Flying to Europe with a Dog from the USA

Europe is the most dog-friendly part of the world to travel with a dog. It’s no wonder then that if you live in the USA, that you might want to consider taking your dog along with you on a European vacation. But how easy is it to fly to Europe with a dog from the USA? And what other considerations do you need to keep in mind when flying to Europe with a Dog?

Specifically travelling to the UK or France? Also check out my tips on flying a dog from USA to UK and my quick guide to flying a dog to France from the USA.

Flying to Europe with a Dog

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive commission if you make a purchase using the links. See my full disclaimer.

Preparations Before Flying to Europe with a Dog

One of the first things you need to consider when you decide to take your dog to Europe, is the veterinary and paperwork preparations that are required. For dogs travelling to the European Union (the majority of countries in Europe), I list all the steps in this post, plus briefly cover the requirement for other non-EU countries.

Key Steps to Travel to Europe with a Dog

If you’re travelling directly from the USA to the EU (and most other European countries), the steps required are quite simple:

  1. Microchip your dog
  2. Vaccinate your dog against rabies
  3. Complete an animal health certificate

Your dog is likely already already vaccinated against rabies, but if it doesn’t have a microchip, then it will need to be microchipped and then re-vaccinated. Note that the microchip needs to be ISO compliant and readable by standard microchip readers (or provide your own). If your dog is being vaccinated against rabies for the first time, the vaccine needs to be done at least 21 days before arriving in Europe.

If you aren’t travelling to the EU with your dog, carefully check the rules listed for your destination country. A good resource is the APHIS Pet Travel website – select your destination country.

Getting an EU Animal Health Certificate

The trickiest part is getting an EU animal health certificate (or “EU Annex IV”), or the alternative health certificate for your destination country.

This needs to be issued by a accredited veterinarian – double check whether your vet is accredited or search on this website. According to the APHIS website, this certificate is then valid for 30 days after it is issued, at least for some countries like France, but then needs to be certified within 10 days of your arrival in your destination.

Double check whether the longer 30 day (rather than 10 day period) applies for your destination country on the APHIS website, plus whether your vet is okay to issue it in up to 30 days before travel. Also consider that your airline may require a health certificate issued closer to the flight.

In any case, the certificate must be certified by a USDA APHIS Veterinary Services endorsement office within 10 days of your arrival in Europe. The certificate can usually be sent prior to the 10-day period, then it will be certified within 10 days of the your planned arrival date and returned to you (sometimes just in time!) There is a certification fee of $38 USD fee per certificate.

There are two options available for sending the paperwork to USDA: it can be submitted using the the Veterinary Export Health Certification System (VEHCS) or else you can ship the paperwork to the USDA Endorsement Office serving your state, using expedited mail including tracking.

Pet travel to Europe
The animal health certificate will need to be certified at a USDA APHIS office

Cost of an EU Animal Health Certificate

The amount charged in the United States for an EU animal health certificate varies widely. In recent years, I’ve heard reports ranging from $150 to $600 USD. If you are travelling on to the UK with your pet and need two sets of animal health certificates, the price is double this!

Generally prices charged are more expensive in larger cities, with veterinarians in smaller to mid-sized cities generally charging less. If you are quoted a high amount, I recommend getting a quote from multiple vets, though it’s always best to use a vet who is familiar with the process.

It can be expensive to visit Europe, so consider using a budget calculator to double check the human expenses (and add an extra category for your dog!)

Is a Worming Treatment Required?

There are also a handful of European countries that require your dog to have a worming treatment done by a veterinarian between 24 hours and 5 days of arriving in them: Finland, Ireland, Malta, Northern Ireland and Norway, plus the UK, which has it’s own animal health certificate (see my separate guide to travelling to the UK with a dog from outside Europe).

The worming treatment is generally done after you have the health certificate certified by USDA. Make an appointment to see your vet once you the certificate is returned, within the four day timeframe. The worming treatment is recorded on the certificate, including both the date and time.

Getting an EU Pet Passport

Due to the hassle of getting an animal health certificate endorsed by USDA, many people who travel to Europe multiple times with their pet get an EU pet passport. This can then be used in place of getting an EU animal health certificate. The only complication then is that you’ll need to get your pet’s rabies vaccines in Europe from now on, as only vets in the EU can add records to the passport.

