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The Ultimate Guide to Travelling With Your Pets Overseas if You're an Overly Attached Pawrent

Deborah Gan

Deborah Gan

Last updated 18 October, 2023

Can’t bear to leave your furbaby behind while on vacation? Maybe this is your sign to bring them along!

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Going on a holiday is supposed to be an incredibly joyous activity, but it can leave you feeling stressed and anxious if it means leaving your pet at a relative’s house or a pet hotel.

Though you know they are in good hands, you can’t help but feel guilty leaving them behind and worry over whether or not they will sleep or eat well. If you have pets with separation anxiety, the stress will be tenfold!

Maybe the best solution for these pawrents would be to bring their pet overseas with them, especially if they are travelling to destinations that don’t require any quarantine.

Are you toying with the idea? To help you make your decision, here’s an all-you-need-to-know guide on bringing your pet overseas with you — down to the documents required, cabin requirements and preparation needed for your big adventure ahead!

Table of contents

Read more:

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Airline and country guidelines for pets

The big question that many of you are thinking is, can my pet be seated with me in the cabin? Well, different airlines have different size and weight restrictions, while selected countries don’t allow pets to travel in the cabin at all.

When you’re travelling with your pet, they are largely considered as checked baggage in the cabin and cargo, which means that baggage weight limits do apply.

Check out the requirements for these major airlines:

Cabin weight restrictions
Cargo weight restrictions (combined weight of container and pet)
Minimum pet’s age
Singapore Airlines
32kg and below
More than 32kg
12 weeks
Not allowed, only service dogs
Not allowed, only service dogs
32kg and below
More than 32kg
15 -27 weeks
8kg and below
More than 8kg
12 weeks
Not allowed, only service dogs and falcons
No restrictions
12 weeks
Cathay Pacific
Not allowed, only service dogs
Not allowed at the moment

These are some countries that do not allow pets travelling with you in the cabin or cargo:

  • Into/Out of Australia
  • Into/Out of Brunei
  • Into/Out of Denpasar, Bali
  • Into/Out of Houston
  • Into/Out of Manchester
  • Into/Out of New Zealand
  • Into/Out of South Africa
  • Into Dubai
  • Into Hong Kong SAR
  • Into London

There are also country-specific regulations and guidelines to follow, so be sure to read up about them before you decide. Some destinations also require your pet to be quarantined upon arrival, ranging from a few hours up to 3 months!

Additionally, certain snub-nosed breeds are not allowed as checked luggage or in the cargo because of their increased chances of having breathing difficulties on-flight. Some of these include Chow Chows, Pitbulls, Pugs, Shih Tzus for dogs, as well as British Shorthairs, Burmese and Persians for cats.

Plane tickets for domestic pets

So.. do pets require a flight ticket? Not quite! They are actually charged as additional baggage, be it as checked luggage or as cargo.

Airlines usually charge them a flat fee or a variable fee, depending on their weight — just like how you’re charged per kg for additional baggage. Contrary to popular belief, plane tickets for pets aren’t always exorbitant. They can be quite reasonable, especially for smaller pets.

With that said, if you’re travelling with a big dog, it’s best to fly with an airline that charges you a flat fee, as it can be much cheaper than if you are charged by your dog’s weight.

Do also note that unless you’re migrating, you would have to pay double the fees as the fees listed are just for one-way.

Here is a breakdown of how much they would cost on different airlines:

Weight/Size dimensions
Singapore Airlines
Up to 23kg
Check the rates here
More than 32kg
Check the rates here
Up to 23kg
24kg to 32kg
More than 32kg
Up to 8kg
Check calculator here
More than 8kg
Check calculator here
Up to 32kg
To/From Qatar: US$200
All other routes: US$350
32kg to 75kg
To/From Qatar: US$300
All other routes: US$450
More than 75kg
Larger than 300cm
To be handled as cargo
Cathay Pacific
Not allowed at the moment
Not allowed at the moment

Read more:
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Plane tickets for service/assistance dogs

You’ll be glad to know that most service and assistance pets are able to travel with you for free and can be seated in the cabin with you. They must, however, be leashed at all times and cannot take up a seat of their own. If you have a small dog, they can be placed on your lap. 

