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Traveling Internationally with a Dog

Updated: Apr 4

A Journey Across Three Continents and Twenty-Seven Countries and Counting.


Traveling internationally with a dog can be an enriching experience, but it requires meticulous planning and preparation. Imagine embarking on a journey with not one, but two furry companions, across diverse continents and numerous countries. This article delves deeply into the adventure travelling internationally with two dogs, spanning three continents and traversing twenty-seven countries and counting. It is a comprehensive guide with first-hand experience.

 

Preparation is Key

 

Before embarking on such an ambitious journey, thorough preparation is key. This includes ensuring that your dogs are in good health and up to date on vaccinations, obtaining required permits and documentation for each country, and researching pet-friendly accommodations and transportation options.

 

Continent 1: South America

 

The continent of South America offers an unforgettable adventure for both humans and their canine companions. While some countries may have stringent pet import regulations, careful planning can ensure a smooth journey with a dog.


Vaccination Requirements for Ecuador

 

The requirements to bring your dog from the United States to the South American country of Ecuador can be daunting. The vaccination requirements for Ecuador are all the following: Distemper, Canine Influenza, Leptospirosis, Parvovirus, one year Rabies vaccination (must not be the three year), internal and external parasitic treatments. The treatments for parasites must be done within 21 days of your flight. An international health certificate is required to travel internationally with a dog and must be provided by a USDA certified veterinarian. This certificate must be completed within 10 days of your departure to Ecuador.


International Health Certificate

 

Though it is not mandatory, it is easier if the veterinarian used for the international health certificate offers the digital version of the certificate. Ecuador does not require the rabies titer nor the microchip implantation, but I do recommend you consider getting both, especially if you plan to travel internationally with your dog to Europe as many countries will require it.


Rabies Titer Test- What is It??


A rabies titer test is a measurement of the antibody level from the rabies vaccine.

This test will cost you around $350 or more in the United States and in most veterinarian offices in Ecuador. Ecuador is currently listed as a high rabies country and currently in 2024, the United States still has a ban on pets coming back into the country from over 100 countries. If there was an unexpected need to re-enter the United States from Ecuador or any of the countries on the list of the high rabies countries, having the titer test if it has not been more than one year, and the microchip will allow you to enter with a CDC dog import permit through one of 18 approved airports.


Europe- Rabies Titer Testing


In the event your travels take you to Europe, for example Italy, the country.

not allow the dog in without the rabies titer test and an up-to-date rabies vaccination if they are coming from one of the high rabies listed countries.  In the EU, once the dog has the rabies titer testing performed and the levels come back properly, if the rabies vaccine does not lapse, this titer is good for the lifetime of the pet. The rabies titer is best done 100 days before leaving the United States. There is a mandatory 90-day waiting period after the test is performed, before the pet is allowed to enter any of the countries that require the rabies titer test. It is crucial to get the microchip implanted before the rabies vaccination in that order if you plan to travel internationally with your dog to Europe.


Flying with a Dog from the United States to Ecuador


My husband and I departed the United States on March 15, 2020, with our two chihuahuas bound for Ecuador in the middle of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Ecuador was by far the most difficult of all countries we have visited in terms of documentation and necessary vaccinations. Our experience flying with a dog from the United States to Ecuador was daunting, but worth it.

 

We had a 4.5-hour direct flight from Fort Lauderdale to Guayaquil Ecuador. From Guayaquil on the coast to the Andes mountains of Cuenca it takes about 4 hours of driving. We planned weeks ahead of our arrival and hired a driver to pick us up at the airport and drop us off at our new pet-friendly accommodation in Cuenca after a long, but uniquely scenic drive. After a long, stressful day we were finally in South America.

 

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, we remained in Ecuador unexpectedly for over 9 months. We explored the Andes, Mindo Cloud Forest, the Pacific Coast, Quito, Cotacachi, and the Amazon bringing our dogs along for the entire adventure. We climbed Cotopaxi to 16,000 feet. Our time in Ecuador was remarkable. Sadly, for us, our eldest chihuahua was 15.5 years of age and elderly and her health was deteriorating. We found several great veterinarians located in Cuenca Ecuador, and the cost of services were very reasonable. Unfortunately, she passed away after almost six months in Ecuador. We decided to adopt another dog, but unbeknownst to us, she was a puppy, not an adult dog as we thought. We had planned to leave South America for Europe and travel Europe by plane and train. As our little puppy grew, we realized this was likely not going to happen.


