How To Fly With Your ESA Internationally

We all consider our pets as part of the family. I’ve raised Nobu, a shiba inu, since he was 3 months old. With a new life starting for me in Barcelona, Spain, I had to find a way to transport him from Los Angeles. There was no way he was going underneath in the cargo. After figuring out a way, I wanted to share with you “How To Fly With Your ESA Internationally.”

Letter From A Licensed Mental Health Professional

After my cancer diagnosis, I registered Nobu as an emotional support animal through Shortly after the 5 minute free testing survey,  I received the letter for a Licensed Mental Health Professional. This enables you to fly with your ESA in the airplane cabin without it needing to be in a cage.

Due to the abuse of the ESA policy, FDA enforced stricter rules so please do your research for the latest updates.

Does My ESA Need A Vest?

Does you ESA need a vest to fly? Technically no however this will help alleviate confusion and is highly recommended. Some airlines require your ESA to be clearly marked. This vest was purchased on Amazon.ESA Vest How To Fly With Your ESA Internationally

Documentation Needed For Destination Country 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.

Document Requirements Example For Spain

Spain Info Rev28

Does Your ESA Have The Correct Microchip?

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.

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

Airline Vet Certificate

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

Paperwork Must Be Endorsed By USDA Office

Then you take all this paperwork to your local USDA office (do not bring your pet) and get it endorsed. The fee is $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. Credit cards are accepted. 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 American airlines accept ESA however I cannot stress enough for you to double/triple check
  • Once in any other part of the world, many airlines DO NOT recognize ESA. From experience, I almost got denied boarding on Vueling airlines because their policy only allowed service dogs
  • My ESA has amazing bladder control. Therefore I prefer booking direct routes to and from. But on the contrary, there have been new rules as to flying with an ESA with a maximum of 8 hours without any layovers
  • Do not book any flights that have a layover in countries that are strict with animals such as the UK, Ireland, Japan
  • If the flight has a layover, research to see if that specific airport has dog relief areas
  • Before purchasing your ticket, call the airlines to notify them that an ESA will be traveling with you. Certain airlines have a limit on how many ESAs can fly on a flight.

Day of International Travel

  • Be sure that your ESA goes on a long walk to empty the bladder
  • Bring some food in a ziplock bag and a bowl for water
  • Dog food contains meat. I was stopped by customs and luckily didn’t have to throw out the food
  • Arrive to the airport early to check in at the counter. Ticket agents will check all paperwork
  • ESA letter cannot be more than 1 year old

My Experience Arriving in Spain

How To Fly With Your ESA Internationally

Upon arriving to Spain, no one stopped to question me. No customs forms even exists! It was a total breeze. After settling in, look for a vet and bring all the paperwork. The vet will issue you a special EU passport for your dog (100€) How To Fly With Your ESA Internationally

Flying Back To The US & Then Back To Spain 

7 months later, I flewback to the US. Upon arriving at LAX, be sure to mark that you are bringing an animal on the customs form. When I got to customs, they acknowledged my dog and waved me on. I didn’t have to show any paperwork or anything!

On the way back to Spain, I was asked for all my paperwork again. Don’t forget to bring all original documents and the EU passport for your dog.

I hope you found my blog on How To Fly With Your ESA Internationally useful. If you have any questions, please contact me –

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