These guidelines differ from airline to airline, so it’s best to check beforehand, and be sure to inform your airline roughly at least 48 hours before your flight!

Do also note that emotional support dogs are not considered assistance or service dogs, and other charges and restrictions apply.

Pet travel documents to fly 

Before you take off with your beloved furbaby, you’ll have to prepare these documents:

  • Import/export license or permit (check the different country regulations to see if you need one)
  • Indemnity form
  • A veterinary health certificate (with microchip number indicated)
  • Rabies vaccination letter
  • Transhipment license (if any)
  • Pet's passport (if any)
Vet procedure
Rabies vaccination
Canine Core Vaccination/Feline Core Vaccination

The documents required for airlines may differ, so it’s best to check with them.

Read here for NPark’s step-by-step guide on how to get a veterinary health certificate. 

Pet quarantine destination and home country

Many countries are quite strict on quarantining your pets as they fear they may bring in diseases, specifically rabies. Check here for the regulations for different countries.

For example, Japan requires your pet to be quarantined for up to 12 hours if they meet import requirements upon import quarantine inspection. If they fail, they might have to be quarantined for up to 180 days, making it totally unfeasible for leisure vacations.

Depending on which destination you travel to, your pet might be required to quarantine upon arrival in Singapore.

Source: NParks

If you’re travelling to countries in categories A and B, your pet won’t need to quarantine at all as long as they meet the import requirements and are healthy upon landing in Singapore. For more info, read here.

Out of that, you’ll need to quarantine for the required number of days:

  • Category C1 (read here for category requirements): 10 days
  • Category C2 (read here for category requirements): 30 days
  • Category D: at least 30 days

And in case you didn’t know, quarantining your pet will cost you money as well, and is charged daily. It will set you back S$16.80 per dog or cat per day (non-air conditioned) and S$26.25 per dog or cat per day (air-conditioned). So if you’re returning from a country in Category D, you would have to pay about S$787.50 (air-conditioned) for just the quarantine alone!

Be sure to book a quarantine slot via the Quarantine Management System (QMS) for your pup well in advance, as the waiting time can be quite long and take up to several months!

Pet travel insurance

Is there travel insurance for pets? There is, but you can’t buy it.

The only way you can get pet travel insurance is when you engage a pet relocation service for the sole reason of migrating. However, if you’re only travelling for leisure, you won’t be able to get your pet covered.

Pet insurance does exist, but it only covers medical expenses and the death of your pet, just not for travelling purposes.

Despite this, you should still get travel insurance for yourself to have a peace of mind when you’re on vacation.

Read more:

6 Best Travel Insurance in Singapore for Different Needs (2023)
Best Travel Insurance Plans And Promotions In Singapore
Best Travel Insurance With COVID-19 Coverage in Singapore
Best-Priced Travel Insurance: FWD, Starr, Singlife, Allied World
Single Trip vs Annual: Which Travel Insurance Should You Get?

How to prepare for my pet’s journey

Travelling with your pet requires a lot of preparation beforehand. Do take note of these things before your great adventure!

  • Buy a suitable pet carrier
  • Crate train your pet
  • Increase your pet's socialisation
  • Get supplies
  • Prepare necessary documents
  • Preparation on day of travel

Buy a suitable pet carrier

As you might already know, airlines have certain restrictions on the size and type of pet container you bring your pet in. You can read more about the International Air Transport Association (IATA) guidelines here. Though it’s a long read, it’s still necessary to make sure you get an airline-approved carrier.

Here are some important information to note. Your carrier should be:

  • Spacious enough for your pet to stand, sit erect, lie in a natural position and turn normally while standing.
  • Well-ventilated on all 4 sides of the container.
  • Nose and paw-proof for all sides. For smaller pets, a second layer of welded wire mesh should be placed
  • Equipped with absorbent bedding
  • Equipped with a water container for flights longer than 12 hours

Though you can’t throw in your pet’s favourite toys for the plane ride as these loose objects can be hazardous, you can, however, make your dog comfortable and feel safe by including a T-shirt, towel or cloth of yours that smells like home.

Crate train your pet

Preparing for your pet’s travels doesn’t just mean buying all the necessary supplies and calling it a day. The most important part is to prepare your pet for the flight. 