Flying from Ecuador to the United States with a Dog

 

When our time in South America had ended and we planned our short return visit to the United States, we had to schedule appointments with our veterinarian and have her issue international health certificates for both dogs. These certificates are mandatory for your dog to be allowed back into the United States. It was crucial they were done in a timely manner and presented to the Agricultural office for signatures. These signed documents were mandatory and had to be presented to the airline hours before we were scheduled for departure. Our experience flying from Ecuador to the United States with a dog was very stressful and we were grateful when the process was over.

 

Easiest European Country to Travel to From the United States with a Dog


We flew from Guayaquil, Ecuador back to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. This was a direct flight through JetBlue and at that point in time, both of our dogs were small enough to be transported with us in the cabin. We spent a few weeks in the United States seeing family and preparing to set off on our adventures through Europe.

 

Before leaving Ecuador, we spent countless hours researching the easiest European country to travel to from the United States with a dog. By far, the country of Serbia in the Balkans, stood out from the rest. They did require a few things, but nothing compared to dozens of other countries that we researched. To enter Serbia from the United States, we had to have the dogs microchipped, which is mandatory throughout Europe, they had to have valid up to date rabies vaccines and a valid international health certificate. The best and easiest way for us to get to Serbia was a direct flight from JFK (New York) to Belgrade, Serbia. It was a direct non-stop flight that had a duration of 8.5 hours. This was a clear winner for us, so we booked our one-way tickets and planned our journey.

 

Continent 2: North America

 

Crossing the Pacific Ocean, the journey took us to North America, where pet-friendly attitudes prevail in many regions. This continent offers a wealth of pet-friendly attractions.

 

However, crossing international borders with a dog involves additional documentation and health checks, particularly when traveling between the United States and South America.


International Health Certificate for Serbia

 

Our journey in North America began in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. We departed the plane from our flight in Guayaquil, Ecuador, and had to clear customs and agricultural control with our two dogs. As part of our trip in the United States had us driving to Tennessee, we strategically planned to utilize a veterinarian that would on our path to our departing destination of New York JFK International Airport. It was imperative that we ensure this appointment was timely enough for the international health certificate for Serbia to be issued within the 10-day time allotted by the country. We found an excellent veterinarian in Knoxville, Tennessee. Since both dogs had been microchipped and had their rabies titer test performed in Ecuador and we had those results in hand along with the very recent rabies vaccine, it was extremely simple for this veterinarian to do the examination needed and prepare the international health certificate for the mandatory USDA digital signature. We had verified, her office could get the certificate digitally signed by the USDA, which was a big savings of time and money. We also made sure the country of Serbia would accept a digital signature, so we did not have to allot more time for a physical mailing of the copy to the USDA. The veterinarian obtained the digital signature and emailed us a copy. We did have to have the digitally signed original documents to present to the airline. The veterinarian’s office had to express mail to the address we were staying in Tennessee. It is mandatory to show these certificates prior to boarding the plane and they cannot be issued more than 10 days before entry into their country.  To determine which required permits and documentation must be obtained for the country of importation, please visit this website: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/pet-travel


Continent 3: Europe


Flying from the United States to Serbia with a Dog

 

We boarded our flight to Belgrade Serbia via Air Serbia, Air Serbia allowed both of our dogs to fly with us in the cabin as they both met the weight limit requirements of the airline. We were well prepared for flying from the United States to Serbia with a dog with cleaning items for pet accidents, doggy diapers for the long flight and disposable pee pads. We packed dried chicken bites , a refillable water bottle and collapsible bowl, so we could have something very simple and easy to feed them the moment we arrived in Belgrade and an easy water solution for all of us for the long trip. Their soft airline approved carrier backpacks and sturdy expandable leashes for walks around the airport were perfect for this journey. It helped us tremendously to keep them contained as we navigated our way through customs and throughout the airport departure gates. Our arrival in Serbia was a breeze! There was no agricultural office to contend with nor for that matter anything more than exiting the plane and beginning our journey in Europe! We were so grateful.

