Pet Air Shipping – Understanding the Process and Requirements

Several essential factors play a role when transporting pets by air. These include the type of pet, flight length, and the weather conditions at the airports of origin and destination.

Choose an airline committed to pet safety. Look for transparent pricing structures that reduce potential costs.


In addition to valid rabies vaccination, state and international regulations dictate what is required to fly your pet. A reputable pet shipping company will handle all the necessary paperwork and ensure your pet meets the airline’s and destination country’s requirements.

Most major airlines will allow pets to travel in the cabin if they can fit comfortably in a small carrier under the seat. If your pet is too large, it must be shipped as cargo in a crate that must meet specific size restrictions. Aside from that, you need to check the pet shipping cost and other possible handling fees.

Airline cargo policies vary and can change, so check with each airline for up-to-date information. It’s also important to contract with your pet shipping company well before the trip for countries requiring blood testing, import permits, consulate stamps, and other complex procedures.


Vaccinations are essential to your pet’s overall health plan, protecting them from various diseases. Keeping your pets up-to-date on their vaccinations is especially critical when they need to travel.

Most pet owners prefer to fly their pets in the cabin rather than the cargo hold, which can be stressful for animals. However, for some destinations and airlines, flying pets in the cargo hold is a necessary part of the process. Pet parents should always check with their veterinarians for airline and country requirements.

For example, some countries require a microchip that is compatible with their country’s system. The type of vaccinations required will also vary by destination. For this reason, it is important to consult with your veterinarian and review all vaccination records before making your trip plans.

Health Certificates

The USDA has specific health requirements that must be met before you can get your pet on a plane. A certified veterinarian will check for the vaccinations required to fly (such as parvo and rabies) and perform a parasite examination. This will also include looking for any ticks or fleas on your pet. They will also require a worming medication to be administered to your pet.

A health certificate is a legal document issued by your Federal, State, Tribal, or accredited vet stating that your pet has been inspected and found to meet the regulations for travel within the same state, between states, or internationally. It includes very specific information that may differ from country to country. 


Depending on your destination, pets may need to pass through quarantine when they arrive. Quarantine is where arriving pets are separated from healthy, symptom-free animals and may have been exposed to a contagious agent such as rabies. The container your pet will be shipped in must be large enough for the animal to stand up, turn around, and lie comfortably.

It should also have handles and grips so that a cargo loader can safely handle it. For international travel, choose a shipper familiar with the airline’s requirements. It is important to work with a professional who knows the rules and regulations and can keep up with them more regularly than a do-it-yourselfer would. 


Whether moving pets across the country or another continent, meticulous planning and adherence to government and airline requirements are critical. A pet shipping company can make the process less stressful by guiding you through airline regulations, flight options, and import rules for your destination country.

Pets can travel as carry-on or checked luggage depending on their size, breed, and health. Small animals (like kittens or rabbits) can travel in the cabin, while larger dogs and cats must fly as cargo.



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