Taking a Dog to the USA from the UK in 2023

So you’re living in the United Kingdom and want to head to the United States along with your dog, whether to relocate or because you’re going on a holiday. But what are your options for taking a dog to USA from UK? I cover the different options available, plus the requirements for taking a dog to the USA. 9

Taking a dog to the USA from UK

Flying to the USA with a UK Airline

If you’re planning on flying to the USA with a UK airline, be warned that your pet will need to fly as cargo. British Airways doesn’t fly pets in the cabin or even as checked baggage; pet dogs can only fly as cargo. Virgin Atlantic also previously flew pets as cargo, but temporarily suspended the service in 2020 and still shows no signs of reinstating the service in 2023.

British Airways Plane
Pets on British Airways flights can only travel as cargo

Flying to the USA with a US Airline

If you’re hoping to instead fly with your dog in the cabin on an American airline out of the UK, you’re also probably out of luck. There aren’t any American airlines that state that they fly pets in the cabin on flights out of the UK.

Flying a dog to USA from UK
It’s not that easy to fly from the UK to the USA with American airlines

Both Delta and United Airlines clearly state on their websites that they don’t accept any pets flying in the cabin (or as checked baggage) on flights out of the UK, despite both normally permitting pets on Transatlantic flights. (On the other hand, American Airlines doesn’t fly pets in the cabin on any trans-Atlantic flights.)

Delta Airlines Plane Wing
Delta states on their website they don’t fly pets in the cabin out of the UK
United Airlines Plane
United Airlines also states that they don’t fly pets in the cabin out of the UK

Confusingly, some Delta staff have informed pet owners that they can travel with their pet in the cabin out of the UK. However, when people have tried to book with Delta recently (as of early 2023), their pet booking has been rejected – although I know of someone who’s booking was originally accepted, and only rejected later when they followed up!

I’m also aware of someone who has twice flown with United out of Heathrow in 2023, despite other travellers being told by the airline this isn’t possible. Perhaps try and make a booking, but there is a high likelihood that you will be denied. It’s not an ideal situation!

There are also limited options for transporting pets in the hold with American airlines. Both Delta Cargo and United Airlines (through United PetSafe) have not accepted bookings for pets since 2020. It’s unclear if American Airlines Cargo is accepting pet bookings. There are some exceptions for active-duty US military and US State Department Foreign Service personnel travelling on official orders.  

Flying to the USA via Canada

A great alternative for flying from the UK to the USA with a dog in the cabin is to fly via Canada. On the Air Canada website they specifically mention that they accept pets for travel both in the cabin and in the hold on flights from the UK. You can then book a connecting flight to the USA from Canada. 

Another potential Canadian airline that you could use to fly out the UK with your dog is Air Transat. They permit pets fly in the cabin and in the checked baggage hold on flights departing from Manchester and Glasgow, but not London Gatwick.

Flying to the USA via Europe

Another potential alternative is to fly with a European airline that flies pets in the cabin out of the UK, transiting through a European city.

There are multiple European airlines that offer this option. Both Air Malta and TAP Air Portugal clearly state on their website that they allow pets on flights out of the UK, except for on flights departing Gatwick Airport due to airport limitations.

Other travellers also report flying out of the UK with Air France, KLM and Lufthansa. It’s best to contact the airlines directly for confirmation and details.

Check out my full guide to airlines that fly pets out of the UK, including weight limits and any airport restrictions.

Travelling via Ireland

An increasingly popular option for travelling to and from the UK with a pet is to travel via Ireland. While many airlines don’t fly pets in and out of Ireland, there is a short list of airlines that provide this option, include the American airline Delta. Delta permits pet dogs in the cabin on flights both to and from Dublin.

It’s relatively easy to travel to Ireland from the United Kingdom, with multiple dog-friendly ferries including some with pet-friendly cabins, or the land border crossing with Northern Ireland. Be aware that you’ll need an EU pet health certificate or EU pet passport to take a ferry to Ireland.

Travelling via Continental Europe

If you’re wanting to fly from the UK to the USA with your dog in the cabin, the other alternative is to firstly cross over to Continental Europe, and fly from another airport such as Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport or Amsterdam Airport Schiphol.

Pets are generally permitted in the cabin on most airlines flying to the USA from Europe, except for American Airlines that doesn’t allow pets on Transatlantic flights. 

Dog with tulips in Netherlands
Should you travel via Amsterdam with your pet?

To get to either airport, the two options available to foot passengers without a car are a handful of ferries across the channel or else a pet taxi in the Eurotunnel, in combination with local trains.

For more details, see my post about travelling with a dog to the UK from outside of Europe, which details each of these options. Plus keep in mind you’ll need an EU pet health certificate or EU pet passport.

What About a Trans-Atlantic Cruise Ship?

A final alternative for taking a dog from UK to USA is to book a crossing on the Queen Mary 2 across the Atlantic, from Southampton to New York. This option is particularly popular with owners of larger dogs, that are too large to fly in the cabin on any airline. 

