When traveling to another country with a service dog, you want to make sure you experience no hassles or delays and that you and your service dog are not separated for any reason or length of time. Fortunately, it is well within your power to ensure the smoothest and most successful international trip possible for you and your service dog. Read on to find out how.
Navigate the article:
- Service Dog Flying Laws
- What Airlines Can Require to Determine Your Dog Is a Service Dog
- Airline-specific Rules for Flying With a Service Dog
- How Much it Costs to Fly With a Service Dog
- Country-specific Service Dog Flying Laws and Requirements
- Frequently Asked Questions About Traveling Internationally With a Service Dog
Service Dog Flying Laws
The federal Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) defines a service dog as any dog specifically trained to provide aid to a disabled person or able to do so regardless of training. The ACAA includes emotional support dogs that provide emotional support to a person with a disability. Psychiatric service dogs, meanwhile, are somewhere between the two: being trained or able to provide aid to a person with a psychiatric disability.
Despite generally classifying all three of these types of dogs as service dogs, the ACAA does draw a distinction between emotional support dogs, including psychiatric service dogs, and all other service animals in that airlines are allowed to require documentation to fly with an emotional support animal, which includes psychiatric service animals for this purpose, whereas airlines are not allowed under the ACAA to require passengers with all other types of service animals to provide any documentation in order to fly with that animal.
That said, Certifymypet recommends that you have your medical paperwork with you whenever you travel with your service dog, just in case you get questioned by authorities on the legitimacy of your service dog. While they are not supposed to ask you to prove your dog is a service dog, being able to provide such documentation can help you minimize the hassle and delay more than protesting the request and asserting your rights, however justified that may be.
This is especially true when you’re traveling internationally with your service dog, as you never know if an authority in one of the foreign countries of your arrival might ask you to show such proof. It’s better to have it with you and not need it than to need it and not have it with you. One law affecting other countries to which you may wish to travel with your service dog is that any foreign airline that operates routes to and from the US must accept dogs on their flights. That would include service dogs, although, unlike domestic airlines, they may not be required to treat service dogs any differently from pet dogs.
US airlines flying to and from foreign countries, however, are subject to the laws regarding service dogs of the given country to which they travel. Not all countries accept service dogs from other countries, so be sure you know the laws of the country or countries of your destination, so you and your service dog are not left stranded at the airport.
What Airlines Can Require to Determine Your Dog Is a Service Dog
An airline must recognize your dog as a service dog and afford you all associated rights if you have an observable disability and at least one of the following is true:
- The dog is wearing an identifying harness, vest, tag or backpack.
- You present an identification card or documentation showing you as a person with a disability.
- You are able to offer believable verbal assurance that the dog is a service dog.
If the airline personnel is still unable to determine that your dog is a service dog, he or she is permitted to ask one of these questions:
- What functions or tasks does the dog do for you?
- What activities has your dog been trained to perform for you?
- Will you describe how your dog goes about performing these duties for you?
Note that the airline personnel cannot ask you the nature of your disability.
Can an Airline Refuse a Service Dog?
An airline can refuse a service dog if the dog appears to present a threat to the health or safety of the passengers or crew. That includes if the dog appears visibly distressed, sick or aggressive. Additionally, if a service smells bad or seems abused, an airline can refuse that dog passage at its discretion.
Airline-specific Rules for Flying With a Service Dog
All of the following airlines expect your service animal will behave appropriately. In most cases, your service dog must also be at least four months old and able to fit under your seat, at your fit or in your lap (if smaller than a two-year-old kid.) If your service dog is too large for the plane, an airline may require he or she to travel in an airline-approved pet carrier and checked in as cargo.
If your service dog is very large or heavy, contact any airport you’re planning on flying before you book to make sure you know whether your service dog will be allowed to travel with you in cabin. Lastly, note that, while airlines can require no advanced notice when flying with a service animal, they can require advanced notice to fly with a psychiatric service animal and emotional support animal. Most do, in fact, and the notice they require is typically 48 hours minimum.