 

Why We Travel Europe By Car


Unfortunately, Arya, our Ecuador rescue dog, has grown exponentially, and we can no longer fly Air Serbia, nor for that matter can we fly her in the cabin with any airlines in Europe. We now travel the continent by car. Air Serbia does not have a cargo option for your pets. They must fly in the cabin and meet the requirements. If you must fly your pet excess baggage, under the plane, KLM and Lufthansa are excellent choices.

 

These factors now led to yet another research project that took countless hours. We knew we could not fly around Europe, and we did not intend to get residency in any one country in Europe, especially not in the first year, so with persistence we found a way. We covered this in a few videos on our channel, Warren Julie Travel on YouTube. We have now been traveling Europe by car for over 3 years.

 

Our journey now begins in Europe, where pet-friendly policies are relatively common. From exploring the historic streets of Rome, the cobblestone narrow roads of Krakow to hiking the rugged coastline of Montenegro, Europe offers a myriad of experiences for both humans and their four-legged companions. Countries like France, Germany, Italy and Switzerland welcome dogs in many public spaces, making it easier to explore with them. Surprisingly, Turkey and Poland are remarkably pet friendly and they both offer unique experiences and low-cost options for everything from restaurants and cafés to budget friendly pet-friendly accommodations. If you plan to visit the Balkans, Central Europe or Turkey, it’s essential to read articles that provide insight into the destinations you plan to visit.


Crossing Land Borders in Europe with a Dog

 

Once we were in Serbia and ready to begin additional international travel through Europe, we had to get new international pet certificates to cross into North Macedonia. Due to the pandemic, we had more hurdles to get into EU countries, so we opted to stay in countries with easier restrictions. Ideally, we could have crossed directly from Serbia into Bulgaria, Romania or Hungary and obtained the EU pet passport immediately, but we were unable to do so at that time. We crossed back through Serbia and into Montenegro without a problem by land border. When we left Montenegro in May, we once again obtained an international health certificate, which was incredibly easy and about 10 euros. No one asked for any of this at the border, but we were prepared for the potential. We made our way to Bulgaria and crossing into the country was a breeze. We have found that crossing land borders in Europe with a dog is not difficult as long as you are prepared with the proper paperwork.


The Importance of the EU Pet Passport When Traveling Internationally with a Dog in Europe



A European Union Pet Passport
EU Pet Passport

While in Europe, travel is made easy by what we have affectionately nicknamed the golden passport, the EU pet passport.

A European pet passport is a document that is essential for travel between EU countries. The document contains the details of your pet, including its microchip number and its rabies vaccination record. It should also have the name and the address of the owner on it and the veterinarian who issued the passport. This passport can be obtained by any authorized veterinarian. It is valid for the life of the pet if the rabies vaccination does not expire. Don't underestimate the importance of the EU pet passport when traveling with a dog in Europe.


Crossing Land Borders in Europe with the EU Pet Passport

 

After entering Bulgaria, we immediately sought a veterinarian to issue the EU pet passport so crossing land borders in Europe would be nearly seamless. The Bulgarian veterinarian was easy to work with and he reviewed all the paperwork we had from Ecuador, the United States and Serbia. In particular, he was most interested in the rabies titer test, since we had been in the country of Serbia, a high rabies country, and he needed to add it in to the pet passport. He filled out the EU pet passport and ensured everything was up to date.  We are not always asked for documentation at borders, but when we are, we just present the passports for our dogs, and they are then permitted into the country.  Some of the Scandinavian countries require a veterinary certificate be issued in addition to the passport to enter their respective countries, but these are very select countries and if you are coming by land and have crossed into another country in the Schengen, the collective of 29 countries in Europe, there should be no issue. Norway does require an additional specific tapeworm treatment before entering their country. If you are flying into any Scandinavian country carefully review all requirements to import pets into the respective location.