Dog passports
It might be worthwhile getting an EU Pet Passport if you regularly visit Europe

Finding a Pet-Friendly Airline to Fly to Europe

The next important step is finding a pet-friendly airline to fly yourself and your dog to Europe. Unfortunately, some airlines that normally allow pets to fly in cabin, don’t allow this on Transatlantic flights, in particular American airlines.

Flying with a US Airline

If you are wanting to fly with your dog in the cabin, not all American airlines permit this on Transatlantic flights. American Airlines clearly states in their pet policy that they don’t allow pets in the cabin on Transatlantic flights, due to the flight duration.

American Airlines Plane
American Airlines doesn’t allow pets in the cabin on Transatlantic flights

One American airline that definitely allows pets in the cabin on flights to Europe is Delta. For pets in the cabin, there is no maximum weight, just a maximum kennel size that depends on the flight (check at the time of booking). A charge of $200 USD applies and a maximum of four pets are allowed in the cabin. Read their pet policy.

Delta Airlines Plane Wing
You can fly with your pet in the cabin to Europe with Delta

For awhile, United Airlines also didn’t allow pets in the cabin on Transatlantic flights, but they are once again allowing pets on flights to Europe, except to Ireland, Sweden and the UK. If you fly with your pet in the cabin with United Airlines, a charge of $125 USD applies. There’s no maximum weight, just a maximum kennel size. See their full pet policy for in-cabin pets.

United Airlines Plane
Check the latest policy of United Airlines

If your pet is too large to fly in the cabin, there are currently limited options for pets to fly in the hold on US airlines. Delta Cargo has not accepted bookings for pets since 2020, while United Airlines no longer accepts bookings through United PetSafe, although are some exceptions for active-duty US military and US State Department Foreign Service personnel travelling on official orders. I believe American Airlines Cargo currently accepts pet bookings.  

Another alternative is to fly with Air Canada. Air Canada permits pets in the cabin on flights to and from Europe, with no maximum weight, just a maximum kennel size. See their pet policy.

Additionally, Air Canada is one of the few airlines that accept pets in the cabin and as checked baggage on flights out of the UK, instead of only as cargo, as is the case with Delta. (Although pets still need to fly as cargo on flights to the UK.)

Flying with a European Flag-Carrier Airline

In general, the European flag-carrier airlines are most likely to allow your pet to fly in the cabin with you to Europe. Based on discussions with other travellers flying from the USA to Europe with their dog, the most commonly recommended airlines are Air France, KLM and Lufthansa.

All three airlines allow dogs to fly both in the cabin and in the hold on their Transatlantic flights. Here are some details about each airline.

European Airlines That Allow Dogs in Cabin
Multiple European airlines will fly dogs in the cabin to Europe

Air France: Dogs up to a maximum weight of 8kg (17lb), including carrier, are permitted in the cabin, with a fee equivalent to €200 (about $220 USD) charged. Note that pets are not permitted in business class on intercontinental flights. Dogs up to 75kg (165.3lb) are permitted in the hold, with a fee equivalent to €400 (about $440 USD) charged. It’s possible to buy travel containers for the cabin and hold directly off Air France for delivery to the USA. Read their full pet policy.

KLM: KLM also has a maximum weight of 8kg (17.6lb) for pets in the cabin and 75kg (165.3lb) for pets in the hold, including their carrier or crate. The charge for each pet depends on your departure and destination airport. Once again, pets are not permitted in business class on intercontinental flights, due to the seat design. Read their pet policy.

Lufthansa: Lufthansa also has a weight limited of 8kg (17.6lb) including carrier for pets in the cabin. For transport in the cabin, a fee of €100 ($110 USD) is charged to/from the East Coast, €110 USD ($120 USD) to/from the West Coast. Prices for pets in the hold depend on the crate size. Read their pet policy.

For information on the pet policies of more European airlines, check out my extensive guide, which details which European airlines allow pets in the cabin.

Flying with a European Business Class Airline

A recent addition to the list of dog-friendly airlines flying between the the USA and Europe, is business-class only airline, La Compagnie. This France-based airline offers up to two flights daily between New York and Paris, plus seasonal flights to Nice – perfect for flying a dog to France from the USA. Perks include full-flat seats (although read on…), complimentary high-speed wi-fi and fine cuisine.

