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 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!

By Will thammaneewong on February 14, 2018 at 1:22 am

Hi. I'm planning to travel from US to Thailand with a 25lbs dog. There will be a long 14 or 15 hour layover either in Frankfurt if I fly Lufthansa or Vienna if I fly Austrian Air. There will not be a change of Airlines regardless which airlines I choose. The dog will be placed in the cargo hold since it's too big for a cabin checked. My questions are: Do I have to retrieve my dog, go through the custom and recheck him? If I don't have to retrieve him, where will he be for the 14 hour layover? Under Lufthansa's care in the cargo area at the airport? Do I have a choice to retrieve him and walk him around the airport and then recheck him ?Thank you so much for the information!

By on February 14, 2018 at 9:09 am

Thanks for your question, Will! We recommend booking with Lufthansa in this instance, as they provide great layover accommodations for pets traveling as cargo. Their Frankfurt Animal Lounge even offers a premium service if you would like to receive pictures of your dog during his stay there! Your dog should be in their care for the duration of the trip (layover included), but if you need clarification on any part of this process, you can contact Lufthansa Cargo directly to discuss booking options in more detail. Hope this helps!

By Will on February 15, 2018 at 12:41 am

Thank you so much for your information. I greatly appreciate it!

By Mo on February 7, 2018 at 4:39 pm

Hello, im traveling with my dog from Florianopolis, Brazil to Cairo Egypt. A bit confused about the procedures ..Dog is a 6 months Staffordshire terrier . vaccinated, microchipChoosing the airline is not easy, yet to confirm Swissair, First layover is in Brazil in Sao Paulo, by TAM airlines. then a 4h layover in France or Zurich. by Swissair. to Egypt by swissair aswell.Do i need specific documents or vaccines for that layover in Europe ? Do you recommend any airlines? since most of them band this breed.Thank you

By on February 8, 2018 at 10:12 am

Hello Mo, thanks for reaching out!

As mentioned in the above post, if your dog's layover in Europe falls under 24 hours and your dog will not be switching airlines, there are no additional requirements needed for this transit.

As for airlines that will take Staffordshire Terriers, we recommend looking into KLM or United, if possible. While these airlines will require your dog to travel in a reinforced kennel (CR-82), they do offer safe transport for Staffordshire Terriers.

We hope this helps and best of luck to you!

By Ysabelle Calara on February 5, 2018 at 12:27 am

Hello,I’ll be traveling with my 3 y/o shihztu from the Philippines to NJ USA via Korean Airlines and we will transit through ICN Korea where we will have a 5 hours layover. Once we arrive at the ICN Airport what will be the necessary steps that we have to take? Do we go directly to the next boarding gate or do we need to go through quarantine? Please help!

By on February 5, 2018 at 3:24 pm

Hi Ysabelle,

As long as you are not switching airlines on this layover and do not leave the airport, Korea should be considered a transit country, not a destination for import. Otherwise, you will need to prepare to fulfill the following requirements upon arrival. Please contact the Animal and Plant Quarantine Agency there to confirm that they don’t have any transit requirements, as a small number of countries do require documentation even on layovers. Thanks for your question, and happy travels!

By Juliana on January 30, 2018 at 9:26 pm

Hello there. In desperate need of help. I'm traveling from US to KL with a brief layover in hong kong. I have all the required paperwork for entry into KL. But do I need a special transit permit for the layover in hong kong? Not changing airlines only changing planes. Can you provide any insight?

By Tiara on March 4, 2018 at 1:34 pm

hi Juliana - I am wondering how ur trip went. Did u have a dog or cat? Were they in cabin or cargo. I myself am in desperate need of help and PRIMARILY correct info!! 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. Or I can go thru HongKong but Cathay does not allow pets in cabin so I realize ur pet was prob in cargo??Thx!!

By on January 31, 2018 at 1:51 pm

Hi Juliana, and thanks for your question! You do need a transit permit for a layover in Hong Kong. You can obtain this by contacting the AFCD (Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department) there. Happy travels!

Add a Comment

Name is required

Email is required and must be in the format

Comment is required

Back to top