Pet Travel: Traveling by Boat with your Pet

Dog on a boatAhoy pet travelers! With summer in full swing and Labor Day around the corner, what better way to enjoy this hot weather than with a boat trip? Whether you?re cruising on a ship, yacht, or kayak don?t forget your dog would love to join you if it?s permitted. So grab your pet, your water gear and follow these tips for some pet friendly summer boating fun!

Things to consider pre-voyage:

There are a few things to consider before hitting the water with your pet. If you?re pet has never been around water or a boat, try introducing it to them slowly. Give your pet a chance to discover the boat while it is docked or on the trailer. Before untying, start up the engine and see how your pet reacts. Give them treats to support good behavior. Once your dog or cat is seaworthy, start off on small trips and work your way to longer boat rides.

Make sure your pet?s identification includes your updated information, your local marina?s address and phone number, as well as dock slip number if available.

Things to consider while boating:

Have a pet flotation device on hand. Let your pet try it on around the house before hitting the water. Remember in case of an emergency this could save your pets life.

Pets can get sunburned! Especially the ears, paws and nose are very susceptible to sunburns. Most children sunscreens will be safe for dogs but we recommend contacting your vet for a list of options.

Bring plenty of water and provide shade on the boat. Remember that dogs do not sweat. Signs of overheating include heavy panting and drooling. Creating shade on the boat will help reduce the chances of your pet overheating. If your dog plans on getting in the water, provide drinking water prior. Salt or brackish water isn’t good for your pet and could possibly make them sick.

Things to consider when it?s time to go ashore:

Check ahead before arriving on shore. Remember some marinas, wildlife areas and parks do not allow pets.

Leash your pet prior to docking. Although your dog might be the most lovable harmless pooch in the world, not everybody is a pet lover. Also, dogs can get antsy during the docking process. This will help curb some of the excitement.

Always keep a copy of vaccination and health records on hand. Some destinations (especially if you?re traveling internationally) will require proof of immunizations.

Traveling by boat with your pet is a great way to spend quality time outdoors and enjoy the beautiful weather. With a little preparation (and some sunscreen!) you?ll be ready to hit the water with your furry first mate.

More information on pet travel by boat here.


Pet Travel: Traveling by Boat with your Pet — 60 Comments

  1. Jose – due to regulations set by commercial airines, all live animals must enter the UK as air cargo. That means you must contact their cargo department (not the reservations number). If your dog is a small dog, then you can take Le Shuttle from Calais and have a friend, relative or service pick you up in Calais as you must ride Le Shuttle in a car. DFDS has a ferry out of Rotterdam that will accept foot traffic. You may want to check that out.

  2. Need to take my dog to UK, from USA. No European airline company seem to do it, I was thinking to take The Ferry, but I need to drive. I don’t drive in the UK. Any Idea?

  3. Hello Liliane – you mention that your dogs have a passport. Was this passport issued in the EU? If yes, then the second question is, did your dogs receive their current rabies vaccination while in the United States? If yes, then they will need an EU Health Certificates for the first country you intend to visit in order to reflect their current rabies vaccination. The certificates must be issued by USDA-accredited veteriarians and endorsed by the USDA. If they did not receive their current rabies vaccination in the United States or other country and their last rabies vaccination was administered in the EU, then you should be good to go if the only counties that you are entering are EU countries and your dogs will not be disembarking in other countries that may be high-rabies countries before arriving to the EU. If your dogs do not have EU Pet Passports, then they will need EU health certifcates issued by USDA-accredited veterinarians and endorsed by the USDA. You can find requirements to enter all EU countries here:

  4. Hello,
    We will be sailing from the USA to all over Europe with our 2 dogs. Please if someone knows what are the require documents that we will need in order to cross the Atlantic ocean. They already have their own passport.
    Thank you for your kind help!

  5. Brit – we regret that we know of no commercial vessel that will transport pets that sails between Australia or NZ and the United States.

  6. Hello All
    Do you know of any options to travel by boat with your dog from Australia or NZ to the US?
    Thank you!

  7. Marianne – hard to respond to your post not knowing where the Bulldog is traveling to France from. There are breed restrictions for this breed on many airlines. Lufthansa will carry it. Air France will as well, but only as air cargo. Know that AF will require pets to be claimed and rechecked in the layover airport, so non-stop is best for AF (Air France).

  8. My son (military) is moving to France in June. He has an American bulldog, 8 years old, 70 lbs and want to take him. What is the best way to transport him?

