Traveling Internationally with Service Dogs

service dogWe recently received a question via email asking how to bring a service dog to Australia, so we thought it would be a good opportunity to go over a few basic rules and best practices for traveling internationally with an assistance animal.

  • Traveling with service dogs means following different airline procedures for the most part, as airlines often allow pets in the cabin in these instances. Here are the instructions for traveling with a service animal via United and via Lufthansa, for example.

  • Here is an overview of the rules for service dogs for Australia; owners must fill out an application to be approved before they can complete the import steps. Usually pets entering Australia must undergo a 10-day quarantine in an approved quarantine facility, but service dogs can fulfill the quarantine at home with their owners.

  • Be prepared to show official paperwork proving your support animal is legitimate (this will likely be a letter from your medical doctor or mental health professional).

  • Typically service animals need to fit on the floor in front of the passenger chair (and can't sit on the seat), and they travel free of charge.

  • Space can be limited in the cabin, so contact the airline well in advance to tell them you'll be traveling with a service animal.

  • Even though airlines probably won't require that service animals adhere to usual animal rules (traveling in the cargo area, etc.), countries still will. Find out what vaccinations and paperwork will be required for import and allow a few weeks to prepare.

  • Note that carriage can be denied if an animal is loud or acting in a way that disturbs other passengers—properly trained service animals shouldn't be a problem, but people who bring a noisy Chihuahua along as an emotional support animal may not be accepted to fly.

  • In addition to verifying country import rules, whenever you're planning to travel by air with a service animal it's a good idea to contact the airline directly to find out about the procedures (information isn't always available online and it can sometimes change).


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PetRelocation Team


Air Travel, Airlines, Ask the Experts




United States, Australia


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By suzan on June 16, 2018 at 10:34 pm

Hello, I am traveling with my ESA from us to Iran and I have 4 hours layover in Istanbul, Turkey. My layover is with in the same airline on the same itinerary , but Turkish airline emailed me that my dog will not consider as ESA on the second segment of my flight and must go to cargo. I get anxiety attack when I fly and that's the reason my doctor recommend my dog. Can they do that??

By Maegan at PetRelocation on June 18, 2018 at 10:07 am

Hi Suzan! Legalities change from country to country and we're not familiar with Turkey's specific legal requirements for service animals. However, in our experience, airlines do have the right to refuse pets traveling in-cabin as it is important to note that most airlines make a distinction between Emotional Support Animals (ESA) and Service Animals. For example, in the US, to be legally recognized as a service animal, these dogs must be trained to perform tasks that can help someone with a disability and ESA are not recognized by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as Service Animals. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news!

By Suzan on June 21, 2018 at 1:08 pm

Thank you for your respond, but my question is I am traveling with Turkish Airline from US to Istanbul and they accept my dog as ESA, how can they not accept it on the second leg of my travel?

By Maegan at PetRelocation on June 22, 2018 at 10:04 am

Hi Suzan - Thanks for your question. We're happy to help navigate the best we can however, we've never moved a pet in-cabin on Turkish Airlines to Iran as our services are specialized for pets traveling on their own plane ticket as manifest cargo. Because airlines can change policies at any time for pets traveling in-cabin, some clients feel it is easier to hire a company like ours to assist in their pet's journey. If you prefer to do this type of move on your own, my best suggestion to you is to confirm the conditions for your pet traveling in the cargo hold on Turkish Airlines as they will have final say about your pet traveling in-cabin. We're sorry we do not have more information about in-cabin travel!

By Manny on May 1, 2018 at 3:55 pm

Not many useful websites out there for service dog teams to go to without being asked to buy some license or some garbage of some sorts. I appreciate this website and this article was very helpful. I am planning a trip to Ireland and this has helped me a lot. Thanks

By Maegan at PetRelocation on May 1, 2018 at 5:22 pm

Thanks Manny! Glad we could help!

By Charles A. Wolsky on April 25, 2018 at 9:17 am

If you are traveling from the USA to Thailand, but have a several hour layover in Japan or Korea(but do not go outside security) are there quarantine rules for Japan or Korea with which we must comply?-------Or, just compliance with the animal quarantine rules of Thailand.

By Christina at PetRelocation on April 26, 2018 at 11:24 am

Hi Charles!

If your layover is with the same airline (on the same itinerary) and does exceed 24 hours, it should be considered a transit through Japan or Korea. Which means you will only need to meet requirements for your destination of Thailand. Also, you do not have to worry about quarantine in Thailand as it is not required there. Hope this helps!

By Mandi on June 7, 2017 at 3:35 pm

Do you have a list of requirements by country?

By on June 7, 2017 at 4:26 pm

Hi Mandi, yes we do! Here's a link to the import requirements for various countries: If you're starting somewhere other than the United States or if you're wondering about service dog requirements, we recommend double checking with the Ministry of Agriculture of the country to which you're traveling as well as the airline. Let us know if you need help planning your pet's move!

By Roger Smith on June 6, 2017 at 5:51 am

Thanks for information.

By on June 6, 2017 at 9:04 am

You're welcome, thanks for reading!

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