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 Brazil with our two pups and can’t wait to return. Besides being an amazing destination for human travelers, it’s also incredibly dog friendly. Big cities, like Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, are 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 countries in the world. Here is our guide to bringing your dog to Brazil and flying 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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22 Comments on “Flying to Brazil with Dogs: A Step by Step Guide”

  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. 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. 🙂

      1. Hello,

        Thanks so much for this critical information. It has been most useful. I am so glad I found your blog. We have followed your steps and are about 11 days away from our trip to Sao Paulo, Brasil. The only thing I found today that is a bit concerning, and I am not sure if this is something new, is the requirement to get back to the US. It seems the CDC requires a certificate that validates that our dog does not have or has not gotten screwworm while in Brasil. Was this something that you saw was asked for when you traveled with your dogs?

        I sent an email to the USDA and they said that it is a requirement and that I did have to make arrangements in Sao Paulo to see a vet and give our dog the clearance. However, it almost make no logical sense since we will be there for only 10 days, and they requirement is to do the certification within 5 days of traveling into the US. Regardless, I replied back asking them if the certification only needed to be signed/certified by the vet and not by an official institution (such as the department of agriculture of Brasil), and if it needed to be translated and certified into English. At that point they replied saying that I needed to reach out to CDC and find out about these requirements with them.

        My wife is a bit nervous about this, since we have everything else ready (have appointment with vet tomorrow to get our health cert and mail it to USDA), but this particular certification would be a hassle to get done in Brasil since we don’t know any vets there and not sure if they would even be able to accommodate us in such short notice.

        Any insight about how things went when you got back state-side would be greatly appreciated; specially if they asked for any additional documentation or certificates.

        Thanks a million for this awesome blog and for all the information you have provided to all of us fur-parents. 🙂

        Sincerely,

        Gilbert

        1. Hi Gilbert,

          Thanks for reading! I’m glad you found it helpful.

          I’m interested to know where you found that CDC requirement. I’ve never heard of it before. Can you send me a link? You can contact me at boogiethepug@gmail.com.

          I don’t want to give you a definitive answer (policies are always changing), but here’s what I think. If you have your vet fill out the USDA Brazil form (found here), you’ll see at the bottom that it’s valid for 60 days. You should be able to use this same form to re-enter the United States. I have done this myself (used this form, and gone to/from the USA to Brazil within 60 days).

          1. Thank you so much for your reply. The CDC requirement is listed on the USDA website. Here is the link: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/pet-travel/bring-pet-into-the-united-states/pet-travel-dogs-into-us

            We are in Brazil already (In Sao Paulo), and everything getting out of the US was a breeze. We had no issues whatsoever. However, when we landed here in Sao Paulo, the representative for the department of Agriculture took our International Health Certificate away and said we had to follow some instructions to submit a request for a new Health Certificate online at least 5 days prior to our travel day. So we called the department of Agriculture to find out why the International Health Certificate that we brought (which they kept at the airport) is not valid to reuse to travel back. They said that the certificate is only valid for one use and that we have to submit a requests for a new one from Brazil. The worst part is that we have to get a new health certificate from a veterinary here in Brazil which obviously makes this more difficult.

            I submitted the request online with just the copy of the International Health Certificate we brought from the US, in the hopes that they approve it. If they don’t, then we would have to go see a veterinary and do all that all over again.

            Just wanted to update you and your readers about our experience so far. We are truly thankful for your information as it helped us get everything in order to travel out of the US. Now we are crossing our fingers that we don’t have to re-do this process all over in Brazil.

            Hope this helps… I will keep you posted on how everything ends up.

            Thank you.

            Gilbert

          2. Hi Gilbert,

            Thank you for the follow up! How stressful, I hope you are given the new Health Certificate online so you don’t have to visit a vet. Glad you have copies of everything, and that leaving the US was smooth! I have never heard that health certificates can only be used once (I have used many for entering and exiting).

            Interested to hear about what happens, please keep us updated! Best of luck.

        2. Hi Gilbert,

          I am planning my trip to visit Brazil in December. I found you comments super helpful because I would not know about this if it weren’t for you. Were you able to get a new International Health Certificate without repeating the entire process in Brazil? How did everything go?

          Hopefully, you were able to come back to the US smoothly with your dog and enjoyed your trip!

          Regards,

          Kennia

  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. 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. 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!

  4. Hi, are translations of the paperwork required to take my pet to Brazil? Also, did you travel directly to your destination or did you have to get another flight to your city? I am taking a flight with Gol from Sao Paulo to Salvador, once I reach Sao Paulo from the US, and apparently, they don’t accept taking pets when you buy the flight as a package between two airlines. Do you have any experience with that?

    1. Hi! No, I did not get the paperwork translated. Yes, I did travel directly. If you’re not traveling directly and switching airlines, make sure both airlines will accept your pet and your paperwork! If I don’t fly direct, I try to stick with the same airline on all legs so the rules stay the same.

  5. Excellent post and it helped me tremendously. I will fly out to Brazil in two weeks. Wish me luck!

  6. Thanks for sharing this! I’m about to fly with my pug from Argentina to the US. We have all the paperwork in place and have been authorized by the airline to make the trip. Do you have any tips for keeping your pug happy during the flight? You said you fed him about four hours before taking off. Did that work out well? Our get in Argentina recommended not feeding ours for at least 8 hours before flying. Not sure it makes any difference. Also, did Boogie ever bark or get nervous during the flight? Finally, my vet said it’s dangerous to sedate pugs but she recommended giving our little guys some “homeopathic drops” to keep him calm. I’m hesitant to do even that. Have you ever heard of drops like that? Thanks again!

    1. Hi Jeff!

      I’m happy the post was helpful. In terms of flying with your pug, I have plenty of tips on my Pug Stuff page. I also do not sedate my pug, but I have used CBD treats to keep him calm. My biggest tips are: fly with a tired pug (a long walk or trip to a park before the flight, so when they board they are super sleepy) and to make sure to use the pet relief station before boarding (check your departure airport to see where they’re located in the airport).

      Let me know how it goes! Best of luck.

  7. Hi, thanks for sharing! Were you able to bring dog food into Brazil or did you have to buy there?

  8. Hello, great info. I read at the beggining of the article that the IHC is the only requered document to enter Brazil and it has to be endorsed by the USDA. Then at the end on Step 5 on the first item you described a Rabies Vaccination Certificate, are they the same? CAn you please clarify? I am leaving in a couple of weeks. Thanks!!!

    1. Hi Cristina,

      At the beginning of the article, it says the following,
      “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!”

      Hope this helps!

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