Shipping a Pet Overseas from the United States
The Overseas Briefing Center provides country-specific pet information for the foreign affairs community assigned to a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. We encourage pet owners to review carefully their travel plans for upcoming international moves.
Whether moving overseas or returning to the United States on official U.S. government orders, pet owners need to determine an airline carrier’s pet policies on live animals as excess baggage, cargo, and in-cabin before booking your pet. It is also important for pet owners to determine which carrier has the contract for their travel route and what the expenses will be.
GSA Waiver for Airline Pet Travel: If the airline (contract carrier) cannot guarantee the shipment of the pet to the point of destination as accompanied/excess baggage, then members of the Foreign Service community, traveling on official orders, are authorized to use another carrier with some caveats (i.e., if in Europe must use an EU airline) and they may have to cost construct the difference between the contract passenger fare and the other airline passenger fare.
International Pet Travel on American Carriers
The information below pertains to cats and dogs. Airline policies regarding other pets may vary. Contact the airlines directly for additional information. The travel policies of U.S. airlines with regard to shipping animals are subject to change at any time. These policies are much more restrictive than in past years. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) policy regarding the shipment of pets traveling as cargo on passenger planes should also be carefully reviewed. If your pet must be shipped as cargo using a commercial shipper, it is important to contact one early in the moving process. The information below provides only general guidelines. It is crucial that you review all considerations with the airline and, if necessary, the pet shipper you plan to use. OBC recommends that you request written confirmation of reservations you make for the shipment of your pet.
There are three ways you can ship your pet via the airlines:
- Your pet can travel on the plane with you (either in-cabin or in the cargo). In either case, your pet will be considered excess/accompanied baggage and charged accordingly. Some airlines no longer offer this option.
- You can book your pet on a separate flight. In this case, you will be charged the cargo rate, which is considerably more than excess baggage. Some airlines no longer offer this option.
- You can have your pet shipped through a licensed commercial shipper. You will be charged the cargo rate plus the shipper’s fee. Several airlines require this method unless your pet is small enough to fit in the cabin.
As a rule, animals 100 lbs. or larger (including the weight of the cage) will be charged as cargo even if they travel on the same plane as you. It is important to check with the airline if your pet is close to that weight and to determine if its policy may vary from this general 100 lb. rule.
Traveling with a Service Animal
Worldwide Import and Quarantine Restrictions
- For U.S. Government employees and family members ONLY
- Visit or e-mail the Overseas Briefing Center (OBC) to inquire about pet entry requirements for your post assignment.
- Notify the post once you have your assignment that you will be bringing a pet(s) and what kind.
- For the general public traveling outside the United States with pets
- Review the International Animal Export Regulations, provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture – Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS).
- Check the requirements to see how close to departure the required veterinarian examination, inoculations, and tests must be scheduled.
- Call the appropriate embassy in Washington, DC to confirm the entry requirements for the country you are moving to. Some embassies will provide forms printed in English and in the host language for your veterinarian to complete. Some countries do not permit importation or have long quarantine requirements .
- Arrange with your veterinarian for required shots and certificates within the specified time period.(Even though not always required, it is recommended that you include shots for distemper and hepatitis).
U.S. Airline Pet Policies
Typically, airlines require pet health certificates that are no older than 10 days, even if the receiving country accepts an older one. Some countries, however, require a health certificate to be even less than 10 days. This is an important point to check directly with the airline. U.S. Government employees or family members may contact the Overseas Briefing Center for information on airline restrictions.
- American Airlines
- Reservations: 1 (800) 433-7300
- Air Cargo Section: 1 (800) 227-4622
- Ask about Military and Department of State pet travel exemptions (when employee traveling on official orders)
- Reservations: 1 (800) 241-4141
- Live Animal Desk: 1 (888) 736-3738 or 1 (888) SEND PET or 1 (866) 782-2746
- United Airlines
- Ask about Military and Department of State pet travel exemptions (when employee traveling on official orders)
- International Reservations: 1 (800) 538-2929
- Live Cargo: 1 (800) 825-3788
The ISO Microchip
If assigned to an EU or non-EU country that requires an ISO microchip, it is important to determine if your veterinary clinic carries ISO-compliant microchips known as ISO microchip standards 11784 and 11785. EU transponders do NOT read non-ISO microchips. Microchips should always be implanted prior to administering the required rabies booster.
If your veterinary clinic does not carry ISO microchips, you may purchase one from the Pet Travel Store (877-241-0184) and bring it to your vet for insertion. You can also order the Eurochip by Avid, which is ISO standard 11785 compliant from Countryside Pet Supply (1-800-313-5737). The Crystal Tag chip also meets ISO standards 11784 and 11785.
