Traveling to Portugal with a Pet


If you are anything like me, you want to take your pet to as many places as you can. I never understood why I would be in the grocery store, the mall, or even a restaurant and see people with their pets. I thought, “Why in the world are they in here with a dog?”. Then I got a dog and all of a sudden, I became ‘one of those people’. So this article is for those who are like me or those who want to relocate with their pet but don’t know how. This is the rundown of how to travel. 

I started a digital nomad journey about 2 years ago. I had this urge to leave the US but I had no idea where I would go and how long I wanted to be there. A good friend of mine had already started her journey as a digital nomad and she inspired me to live the life I’ve always wanted. I decided to pack up my things and fly around the world. The only issue was, what would I do with my dog? I had the notion that I could just take him with me. 

I had no idea how I was going to make it work but, I immediately went to Google to get some answers. The first thing I looked up was, ‘How to travel the world with your dog?’. That produced what felt like 30 pages of articles and I read through so many of them before I found the answers. Through trial and error and eventually, I eventually compiled a list of requirements and tips that I used to travel with my dog to 6 countries. Enough of the backstory, here is what you came here for, the list of requirements to travel with your pet from the US to Portugal. This can also be used for relocation purposes as well. 

  1. Identify which country you want to travel to. 
  1. Visit to find out the requirements for exporting your pet from the US to your desired country. 
  1. Select your country of choice to determine the requirements. 
  1. Review the requirements for traveling with your pet to that designated country. Some requirements include updated vaccines and functional microchips. 
  1. Find a veterinarian in your city who processes USDA health certificates and is familiar with the process for your state. You should call the veterinarian’s office to understand what their schedule is for international health certificates.
  1. Identify which airlines you want to travel with. Before you book your flight, familiarize yourself with the pet travel policy and if that airline travels with pets to that destination. Each airline has restrictions on age, size, weight, breed, carrier, and number of pets that determine how your pet will travel on the aircraft (in-cabin or cargo). I’ve listed a few pet travel policies for a handful of airlines that travel to Portugal below. 
  1. Delta Pet Travel Policy
  2. American Airlines Pet Travel Policy
  3. TAP Air Portugal Pet Travel Policy
  4. United Airline Pet Travel Policy
  5. Lufthansa Pet Travel Policy
  1. Book the flight once you have determined which airline is better for you and your pet’s plans. Keep in mind you may have to call the airline to book your pet onto your itinerary, it’s best to get this done as soon as you can.
  1. Schedule your vet appointment no more than 10-14 days before your flight, the USDA APHIS site and the airline will determine your timelines for having the health certificate completed and returned.
  1. If your pet is in-cabin, ensure the carrier is soft-sided and is breathable. 
  1. If your pet is traveling in cargo, there are additional requirements to bring travel bowls, food,  feeding instructions, and absorbent materials at the bottom of the kennel.

All of these steps are required before arriving at the airport and for check-in. Airlines require you to present your pet so they can ensure they meet the age, size, and weight restrictions so give yourself ample time to present your pet and go through security. You will also be required to present the signed USDA health certificate. 

Travel Tips: 

  1. If your pet is in-cabin, ensure the carrier is soft-sided and is breathable. Bring a traveling food and water bowl and familiarize yourself with the airport map. Some airports do not have pet relief areas so bring training pads if your pet needs to relieve themselves.
  2. If your pet is traveling in cargo, there are additional requirements to bring travel bowls, food, feeding instructions, and absorbent materials at the bottom of the kennel. You must also bring your pet to the airport 2-6 hours before departure, and check your airline’s pet in-cargo day of travel requirements. Do not sedate your pet before your trip. 
  3. Be sure to read all the regulations, rules, and fares for traveling with your pet, both in-cabin and in-cargo. Determine what your pet’s additional fee will be added to your ticket, in-cabin fees range from $125 to $250 in addition to your ticket fare. 

When you arrive in Portugal and have secured a place to live, I recommend getting the EU pet passport so you can travel more freely throughout The European Union. If you follow these tips, you will have a much smoother traveling experience with your fur child.

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