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 Jheril Cunanan on April 24, 2018 at 3:48 pm

Hi My mother (Philippines) really want the dog I have here in USA and I got a litter so I wan to send her a 4month old . My niece will be going back to Philippines these June 2018 and we are having problem if what we need to do . My niece will be departing from Texas ( American airlines and layover to Hongkong for 2hours and change Airline to PAL going to Philippines. American Airlines confirmed that they accept pup in cabin/under the seat provide crate is approved on size but they have inform to check with PAL. We called PAL and they accept pet as check in luggage and inform us that HONGKONG is not accepting pet. We check website and we are having hard time to understand. Would u help to advise if Hongkong does really not accept or do they. IF they ,what should we do to get aside the health certificate?Do they require a permit and how to obtain it. Please help to enlighten us so my mother would have these dog. Thank you

By on April 26, 2018 at 10:44 am

Hi Jheril!

You may find that this list of requirements for Hong Kong answers some of your questions. To import a dog into Hong Kong, it must be five months of age and arrive as manifest cargo. This may be why you are getting information about the dog not being accepted. For arrival in the Philippines, make sure you have also met these requirements. If you need assistance with this move, our pet relocation experts have a lot of experience moving dogs to Hong Kong from the US. If you fill out this form with some additional details, someone on our team will contact you as soon as possible. Hope this helps!

By Rowena Leanda on April 20, 2018 at 7:16 pm

I will be traveling with my dog next month using Asiana Airlines from Bangkok to Manila and have a layover in Seoul (Incheon) for 9 to 12 hours. As you have mentioned, if I’m using the same airlines and just switching plane it means my dog doesn’t need rabies titer test as required in Korea, right? What will happen to my dog during that layover period?Hoping for your reply.

By on April 23, 2018 at 3:10 pm

Hi Rowena! Thanks for your question. You are correct. If your pet is not changing airlines & clearing customs, their stopover in Korea is considered a "transit" so it is not required they meet Korea requirements. We don't have a lot of experience flying pets on Asiana Airlines; however, it seems as if they have a few pet policies in place which is a good sign! When you call to book your pup's flight, we'd suggest asking the airline directly what their procedures are like for pets at the ICN airport during layovers (are pets let out of their kennels, put in larger runs, given water/food, etc.). Hope this helps!

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!

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