- Get 10 passport photos made ASAP. You will need:
The rest of this advice may not apply to you if you are coming
over through the US military. Please don't write me and ask
whether or not a military person or family has to do all of
the following steps -- I have NO idea. Contact someone with
the military for such information, and search the web for
sites especially for family-members of military people serving
- two for your passport (if you don't have a passport
- two for the German consulate (for your 30-day VISA,
which you file for LONG BEFORE you get to Germany)
- three for your permanent German VISA, which you or your
company will file for when you get to Germany
- the rest for needs as they arise: if you need a student
ID, if you need to apply for a visa to visit another
country outside of Europe, etc.
Of course you can get more made when you get to Germany,
but your first months will be crazed, and you probably
won't have time. So save yourself a big headache and get
10 passport photos made ASAP, BEFORE you go to the
- Confirm with your employer in Germany or the university
where you will study in Germany that they will help you with
your visa needs, and what kind of visa you will receive (both
type and for how long). If they won't, or if their support
will be limited, then go to the web
site for the German embassy in the USA and read the visa
requirements and process carefully , and follow the
directions precisely .
- Find the web site of the nearest German consulate to you in
the USA (for instance, mine was in Houston, Texas, because I
lived in Austin), and read the visa application information
carefully. Don't trust the visa application form on the Web
site to be the latest, however, unless you call the consulate
first and confirm that it is, indeed, the latest, proper form.
- Ask your employer or the university where you will study in
Germany when they will send information about your employment
or university registration/studies to the German consulate
nearest you; it should happen at least once month
before your departure from the USA. Confirm with them when
they actually do this. Your German employer or university MUST
do this for you to get an extended visa! Have your employer or
the university in Germany copy you on any material they send
the consulate, and tell the employer or university to send you
confirmation that the information has been sent (and, again,
if you are looking for a job in Germany, I CAN'T HELP YOU so
don't email me and ask for help).
- Go to the nearest German consulate in person three weeks
before you go to Germany and after your employer or university
in Germany confirms to you that they have sent your
information to the consulate. If you cannot go in-person, call
the consulate and get EXACTLY the right information on how to
proceed (don't rely on their web site information). You will
need to give them two passport photos, a look at your actual
passport, and a processing fee (so take cash, in small bills
-- they won't take checks or credit cards, and have trouble
making change). Make sure your employer or university has
given the consulate information about your employment or
studies BEFORE you contact the consulate!!
- Tell every person you know that you are moving to Germany
-- co-workers, friends, family, neighbors. You never know
where it will lead. I have met many friends-of-friends here
because I let so many people know I was moving here (and it's
how I found a completely furnished apartment -- the rarest of
rare things -- in Bonn, a mile from where I worked, before I
even arrived here).
- Explore on the Internet as much as you can about the town
you will be moving to, and the towns nearest it. I found so
many great resources online that helped me know what to
do before I came to Germany, and to know what to do once I
arrived. PLEASE, before you write me with a question, read
through these sites first.
- Buy a detailed travel book or two about Germany as well; I
strongly recommend Lonely
Planet Germany. The web is great, and as noted
above, you should use it, but even the most reliable and
durable and lightweight laptop
or PDA just isn't as durable and reliable as a paper BOOK when
you are traveling. PLEASE, before you write me with a
question, buy and read Lonely
Planet Germany (or whatever detailed travel book
you go with) FIRST. It will give you information on electrical
plug-ins, safety, holidays, customs, and on and on and on. My
Lonely Planet Germany saved my life oh-so-many times.
Now, even my German husband uses it when we go somewhere
- Buy a "how to speak German" CD set, and start listening to
them ASAP. Learning even just five or 10 basic words and
phrases before you arrive will help you SO MUCH ("thank you,"
"please," "excuse me/I'm sorry," "where is...," "do you
have...", "My German is not good," etc.). Also, buy a small
German phrase book that you can carry around with you easily
(Berlitz and Lonely
Planet have terrific pocket-sized phrase books), AND a
German-English/English-German dictionary. Even if you will be
on short-term assignment and don't plan on really learning the
language, you will need these things (I took my dictionary
with me to museums, for instance, to help with descriptions;
or to stores if I'm was looking for something specific).
I did not listen to my "how to speak German" CDs before I
moved, and I deeply, deeply regret it. People are so much
nicer and helpful to you in Germany if you know even just
those five aforementioned phrases in German. I could have
made my life so much easier if I'd listened to them even 20
minutes a day for the two weeks before I left.
- Keep a mailing address in the USA, even if you are
selling your house. Ask your parents, siblings or a really
close friend if they would be willing to be your "permanent"
address in the U.S. and periodically receive mail for you. I
kept a P.O. Box back in Texas, which a friend maintained for
me; she forwarded my mail from there, deposited checks for me,
let local officials know that, no, I could not serve on jury
duty, etc. You must have someone in the USA doing
these things for you.
- Keep a USA bank account or credit union account open. If
your current bank or credit union doesn't allow online
banking, look for another bank or credit union and transfer
your money to a new account. Online banking is SUCH a blessing
for people living abroad... you will need it to pay any bills
you have back in the USA (storage, insurance, credit card,
- Keep a USA credit card open. Charge things to it
occasionally and pay it off quickly. This will keep your
credit score high. If you close all your accounts, don't be
surprised when you move back to the USA and can't get a car
loan, home loan, credit card, etc.
