Traveling With Your ESA Overseas

As you know, your pet is considered family. I raised Nobu, a shiba inu, since he was 3 months old. After my cancer diagnosis, I got Nobu registered as an emotional support animal at CertaPet.com. This enables you to fly with your ESA without it needing to be in a cage. Usually Nobu lays down on the floor in between my feet. Please be sure that your dog is trained and well behaved!

Your ESA must wear a vest that clearly states its purpose. I bought mine on amazon here.
ESA Vest

Getting Nobu to Spain

PetTravel.com had all the information on what documents were needed for every country. The paperwork cost $18.50 but I’ll post the paperwork on here so you can see it as an example. Timing is crucial so please triple check your paperwork and dates.

Instructions specific for Spain:
Spain Info Rev28

When I got Nobu – he had an embedded 9 digit microchip. The EU requires a 15-digit microchip number so I had the vet put in another microchip. AFTER the microchip was inserted, he got his rabies shot.
MicrochipCertificate

Vet Certificate – to be completed by the vet no more than 12 days prior to travel date.
Sample Vet Cert
Spain Vet Cert Rev 28

Your airline may request a Veterinary Certificate for Domestic and International Travel
AIRLINE VET CERTIFICATE

Then you take all this paperwork to your local USDA office (do not bring your pet) and get it endorsed and pay a fee of $38.00. You can either mail this or do this in person. I did it in person because of the time frame. There is an LA office:

Los Angeles Animal Import Center
222 Kansas St.
El Segundo, CA. 90245
Monday – Friday 7:30 am – 11:30 am

I suggest coming here EARLY! For example, I arrived at 6:45 am and there was already a line. Have all your paperwork ready. They accept credit cards. Then you must enter the EU within 10 days of the USDA certificate.

Here is a list of other offices and instructions for the USDA:
USDA Area Office Listing 101816
USDA Instructions

Booking Your Airline Ticket

  • Most airlines accept ESA but always double check that they do. For example, I found that RyanAir does accepts service dogs, but not ESA.
  • If you know your dog can hold his pee, I prefer booking direct routes to and from. Also, be careful with booking tickets that have a layover in countries that are strict with animals such as the UK, Ireland, Japan.
  • Be sure to notify that you will be traveling with your ESA.

Day of Travel

  • Make sure you have your pet goes on a long long walk
  • Bring some food in a ziplock bag and a bowl for water
  • Arrive to the airport early because you will need to check in at the counter and ticket agents will check your paperwork.
  • ESA letter cannot be more than 1 year old
  • If you have a layover, some airports have Dog Relief Areas

My Experience Arriving in Spain and then back to the US

IMG_5070

Upon arriving to Spain, no one stopped me once, questioned me – NOTHING!! I thought to myself – I stressed so much about getting all this paperwork and no one even cared lol. Anyways, find a vet and bring all the paperwork there. The vet will issue you an EU passport.

7 months later, I fly back to the US. 13 hour direct flight from Barcelona to LAX. The flight attendants LOVED him. I even brought him to the back of the plane so they could pet him. On the customs form, make sure to mark that you ARE bringing an animal. I have global entry so I breezed right through immigration. When I got to customs, they acknowledged my dog and waved me on. I didn’t have to show any paperwork or anything!

So this is my experience traveling with Nobu. If you have any questions, please contact me – missjennychu@gmail.com

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