Crossing into the United Kingdom from Europe with Dogs

 

The UK does have additional requirements as well. The pet must come in through specific borders. The documentation required depends upon where you are entering from in Europe. An example: Entering from France and your pet passport has been issued in Bulgaria, you are required to have the EU pet passport with an up-to-date rabies vaccination, a tapeworm treatment within 5 days of arrival into the UK and a microchip. There are many caveats to these processes, so we suggest you check out the UK government site https://www.gov.uk/bring-pet-to-great-britain/pet-passport

We have traveled through 26 countries throughout Europe as well as the European and Asian sides of Turkey.  This year, 2024, we will travel to many parts of Scandinavia and the United Kingdom as well as Scotland. We are nervous about crossing into the United Kingdom from Europe with dogs, but we know if we are well prepared, it should not be an issue.


Finding an Airbnb When Traveling with a Dog Through Europe

 

Traveling with a dog can be rewarding, but it can also be more difficult and a bit more expensive. We use travel sites for most of our lodging needs, but there are far less pet friendly options than listings available, so your pool of available properties will be much more limited. Finding an Airbnb when traveling with a dog through Europe can be stressful, but not impossible.

 

We have built a stellar reputation with great reviews, so at this point we can generally request an exception to the pet policy and will often receive it. Our one-night stays traveling from country to country or cross-country are often in hotels or booked through booking sites.

 

Our dogs are now well traveled and handle the process much easier than we feared in the beginning. They have adjusted to our early retirement slow travel lifestyle.

 

We make a practice of never leaving them alone in any of our accommodation for more than 6-8 hours at a time.

 

They have been well trained to sit peacefully inside and outside of restaurants and that makes for a much more enjoyable time for everyone. We get to enjoy the café culture throughout Europe, and they are privileged to spend the day out with us.

 

Traveling with a dog across multiple continents presents its share of challenges, including navigating varying pet import regulations, finding suitable accommodations, and ensuring the well-being of your furry companions throughout the journey. However, the rewards of exploring the world together with your dog far outweigh the challenges. The bond forged through shared experiences and the joy of witnessing their excitement as they discover new sights and smells make it all worthwhile.

 

Over the past four years we have been asked many times about whether we find it difficult to have our canine companions with us. Our answer is always the same. It will cost you more time and effort and may limit where and how you explore, but we would not trade the love we receive from them for anything.

 

Tips for International Pet Travel

 

1.    Research Pet Regulations: Familiarize yourself with the pet import requirements of each country well in advance of your journey.


2.    Obtain Necessary Documentation: Ensure that your dogs have all required vaccinations, microchips, and health certificates as per each country’s regulations.


3.    Plan Pet-Friendly Accommodations:

Research and book accommodations that welcome pets in each destination to ensure a comfortable stay.

  

4.    Prepare for Transportation: Choose pet-friendly transportation options, whether flying or driving, and familiarize yourself with the airline or transportation company’s pet policies.


Excess Baggage/Cargo Carrier for Airline Travel- Meets all airline requirements and available in many sizes.

 

Best Soft Carriers for Airline Travel- Meets all airline requirements for width and height.

  

Reusable, washable and collapsible bowls- Great product for every day travel and airline travel.

 

Quick Dry Pet Towels- Perfect for rainy days and bath time for your fur baby. Wonderful option for Europe, especially since most accommodations will not have an electric dryer. These dry very quickly.  

  

Disposable Pee Pads- A must for airline travel and long haul travel on public transportation.

 

Lysol Wipes Travel Size- Pet accidents cannot always be avoided.

 

Disposable Female Dog Diapers- Great product for peace of mind for your female dog while flying or traveling on public transportation.

 

Disposable Male Dog Diapers- Great product for peace of mind for your female dog while flying or traveling on public transportation.


Refillable Water Bottle - An ideal solution for packing water for you and your pet.

 

  

5.    Prioritize Pet Safety and Comfort: Pack essentials such as food, water, bedding and toys to keep your dog comfortable during the journey.