Pet owners should first visit the U.S. Department of Agriculture – Animal and Plant Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) website to review country requirements for pet arrival. Pet certification requirements vary from country to country. Some countries simply require the veterinarian who examines your pet to be licensed in the state of origin, and no USDA endorsement of the veterinarian’s examination statement is required. Some countries will accept a standard letterhead health certificate and rabies certificate issued by a licensed veterinarian and endorsed by the USDA. However, other countries may require that your pet be checked by a federally-accredited veterinarian and that a United States Interstate and International Certificate for Health Examination for Small Animals (7001 USDA-APHIS Form) be issued by that veterinarian and endorsed by the USDA. Check the airline you will be using for your pet. There have been cases where a country does not require a certification, but a particular airline does. There is a USDA endorsement fee per certificate for cats and dogs. Note: More than one dog or cat may be on a certificate. For other animals, call the USDA at the numbers below.
The timetable for obtaining examination statements and certifications can be very tight. Plan well in advance to be sure all paperwork is complete in time for your shipping date. You may send your paperwork by mail or courier along with a rabies certificate, the appropriate fee for service, and a self-addressed stamped envelope or a pre-paid Federal Express envelope (if you are short of time) for return to you. Be sure that the veterinarian’s name is legible, and include a contact person with a daytime telephone number. Pets examined by veterinarians in other U.S. areas should have the papers certified by the USDA-APHIS veterinary office in that state.
To mail, the certificate must be sent to:
USDA – APHIS, VS Exports
500 Karner Road
Albany, NY 12205
If you wish to deliver the certificate in person, call 24 to 48 hours in advance for an appointment.
U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS)
400 N. 8th St., 7th floor
Richmond, VA 23240
Tel: (804) 343-2560 Fax: (804) 343-2599
Alternate: Call 301-851-3300 and press option 2.
Authentication of the USDA Certificate
Authentication of the USDA certificate forms may be required by the country to which you will be traveling with your pet. Check with the embassy before arrival.
If required, go to the Department of State’s Office of Authentications
600 19th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20006
Tel: 202-485-8000 or 1-800-333-4636 and then press 5
Fax: (202) 663-3636
The office is open on a walk-in basis from 8:00 am to 3:30 pm, Monday through Friday. Recommended times to visit are 10:00 am – 3:30 pm. There is a authentication fee per document and the average waiting time is one hour. The check should be made payable to U.S. Department of State.
Customers seeking urgent same day services must schedule an appointment with an Authentications Specialist and meet the following criteria: the documents submitted for authentication are the customer’s personal documents and do not belong to a third party or the customer is scheduled for international travel and can show proof of international travel within 24-48 hours.
You may view more information about form requirements on the USDA-APHIS website at and whether forms need to be authenticated. The most common form that will need authentication is 7001 USDA-APHIS Form (Certification of Health for Small Animals).
European Union Pet Regulations
- For a detailed explanation of the European Union (EU) Pet Regulations, check the European Commission website for pet entry into a EU country.
- For the United Kingdom, check the UK’s Bring Your Pet to the UK: Step by Step website.
- If your pet is shipped as cargo over 5 days after your arrival in the EU, a commercial EU Pet Animal Health Certificate Form will be required. The form must be signed by your private veterinarian and endorsed by a USDA-APHIS veterinarian within 48 hrs. prior to the pet’s arrival in the EU. This form is attached to the pet’s paperwork during travel. If your pet is only transiting the EU, this regulation will not apply.
- Rabies Titer Tests – A rabies titer blood test (rabies antibody titration test) may be required for entry into certain EU countries (depending on the country from which the pet originates). Those shipping a pet to the EU from outside the United States can expect to have to pay for the cost of the blood test in addition to the shipment cost. Check the European Union website for a list of “rabies controlled” countries from which the rabies titer test is not required.
Emergency Planning for Your Pet
Pet owners should also consider the possibility of emergency situations while overseas that could require rapid departure or shipping of a pet. Take time to think about the resources your pet(s) might need and consider options for sheltering them in-country as well as making plans for departure on short notice. The Overseas Briefing Center offers U.S. Government foreign affairs personnel helpful information in the case of evacuation from an embassy or consulate. Email the OBC.
- Plane Talk: Traveling with Animals and Pet Tips from the Department of Transportation
Note: This is not an endorsement but for informational purposes only. The U.S. government can provide no guarantees and accepts no responsibility thereof for any action taken on the visitor’s part based on the information provided.