Inside a La Compagnie flight
Inside a La Compagnie flight © La Compagnie

The biggest advantage of booking your pet to fly on La Compagnie is that dogs and cats up to 33lbs (15kg) are allowed to fly with you in the cabin, far higher than the normal limits. They need to fly in an aerated pet carrier, with maximum dimensions of 21 ⅔ in x /13 ¾ in x / 9 ⅚ in (55 x 35 x 25 cm).

There’s a limit of one pet per passenger, with a maximum of three pets permitted on each flight. You’ll need to book your pet at least 48 hours in advance (online or via the call centre) and pay a fee equivalent to 10% of your own ticket.

The only downside? If flying with a pet, you can’t fully recline your seat. Plus they count as your item of cabin luggage, so you’ll only be able to bring a small personal item in addition into the cabin.

Flying with a European Budget Airline

Unfortunately, not many of the budget European airlines permit dogs to fly on Transatlantic flights, even if they permit dogs to fly on their flights within Europe. I found this to be problematic when I was flying one-way from Europe to the USA with my dog, and the flag-carrier airlines were mainly charging astronomical prices for one-way flights.

The main option I uncovered was XL Airways, a small airline that operated out of Paris, flying to and from New York, Miami, Los Angeles and San Francisco. However, XL Airways has now ceased operations, so there’s no budget airline options that I’m aware of.

Take dog to Europe
Flying with a pet in the cabin on board XL Airways

Try to Minimise the Flight Duration

Another consideration to keep in mind is the length of a flight. When I last flew from Europe to the USA with my dog, I purposely organised my travels to fly from Paris to New York, to minimise the flight duration. This is especially important if you want to fly with your pet in the cabin.

In order to keep your flight duration to a minimum, consider taking a connecting flight on either end. For example, firstly fly from the West Coast to the East Coast, before flying on to Europe. Also consider taking a second flight within Europe to get to your final destination. This is also an option if you don’t find a pet-friendly airline that flies directly to your final destination.

Pet carrier bag on flight
There’s not much room for your dog on a long flight…

Choose the Time of Day Carefully

If flying with your animal in the hold to Europe during the summer months, keep in mind temperature restrictions may apply. Perhaps consider taking an overnight flight that departs late in the day then arrives early in the morning in Europe. Read more of my tips for flying with a dog in summer.

What About Emotional Support Animals?

There are now limited options to fly in the cabin of a plane with your dog as an emotional support animal. Generally your pet will now need to fly as a pet, either in the cabin if they are less than the weight limit (if applicable) or in the hold, and pay the appropriate fees.

Some European airlines previously allowed emotional support animals to travel in the cabin on flights to and from the USA, but not always on other flights in Europe. However, these policies have generally also disappeared.

Prefer to cruise rather than fly? Find out more about the kennels aboard the Queen Mary 2 Transatlantic Crossings

Preparing Your Dog for Their Flight to Europe

Preparing your pet for a long flight to Europe can be daunting, even if you have previously flown with your pet. Based on my experience flying with my dog multiple times on long flights, these are my tips:

  • Adjust your pet’s meal times if required, feeding them at least a few hours before the flight, not immediately before it, in case of an upset stomach. Don’t give them too much to drink either.
  • Take your dog to a pet relief area as close to the flight as possible, either immediately before boarding or before going through security. This is especially problematic at European airports which tend not to have designated pet relief areas. Generally you need to take your pet outside the terminal building to some grass.
Dog at pet relief area
One of the pet relief areas at Washington Dulles Airport
  • This is a little easier to handle if your dog has been trained to use puppy pads. Some other travellers travelling with a pet in the cabin report using the plane’s bathroom to give their dog a break mid-flight. My dog isn’t trained at this (although is fine to hold on for 8 hours, if given minimal fluids), plus those bathrooms are tiny!
  • On the flight, dogs travelling in the hold should have a water container attached to their crate. In the cabin, feel free to give your dog some fluids, but don’t give them too much. Some other travellers use ice cubes.
  • Get your dog used to their crate or carrier ahead of time, regardless of whether they are travelling in the cabin or hold. Hopefully your dog just falls asleep and sleeps for most of the flight. To aid with this, either give them a big walk beforehand or fly overnight, when they’d normally be sleeping.
Dog in carrier bag
Encourage your dog to spend time in their carrier prior to the long flight
  • If your dog is travelling in the hold, sedation is not usually recommended. (Sedatives can affect your dog differently at altitude, plus there is no-one to assist if something goes wrong.) If you are concerned, speak to your veterinarian ahead of time, allowing time to test treatments. Most dogs cope better than you expect.