 

What to pack for the flight:

 

Freeze-dried chicken bites- This is a fantastic product They were very hungry, and this was the perfect solution.


Excess Baggage/Cargo Carrier for Airline Travel- Meets all airline requirements and available in many sizes.

Best Soft Carriers for Airline Travel- Meets all airline requirements for width and height.

  

Reusable, washable and collapsible bowls- Great product for every day travel and airline travel. 

Quick Dry Pet Towels- Perfect for rainy days and bath time for your fur baby. Wonderful option for Europe, especially since most accommodations will not have an electric dryer. These dry very quickly.  

  

Disposable Pee Pads- A must for airline travel and long haul travel on public transportation.

Lysol Wipes Travel Size- Pet accidents cannot always be avoided.

Disposable Female Dog Diapers- Great product for peace of mind while flying with your female dog or traveling on public transportation.

Disposable Male Dog Diapers- Great product for peace of mind while flying with your male dog or traveling on public transportation.


Refillable Water Bottle - An ideal solution for packing water for you and your pet.

  

Essential Packing for an EU Road Trip with Dogs

 

 

Dog Toy- Nearly indestructible toy for your pet. This is for the strong chewer.

 

Dog Toy- Smaller, but sturdy toy for your pet. This is for the average chewer.

 

Flexi-Leashes- High quality expandable leashes. We have used these for over 4 years. This is the one for the smaller dog.

 

Flexi Leashes- High quality expandable leashes. We have used these for over 4 years. This is the one for the large dog. The yellow is reflective and helps with night walks.

 

Dog Poo Bags- Everyday essential for pet travel and a great value!


6. Summer Essentials for Your Pet.

 

Cool down Bandanas- Great product for those high temperature days throughout Europe. Cool your pet quickly so they don’t overheat.

 

Cool down mat- A fantastic solution for the hot summer days.


Dog Life Jacket- We packed these with us from the United States to each country we have visited, and I am glad we did.


Dog Necessities for Easy Travel through Europe


 Dog Safety Seatbelt Strap- A mandatory product for several EU countries and the United Kingdom.

 

Dog Car Seat Cover- We love having one of these for our car. It is washable and easy to clean. It keeps the seats of our car nice and not affected by pet travel.


The Perfect Pet Gear


Dog Front Carrier Backpack- Perfect for transporting your fur baby easily whether its a jaunt into a store or a hike in the woods.

 

Cold Weather Dog Coat- This has been the perfect dog coat for our little dog for the past four winters. It is extremely simple to put on and take off with the Velcro strap underneath.

 

 

Final Thoughts: Traveling Internationally with a Dog

 

Traveling Internationally with two dogs across four continents and twenty-seven countries is undoubtedly a remarkable adventure the requires careful planning, patience, and flexibility. From navigating diverse cultures and landscapes to overcoming logistical challenges, the journey is filled with unforgettable moments shared with beloved furry companions. With thorough preparation and a spirit of adventure, exploring the world together with your dogs can be an enriching and rewarding experience like no other.


Please follow us on YouTube for our ongoing adventures abroad! https://www.youtube.com/@WarrenJulieTravel


We are Warren and Julie; we are early retirement slow travelers with a wanderlust for seeing the world. As of 2024, Warren has visited 46 countries, and Julie 45, our dogs Katie and Arya have been to 27 countries. We transitioned to a permanent life of slow travel retirement in March of 2020. Our goal is to spend quality time in the countries we travel to spending a month or more at a location, while also taking side trips and experiencing adventures along the way. We really want to feel the culture, know the people, and examine the cost of living, while also doing the typical tourist attractions. We are traveling with our two dogs, which adds a layer of complications at times. You are invited to join our slow travel roving early retirement journey. Please join our Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/share/nv8qrx7kbtNxkUSo/?mibextid=K35XfP


A man and a woman with their two dogs in Sandomierz, Poland in the heart of the historic district
Kotor, Montenegro

We absolutely love this fantastic soft carrier dog backpack. It has now been used on three continents and is still in great condition. I highly recommend this for small dogs. It was very comfortable for our dog on our transatlantic flight as well. High quality construction and great back support!

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