  9. SA – assuming that your Frenchie is not small enough to fly in the cabin, you may want to contact Lufthansa as they will fly French Bulldogs in the cargo hold. However, they share your route with Air Canada who does not carry them. See if you can get your pet to anywhere in Canada on Lufthansa, then clear customs and take WestJet to Montreal.

  10. Hello and thank you for this article. I would like to go from morocco to montreal canada and i have a french buldog. Do you know of any way to transport him on this route. Thank you

  11. Ana – Dolphin Shuttle, Smith Ferry Services and BVI all service your route. You will need to contact them to see if they will permit your pet to travel.

  12. There are any ferryboat that can carry my dog mix border collie (22kg)with me from Saint Thomas (US Virgin Island) to Tortola (British Virgin Island), please?

  13. Marina – you refer to OZ, cannot find that as an official country abbreviation. It is true that there are very few airlines that will transport an English Bulldog and none in the summertime. Depending on where your pup will be traveling, there may be options once the weather cools down. We are not aware of a commercial vessel that will transport pets with the exception of the Queen Mary 2 which travels from NY to England.

  14. Hi there!
    We moved to Oz from UK in 2012 and had to leave our English Bulldog puppy behind which was just awful. Our sausage dogs made the trip. We have been back in Uk die to work for almost 2 years. I got a call from our bulldogs owner a week ago telling me she could not longer care for her as she was battling an illness and could we take her back. We are elated we have her back however will be moving back to Oz in the next year. I am devastated to find out how now no airlines will fly her. PLEASE is there anther way we are so upset with the thought we have to re-home her again. Is there ANY way?!? Ship?? Please help we have 3 children who adore her.

  15. DT – honestly, we do not have information on arranging freighter travel from California to Japan. You may want to consider contacting Pacific Pet Transport. They are a licensed pet transporter out of LAX and have many years of experience transporting all sorts of pets worldwide. They may be able to help you. ( Sorry we cannot be of more assistance.

  16. Hello!

    I tried scrolling through to find an answer but none fit my reqs. I may be stationed in Japan next year. I have two dogs and one is a 7yr old English Bulldog. Before commenting here I Google’d to get some info. It was all very…dated. Would there be any way to get my dogs from California to Japan? It appears to be a 10-day journey via freighter.

  17. Amanda – can you please explain further. Are you looking for requirements to take your pet from Australia to the UK, or are you looking for a transporter?

  18. Rachael – we do not have information on boats that travel to South America that will accept pets. You may want to contact a cargo company that ships out of your home port and inquire.

  19. I am planning to move to SOuth America, Valparaiso, with my 3 dogs, 2 Juck Russells and one Labrador. I do not want them to suffer the long trip. Is there any boat that I can take them with me?
    Please advise. Thank you. Raquel

    PS: Please not advertise my email address. Thank you.

  20. We are going to be living on our boat traveling from the US to Mexico, staying in Mexico for several months, then to Panama on our way to the Caribbean including Costa Rica and any other countries along the way.
    How do we enter these countries and keep a current 30 day vaccination record?

  21. Katie – the Queen Mary 2 will take your Golden (they sail out of New York), but they are booked up in advance, so check with them. We know of no other commercial liner that accepts pets.

  22. Hi,
    My family is thinking about relocating from Florida to the United kingdom. We have a golden retriever and want to bring him with but are too scared of how he would react to a 9 hour flight. What other ways could we go about getting him to the UK with us?
    Many thanks, Katie.

  23. We know of no commercial carrier that will permit pets to travel from the US to Costa Rica. Sorry we can’t be of more assistance.

  24. Do you know of any way to go from freightliner- or cruise boat within the US to Costa Rica? I have a great dane I would like to bring along on the voyage. We just need a one way. Any advice would be great.

  25. Hi Peter – for this transport, I would recommend that you contact a licensed transporter in New York. You can find one at Search for a pet transporter in NY. Contact information is available.

  26. Is there a shipping company that will ship my bulldog from NYC to Australia?
    Can anyone help?

  27. Hi Alexandra – I regret that we know of no ships that transport pets other than from NY to England. You may be able to find one through a shipping company. It is difficult, if not impossible, to transport English Bulldogs, especially during the summer. If your pet’s trip can wait until the fall, you will have a much better shot at getting your pet on an airline.

  28. hello,

    I’m moving to Peru from New York and would like to know how to bring my English bulldog, he is not accepted in the airline I’m flying with and I’m hoping he can go down by ship. Also he is 8 years old. Is this possible at all? and what is the procedure or guidelines to follow? Thanks for the help!