See also my guide to flying with your dog in the cabin in Europe and my tips for flying with a dog.

Returning to the USA with Your Dog

The process to return to the USA with your dog was previously quite simple. For full details, see this post. However, this has been complicated by the temporary restrictions in the USA on importing dogs from high-risk rabies countries, with has no end date yet for these restrictions.

Most countries in Europe are not high-risk rabies countries, so you still should be fine. The only European countries that are listed as high-risk for rabies are: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine. See the latest list.

Istanbul by Night
Turkey is listed as a high-risk rabies country

Returning from Non High-Risk Rabies Countries

If you only visit countries that aren’t high-risk for rabies, you technically don’t require a rabies vaccination certificate to fly back to the USA. However, your airline may require a rabies certificate, such as United Airlines.

Your airline may also require a health or fit-to-fly certificate, that you you can get from any vet within Europe. Check with your individual airline about their requirements. Also double check if there are any state specific requirements.

European Airlines that Allow Dogs in the Cabin
Make sure your airline is okay flying pets to the USA

Returning from High-Risk Rabies Countries

If you do visit a high-risk rabies country in Europe, you are fine to return to the USA, as long as your dog has a microchip, a valid US-issued rabies vaccination certificate and is at least 6 months old. They also need to be healthy on arrival and fly into one of the approved ports of entry.

If your dog does not have a valid US-issued rabies vaccination certificate, including if it expired while you were overseas, you will need to apply for a CDC Dog Import Permit. This includes if your dog visited any high-risk rabies countries in the last six month, not just if they are flying out of one back to the USA.

Returning from Italy

While most European countries don’t have any requirements for pets being exported out of the country, one exception is Italy. Pets flying out of Italy to countries outside of the EU, including to the USA, require a Pet Export Certificate.

Dog at Colosseum
Dogs flying out of Italy to the USA require a Pet Export Certificate

You will need to visit a local veterinarian to obtain a certificate of good health, then within 48 hours visit the local ASL (Azienda Sanitaria Locale), who will check your pet’s health and rabies certificates and issue an export certificate, for a small fee. For full details, see this US embassy website.

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About the Author

Photo of Shandos & Schnitzel

Shandos Cleaver is the founder of Travelnuity: Dog-Friendly Travel. She has travelled extensively with her Miniature Dachshund, Schnitzel, including to 33 countries across Europe, every state and territory of Australia except Tasmania, and 10 of the United States. She’s passionate about providing inspiration and information to others wanting to travel with their dogs, whether close to home or internationally.

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How to Fly to Europe with Your Dog from the USA

41 thoughts on “Flying to Europe with a Dog from the USA”

  1. Nice breakout! We’re moving to England with our pup and have completed most of these steps. Now to just make it through customs…

  2. Thanks!!What about ? cat!? I am not sure is same traveling with cat ! I will be traveling with my cat at spring from Austin, TX to Zagreb Croatia! What l need to do here before travel.thanks!

    • Zee – Most of the same regulations apply for both cats and dogs. (Rules for more exotic pets vary by airline.) The main difference is that cats don’t require the worming that some dogs requires for countries like the UK. Enjoy your trip!

  3. We traveled to Europe for a month leaving our Irish setter, Snacks Mc Reilly, at our trainer’s pet lodge. He was less traumatized than we were. We are almost 70, yet dream of returning to Europe one more time. We continue to think about the Pilgrimage to Santiago. How beautiful to imagine walking the Camino with Snacks! The reality is, we live in Spokane, Washington, the Pacific Northwest. We are thinking the flights there and back would be both unusual and cruel. Shared thoughts and experiences would be most welcome, informing us of the truth, either way.

