Figuring out how to legally travel abroad with your dog may be the toughest part. If you’re like me, you’re constantly worried that you may be missing something and you’ll get to the airport or to your new country and be stuck without a piece of paper you didn’t know you needed.
Learning from experience, below are the necessary guidelines to get you from the USA to Europe (and other non-quarantine countries) with your Barkpacker.
** Please note that these rules are constantly changing, particularly when it comes to flying, so always check with your airline before booking. **
What do I need to get out of the USA and into a new country with my pup?
First, there’s the standard requirements you’ll find when flying domestically:
- Up-to-date rabies vaccination
- Health certificate issued 7 days before (some allow up to 10 days before)
- Airline-approved carrier (unless they’re traveling as an emotional support animal. More information on this below)
Then, there’s the passport issued in your country of origin. For example, in the US, the passport only takes about three days to get delivered and sent back to you but it costs you an arm and a leg and it’s not very pretty – just a stack of papers with signatures. The estimated breakdown of costs for initial pet traveling paperwork is below (prices may vary depending on vet so do some shopping around):
- Passport: $325
- USDA endorsement of paperwork: $38
- Health Certificate: $125 (Aphis 7001)
- Fed-Ex: $36
These are all the necessary papers to leave the country. Your USA passport will only work for 3 years and for only one country. So if you’re planning on visiting a different country with your Barkpacker from the USA then you’ll need to get a new passport for that country at the same (ridiculously high) price.
How do I avoid having to put my dog in a carrier during the flight?
Hauling a carrier around the whole time you’re traveling is a serious drag. Especially considering most backpackers have their hands full already with a big heavy bag (or two) AND the added burden of a dog. When I fly with my pup, she sits on my lap or if the seat is large enough, we share seat space. An annual letter from my doctor stating that Olive is my emotional support animal makes this journey possible.
So before you fly, check with your doctor and see if you’re qualified to get a letter for yourself. For more information on what exactly an emotional support animal note entails, click here.
It's also noteworthy that if your dog is considered an emotional support animal you also eliminate any extra costs for having an animal with you (usually at least $100 each way).
Once arriving in Europe, am I then able to travel to any country in the European Union with my dog?
Not without getting an EU passport first. You’re probably thinking the same thing I did, "you’re joking right? Another passport??" It’s true. Once you arrive in Europe, if you wish to travel to different countries, your USA passport will not suffice. As I stated earlier, the passport only works for one country – the one you’re flying into.
I was lucky enough to have a local vet who knew this information so I was able to book a vet appointment in my arriving city of Amsterdam ahead of time.
As with the comparison of human healthcare in Europe and the USA, European animal care is WAY cheaper. A health certificate and EU passport (working for any country in the EU and actually looking like a cute little passport instead of an ugly stack of papers) was only 50 Euros. This in comparison to the roughly $550 I paid for my USA passport (which, again only gets you to one country) was peanuts.
Keep in mind that when you travel back to the USA, you'll need another health certificate issued 7 days before you head home. Make an appointment in your exiting country accordingly.
Paperwork is just one hurdle to get over when traveling with your best friend. Don’t forget the importance of preparing your pup, getting the right stuff and doing plenty of accommodation research.