American Airlines welcomes all service animals that have at least a valid ID card, printed documentation or credible assurance that you provide of your qualifications for a service dog and the dog’s suitability for travel. You’ll be exempt from American Airlines’ $250 pet fee and 20-pound limit. For international flights last longer than eight hours, you must complete an Animal Sanitation form affirming your service dog won’t need to urinate or defecate during the flight, or can do so in a manner than doesn’t present a sanitation or health concern. These policies also apply to travel on US Airways, which has now merged with American. If you are flying on American Airlines or US Airways to London, Edinburgh, Ireland or elsewhere in the UK or to Japan, Auckland, Hong Kong, Guyana or St. Vincent and the Grenadines, certain restrictions apply. Contact the airline before booking to find out the details.
Delta Airlines welcomes all service dogs regardless of verification, though they do encourage some form of ID, documentation or a harness or vest simply to expedite check-in procedures. Delta exempts service animals from their $250 pet fee and 20-pound limit. Some foreign destinations Delta serves have quarantine laws for dogs or simply refuse dogs entry, so inquire ahead of booking foreign travel on Delta. If you are flying on Delta Airlines to London, Manchester or Edinburgh, contact the airline to find out the details of travel restrictions or advisories affecting travel with service dogs to those areas.
JetBlue suggests travelers with service dogs book travel with significant advance notice and include a Special Service Request (SSR.) There is no fee to add an SSR. Upon arrival at the airport, JetBlue requires either written documentation, ID cards or an identifying harness or tag or believable verbal assurance to allow a service animal on board. You won’t have pay JetBlue’s $200 pet fee. JetBlue does not allow animals to travel in the cargo hold, so if your animal is very large or heavy, contact the airline ahead of time to make sure you won’t have any problems bringing him or her on board. In most cases, you can also take JetBlue’s Mint seating with your service dog.
Southwest welcomes service dogs on all its flights except flights to or from Jamaica. When flying Southwest with a service dog, won’t have pay their $190 pet fee. If traveling on Southwest to Aruba, Bahamas, Belize, Cayman Islands, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Turks and Caicos, restrictions may apply. Check with the airline and the given country’s embassy, consulate or other government body for details.
United requires no identification to let service dogs on board, but notes that having such can make check-in and boarding much smoother. When flying United with a service dog, you’ll be exempt from their $250 pet fee and their requirement that dogs spend the flight in a pet carrier that fits under the passenger seat. For all international travel with a service dog, United Airlines recommends contacting the destination country’s embassy or consulate to find out about documentation and restrictions affecting service dogs.
How Much it Costs to Fly With a Service Dog
One of the main benefits of flying with a service dog instead of a pet dog is that US airlines and foreign airlines traveling to and from the US are not allowed to charge you any additional fees to fly with that dog, not an animal deposit or an extra ticket fee for your animal.
In other words, it costs no more to fly internationally with your service dog than it costs to fly by yourself, provided the airline and the destination country allow service dogs.
If a foreign airline or destination country accepts dogs but does not recognize service dogs, you may have to pay a pet-related travel fee to fly with your dog, even though he or she is a service dog.
While you are not required by law to prove that your service dog is indeed a service dog in order to exercise your rights to fly with one, you are required by law to abide by legal and legitimate airline requirements for flying with any dog, service or pet. As when you fly with a pet dog, airlines may have certain requirements to fly with your service dog, all of which have to do with protecting the health and safety of their passengers and crew.
For the greatest certainty and peace of mind, contact any airline you’ll be traveling internationally to find out their specific policies regarding flying with a service dog.
Country-specific Service Dog Flying Laws and Requirements
To enter most countries with a service go, you must meet one or more of the following requirements:
- Vaccinations – All countries have strict requirements involving rabies. Some merely require vaccinations while others require quarantining the dog or refuse dogs entry altogether. In addition, dogs may also need to have current bordetella, para-influenza and canine influenza vaccinations.
- Veterinary Health Certificate – Many countries, including all European countries, require you to present a veterinary health certificate to fly with your service dog. This is a standard form: APHIS FORM 7001
- Quarantine requirements – Some countries may require all or certain dogs to be quarantined. In many cases, you can have quarantines waived by fulfilling extra precautionary requirements ahead of your trip. Otherwise, a country can hold onto your dog for seven days to six months, depending on the country, before releasing him or her to you.