    • It would be amazing to walk the camino with your dog, but it’s not an easy decision to put them into the hold. For a long flight like that (or two flights), I would probably hold off unless you’re going to be in Europe for quite a while (longer than a month). Though it also depends on the age of your dog and whether they’ve flown before and how they’ve handled it.

  4. Thanks for all the tips. However, american airlines does allow pets on flights to europe, not sure if they might have changed their policies since this was written.

    • Thanks Melinda! I will go over this and review the options, once the current travel lockdowns are over. A number of the US airlines have restrictions but have changed them multiple times, so it’s hard to keep up.

    • That’s what I’m wondering!! I heard recently, they weren’t allowing dogs, I guess that includes cats on international flights and had banned all other crazy animals in the USA.

  5. I am getting ready to move from the USA to Italy for four years. I am taking my almost three year old; 125 pound Great Dane with me. He has never flown before. Any tips from seasoned fliers that have traveled with large dogs before? Thank you

  6. I just completed a round-trip from the west coast USA to Athens, with a stop in Frankfurt. This blog and the reader comments helped me immensely, so I wanted to share my experience with others.

    We flew Lufthansa with our 4kg dog in the cabin. We did not feed her any breakfast the morning of our departure, but took her out for a walk and pee as usual. Check-in was easy and quick with the USDA signed health certificate and rabies vaccination certificate. No one measured our travel crate at check-in, nor did they weigh it or our dog. Our flight + wait around to board time was 13 hours from SFO to Frankfurt. On the flight, I gave our dog a 1/2 a Trazadone and offered her tiny sips of water, which she refused to drink. Upon landing for our connection, we had a 2.5 hour layover. Not enough time to leave the airport and return because the security line at customs was backed up. Our dog would not go pee on the marble floor of the airport. We boarded our flight from Frankfurt to Athens, and I gave her another 1/2 Trazadone and offered her water, which she accepted. I took out a pee pad and placed it at my feet on this flight, and snuck her out of her carrier and gave her the “go pee” command. She refused. So, back in the carrier she went for the rest of the flight, and I took her outside as soon as we landed and collected our luggage. She finally peed, after a full 19 hours of travel. (There is a green grassy area just in front of the Sofitel at the arrivals exit door in Athens.) During both flights, I kept her on my lap in her carrier and pet her the whole time. They flight attendants were strict about my keeping her in her carrier- but I snuck her out when they darkened the cabin and she slept under a blanket on my lap for about 3 or 4 hours of the journey. The same thing took place on our return home other than (a) they weighed our dog and carrier upon check-in and (b) the USDA agent asked to see her rabies certificate as we exited the airport in our home town. Yes, our dog once again held her pee and poop for 19 hours! Overall, flying with her was MUCH easier than I expected, and the paperwork/verification was a breeze.

    • That’s great to hear, thanks for sharing! It’s surprising how long they can hold on, if there’s no grass to go on.

    • Hi Anne, how were you able to get the USDA Health Certificate? Were you able to do it online or you had to go to an APHIS office to get it? Headed to France in November, your comment has been very helpful!

  7. This is a solid article. Thank you so much for putting it together. We are putting our place on the market and just going to travel Europe with pups in tow. 🙂

  8. Great article! My boyfriend and I have 2 golden retrievers, we don’t want to feel confined to road trips, thinking of Italy sometime this coming year…

  9. Great article! We also have a long-haired miniature dachshund. He’s one year old and has traveled with us in cabin inside the USA. We are now preparing for a trip with him to Italy. Before departing overseas, we are stopping to visit family in various US states. Can we get the USDA vet visit and certification done in one US state but then fly out of a different state?

    • I’m pretty certain that’s allowed, as some states don’t have a USDA office and many people take a domestic flight before an international flight. If you have any doubts, check with the USDA beforehand.

  10. Hey Shandos,

    thanks for the reply. The USDA was very informative and the answer is yes, you can get the certificate in one state and fly out of anywhere in the USA. Another question. In Italy were you able to get a Pet European Passport without being resident? From all i’m reading you have to be a resident.

    • I’ve recently had a comment left from someone who was also told that. Previously you didn’t need to be a resident, but since Brexit and an influx of Brits trying to get EU pet passports, some countries have cracked down on the rules (France and now Italy). It’s still worthwhile trying.

