Each day, thousands of animals are transported safely and securely by air on airlines that welcome pets either onboard, as checked baggage, or as cargo. Traveling with a furry or feathered friend can be a stressful ordeal as there are numerous rules and regulations that must be met before, during and sometimes after the pet travel.
Regardless of whether passengers are taking their pets for a short travel or relocation, these strict rules and regulations must be met and generally require advance planning. Every country has its own set of health requirements for pets that may require pets to get a microchip, have specific vaccinations, quarantine reservations, or other necessary documentation.
In the following scenario, we will explore the most essential requirements for a seamless pet travel experience and follow John’s journey as he embarks on a short vacation with his canine companion, Milo.
Pets being transported as freight on an air waybill may have to comply with other conditions. In such cases, please refer to the competent cargo office. The IATA Live Animals Regulations (LAR) has set the industry standards for over 50 years. It covers animal transport of all kinds and contains comprehensive information about the requirements for protected and endangered species as lab animals, livestock, and domestic animals.
The IATA LAR provides further information on how to transport pets on commercial airlines. As each airline also has its own regulations for transporting pets, it is advisable to check with the airline before traveling.
Firstly, John will need to decide on an airline that will allow pets to be carried in the cabin. It is also crucial to understand each airline's regulations regarding carrier-specific rules for pets, fees and booking processes for his four-legged friend. Next, it is a requirement to schedule a visit to the veterinarian to ensure Milo is in good health and has all vaccination requirements up to date. During this visit, the vet would issue a health certificate which may include rabies vaccination details or a serology test. This health certificate is a document that is required by most airlines and destination countries to confirm the pet's fitness to travel. John may also need to request an import permit from the specific authorities for advance approval.
With all documents in place and the booking secured, John introduces Milo to Tiffany, the check-in agent on duty, and provides all the required documentation for onboarding so that she can review them and provide a boarding pass. During this process, Tiffany will need to ensure the validity of the required documentation. She must also verify that any additional destination requirements are met such as microchipping and special vaccination to avoid any complications on arrival for John and Milo.
Depending on the destination, John may be required to send Milo for inspection with the customs officer to check for any noticeable sign of external parasites. Where the destination requires the pet to go into quarantine, additional documentation will need to be presented. This usually involves an advance notice due to the space available for pets to be kept in a quarantine facility for a specific number of days as required by the state. As John and Milo are traveling to a quarantine-free destination, they are now ready to leave the airport as soon as John has received authorization from the customs officer.
Whether a passenger is traveling with a guide dog or other assistance animal, or their beloved family pet, each pet passenger will need to meet strict requirements for travel. An increasing trend of pet travel, which requires advance planning and preparation on the traveler’s behalf to meet travel requirements, means that creating awareness and sharing accurate information ahead of time will go a long way to supporting a great customer experience.
While IATA Timatic is synonymous with passenger entry travel regulation, it is also good to remember that entry regulations for pets are also available. We leverage our extensive sourcing networks to continually update this information with the most accurate rules and regulations for our furry or feathered friends, to make it easier for airlines and travelers.