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 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!

By Nate on July 16, 2018 at 10:49 am

Hello,I'm going to be flying out of Guangzhou (CAN) airport back to Vancouver (YVR) and a lot of the airlines will have layovers in Hong Kong. With Hong Kong's strict guidelines for quarantine, can be dog simply avoid the quarantine if we're switching planes or on a layover? Thank you!

By Maegan at PetRelocation on July 16, 2018 at 11:54 am

Hi Nate! Thanks for your question. Here are the requirements for moving your pet to Canada. Specific details about what will happen in Hong Kong will be determined by your airline routing. Typically, if you are not changing airlines & clearing customs - your pet will not need to meet import requirements of the transiting country. If you are looking for a service like ours to help, please let us know!

By nate doyle on July 17, 2018 at 2:28 am

Hi Maegan,I'd be flying out of Guangzhou through Cathay Dragon, then transferring onto a Cathay Pacific flight in HK. Even though it's the same company, is it still considered a separate airline? The rules seem to be the same as they have merged their websites.

By Maegan at PetRelocation on July 20, 2018 at 1:00 pm

Hi Nate! We're not quite sure as we have not put pets on Cathay Dragon yet, but if you are not clearing customs in HKG then your pet will not need to meet import requirements. I'd suggest calling Cathay to confirm transit procedures there. Hope this helps!

By edna on July 12, 2018 at 11:52 am

traveling with my pet ( small shihtzu) to clark philippines via asiana airline. we have a 9hours layover. do you have idea which hotel the best to stay with pet that close to the airport. and what is the paper needs of my pet to go out in the airport? thank you ....

By Maegan at PetRelocation on July 16, 2018 at 11:51 am

Hi Edna! Here are the requirements for importing your pet into the Philippines. We are not familiar with local hotels in Clark but please let us know if we can assist with anything else! Thanks!

By Edna on July 17, 2018 at 7:14 am

Hi.thanks for the reply. I was traveling way back. And the only thing i concerned more is the long layover in incheon airport..if i can take out My dog in the bag during the layover.i am familliar with all the requirments in my country. but i do have contact in incheon airport about it...and it seem its gonna be ok..thank's anyway....

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 Maegan at PetRelocation 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!

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