Traveling With Pets From The US To Europe

Traveling with pets from the United States to Europe, in particular the European Union nations, is a process that is simple once you know what to expect. Finding good information about the requirements prior to your trip is the most difficult part of the entire trip and most of the work is upfront. Importing your pets and getting through customs is the easy part.

First Steps: Where Are You Going?

This seems like a basic question to ask but you need to take be absolutely sure with the answers to these questions:

  • What are all of the cities you’ll be in, including layovers?
  • When is your trip? (You’ll need at most 30 days, at a minimum of 1 week depending on how current vaccinations are.)
  • Is your country in the European Union?
  • Which airline or airlines will you be flying and do they have any airline breed restrictions?
  • Crate dimensions? The airlines will require this before you can make reservations for your pets.
  • Cabin or not? If your pet is under a certain weight (i.e. 12lbs) you may be able to have them in the cabin with you. Airlines often only allow 2 pets per plane so call them early to ask. Also, if your pet doesn’t do well traveling and defecates, yowls, or has trouble when being transported, to the vet for example, consider having them fly as baggage where most larger animals are.

Many travelers often focus on the import of the pets and don’t thoroughly research these basics. Also, if you’re traveling with an animal other than a dog or a cat make sure there aren’t any prohibitions against importing them at your destination. Don’t just take the word of your vet or the airlines.

Check The Embassy Website

Like I mentioned above, do not get your pet travel information anywhere other than the embassies of each country you will be traveling to. Almost every single EU country will have information about what you need to bring pets in from the United States on their embassy websites. You can find contact information for every embassy in the world using EmbassyWorld and if you are unclear about anything feel free to give them a call.

What You’ll Need

This information is subject to change and is a general overview of what you’ll need to take your dog or cat from the US to the EU.

  • A microchip
  • A pet passport (that can be downloaded from the specific embassy’s website) – This ‘passport’ is a certification of health from your vet with the most important piece of information being that a rabies vaccination has been current for at least 30 days. So long as you’ve been keeping up to date on all of the US and state-required vaccinations you should be fine.
  • This passport must be signed and stamped with your state’s agriculture department. Your vet will be able to let you know where to send it.

Again, you need to verify all of the specific information for each country your animals will be going to and stopping along the way.

How Much Will It Cost?

Flying with your pets from the US to the European Union will hit your pocketbook on several fronts.

  1. The Airline: The price per pet is usually around the $200 range from the US.
  2. The Vet: A checkup plus any required vaccinations can run anywhere from $75-300.
  3. State Stamps: Shipping rates vary but you’ll usually find yourself sending a $50 check for each pet. That’s the fee required to stamp and process your vet certificates of health and EU pet passports.
  4. Crates: The airlines usually have restrictions on the type (i.e. plastic), size, and interiors of pet crates. Check with them to find out what you’ll need. New crates range on the size but start at $50 and can go up to $400.

There are also some miscellaneous costs as well like toys, treats, and chewing bones to keep your cat and dog happy for the plane ride.

Importing Usually Isn’t A Problem

When traveling from the US to the EU you generally won’t have any problems in customs with your pets. Often times they don’t even check your papers if your animals appear in good health. That doesn’t mean though you should try to skip or skimp on any of the requirements though since not having them could result in lengthy quarantines or possible deportation.

Check the requirements early, get your shots done on time, and make sure you’ve got the right crates and have informed the airline at least 10 days before your departure you’ll be booking for your pets as well. Once you’ve done all of the administrative work up front you can usually breeze through customs. The faster you’re at your destination and the quicker you get settled, the less stress your pets will face and the more enjoyable trip for everyone.

[photos by: Paul Schultz, Americatidol]

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