  29. Hi Cathie – we are not aware of any commercial boats that will accept pets that run from California to Hawaii, but this does not mean there are not any. The problem you may run into is that Hawaii is a rabies free state and I suspect that you will have to enter the island via the airport where quarantine facilities are located. You can contact the Department of Agriculture to find out. We also have all the forms and instructions for bringing a pet to Hawaii in our store if you need them: Click on Pet Passports.

  30. I am considering a consulting opportunity in Hawaii that is contracted for a year. I am looking for information on transporting my 50 lb beagle mix by ship instead of airlines. He tends to get a little high strung with new surroundings/experiences, and having him fly cargo would definitely be hard on him. He does well on small boats. I see the posts regarding the QM to/from Europe above… are you aware of any ships that may provide transportation opportunities to Hawaii?

    Thanks in advance for any help you can provide!

  31. Hi,

    Do you know of anyone ships or shipping lines that would allow me to take my dog with me from Australia to the UK? She has a trachaeostomy and I’m worried about her travelling by air in case the “hole” closes over and she suffocates. Many thanks

  32. Hello: I would like to take my dogs from Florida to PUerto Rico for a permanent move. Do you know of any services that do this? Also I do not want them in cargo I want them traveling with me.

    Thank you.
    RESPONSE: normally, the airlines allow one pet per passenger in the cabin. US Airways will allow you to carry 2 pets in 2 carriers as long as they will fit under the seats in front of you. I am not sure if they serve your route as I don’t know your departure city.

  33. Hello,I would like to take my dog(boxer)to Europe by the boat.Is there any options?We are close to New York City and we go to Czech Republic.Where would the boat arrive in Europe?
    How long take the boat to get to Europe?How much would it cost(approximately) for one person and dog(about 70 pounds)?

    RESPONSE: The only commercial ship that we are aware of that transports pets is the Queen Mary II which travels from NY to England. You will need to contact them regarding your reservations and the cost. Here is more information:

    Let me know if I can assist further.

  34. Hi,
    I need to move to Ireland and I would like to take my german sheperd/golden retriever mix with me. Since I don’t trust any airlines, I thought about taking him on ship would be a better solution. Is it safer than airlines? is there any ahip that will go from USA to Ireland, Dublin?
    Thank you for any info,

  35. Just to get this clear for myself. Traveling from the US, the only cruise line that permits pets is the QM 2 and QM 11. ? I thought Disney did too? We may travel to Australia and Asia. Thank you. Nan
    At this time only Cunard on the New York to UK run

  36. Hi Jerry,

    thanks for your answer. So, if I have the blue pet passport than I do not need the immigration forms for all of the countries I wish to visit completed by a veterinarian every time? My dog is currently still registered with the kennels, do you have any suggestions which country should I register his microchip? Thanks Erika
    Once you have arrived in the EU you can take the pet to any licensed veterinarian to receive the blue pet passport. It takes awhile to get it as it is a government issued document. It really does not matter which of the EU countries you are in. The microchip registration if you are using the correct 15 digit non-encrypted microchip is universal. The pet passport packages to enter all countries are available here:

  37. Dear Jerry, thank you for this website, much appreciated. However I have few questions, we are recently in Portugal, living aboard, took a dog from local kennels and plan to travel with it all around Europe on the boat, including Morocco, Spain, Italy, Greece, Turkey,etc. We might even get back here and then cross the ocean. Our dog is cool on the boat, my only worries are with all the paperwork. I am trying to get as much information as possible but it is all very confusing and I don’t want to miss anything. He is micro-chipped (I have not got my own microchip scanner), he is castrated, got rabies vaccination. What other vaccinations does he need? Do I need him to be checked by vet every time before he enters another country(this might not be possible to do 24 hour prior)? What is blood titer test? I have been recommended rabies serology, it costs a lot, does he need it? Anything else I need you can think of? Thank you so very much.
    Best regards,
    I will try and answer some of your questions – feel free to ask additional ones.
    The countries you listed do not require a blood titer test.
    If your pet has the ISO 15 digit non-encrypted microchip you do not need your own scanner. If it has some other microchip you can either carry your own scanner or have a new microchip installed. That would be less expensive than buying a scanner. Many pets have more than one microchip.
    A couple of the countries you listed are countries with a high incidence of rabies. You will have no problem entering the country but when you return to Portugal from one of them then a blood titer will be required. It is not all that expensive, a couple of hundred dollars and I would recommend it. It is good forever as long as you keep the rabies vaccination current.
    Since you are in Portugal visit a veterinarian and ask for a blue pet passport. That will allow you to enter the EU countries with no other documents. I would carry the blue pet passport or the immigration forms for all of the countries you wish to visit completed by your veterinarian in Portugal. This will save you a lot of veterinarian visits. The challange will be when you travel from a country with a high incidence of rabies such as Morocco to a country with a low incidence of rabies. The blood titer will mostly be all you need but you may need a new veterinarian certificate when that occurs.

