Flying with Pets to the United States

flying with pets to the usa

Travelling with pets can either be a smooth and manageable experience or a stressful and confusing one, especially when flying within the United States of America. Several factors influence how easy or difficult your journey might be, such as your departure location, specific airline regulations, and the type of pet you have. These aspects can significantly impact your travel experience when flying with your pet to the USA. At Ferndale Kennels, the best pet relocation company, our goal is to simplify the process of flying with pets to the USA, making it as seamless as possible for pet owners. We’ve compiled essential information on what you need to know, including key requirements, airline pet policies, and recommendations for the best airlines for travelling with dogs, cats, and other pets.

Our comprehensive guide covers everything from the documentation needed for pet travel, such as health certificates and vaccination records, to the specific rules. Whether you’re a first-time pet traveller or an experienced pet parent, our expert advice and thorough breakdown will help you navigate the complexities of pet travel, making your trip to the USA with your beloved companion as enjoyable and stress-free as possible.

Can You Fly With Pets To The United States?

flag of united states of america

If you’re planning to fly to the United States with your pets, you’ll be pleased to learn that the country is very accommodating to animals like cats and dogs. You can also bring domesticated rabbits, rodents, ferrets, turtles, and non-venomous snakes, although some may require extra steps.

However, the rules can vary depending on your departure country and the airline you choose. Airlines may have different policies regarding the types of pets they accept, the size and weight limits, and the documentation required. It’s essential to check with your airline well in advance to ensure you comply with their specific regulations and to make any necessary arrangements for your pet’s comfort and safety during the flight.

Additionally, travelling with pets to Hawaii and Guam involves different regulations, as these regions are rabies-free and have strict measures to maintain this status. We’ll cover the details of these requirements later.

What are the US Pet Import Regulations?

us pet import regulations

The United States has specific regulations for importing pets to ensure the safety and health of both the animals and the public. Here are the general guidelines:

Microchip: Certain states or airlines may mandate that pets be microchipped. The microchip ensures that if a pet is lost or separated from its owner, it can be easily identified and quickly reunited. The microchip is a safe and permanent form of pet identification, which is increasingly being required for travel and ownership registration purposes.

Health Certificates: Pets typically need a health certificate issued by a licensed veterinarian, stating the animal is healthy and free from infectious diseases. The certificate should usually be issued within a specific time frame before travel (often within 10 days).

What Documents Do I Need For My Pet To Travel To The USA?

pet documents to travel to the usa

Planning ahead for your trip with your pet involves getting the necessary documents in order.  For pet dogs, here’s what you typically need:

  1. A health certificate from a vet stating your dog is healthy and fit to travel is issued within 10 days of your flight. If your dog has an EU pet passport or similar international document, that works too.
  2. Proof of rabies vaccination.
  3. Confirmation that your dog hasn’t been in a country with a high risk of rabies in the past six months, either verbally or in writing.

Depending on where you’re coming from and where your pet dog has been recently, you might need extra documents such as:

  • A CDC-approved Rabies Vaccination certificate from a licensed vet is required if your dog was vaccinated outside the US in a low-risk country and you’re travelling from a high-risk rabies country.
  • A 15-digit ISO microchip (as listed in the CDC rabies vaccination record).
  • A declaration that your dog is free of screwworms or has been treated for them if you’re coming from a country where screwworms are found.

Are all Airlines Pet-Friendly?

When planning to fly with your pet, the first step is to choose the right airline. Not all airlines are pet-friendly, and their policies can vary significantly. It’s essential to research and compare different airlines to find the one that best suits your needs. Some airlines allow pets to travel in cabins as well.

Research Pet-Friendly Airlines: Some airlines, like American Airlines, Lufthansa Airlines, Turkish Airlines, Singapore Airlines have a good reputation for pet travel. They are some for their excellent per services. Some of these airlines also allow pets in cabins, in some situations.

Comparing Pet Policies and Fees: Each airline has its own set of rules regarding pet travel. Compare their policies, fees, and services to ensure you choose the best option for your pet.

How Can I Take My Pet To The USA?

When entering the USA by air, your pet can travel with you in the cabin, as checked baggage, or as cargo.

