Documents for Traveling with Pets through South America

I can not imagine not traveling with the furry members of our family! We have been traveling for more than 7 years with Oscar, a Golden Retriever and for more than 3 years also with Becka, a Romanian black cat.

I received lately a lot of e-mails from people around the world who would like to travel more with their pets but they don’t know what papers and documents are asked for their companion. We completely understand their frustration because before leaving with our furry friends we faced the same situation. We swum in uncleared waters and at the beginning of our journey personally I was very stressed with all the procedure. Farther down the line this feeling disappeared and it is now just a routine.

Oscar & Becka-01

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  1. Travelling by plane

It is very important to choose an airline that serves the entire route from beginning to end and then read carefully all the information about their pet policies.

If there are segments of flight with different airlines than you have to check all the information about pet policies.

It is very important when you make the reservation for your plane tickets to be clear and specific that you are traveling with pets and send an e-mail with all the information about weight, breed, age and the dimensions of the box. The box has to be IATA proved. I always ask for a written confirmation from their part and I always print it and attach it to all the documents, just in case. If your trip has multiple segments with different carriers ask for written confirmation from every carrier.

You need more or less the same documents for traveling but there are some differences based on the country of destination. You have to check the rules of every country you are flying to.

So you will generally need:

  • Passport and microchip
  • Rabbies Vaccination; some states require a checkup within a certain amount of days of travel (usually 30 days prior to the date of your trip)
  • Internal and external deworming (within no more than 15 days prior of departure) including the name of the product, the lab, the active substance, the date of application
  • Certificate of Veterinary Inspection also called Health Certificate

This is a signed document from a veterinarian that states he has inspected the animal for diseases and overall health. These documents usually are only valid for a certain time, so check with your state to ensure yours doesn’t expire before you fly

  • 3 days prior the departure we always visit the Department of Sanitary Certification from Agriculture Minister (in South America it is called SENASA, SENACSA “El Servicio Nacional de Sanidad y Calidad Agroalimentaria” etc, depending on the country). They ask for all the documents above and after checking them they will emit a certificate. There is a fee for this. You don’t need to go with the pet for this certificate, you only need to have all your documents.

Oscar & Becka-06

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Tips and tricks:

  • If you travel as a family, make sure the pets are on the same owner, in our case the dog was on my name and the cat on Gabriel’s name. The owner of the pet is in charge with all procedures of travel. Having the pets on the same owner you avoid doubling the trips to the authorities. Right now, Oscar and Becka have Gabriel as owner on the documents, so he is in charge of registering the pets and handling the documents while I am in charge with the kids. Airports could be very stressful if you are traveling with pets and kids in the same time! Organize everything before departure!
  • Make copies to all the documents
  • Make sure that the pet has water and toys
  • Get your pet used with its box before the flight
  • Walk your pet before leaving home and again before cheeking in
  • If your pet will be transported as cargo, put a warm blanket in its carrier
  • When you land ask for SENASA office for registration.

Oscar & Becka-11

Oscar & Becka-12

Oscar & Becka-13

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Oscar & Becka-15

Traveling by car:

Traveling by car is a little bit less stressful as the pets are with you all the time and you can handle them easier when crossing borders.

Tips and tricks:

– You need the same documents and customs follow the same procedure

– Prior the departure clean your dog or cat and brush well

– If you travel in Salar Uyuni, Bolivia with your pets put them socks on if possible; at the end clean the paws well and moisturize with coconut oil. I always use raw coconut oil (you can check here our post about properties and benefits of coconut oil!). The salt can be very rough for their paws.

– Your pets can also have problems with high altitude or motion sickness. Use natural products to help them.

I use ginger, peppermint, fennel or dill for upset tummies and sometimes valerian for anxiety. I only use tincture 12 to 20 drops per 20 pounds of body weight, twice daily. I don’t mix with food, just pour the drops directly in their mouth and make sure they swallow.

In time our pets got so use with traveling that it seems they don’t need these remedies anymore.

I hope this information will help you to get rid of your fears and to take your furry friend to more and more adventures. It’s a win –win experience, both for you and your lovely pets!

Oscar & Becka-16

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  • Evelyn
    Posted at 08:14h, 29 September Reply

    I do have doubts travelling with my pets. Not because of the paperworks but because they are so playful, I’m scared that they’d run off somewhere as soon as we arrive to our destination. How do you handle your pets when they get too playful? Have you experienced your pet getting lost while you’re in another country? I know there’s the microchip, but you know not all countries have that technology.

    • Gabi
      Posted at 20:52h, 01 October Reply

      Hi Evelyn, I completely understand your fears because I felt the same at the beginning of our journey. It was a chaos. Didn’t know where to pay attention first, the children or the pets! The things changed when I decided to trust myself more and to let go to this system of thinking! I realize that our pets should adapt to our journey and they should follow us and this was what happened! In 7 years, Oscar never got lost but one time in Bolivia we had to wait for him for 2 hours to come back to the car! Becka in 3 years of treveling got lost one time in Chile, Iquique and this because we had to park the car in another place. We returned every 2 hours and asked people around! Next day, I received a message that the cat was wondering in the parking lot. After all the drama we organized a great party! So, I believe the experience will help you find the answers to your questions!❤️

      • Evelyn
        Posted at 10:25h, 03 October Reply

        That would’ve scared me to death! It’s really good to know that there are people willing to lend a helping hand.

  • Zoe
    Posted at 10:57h, 22 October Reply

    Great post. We will leave Brazil and travel to Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Bolivia and Paraguay with our large dog. As I understand it’s the rabies shot and a certificate and I will also go to the senasa (or Brazilian equivalent). But do you think I have to get him vetted each country? We’ll be doing the whole trip in 3 months

  • Andy
    Posted at 05:45h, 11 December Reply


    we are traveling with our dog as well and plan a Panamericana tour. Your information helped us very much. Thank you for your work.



    • Gabi
      Posted at 12:57h, 17 December Reply

      Hi Andi,

      we are glad you found our article helpful. I plan to write another one about the solutions we have found to the health problems and other issues that our pets have experienced during the journey in South America. Stay close!

  • Leslie Beam
    Posted at 02:45h, 09 July Reply

    Your photos are lovely! And thanks for this article.

    • Gabi
      Posted at 02:52h, 09 July Reply

      Hi Leslie,
      Thanks for showing your love! ?❤️

  • lizzie
    Posted at 18:49h, 24 September Reply

    The gentleman I spoke to on the phone for my local USDA pet place, said they would only stamp one health certificate. I explained I’d be driving through 4 countries and at least 2 of which require the form (and the USA is the country of origin for all the pets.)
    Does this government worker not know what they are talking about? I don’t want to be stranded in central america waiting for USA snail mail (yes, I need the authentic stamp, not the digital one for nicaragua) for health certificates for 3 dogs.

    Any advice? Thank you!

    • Gabi
      Posted at 22:28h, 24 September Reply

      Hi Liz,
      I think that the officer is right! The country you get in will ask for a health certificate from the country you get out. For example, you get out of the USA, and you fly to Peru. Well, the Peruvians will ask for a health certificate that has been issued in the USA. From Peru, let’s say that you drive to Chile. Well, the Chileans will ask for a health certificate issued by a vet from Peru!
      Safe trip! 🙂

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