for your family, please fill out our Arrange a Move form and a consultant will reach out to you. Hope this helps!
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By Ana Maria on October 23, 2018 at 2:08 am

Thanks a lot for your answer We travel with Turkish airways Bucharest to Toronto we stay 3 hours on Istanbul And Next day we travel to Bermuda
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By Leigh Ann on September 24, 2018 at 2:57 pm

Hello, my husband and I are traveling with our pet bird and rabbit (in cabin) on Iberia from San Francisco to Paris via Madrid. Do we clear them thru customs in Madrid and/or Paris? Also, which Health Certificate do we need issued (Spanish/English or French/English)? Also, would you know if an appointment is needed for the inspection?Thanks, Leigh Ann
Reply

By Maegan at PetRelocation on September 28, 2018 at 11:56 am

Hi Leigh Ann! You will need to clear customs upon first point of entry into the EU. However, you will definitely need an appointment with US Fish & Wildlife for an inspection for your bird upon exiting the US. It is also likely you will need appointments for inspections at every stop of the trip. We typically recommend birds travel on direct flights & do not transit any other countries or airports along the way, this avoids any delays or issues.

Relocating birds internationally is very complex. There is specific import/export paperwork required as well as quarantine and inspections. Also, have you checked to determine if your bird is protected under the endangered species act (also known as CITES)? More information about relocating birds can be found here. If you are looking for a company like ours to book flights, work with the government & manage your pets paperwork for this move, please fill out our arrange a move form and a consultant can reach out to you. Thanks!
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By Leigh Ann on September 28, 2018 at 12:46 pm

Thanks Megan! Yes we got in contact with the fish and wildlife and we know we have to submit the form and based upon that they will let us know if we need to come in for next inspection. Our bird is not a protected species, it’s a household parakeet. We will be flying with the bird in the cabin so no cargo transport is needed. We do have a veterinarian in line to prepare the health certificate and requirements for export. I just wanted some clarification on what happens in the foreign country and what is required there.
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By Alex on September 18, 2018 at 4:20 am

Hi, flying from Singapore to Toronto. From Singapore to Seoul I will be flying with Singapore Airlines and then I have a 20 hour layover before jumping into an Air Canada flight (Seoul -Toronto)Will I have to comply with the Korean import/export requirements like the titer test?Also I think I am not so clear on what is the definition of changing airlines. would sharecodes be considered as changing airlines?Regards,
Reply

By Maegan at PetRelocation on September 18, 2018 at 5:36 pm

Hi Alex! In this case, Air Canada has temperature restrictions. Typically code-shared flights do not allow pets on board, so you'll want to check with the airline to make sure your pet can travel. Technically, if you are changing airlines in Seoul, you will clear customs which means your pet will need to meet import requirements. The best solution would be to check with Singapore Air on the procedures while transiting Seoul. Hope this helps!
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By Garrett on September 17, 2018 at 7:14 pm

Need help figuring out how to move our 6 lbs mini Rat Terrier (prefer in-cabin) from Alaska to Saipan (CNMI). It's for a job transfer that requires a two-day layover in Honolulu at the main office before departing for Saipan. Alaska to Hawaii I've got figured out, it's Hawaii to Saipan that's the issue.United is the only airline that flies direct from Honolulu to Saipan (via Guam), but with their new policy regarding pets and overseas travel it's not an option. I was considering flying Honolulu to Inchon, then Inchon to Saipan. Any one know what would be required to transit through Inchon with a dog, and what airlines would you recommend? If there are other destinations that would be easier, I'm completely open to suggestions. Thanks!
Reply

By Maegan at PetRelocation on September 18, 2018 at 5:33 pm

Hi Garrett! Sounds like a tricky move! We specialize in pets traveling in cargo, so are not as familiar with in-cabin travel, but I'm happy to offer up some advice. We have used Korean Airways in the past, but whenever pets transit ICN as "manifest cargo" or "excess baggage" they are not allowed out of their kennel during the layover. If you are not changing airlines & clearing customs in ICN, you do not need to meet the import requirements for South Korea. Hope his has been helpful!
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