- Banned breeds – Some countries prohibit certain dog breeds from entering, regardless of service status or health and safety requirements met. The most commonly banned breeds include pit bulls, Staffordshire bull terriers, Rottweilers, Dogo Argentinos, Japanese, Tosa Inus, Fila Brasilieros and Neapolitan mastiffs.
The following provides additional detail on flying to certain popular foreign destination countries with a service dog.
All countries in the European Union have similar animal import laws that apply to service dogs as well. All dogs, including service dogs, flying to any EU country must have an ISO microchip implanted, have a current rabies vaccination with a valid original rabies certificate with the expiration date and lot number of the vaccine included in your possession. Further, your dog must pass a blood test issued by an EU-approved lab at least six months before entering the country.
The dog must have an EU pet passport or an official third-country veterinary certificate with a USDA Certification stamp and proof of treatment against tapeworms and ticks. Certain other countries within the EU, like Ireland, Sweden, Finland and Malta, may have additional requirements. Note, when traveling from the US, that not all microchips implanted in the United States are of the ISO variety. Make sure your dog has an ISO microchip implanted before traveling from the US to Europe.
Mexico does not recognize service animals separately from pets. You must therefore meet the same requirements to fly to and from Mexico with a service dog as you would with a pet dog, including paying any relevant fees. Further, your dog may not necessarily be permitted to travel with you in cabin and instead have to travel in the cargo hold.
Service dogs are treated like pet dogs in India and are allowed to enter the country with a valid health certificate. This certificate must state that your dog is free of:
- Aujossky’s disease
The ACAA is not valid in China, but China does recognize service dogs for air travel, with limitations. They do not, for instance, recognize psychiatric service animals. To enter China, a service dog must be certified by an organization recognized by Assistance Dogs International (ADI.) To avoid your service dog being quarantined, you must also present a pet passport valid according to the Pet Travel Scheme. This can take a minimum of six months to arrange, so be sure to prepare in advance.
If your service dog is ADI certified to assist you with vision, hearing or certain other abilities, you are exempt from complying with Canada’s animal import restrictions that include quarantine. Ontario, specifically, prohibits pit bulls, even if they are certified service dogs.
Other Countries and Requirements
France, Bahamas and Australia require an import permit for any dog to enter. Norway, meanwhile, requires proof of recent tick and tapeworm treatment.
Other countries may require any of the following:
- Titer tests – If your service dog must pass a blood titer test to prove he or she is rabies-free, there may be a waiting period following the test results before you can fly. Australia, for example, has a 180-day waiting period, while, in the EU, it’s 90 days.
- Other vaccinations – The UK, Finland, Norway, Ireland and Wales require tapeworm vaccinations prior to entry, while France, Spain, Germany, Italy and the UK require distemper vaccinations. Australia also requires brucellosis, leptospirosis, ehrlicia and canis treatments.
- Microchips – All EU member countries, Denmark, Czech Republic, Russia, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong, Sweden, India, Philippines, Morocco, Netherlands, British Virgin Islands, Japan, Hungary, Portugal and several other countries require microchips in all animals that enter.
To find out what is required to enter any country on your international itinerary with your service dog, contact the Department of Travel and Tourism of the given country.
Tips for Flying Internationally With a Service Dog
If you feel that your rights under the ACAA are being violated or have been violated, ask the airline to connect you with a Complaints Resolution Officer (CRO). This person’s job is to help disabled people with accomodation concerns. Airlines are mandated by law to provide you a CRO in person or by phone upon request at no cost to you.
Frequently Asked Questions About Traveling Internationally With a Service Dog
Weight limits are airline and airplane dependent. Read our list below to find these limits at some common airlines. You can also contact the inpidual airline to find out.
If a large dog is permitted in cabin on an international flight, he or she must remain at your feet, if unable to fit in a carrier beneath your seat, or in your lap. He or she may not obstruct any aisle and cannot intrude on neighboring seats.
It is expected that you take your service dog to relieve him or herself prior to departure. Dogs are not permitted to urinate while the plane is in flight.
In closing, to ensure a great trip for you and your service dog, make sure he or she is comfortable throughout.