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


Add a Comment

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

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!

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!

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

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

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!

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.

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,

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!

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!

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!

By Philipp on September 6, 2018 at 11:11 am

Hello! I’m travelling from Manila philippines, to canada. I have to use korean airlines and I have a 2hr layover in Seoul. For Canada no titer test is required, however to enter Korea there is. I’m not changing airlines just changing planes. Will I need to get a titer test done?

By Maegan at PetRelocation on September 10, 2018 at 11:49 am

Hi Philipp! If you are just transiting Seoul for two hours and not changing airlines, you will not need to meet the import requirements for Seoul. Your pet will need to meet import requirements for Canada. Hope this helps!

By Joel on August 24, 2018 at 10:32 am

We are flying from the US to Turkey via Munich. Our flights are both with Lufthansa, but the first segment is being operated by United. Does that count as switching airlines?

By Maegan at PetRelocation on September 10, 2018 at 11:47 am

Hi Joel! Typically if a flight is code-shared with another airline (in this situation it is a LH flight on a UA aircraft or vice-versa), they will not accept pets on board the aircraft traveling as cargo or excess baggage. You'd want to make sure when you make your booking that animals are allowed on the aircraft. If you clear customs in Munich, your pet will also need to clear customs. Hope this helps!

By Kim on August 10, 2018 at 2:16 pm

Hi, we want t take our 10lb Yorkie to Roatan, Honduras in the cabin but there is a 14 hour layover in El Salvador. We will be flying Avianca the whole way. What will we be required to do for El Salvador? Thanks for your time!

By Maegan at PetRelocation on August 14, 2018 at 1:31 pm

Hi Kim! If you are not changing airlines in El Salvador, then it is likely you will not have to clear customs. Your pet will be considered transiting in this case, so you shouldn't need to do anything additional for your pet while in El Salvador but it would be important to call the airlines to double-check since he is tied to your passenger plane ticket. Hope this helps!

By Shawna on July 26, 2018 at 8:10 pm

Hello,In two weeks I am flying from LAX to Laos (VTE), with my dog in cargo and a 5-hour layover in South Korea's Incheon Airport.I fly into Incheon on Korean Air and... out on Lao Airlines.I have read your other replies to similar questions about the layover period in Korea, and you have said "as long as you are not changing airlines...."Well, I AM changing airlines and am wondering the best way to transfer my pet from one airline to another (Korean air to Lao Airlines)??I have ALL the required documents by the way: Rabies Titer Test, Health Certificate/ USDA Stamp, etc.Do I, a) go through customs, collect my pet at baggage claim, etc. so I can give her a break, walk and feed her? (One problem here is we depart from ICN at 10:40am, and the Incheon Quarantine office does not open until 9am for an export certificate.) and then check her into the next flight? Is there any way to get the export certificate in advance?b) Have the airlines transport the dog from one flight to another during the layover and not see her at all??Is it possible to have two different airlines transfer the dog and, if so, who do I show all of my documents to?Please give me any information you have about transporting the dog between two different airlines during the layover in Incheon, South Korea.Thank you in advance for any information,

By Maegan at PetRelocation on July 30, 2018 at 10:04 am

Hi Shawna! If your pet is traveling as "excess baggage" then you must be the one clearing your pet through customs and rechecking your pet for the next flight, the airlines would not be able to transfer the dog for you.

If your pet is traveling as "manifest cargo" then we'd suggest hiring a local company in South Korea that is familiar with the procedure of customs, import & export. You can go to and search for pet shippers in South Korea. Hope this helps!

Add a Comment

Name is required

Email is required and must be in the format

Comment is required

Back to top