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Flying With Pets to South Africa? Your Need to Know Guide

Your dog will love South Africa, but be prepared.
People fly for all different reasons. Some individuals need to make a business trip, others are visiting friends or family, others are going on vacation, and some are making a cross country move.  If you are moving, there is a good chance that you may need to bring your pet along with you. If this is the case, you will find that you are subject to a whole new set of air travel rules.  Before leaving for the airport, with your pet or pets in tow, you are advised to familiarise yourself with those rules.  This also applies if you want to bring your pet to South Africa on holiday.

The first step in travelling, in the air, with a pet is to make sure that they are even allowed.  Certain pets are allowed to be on airplanes, but that does not mean that all airlines will allow it.  If you are planning on travelling with your pet, you will need to inform your airline of this information upfront.  This is vital because not all airlines will allow you to bring a pet onboard. Therefore, if you do not check with your airline before heading to the airport, you may be unable to board your flight. 

If you want to travel to South Africa with your pet it will have to be quarantined for a period of 14 days when you are travelling from Brazil, China, India, Japan, Korea, Mexico and the United Arab Emirates.  This does not apply to cats. It is, however, also important to check with your country what regulations will apply if you return with your pet from South Africa.

When travelling with a pet to South Africa, you will need to keep that pet contained. That means that if you are travelling with an animal, such as a dog or a cat, that animal will likely need to be in a carrier.  When purchasing an animal carrier, it is important to know that not all carriers are permitted on-board and you should check with your airline.  If you fly with South African Airways, the pet will be kept in a container in the cargo department. If you will be keeping your animal in the cabin with you, as opposed to having your animal treated as checked baggage, you will need to make sure that your pet carrier will not negatively affect other passengers. Your pet carrier must not block aisle ways or encroach on another passenger seating space.  In addition to these general rules and restrictions, you may find that each airline has their own set of pet carrier rules.

Almost all airlines require that your pets have the proper documents before being allowed on their airplanes.  These documents most commonly include information on your pet’s health.  Most airlines require that your pet undergoes a medical evaluation before being transported by airplane.  This information is not only used to ensure that your pet is healthy enough to fly, but is also used to ensure that they are protected with the proper vaccinations.  Proper vaccinations will not only protect your pet, but other passengers, as well as airline staff. 

Once you have received clearance from the airline, which you wish to fly on, purchased the appropriate pet equipment, and obtained the proper health checks for your pet, you will need to wait until your day of travel. On that day, you may want to arrive at the airport a little bit earlier than recommended. This will help to ensure that you could quickly straighten out a problem, without having to miss your flight, should one arise.

When you and your pet arrive at the airport, whether it be early or not, you will both be required to go through airport security. Your pet will be required to pass through a metal detector, just like everyone else.  If you are using a pet carrier, it is also likely that your pet carrier will be subject to examination.  This examination most commonly includes being sent though the x-ray machine with your carry-on luggage; however, it is important to note that your pet will not have to go through the x-ray machine; the metal detector should be enough.

 As previously mentioned, not all airlines allow their passengers to fly with their pets, even in the cabin or below deck.  That is why it is advised that you determine whether or not your pet can fly with you, ahead of time. In addition to different air travel rules, you may also find that some airlines charged extra fees for pet passengers.  In the event that you are charged, you will be notified of this charge ahead of time.


South Africa is a beautiful country and your pet dog will love it here, but keep in mind that it will have to acclimate to African weather conditions.

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