  11. Hi! Thanks for all the info. If I fly into Spain with all my proper documentation, will I be able to then fly to Italy & spend 10 days with my dog there before returning to Spain? I think the answer is yes but thought asking you might be a good idea. Thanks!

    • Yes, that will be fine, assuming it’s within 4 months of you arriving in Spain. Just ask the customs official in Spain to stamp your dog’s paperwork when you arrive.

  12. we just found out that KLm does not allow hold pets on their 787-9 or 787-10 planes
    any recommendation, we bought a small home in Holland and had planned to take our dog with us when we spend 4-5 months of the year there.
    have any info on cargo flights for dogs ?

    • I’m not fully across the airlines that allow dogs to fly in cargo across the Atlantic. I believe some of the US airlines don’t allow pets in cargo at the moment, but I recommend checking with other European airlines, such as Lufthansa. The downside will be a possible transit stop.

  13. I just wanted to thank you so much for this information! It saved me days of research and trial and error. Thank you for all your work.

  14. Thank you so much, this is very very helpful! I am at my wits end trying to get my dog the EU passport. I have done the USDA certification for Italy a few times now and it is such a hassle with the 10 day limit for Italy and the costs. I’m hoping the EU passport alleviates these issues. However, the vets in Italy at the Azienda Sanitaria Locale say they won’t issue one if my dog has a US microchip. Is this true? Do you know any other way to get the EU passport?


    • My dog got issued one in France, but this was prior to Brexit when French vets started restricting issuing them unless you had residency. I wasn’t sure if vets in Italy were okay issuing them – can they actually tell the microchip is from the US? I wasn’t aware of that. Perhaps try a different vet in Italy? I’ve heard recent stories of Spanish vets issuing them, plus German vets tend to be okay, except they usually insist on a new rabies vaccine.

      • Thanks Shandos, I’ll share here if I find any useful information! Really appreciate you and your site and helpfulness 🙂

  15. I am planning to flying from NYC in January 2024 to Portugal with my dog in Cargo. I will be spending at least a month in Southern Portugal. in the Algarve, then flying back to NYC in February. I read that I may not be able to fly with my dog at all during this time of year. Is this true?

    • Some airlines have restrictions on flying with dogs during the hot summer months, or when it’s very cold. However, I haven’t heard about it applying in New York City. This is airline dependent, so I recommend asking the airline.

  16. Hi!

    Thank you so much for this article. I need to go to the UK for 3 months for work. We need to take our small dog. We can’t fly our dog in the cabin to the UK. I was advised to fly to Paris, France, with our dog in the cabin. Do we need health certificates for the EU and UK? Can we take a train to the UK if we fly to Paris? How long is our certificate good for in the UK if we can’t get an EU passport in France? All of this is so confusing. Do you recommend another way? Any insight you can offer would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

    • Yes, you’ll need health certificates for both the EU and the UK. You won’t be able to take the train to the UK (no dogs on the Eurostar across the channel) – instead it’s easiest to take a pet taxi that goes on the Channel Tunnel, or there are a few pet-friendly ferries (Dieppe to Newhaven, Hook of Holland to Harwich, Amsterdam to Newcastle). Once you are in the UK, there is no issue with expiry date of the certificate, as long as you stay in the UK. You may need new certificates for the return trip, depending on what route you take.

      Two other options to consider, in addition to flying to Paris, is to fly to Amsterdam (particularly if you want to take one of the ferries from the Netherlands) or to fly to Dublin, although not as many airlines fly to Dublin with pets in the cabin. However, from Dublin there’s plenty of dog-friendly ferries across to Wales, then the trains in the UK are pet-friendly.

  17. Shandos thank you for all the great info. I am in the US and would like to travel around Europe for a few months with my wee Westie. If I rent/lease a car what should I expect when entering a country with my pup by vehicle? Thanks!

    • If you’re driving between countries in the Schengen zone, don’t expect any checks at the border, either on your own passport or your dog’s paperwork. However, do check in advance with your rental company which countries you can drive in (particularly in the east where not all countries are in the EU there may be restrictions). Plus, many countries have a “vignette” sticker to drive on the motorways, so check what’s on the car and whether you need to buy one for cross-border excursions. Your rental car company should be able to help you out.


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