For members


What Americans need to know about bringing their pets to Europe

Planning a move from the United States to the European Union is hard enough for human beings - but don’t underestimate the time and logistics required to get your cat or dog across the Atlantic, too. Here's everything you need to know.

Two passengers look at a cat in a travel bag at an airport.
How to bring your cat or dog to the EU from the United States Photo: Iakovos Hatzistavrou / AFP


The paperwork required for your dog or cat to travel to Europe with you is the biggest hurdle. A misstep here could derail your travel plans altogether or leave your pet stranded in an airport quarantine facility. 

  1. As soon as possible: Find a USDA accredited veterinarian authorised to issue an EU health certificate for international pet travel (search for one in your area here). Ask them to review the country-specific requirements of your destination—these can differ slightly but are largely the same across the EU. Your pet will need to be current on their rabies vaccinations and have an ISO-compliant microchip or legible code tattoo.
  2. 30 days before departure: Schedule an appointment with the USDA accredited vet to conduct the health check for the EU health certificate. These are only valid for 30 days, so you can’t get a head start on this step. Your veterinarian can fill out the health certificate online through the APHIS portal. Double-check to confirm the microchip number in your paperwork matches the number displayed on the reader in the vet’s office.
  3. 10 days before departure: Get your pet’s health certificate endorsed by your regional APHIS Veterinary Services Endorsement Office. Some states have several of these offices, and some have none—if yours is nearby, call ahead to see if in-person, same day endorsement appointments are available. If not, you’ll need to pay in advance for return shipping to receive the original document before your departure—you need the original with inked signatures and embossed stamps to enter the EU. You’ll also need to pay the endorsement fee, $38. The endorsement must be completed no earlier than 10 days before your departure.
  4. Day of departure: Bring the EU health certificate, the original APHIS endorsement, and, if your pet’s microchip isn’t ISO compliant, your own microchip reader in your carry-on luggage. Present this at your final destination—go through the “something to declare” line in customs.    

Carry-on or Cargo?

Small pets—generally under 8 kg or 17 lbs—can ride in the cabin with you, while bigger animals will need to travel in the cargo hold. But since the pandemic began, both Delta and United airlines have suspended the travel of pets in DeltaCargo and United PetSafe travel respectively. American Airlines only allows active-duty military to check pets.

When pets are allowed to travel by cargo, they need an additional airline-specific certification from a vet that they’re healthy enough to fly (as a generally rule, brachycephalic or snub-nosed breeds—like pugs, bulldogs, or Persian cats—can’t travel in the hold). Your airline will provide requirements for carriers allowed in the cargo hold. Pets can’t fly in cargo if it’s too hot or cold in your departure, destination or connecting airports, so be careful if you plan to travel in high summer or winter.

Airlines and plane tickets

Forget the points, because your preferred airline may not be the best choice for this long haul with your pet. Airlines charge for pet tickets whether they’re in the cabin with you or in the hold—these range from about $100 to $200. Your seat selections may also be limited since bulkheads and first-class seats don’t always accommodate carriers.

  • Book your tickets by phone. Many airlines don’t allow you to book plane tickets online when you’re travelling with your pet. This is because there are stringent requirements for carriers and a limited number of pets allowed per flight.
  • Review carrier requirements with agent. If you plan to travel with your pet in the cabin, the customer service agent will check the underseat dimensions for each leg of your flight (note that the maximum allowable size for the pet carrier is often smaller than the underseat dimensions listed on any plane specs you might find online). If you’re flying with multiple airlines—even partners like Delta and AirFrance—you’ll likely have to repeat this process with the partner airline as well. You may need to submit the dimensions of your carrier and sometimes even pictures for approval.
  • Links to pet travel guides for major airlines

Carry-on carriers

Your cat or dog will be stowed under the seat in front of you. A rule of thumb is your pet needs to be able to stand, turn around, and sit comfortably while in the carrier under the seat. Some airlines demand a soft-sided carrier, while others allow hard carriers. Several sides of the carrier will need ventilation.

The runaway favorite carrier for in-cabin pets is the Sherpa Original or Sherpa Deluxe⁠ — it’s the Wirecutter’s pick and has nearly 11,000 5-star reviews on Amazon. It’s designed to match the requirements of most major airlines. 

To sedate or tranquilize?   