  38. Hi, I live in Martinique (French caraib island), I want to import an American Staffor Terrier. I have all the papers for french law. The problem is for the travel : American Airlines doesn’t accepted subnosed dog! So have you a solution for me with another flight company or a boat? Please help me !
    Other than a chartered boat it will be necessary to find another airline but most of them do now wish to transport snub nosed animals in the cargo hold. If there is a foriegn (non-US) carrier that flies between the two cities they are more likely t accept it.

  39. hi – we need to relocate from japan to uk with our french bulldog.
    he really cannot fly as it will kill him, is there a way we can do this journye with him safely????

    i heard about QM2 from New York, problem is, how do we get to NY!?
    There are no other cruisse ships that accept pet animals on board. Many of the ferry lines do accept pets but I do not see any route that would suit your needs.

  40. 11/19/11
    We are US citizens and plan to take our dog on a 4 month yacht cruise from Miami, thru the Bahamas and through the Leeward Islands hopefully through the Windward Islands as well. Visiting as many of the islands as possible. It is very confusing, being that each Island Nation seems to have different laws / requirements.
    I think I understand the Bahamas & BVI regulations. Could you offer any assistance with the other islands? It seems St. Vincent & the Grenadines are off limits due to their very strict (only allow dogs from the UK) rules. I plan to get an US USDA certificate stating US to BVI, since it will be within the 30 day expiration time frame. (Even though we will first travel to Bahamas, because they do not require the USDA forms, the BVI does).
    Any help you can offer would be greatly appreciated!
    There is no regulation against taking pets into St. Vincent and the Grenadines if you follow the rules. The BVI as well as a few of the other Islands require that the pet have a blood titer test done well in advance of the arrival date. You can find the pet passport rules for all of these countries which include the required forms here:
    As an aside. I am taking the same exact trip on my boat this coming April and will be accompanied by a cat and a dog. I do not expect any problems.

  41. i am leave the united states to go to indonesia with my father i was thinking it may be better to take our dog on a bout instead of a plan? is there places on a cruise ship to take him to do his duty & do most cruise ships except dogs? i would like to know more on the stuff i need to have so there will be no problems getting our pet to this country?
    Taking a pet into Indonesia is more difficult than bringing it into the US but it can be done with the proper paperwork. The pet must be microchipped, vaccinated for rabies and have a blood titer test several months in advance of the travel date. There are no cruise ships accepting pets with the exception of the QM11 that sails between New York and the UK. If you need the complete pet passport instructions for taking a pet into Indonesia they are available here:

  42. Hi I have a question, is there any cruiser which could ship both me and my boxer dog from New York to Portland,OR, how long does it take and how much does it cost? Your prompt reply will be greatly appreciated.
    I am not sure what you mean by “cruiser”. There are certainly airlines that can carry you and your pet between the two cities.

  43. Please can you give me some advise and give me some peace of mind, my dog is currently in quarentine in france and a friend is bring him to the port for me in october, he has all the documentation dogs passport, please can you tell me if I need to cross the channel, and return with the dog, or can I wait on the uk side. My name is on the passport.
    You will need to pick the pet up in France, it cannot travel alone on the ferry. You will need the EU form 998 for the UK, the results of the blood titer test which was performed at least six months ago and the ticks and tapeworms certificate which must be completed by the veterinarian 24 to 48 hours before you enter the UK with the pet.
    If you need complete instructions and the necessary forms they are availalble here:


  44. Dear,

    I would like to inquire about the immigration for hamsters flying from Hong Kong to Malaysia? Would that be possible? And how much would it cost normally?
    Thanks and hope to hear from you soon!
    Best Regards,
    Ms. Lim
    We do not maintain information on the import regulations of hamsters, only cats and dogs. You will need to call an airline reservations office that flies between the two cities and they will quote you the cost of transporting the animals as checked baggage.
    If you visit this website they may be able to help you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.