Flying to Brazil with Dogs: A Step by Step Guide

A dog sitting in front of graffiti of the Brazilian flag.

Brazil is the land of samba, caipirinhas, and sandy beaches. It’s a country exploding in color, culture, and heat. We spent six weeks in Rio de Janeiro with our two pups and can’t wait to return. Besides being an amazing destination for human travelers, it’s also incredibly dog friendly. The city is packed with dogs, pet stores, and groomers, and that combined with great weather and plenty of outdoor activities makes it an unbeatable destination for you and your dog.  So grab your pup, jump on a plane, and head to one of the most magical cities in the world. Here is our guide to flying to Brazil with dogs in cabin. We’re sharing it step by step, so you can go too!

A dog outside of a restaurant in Rio de Janeiro.

Step 1: Country Requirements

The first step is always to check your destination country’s requirements to see if they’re doable. Be sure to start this process early, so you have enough time to get everything done without scrambling. We checked Brazil’s policy for entering the country with pets, and then double checked the information on their government website. Then, we triple checked by calling our local consulate. The internet is a great source of information, but websites aren’t always up to date, and policies can change at any time. We like to get verbal confirmation before we start the process so we’re 100% sure of things and don’t waste time. Better safe than sorry!

To enter Brazil, we would need an International health certificate, issued 10 days before departure by a licensed veterinarian and endorsed by the USDA.  We would also need a valid rabies vaccination and acknowledgment of treatment against internal and external parasites 15 days prior to travel (such as Heartworm medication). That’s it!

Remember: It’s important to stay organized throughout, and to keep a record of everything you’ll need to enter the country. Make additional hard copies of all of your documents and store them in a special folder, and keep digital copies on your phone. These simple moves will save you time and energy when traveling.

Step 2: Make Travel Arrangements

Since the health certificate is contingent on departure date, we’d need a confirmed date before moving forward. Check airline policies and look up flights. Decide how your pet’s going to fly, and which method works for you. If there’s an airline you’ve flown before with your dog and liked, see if they go to Brazil. We fly American Airlines a lot with our two pups, and have only had positive experiences. Choose a flight, purchase your ticket and call the airline; it’s important to contact the airline with your flight information, since many companies limit the number of pets allowed on board.

Next, find carrier requirements for flying in cabin. Be sure your pets bag fits requirements and will be accepted on the air craft.

Step 3: Call the Vet

Once your date is confirmed, you’ll need to call your vet. Speak to them about your travel plans, the requirements, and set up an appointment. If your dog has a valid rabies vaccine, schedule your appointment for 8 – 10 days before your departure date. If they don’t, you’ll need to get a vaccine at least 21 days before departure.

Our dogs were up to date on rabies, so we scheduled an appointment 9 days prior to leaving. Make sure to ask your vet if they can provide the international health certificate, or if you should bring a copy yourself. Done and done.

Step 4: Vet Visit

Our vet visit went great! The vet checked over our dogs, and checked off on treatment against internal and external parasites, since we give our dogs Frontline and Heartworm medicine. She filled out the health certificate, and gave us the green light on travel. All good!

Step 5: USDA Endorsement

Next, our health certificated needed to be endorsed by the USDA. That means they would need to review our documents and stamp them. We used FedEx to overnight the following:

It’s important to make a copy of all documents before mailing them and to keep a record of your tracking numbers. We sent the documents on a Thursday, and they were returned to us by Saturday.

Important Things to Note:

*USDA processing times vary, and offices are closed on weekends and national holidays. Get your documents in as soon as possible.

*If you are overnighting your documents, ask the carrier about weekend deliveries. You will typically have to sign off on them.

*You can either submit your documents via mail or in person, if a USDA office or affiliate office is close enough. Find the location that governs your state and give them a call.

Step 6: Flight Day

A picture of boogie the pug in his carrier waiting to board a flight.

Our flight was late at night, so we spent the day making sure the dogs got plenty of exercise so they’d be nice and sleepy for the flight. We gave them a small dinner four hours before the flight, and headed to the airport early. Give yourself plenty of time at the airport to check in and go through security. The gate agent reviewed our documents and carrier, and we were good to go.

Step 7: Arrival Check

When we landed, we went through immigration, grabbed our bags, and were motioned towards an area to get checked by a health inspector. A Brazilian officer looked over both dogs, checked our documents and made copies of them. She filled out some entry forms and gave us copies before sending us on our way. Welcome to Brazil!

We spent six weeks in Rio de Janeiro with our dogs, and can’t wait to return. Here’s a step by step guide to flying to Brazil with dogs, so you can visit too.
About Boogie

Hi! This is our dog Boogie, the traveling pug. He's been on over 20 flights to three continents. We're here to show you how to travel with your dog. Join us as we take planes, trains, and automobiles to different parts of the world.

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Boogie

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Comments 6

  1. Hi,

    First of all, great post and it helped me a lot as I am looking to take my dog to Brazil with me. Second, what is the process/requirements to return to the US with the dogs? Thank you

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi! Thanks for reading. The health certificate from the USA is valid for 60 days (2 months) from the date of issue. So, if you’re returning to the USA within 2 months of entering Brazil, you can use the same paperwork. Here’s the official statement on the health certificate:

      “This international Veterinary Certificate is valid for sixty (60) days from the date of issue for entering or returning to
      the MERCOSUR party countries, as long as the rabies vaccination is valid.”

      Enjoy Brazil. 🙂

  2. Just to confirm your last comment and reply, if I am returning to the US within 60 days, do I need to go back to the Brazilian Agriculture Ministry at the airport in advance of my return flight to get the doc certified? When I moved from Brazil to the US years ago, I had to go to the Ministry 3 days before my flight and it was a huge pain in the rear. If I understand your comment, I can just show up at the Sao Paulo airport with the same docs I used to enter, correct?

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi! If you are entering Brazil from the USA, and have an endorsed health certificate, you can use the same documents to re-enter the USA if you leave Brazil within a period of 2 months (check the dates because they won’t give you a day extra!). We stayed for 6 weeks and did not require new documents. Contact the Brazilian embassy to double and triple check – always worth it!

  3. Hi!
    How did you find a company that accepts brachycephalic dogs? So far a bunch of airlines that I visited the website say they don’t allow it because of breathing problems. Including American Airlines, that you say in your post has a big NO list for these breeds. And how did your pup behave? It’ll be my first time flying with a dog and and I’m really nervous for what I’ve been reading so far

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Nat! Companies are changing their policies all the time, especially when it comes to flying with pets. Be sure you are looking at the requirements when it comes to in cabin (and not in cargo or as checked baggage).

      Boogie behaves very well on flights! I suggest practicing with your pup beforehand. Make sure they are used to their travel bag and see it as a safe and cozy space. There are more tips on the blog (see here). Good luck!

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