Queen Mary 2
The Queen Mary 2 has kennels onboard © Depositphotos

However, keep in mind there’s a lot of demand for the pet kennels on the Queen Mary 2. In 2023, I’ve heard reports of the kennels being booked out for the next two years. However, it’s usually possible to put your name down on a waiting list, in case a cancellation occurs – I’ve heard reports of some people successfully using this method.  

Requirements to take a Dog to the USA from UK

The requirements to take a dog to the USA are quite simple, especially when they are travelling from the UK, or via another country such as France, the Netherlands or Canada. 

Dog at the Grand Canyon
The entry requirements for dogs to visit the USA are quite simple

The main requirement is that dogs are healthy and immunised against rabies. Up until recently, dogs entering the USA required a rabies vaccination certificate.

However, as of December 2018, this was no longer required for non-high-risk countries. Dogs travelling from the UK, most European countries and Canada are exempt from requiring a rabies certificate. 

Dachshund Vaccination at Veterinarian
Your dog will need to be immunised against rabies © Depositphotos

It is also necessary to check the requirements for the state that you are travelling to, although these generally only apply for pets permanently relocating. For the relevant links, check out my guide

A potential complication at the moment, is that the USA instated a temporary ban on the import of dogs from high-risk rabies countries, except with an import permit or where the dog had a rabies vaccination certificate from the USA. This also applies to dogs that have been in a high-risk rabies country in the last 6 months.

While this doesn’t affect the UK, nor most European countries or Canada, some European airlines have been reluctant to fly dogs to the USA. Double check this in advance of booking.

Your airline may also require a health certificate or “fit to fly” certificate. Enquire with the airline or review their website for their requirements when making a booking.

Returning to the UK

If it’s not a permanent move for your dog to the USA, also keep in mind your options for returning to the UK with your dog. Unfortunately, there aren’t any options available for flying with a dog in the cabin or as checked baggage to the UK.  

Instead you will need to fly your dog as cargo, or else travel via Ireland or Continental Europe, taking a ferry or pet taxi over to England. For full details, check out my guide on travelling with a dog to the UK from outside Europe

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20 thoughts on “Taking a Dog to the USA from the UK in 2023”

  1. I will be traveling with my cat (5 months old) in cabin on Air France on May 30th, my first flight is from London-Paris (AF 1381) and then Paris-Boston (AF 334). The US does not require my cat to have a rabies vaccine or microchip to enter the US, but as we will be transiting thru France (4.5 hour layover), although it is not our final destination, will the rabies vaccine and microchip be required to board the plane from London-Paris?

    Additionally, I cannot find if I will need to get the rabies and microchip to leave the UK? The move to the US is permanent and we will not be returning.

    The flight from London lands at terminal 2E at Charles DeGaulle and the flight to Boston takes of from the same terminal (2E) so I will not need to leave the airport or terminal while in France.

    I just want to see if I will need to have the rabies and microchip set before flying to my final destination in the USA. My preference would be to have that done at her new vet upon arrival.

    • Jennifer – I would double check with Air France, as they will be checking in your pet and enforcing or not enforcing the rule. I would guess it’s not required, but sometimes strange rules apply. I’m not 100% across the microchip rules for the UK, but I doubt it would be enforced when leaving the country.

  2. A couple of errors in your article.
    1) Foot passengers (no car) on Ferries to France cannot travel with a dog. You can only travel with your dog if you have a car. Not all sailings have pet friendly cabins or kennels in which case your dog must stay in your car for the journey. Dogs not allowed in other public areas.
    2) It is QM2( Queen Mary 2) and NOT QE11 which has kennels aboard for trans-atlantic sailings between NewYork and Southampton.

    • Penny – Thanks for pointing out my typo about the QEII, I have fixed this – not sure how I made it as I’ve mentioned the Queen Mary 2 elsewhere! In regards to ferries, there are a couple that permit foot passengers, that I have personally travelled on. There is the DFDS ferry between Newhaven and Dieppe, plus there are a couple of ferries to the Netherlands. However, most ferries don’t permit foot passengers to take dogs.

  3. Hi- I am running into the same problem. Need to bring my puppy from UK to NYC. First hiccup is that I have to wait u til she is 16 weeks. Thinking on the following:
    1. Taxi from Folkestone to Calais
    2. Train from Calais to Paris
    3. In Paris CDG in Cabin to JFK. ( Airfrance)

    Given that she is only 6 weeks now and at full agae she will be over the allowed weight, I can only see charts on how heavy she’d be a 16 weeks. Around 7.5 kg, which is borderline. ( coin tosss depending of the right airline agent)
    If I make to the counter and she is denied in cabin. How easy is get a crate at that point? How safe is for her to come in the cargo?
    Many thanks in advance

    • It’s probably best finalise this in advance. Usually crates are not available at the airport, plus advance bookings are generally required for pets, whether in the cabin or the hold. For safety, it’s also best to familiarise your dog with the crate ahead of time, so that they’re comfortable in it.