The Federal Aviation Administration advises against sedatives for pets since their effects on animals at high elevations are poorly studied, and some drugs can have a stimulating effect (which will only heighten your pet’s anxieties, or make them respond aggressively). Do not sedate or tranquilize your pet for the first time during air travel, even if the medication is prescribed by your vet. If you’re worried about your pet’s nerves, remember a bad reaction to medication—or an overdose—will be much more traumatic.

Pets travelling in the cargo hold can’t be sedated or tranquilized and won’t be allowed to fly if they appear groggy or disoriented.

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For members


COMPARE: Which countries in Europe have the strictest drink-drive limits?

Certain countries around Europe have stricter policies than others regarding drinking and driving and harsher punishments for those caught exceeding legal limits. Here's what you need to know.

COMPARE: Which countries in Europe have the strictest drink-drive limits?

European countries set their own driving laws and speed limits and it’s no different when it comes to legal drink-drive limits.

While the safest thing to do of course, is to drink no alcohol at all before driving it is useful to know what the limit is in the country you are driving in whether as a tourist or as someone who frequently crosses European borders by car for work.

While some countries, such as the Czech Republic, have zero tolerance for drinking and driving, in others people are allowed to have a certain amount of alcohol in their blood while driving.

However, not only can the rules be different between countries, they are usually stricter for commercial (or bus) drivers and novice drivers as well. Besides that, the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is extremely difficult to estimate, so the old “one beer is ok” standards no longer safely apply.

In the end, the only way to be safe is to avoid consuming alcohol before driving. Any amount will slow reflexes while giving you dangerous higher confidence. According to the UK’s National Health Service, there is no ‘safe’ drinking level.

How is blood alcohol level measured?

European countries mostly measure blood alcohol concentration (BAC), which is the amount, in grams, of alcohol in one litre of blood.

After alcohol is consumed, it will be absorbed fast from the stomach and intestine to the bloodstream. There, it is broken down by a liver-produced enzyme.

Each person will absorb alcohol at their own speed, and the enzyme will also work differently in each one.

The BAC will depend on these metabolic particularities as well as body weight, gender, how fast and how much the person drank, their age and whether or not (and how much) they have eaten, and even stress levels at the time.

In other words there are many things that may influence the alcohol concentration.

The only way to effectively measure BAC is by taking a blood test – even a breathalyser test could show different results. Still, this is the measuring unit used by many EU countries when deciding on drinking limits and penalties for drivers.

Here are the latest rules and limits.

Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Greece, Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal, and Croatia

In most EU countries, the limit is just under 0.5g/l for standard drivers (stricter rules could be in place for novice or professional drivers).

This could be exceeded by a man with average weight who consumed one pint of beer (containing 4.2% alcohol) and two glasses of red wine (13% alcohol) while having dinner.

If a person is caught driving with more than 0.8g/l of blood alcohol content in Austria, they can pay fines of up to € 5,900 and to have their license taken for one year in some cases.

In France, if BAC exceeds 0.8g/l, they could end up with a 2-year jail sentence and a € 4,500 fine. In Germany, penalties start at a € 500 fine and a one-month license suspension. In Greece, drunk drivers could face up to years of imprisonment.

In Denmark, first time offenders are likely to have their licences suspended and could be required to go on self-paid alcohol and traffic courses if BAC levels are low. Italy has penalties that vary depending on whether or not the driver has caused an accident and could lead to car apprehension, fines and prison sentences.

In Spain, going over a 1.2g/l limit is a criminal offence that could lead to imprisonment sentences and hefty fines. 

Norway, Sweden, and Poland

In Norway, Sweden, and Poland, the limit for standard drivers is 0.2g/l. It could take a woman with average weight one standard drink, or one can of beer, to reach that level.

Penalties in Norway can start at a one month salary fine and a criminal record. In Poland, fines are expected if you surpass the limit, and you could also have your license revoked and receive a prison sentence.

Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovakia

The Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovakia have one of the strictest rules in the European Union. There is no allowed limit of alcohol in the blood for drivers.

In the Czech Republic, fines start at € 100 to € 800, and a driving ban of up to one year can be instituted for those driving with a 0.3 BAC level. However, the harshest penalties come if the BAC level surpasses 1 g/l, fines can be up to € 2,000, and drivers could be banned from driving for 10 years and imprisoned for up to three years.

This is intended to be a general guide and reference. Check the current and specific rules in the country you plan to travel to. The easiest and best way to be safe and protect yourself and others is to refrain from drinking alcohol and driving.