Chances are, they will be afraid of being confined in a new environment, with lots of noise around and, most importantly, without you (if they’re travelling through cargo). Even if they’re seated with you in the cabin, they might not be used to staying in their crates for a few hours without the freedom to roam about.

It’s a good idea to purchase your pet carrier a few months before your travels to give them time to get acquainted with it — the goal is to create a stress-free environment for them to be comfortable in. 

Leave the crate open, and introduce treats and new toys in there for them to create a positive association with it. Slowly let them spend some time alone in the pet carrier — from a few seconds to minutes and then hours at a go to get them used to it. 

Increase your pet’s socialisation

When your pet is at the airport, in the cabin with you or in the plane’s cargo, there will be a lot of unfamiliar sounds and smells that might make your furbaby more anxious and stressed. So the key to making your pet socialise more is for them to acclimatise to new environments so they remain calm.

Bring your pet to meet other dogs and people at dog parks, at pet-friendly cafes or take them on a drive. The goal is to always expose them to new surroundings instead of being cooped out all day so they are used to loud noises and new smells.

Especially if they travel via cargo, they will be handled by the airline staff or other ground staff on duty during travel. That is why they must be comfortable with strangers and be more relaxed around them.

Get your supplies together

Beyond just a crate, there are several pet supplies you’ll have to get for your trip. Some of these pet essentials include pee pads and a pee tray (if your dog is used to doing their business indoors), cat litter and litter box, pet wipes, food and water bowls (collapsible ones are great for saving space), water bottles/feeder, pet food and the list goes on.

Though most of these supplies are available in the destination country, it’s best to prepare them in your carry-on bag if they need any of these on your flight there or when they arrive so they can get comfortable and settle down ASAP.

The most important thing is pet food. Sticking to the brand of food your pet eats is important so they don’t get the runs or risk not eating a new brand overseas (especially for the fussy ones!). 

If you’re banking on purchasing food overseas, maybe you should think twice — the particular brand you’re used to may not be available abroad! Remember, bringing more is always better than realising you have too little for the entire duration of your trip — so be sure to save some space for your pet supplies in your luggage!

Making a list of your travel essentials? Check out the best credit cards for your purchases!

Prepare your documents and make the necessary arrangements

Make sure all your pet’s documents are ready. Here’s a recap of what’s needed:

  • Import/export license or permit (check the different country regulations to see if you need one)
  • Indemnity form
  • A veterinary health certificate (with microchip number indicated)
  • Rabies vaccination letter
  • Transhipment license (if any)
  • Pet's passport (if any)

To get a veterinary health certificate, you’ll need to download and print it here and bring it with you when your pet goes to the vet for an examination. Make sure it’s by a licensed private veterinarian! 

Once the vet certifies that your pet is free from any contagious or infectious diseases and is healthy enough to fly, you’ll need to get the certificate signed and endorsed by your vet. Head to NPark’s website on how to submit the certificate.

Preparation on your day of travel

A few hours before your flight, make sure you give your pet loads of exercise. Be it playing with them or bringing them out for a run, allow them to expend as much energy as possible as they’ll be cooped up in their carriers for several hours. This also helps them be more calm and sleep on their flight.

Airlines advise you to feed your pet a light meal and a bit of water about 2-4 hours before your flight, so they reduce the chances of doing their business in their containers. Make sure you let your pet go potty a final time before you place them in their pet carriers.

If your flight is longer than 24 hours, also remember to fill the water containers attached to their pet carrier.

Animals are very sensitive to moods, so set your furbaby up for success by remaining calm and staying relaxed!

Cost of bringing your pet overseas

These are the rough costs if your pet flies with you on Singapore Airlines for a 14-day trip to Europe.

Cat (5kg)
Dog (20kg)
Plane ticket (round trip on with Singapore Airlines)S$383
Vaccinations and microchipping
Veterinary health certificate and consultation
S$23 (health certificate) + ~S$100 (vet consultation)
Travel insurance (for humans)
From S$50
From S$50
Pet carrier
Pet food & equipment


A mahjong addict with an undying love for dogs, Deborah is always on the hunt for cheap deals because she is always broke. That is why she is attempting to be more financially savvy to be.. less broke


Use a personal loan to consolidate your outstanding debt at a lower interest rate!

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