      Instead of flying with Air France, perhaps consider another airline? La Compagnie is a relatively new French business class only airline with a pet weight limit of 15kg. Of course ticket prices are more expensive, as its business class. Delta also doesn’t have a weight limit, just a carrier size limit, and allows pets in the cabin leaving Paris. Alternatively, you should be able to fly with Air Canada directly out of London, with a stopover in Canada. I don’t believe Air Canada have a weight limit, just a size limit.

  4. Hi there: I’m moving with my very small dog from London uk to USA this summer. I guess Air Canada from LDN to CA then onto USA is my only option in terms of flying with him in cabin. Any advice about best CA city to fly into so that I may find a flight from there to Chicago that will allow my dog in cabin? journey? Thanks so much, Teresa

    • Teresa – I would check the connections for a couple of different cities, I’m not sure which ones have the best connections with Chicago. I generally aim for a slightly longer connection when travelling with a dog, particularly with the disruptions of recent times.

  5. Do you know how long a dog has to be in the uk before it can travel through the US. He is currently in Kenya but I am planning to travel to the Bahamas for 6 months, he would need to transit through the US but has been denied a transit visa. So I am thinking to take him to the uk first.. any ideas?

    • Dogs are required to be in a non-high-risk country for rabies for 6 months before travelling to the USA, if they don’t have a permit and haven’t been vaccinated in the USA, with a rabies certificate. A quick transit through another country isn’t sufficient. It’s best to look into other flights to get to the Bahamas.

  6. Hi Shandos, thank you so much for this article. Wish I found it sooner.. I’ve spent a dozen hours to come up w/ what you put here… So if I want to bring an 8 to 10 week old puppy as carry on from UK (MAN) to USA (JFK), looks like my only option is via Air Canada w/ a stop over in Toronto and hop to JFK. Besides the ticket expense, do you I have double import export regulations and paper work? Or do they see the connecting flight as the final destination and not double fees and paper work? I guess a slight stop over and increased cost is not going to be a show stopper to get my puppy!! Thank you so much again in advance! Ron B (@chefrover)

    • Generally if you don’t leave the airport or pass through customs, you don’t need paperwork for that place, but I’d double check what the airline says. I haven’t come across import fees for taking dogs to the USA, and I’m pretty sure Canada doesn’t have any.

      Make sure you double check whether the airline will allow puppies that young (many of the European airlines have minimum ages of at least 12 weeks or more), plus the paperwork for Canada and the USA might be different for puppies. Also double check the rules for your destination state – there are often extra requirements for pets being rehomed, versus just visiting.

  7. Hi Shandos,

    Firstly thank you for this. I cannot tell you the help your blog / site has been.

    We are relocating to Los Angeles next September with our 3 year old Frenchie (bulldog). Iv read the above comments but please could you kindly tell me how you feel it would be best for us to travel with him to Los Angeles and what airlines to contact? We refuse to not have him in the cabin with us as there has been a large amount of unfortunate deaths with flat nose dogs being kept in the hold. We are happy to take any route necessary to get him there safely in the cabin with my ( soon to be ) wife.
    Thank you in advance

    • Kris – I can totally understand your concern, with flat nose dogs unfortunately at higher risk in the hold.

      Depending on the weight of your dog, one option might be La Compagnie (https://www.lacompagnie.com/en/plan/special-services/), a business-class only airline that flies between Paris and New York. They have a higher than normal weight limit – 15kg. Most of the European airlines have an 8kg weight limit, which I presume won’t be enough. Alternatively, Delta and Air Canada fly pets across the Atlantic, and don’t have a weight limit, but list the maximum carrier size on their websites.

      The other two alternatives to consider would be booking on the Queen Mary 2, which has kennels on their Trans-Atlantic crossings. There is a long wait list, but it’s worthwhile enquiring. Finally, the other increasingly common alternative is sharing a private jet. There are some FB groups that organise these flights (e.g. https://www.facebook.com/groups/271983317342001). It’s very expensive, but one of the few options for larger pets to fly in the cabin.

      Hope this helps!

  8. Hi Shandos, thank you so much for your article! We are planning on moving back to the US from the UK with our dog in cabin via Canada. What has your experience been with taking dogs through UK airport security? Have you ever flown with your dog in cabin out of London with success or ease? Any tips would be appreciated! Thank you!

  9. Hi , we would like to fly from UK to America with our golden retriever 4 years old – 33kg
    How we can manage . Thank you . Jarmila

    • Your dog will be too large to fly in the cabin, so will need to fly in the hold. British Airlines will fly large dogs as cargo on flights to the USA, while I am not sure which US airlines are currently flying pets in the hold – I recommend checking them individually. There are also multiple options with European airlines, such as KLM, Lufthansa and Air France, but that will involve a stopover. It’s easiest and cheapest if you can book directly with an airline to fly your dog as excess baggage. Cargo bookings are more expensive and may need to be done through a pet transport company.


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