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.


PetRelocation Team


Air Travel, Airlines, Airports, Ask the Experts


Cats, Dogs


United States


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By noreena khan on April 7, 2018 at 5:31 am

Hi, i am travelling with my dog from Pakistan to canada, he is to large to be carried on the place so it'll have to be through cargo. i was wondering if i purchased a layover ticket for 2.5hours in manchester will that be dangerous for the dog to be left in cargo for a flight that will be 18hours.

By on April 9, 2018 at 9:46 am

Hi Noreena, Thanks for your question! I'd suggest calling the airline and asking about their layover policies. Most pet safe airlines can arrange a "comfort stop" during layovers where your pet can be walked, watered & let out to use the restroom. These "comfort stops" typically require at least a 3-4 hour layover for international journeys. Hope this helps!

By Cess Diestro on March 21, 2018 at 1:53 am

Hi im travelling with my pet from manila to calgary. Layover at hkg for 3hrs from philippine airline and switch to air canada. What specific documents i need for my pet?

By on April 9, 2018 at 9:44 am

Hi Cess! In our experience, if you are switching airlines, you will need to hire a local agent to clear customs for your pet in HKG and re-check on the international flight on Philippine Airlines. Cargo flights for pets must be booked by a company based in the origin country, so it is likely you will need to hire someone to book your pet's flight anyway. We'd be happy to assist. In order to connect you with a consultant, please . Arrrange A Move form here. Thanks!

By Peter on March 17, 2018 at 9:57 am

Hi, Hope you can answer my question- I am planning on traveling from Atl to Icn via Ams on KLM. The layover is about 12 hours. My dachshund will be in cabin with me. If she: 1. stay under 24 hours 2. not change airlines 3. leave the airport but not check in at a hotel (we plan to tour around the city during our layover).Then she only needs to get paperwork ready for Korea, is this correct?

By on March 19, 2018 at 11:26 am

Hi Peter, thanks for your question! If you leave the airport with your dog, you will need to fulfill the import requirements for the Netherlands.

By Tiara on March 4, 2018 at 1:44 pm

Help!! I am hoping that someone can give me some input. I have posted on several forums and made numerous calls not only to Korean Air but USDA export as well as Pet relocators and still cannot get clarification. I will be traveling in August with two pets from US to Malaysia, ONe is 16 y/o and I need to have her in the cabin with me, The other will travel cargo bc she is over the weight limit. I finally discovered that even if u can have a pet in the cabin (Korean AIr and Asiana) you CANNOT land in Malaysia with a pet in cabin!! So now I am trying to figure out if I can travel from LAX to ICN with my pet in cabin and then transfer her to the cargo after I land in ICN. DOES ANYONE HAVE ANY experience with this ?? I need to contact the Animal and plant Quarantine in ICN - but can I land in ICN with my pet in cabin and then transfer her to the cargo??THANK YOU!!!!!

By on March 5, 2018 at 4:09 pm

Hi Tiara,

Thanks for reaching out with your question! You can fly into Malaysia (KUL) with a pet in-cabin, although they still have to go to quarantine on arrival. Please reference this guide to read complete instructions for MAQIS quarantine procedures, along with contact information for each office. If you are handling everything on your own and just need help with the quarantine portion, we suggest contacting a local agent to handle this for you. You can search a directory of companies on the IPATA website. Hope this helps!

By Frances on February 27, 2018 at 4:37 am

Hello!We are taking our dogs to Seattle from Manila via EVA airlines. We have an 8 hour layover in Taipei. Do we need to have our dogs microchipped or will the transit form be sufficient?Thank you!

By on February 27, 2018 at 11:52 am

Hi Frances! As long as you meet the criteria listed in the above post, you only need to meet the import requirements for the Philippines. You can find additional information about the Bureau of Animal Industry, including how to obtain an import permit, here.

By Max Lopez on February 26, 2018 at 12:41 am

I plan to travel from Mexico to South Korea via United States (Los Angeles) with my dog. I can get all the requirements (including a health certificate and vaccinations) in Mexico in order for my dog to enter South Korea. However, I need to change an airline company (Aeromexico to Korean Air) in Los Angeles and therefore have to re-check in my dog at the airline counter.I wonder if I need to show a health certificated signed by a USDA Accredited Veterinarian and also endorsed by USDA at the check-in counter in Los Angeles.Thank you

By on February 26, 2018 at 3:58 pm

Hi Max! Since you are switching airlines, you will need to make sure these requirements are met for importing pets to the United States. For instructions on what to do to re-check your dog in LA, we suggest contacting the airline for the most accurate information. Hope this helps!

By Alice on February 24, 2018 at 12:20 pm

Hi I'm traveling with my dog from manila, Philippines to Ohio via JAL with layover to Japan and Chicago for 2 hrs each layover but same airline. Japan is very strict with their protocol in live animals. Do I need to get a microchips and have her blood tested? Please help

By on February 26, 2018 at 12:12 pm

Hi Alice! Thanks for your question. As mentioned in the above post, if your dog's layover in Japan falls under 24 hours and your dog will not be switching airlines, there are no additional requirements needed for this transit. If one of these conditions is not met, it is likely that you will need to fulfill the requirements for Japan, which are listed here.

By Alice on February 26, 2018 at 12:20 pm

Thanks for your reply but I already called the airline and they do not permit live animals on their cargo... Sad..

By Mark on February 23, 2018 at 4:22 am

I will be flying into Amsterdam on KLM and then onwards to Atlanta, Georgia via Delta - code share with KLM. Tickets will be bought on the KLM website. Will Delta accept the KLM dog travel requirements / kennel requirements, etc. (checked baggage) since they code share with KLM? Transit time would be under 3 hours.Does Delta use the Air France / KLM Dog Lounge in Amsterdam?Alternatively we can book through Paris and stay on Air France. connection time is about two hours. Does Air France have a good dog lounge, and would it be used for a 2 hour connection?Thank you, Bob

By on February 26, 2018 at 11:15 am

Thanks for your question! This would be a question best answered by the airlines involved, as they will be able to provide the most accurate information for your specific flights. We can tell you that KLM (one of our preferred pet-friendly airlines for shipping pets in cargo) requires a 4-hour layover for international pet moves with their cargo program (which includes a transit stop at their pet lounge). We do not move pets as excess baggage so can not speak to the layover requirements on that. It’s worth checking before you book your flight, though. You can find the contact information for KLM here. Hope this helps!

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