Cabin Travel

Airline Criteria: The pet must be well-behaved and odor-free. If your airline allows pets in the cabin, you need to provide your pet’s documents at the check-in desk. After that, proceed through security and board the plane as usual. During the flight, your pet must remain in their carrier for the entire journey.

Size and Weight: In-cabin pet travel is usually for small pets that can fit in a carrier under the seat in front of you. The pet must weigh 7-9 kg or less to travel in the cabin.

Carrier Requirements: The carrier should be well-ventilated, leak-proof, and large enough for your pet to stand, turn around, and lie down comfortably.

Keeping Your Pet Comfortable: Bring a familiar blanket or toy to help soothe your pet. Avoid feeding them a large meal before the flight to prevent motion sickness.

Cargo Hold Pet Travel

Cargo Hold Conditions: The cargo hold is temperature-controlled and pressurized. Choose a direct flight if possible to minimize the time your pet spends in the hold and also the need for an additional takeoff, one more, landing, and an unfamiliar transit environment, and less times the crate needs to be moved by staff.

Crate Requirements: The crate should be sturdy, well-ventilated, and large enough for your pet to move around comfortably. Add a soft blanket and secure the crate door with zip ties for extra security.

Safety Precautions: Ensure your pet is well-hydrated before the flight and attach a water dish inside the crate. Include your contact information and a photo of your pet on the crate in case they get lost.

Monitoring During the Flight: While you won’t have direct access to your pet during the flight, some airlines offer services to keep you updated on their status.

Note that some airlines only allow pets to fly in the hold as checked baggage or cargo unless they are service dogs. Therapy dogs might have to travel in the hold unless they meet the airline’s size restrictions.

Arrival Procedures in the US.

Once you arrive in the USA, there are a few steps to ensure a smooth entry for your pet.

Customs and Border Protection: Be prepared to show your pet’s documentation to customs officials. They may ask to see health certificates and other paperwork.

Picking Up Your Pet: If your pet traveled in the cargo hold, follow the airline’s instructions for picking them up. 

Post-Arrival Tips

After arriving in the USA, it’s important to help your pet settle into their new environment.

Settling Your Pet into the New Environment: Allow your pet some time to adjust to their new surroundings. Keep familiar items nearby to help them feel at home.

Finding Local Veterinarians: Locate a vet in your new area if your pet needs regular medications, and just to generally meet and register with a local veterinarian.

After arriving in the USA, it’s important to help your pet settle into their new environment.

Ferndale Kennel Service for the USA (To/From)

If you’re planning to relocate your pet to the USA from Singapore or Hong Kong, Ferndale Kennels is the ideal choice. With 30 years of experience in pet relocation, Ferndale Kennels ensures a seamless and stress-free process for you and your pet. 

We also provide a boarding service to ensure a smooth and comfortable transition if you are returning to Hong Kong or Singapore from the USA. For specific details and expert guidance, contact our offices. HK: +852 2791 9330, SG: +65 9017 8055.


Flying with your pet to the USA requires careful planning and preparation, but it doesn’t have to be stressful. By following these guidelines, you can ensure a safe and comfortable journey for your furry friend. Remember, the key to a successful trip is thorough preparation and staying informed about all regulations and requirements.

Relocating to the USA with Your Pet?

Are you moving to the USA with your pet? Ferndale Kennels offers premium door-to-door services to make your pet’s relocation as easy and stress-free as possible. We handle everything, from import permits and quarantine arrangements to transportation. Our experienced team ensures full compliance with all USA regulations, guiding you through every step to guarantee a smooth transition for your furry friend.

For a hassle-free pet relocation experience, trust Ferndale Kennels, the leading international pet relocation agency. Let us take care of all the details so you and your pet can enjoy a smooth move to your new home in the USA. Contact us today to get started!

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Dr Matthew Murdoch

Dr Matthew Murdoch

Veterinary Surgeon, Director

Dr Matthew is a UK-trained practicing Veterinarian and a globally recognized expert in pet travel who is committed to providing safe and smooth journeys for your beloved pets. His compassion and care for animals are second to none.