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 Alvin on July 8, 2018 at 3:23 pm

Hi I am relocating my dog from South Africa to Malaysia via Singapore using manifest cargo on Singapore Airlines. The layover / transit period in Singapore is approximately 12 hours. Would the dog be subjected to quarantine / transit requirements in Singapore before being allowed to fly to Malaysia? Your assistance on this would be much appreciated.

By on July 16, 2018 at 11:50 am

Hi Alvin! If your pet is just transiting on the same airway bill from South Africa to Malaysia, your pet does not need to meet import requirements for that country. Hope this helps!

By Brie on June 25, 2018 at 2:46 am

I'm trying to figure out the requirements to take my four-month old adopted street dog from Pristina, Kosovo to Boston, USA. She will be too big to fit under the seat, and will have to travel as excess checked baggage. We've found a flight from Pristina to Boston that connects in Zurich, but the first leg (Pristina to Zurich) is Swiss Air, operated by Edelweiss, while the second leg (Zurich to Boston) is Swiss Air. Any idea whether these airlines will transfer our dog, or whether we must take her through customs and re-check her?There are options to book a one-hour layover or a five-hour layover. I don't want to book the longer layover unless I will need to re-check her, but I haven't heard back from either airline about the process of managing this layover. Any advice would be welcome!

By on June 27, 2018 at 8:35 am

Hi Brie! As a rule of thumb, if you are clearing customs in Zurich, you will need to clear your pup through customs. This means you will need to meet the import requirements for pets traveling to Switzerland. We only book flights for pets as "manifest cargo" which means they are not tied to passenger's plane ticket. With this process, typically if a flight is code-shared with another airline (i.e., Swiss Air, operated by Edelweiss) they will not accept pets. However, we're unsure if this same rule applies to pets traveling as excess baggage. Sorry we could not be of more assistance!

By Rosemary on June 15, 2018 at 2:19 am

I am thinking of bringing my cat from India to Los Angeles, leaving from Bangalore and stopping for layovers in Singapore and South Korea. I am flying via Singapore airlines and their rules are that they don't accept pets from other airlines. Unfortunately the first flight that is from India to Singapore is through Silk Air. So is it impossible to bring my cat because of this Singapore airline rule?

By on June 27, 2018 at 8:39 am

Hi Rosemary! We would not recommend having your pet transit Singapore. If you are flying Silk Air to Singapore and then changing airlines in Singapore, then your cat must meet the import requirements for Singapore, which includes a long lead-up time (typically 6 months) and quarantine on the ground in Singapore. More information about requirements can be found here. You might want to research a new route for you & your cat and can do so by checking out our preferred pet-safe airlines here. Hope this helps!

By Rosemary on June 27, 2018 at 12:18 pm

Thank you for the info!

By Tara on June 13, 2018 at 1:37 am

I'll be traveling with my dogs from delhi-amaterdam-Madrid and the transit duration will be 4 hours. It''s a transit from Amsterdam but as the last destination is also a EU country I guess the paperwork of my dogs will be required at the Amsterdam airport? Which airport do I need to inform the arrival of my pets? thank you

By on June 27, 2018 at 8:29 am

Hi Tara! Since the first point of entry into the EU is Amsterdam, your pups' paperwork will be checked here as well as the first vet check. When you make your booking through KLM, they will advise on this process. Feel free to check out our blog post about flight bookings on KLM through Amsterdam for additional information and if there is anything we can do to assist, please do not hesitate to reach out!

By Sam Hurst on June 7, 2018 at 9:19 am

Hi guys - great thread!We will be flying with Korean Air from Da Nang to Seattle with a 13 hour layover in Seoul. The flight is Korean Air all the way - will we be able to be with our dog throughout the layover?Thanks for all your help!

By on June 11, 2018 at 9:43 am

Hi Sam! Thanks for your question. We only know about pets traveling as "manifest cargo" on Korean Air, and with this type of travel, pets do not get a comfort stop. Pets have to stay in their crates the entire length of the layover time and because they are in the care of the airline staff, you will not be able to visit your pup. The KE personnel can refill their water bowls but that’s it. If you are looking to DIY, my recommendation would be to explore other pet safe airlines here because 13 hours is a long time inside a crate! Hope this helps!

By Melinda Knowles on June 3, 2018 at 6:03 pm

Hi! I will be flying ICN to ATL via CDG. My layover is 15 hours, so it seems I won't have to meet the entry requirements of France with titer test, etc for my in-cabin pup. However, my layover is an overnight one, so anyone know of a hotel IN the airport that will take my pet? According to the airline, the pet hotel is closed until further notice and I know that the Yotel doesn't allow pets. I will also be traveling with two toddlers, otherwise I'd sleep in the airport with my dog. Thanks!

By Melinda Knowles on June 4, 2018 at 1:46 pm

Found the answer myself after much confused searching! The Sheraton is also in the airport behind security, so it's considered a transit hotel as well. We'll be staying there. There is a 65euro fee for furry guests.

By on June 5, 2018 at 1:13 pm

Hi Melinda! Thanks for posting your answer. Glad you were able to find the information you needed!

By pompie on May 27, 2018 at 8:38 am

hi, i am flying to Vancouver from Bangkok. The flight from bangkok to Taipei is China Airline and I am sending my small dog via cargo. then from there, i switch my flight to Canada air and i am taking my dog in Cabin. My lay over is 2 hours 40 mins, do you think I will have enough time to get my dog. PLEASE HELP me, i am flying on the 4th of June.

By on May 29, 2018 at 4:05 pm

Hi Pompie!

Since you are changing airlines, you will need to clear yourself through customs in Taipei, go to the cargo facility, get your pet & his paperwork, then clear your pet through customs. Once you guys have cleared customs, you will need to re-check yourself & your pet into the flight. and go through security again.

We typically suggest you allow at least 4 hours for international layovers, but it would all depend on how long the customs process lasts in Taipei. We facilitate this type of door-to-door moves for our clients everyday so if we can assist in anyway, please fill out our Arrange a Move form and someone will be in touch with you with a solution. Thanks!

By Jirapha Su on May 15, 2018 at 12:22 pm

Hi! I'm flying from JFK-BKK with a 4-5 hour layover in Incheon, South Korea with one dog in cabin and one dog in cargo.. Do I need any additional documents for the layover? I will have their USDA endorsed health certificates and their vaccines ready. But didn't know if I needed to fill out any additional forms for the layover. Thank you!!

By on May 17, 2018 at 11:05 am

Hi Jirapha! Thanks for your question. If you are not changing airlines, going through security & clearing customs - then you will not need any additional paperwork for your layover in Korea. The airline should transfer your pet from one flight to the next but you should double check with with the airlines on their process for cargo travel & layovers for your pet. When you get to BKK, you will clear customs for yourself & your pet traveling in-cabin. Then you will go to cargo, get your pet's paperwork off the kennel, then go back to customs to clear your other pet through customs. Hope this helps!

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