- Clothes: if you are only taking a few bags, however large,
then concentrate on taking winter clothes (sweaters, thick
socks, etc.), and anything that works well in the rain. Take
shoes you like to walk in and don't mind getting wet. Leave
the t-shirts and sweatshirts with ads and slogans and logos on
them at home (well, take a *few*), unless you really, really
want to broadcast you are from the USA at all times, or won't
have enough clothes to wear otherwise. Plain t-shirts and
sweatshirts are a much better idea. I found Germans to rarely
dress as casually as Americans, and as I like to blend in, I
tried to do the same. I bought my summer clothes in Germany
after I moved.
- Pack one of those all-in-one tools, like a screw driver
that comes with six different heads and could fit in your
purse. Take a swiss army knife too. These two items will come
in very handy as you put together furniture and open boxes.
But remember that these must be in your CHECKED luggage
(cargo), NOT in your carry-on luggage. Yes, you can buy such
in Germany, but you will be so happy to have such right away,
without having to go track such down in your first days in the
- Your priority upon getting to Germany is going to be
finding a place to live. If you can make any kind of
arrangements beforehand, GO FOR IT -- such as a friend in
Germany sending you a list of apartments to look at, and
contact information for these apartments, before you arrive.
Your best bet: going to Germany a month or even TWO before you
actually move there and finding a place to live.
Apartment search companies in Germany are very expensive.
It's rare to see "for rent" signs in windows in Germany. And
apartments usually come completely unfurnished (no kitchen
cabinets, no stove, no closets, sometimes no floor). So
budget plenty of time and money to deal with this.
- you usually CANNOT get American coins exchanged for
Euros, except at the airport.
- banks and money exchange places in Germany are closed
on Saturdays and Sundays, and for lunch every weekday.
- many banks will not allow you to exchange money there
unless you have an account there
- If you can, get some Euros before you arrive (your bank
will have information). If not, get some cash at the
airport when you arrive from an ATM.
- Most American ATM cards work in Germany! ATMs are
everywhere in Germany, and you get a very decent exchange
rate when you make a withdrawal! Again, get some cash at
the airport when you arrive.
- Travelers checks are best used at banks, to get Euros,
NOT for buying things (most places won't take them).
- If you are an avid or even occasionally reader, take plenty
of reading material in your native language, and make
arrangements for English-language books to be sent to you from
friends in the U.S. if the local German train station book
store doesn't have a good selection of English books (the
larger the train station, the better the English book
selection) and you don't know how to order English books from
Amazon.de. Some bookstores
carry English books, as do some Oxfam stores. Many bookstores
will order specific titles for you, in English. Or you can go
the e-book route, of course.
- Even if you have a TV, the only English-language station
you will get is probably CNN International (and BBC
International if you are lucky; and MSNBC if you are REALLY
lucky). Look into cable packages after you arrive, for more
English-language selections (especially if NCAA basketball is
important to you). And if you bring DVDs, remember that you
have to have a special DVD player to play American DVDs
(region 1), so take one of your USA DVDS to the store with you
here in Germany and test any machine you want to buy BEFORE
- More than likely, you are going to end up with a completely
unfurnished apartment. In addition to trying to buy a kitchen,
I strongly suggest you buy a TV soon after you arrive.
Particularly if you are going to Germany alone, or will be
alone for long periods of time while your spouse is at work.
It will go a long way at keeping loneliness at bay. Make sure
the video player plays US videotapes, and the DVD player plays
region 1 DVDs.
- Get a map of your city as soon as possible. Any hotel
should be able to provide this to you. If not, then go to the
nearest tourist information center, train station or
bookstore. Get one that shows bus and train lines. If you can
find one that shows bike paths (usually available in bike
shops), all the better.
- Find a German friend who will call Deutsche Telecom for you
to make arrangements for your phone service, or find the
nearest Deutsche Telecom office and go for an in-person visit
(you will be able to find someone who speaks English this way,
and get better service). And don't even think you are going to
have a home phone, let alone home ISP connection, anytime in
the first two-four weeks you are there. Maybe not even the
first month. Deutsche Telecom is slower than molasses in
February. You do have other phone and ISP options besides
Deutsche Telecom in Germany, but if you don't speak the
language, you may have a very hard time with them.
- Leave your electronics at home. Sell them or give them away
or put them in storage. Buy your electronics here (lamps, CD
players, cell phone, etc.). It's cheaper and easier -- the
electrical currents and plugs are all different here. The only
electronic devices I could advise bringing are your laptop
computer, your portable hard drive, a new digital camera or an
MP3 portable player if you already own such.
- If you bring a computer to Germany (and I suggest doing
this ONLY if you have a laptop -- otherwise, buy one here),
you will need (and you can get these in Germany easily, at
Woolworth's or Globus, for instance):
- an electrical adapter, to allow you to plug your
computer in to an electrical outlet (you don't need
anything specifically for a computer, as long as you are
plugging it all into a surge protector).
- an adapter for analog phone lines. You need either a
TAE-F or TAE-N. Actually, it's better to get both! They
are less than five Euros each. Or you can get an adapter
that has both of these inputs, plus "Western" style outlet
to plug in your computer as is (so you can plug in more
than one thing to your phone line at once). And it's a
good idea to take a piece of paper with TAE-F and TAE-N
written on it (even if a salesperson understands English,
they may not understand what you mean by a phone line
- A note about electrical adapters: while they are very easy
to find here, they don't fit "funky" plugs. For instance, my
iPod electrical wire does not fit any European electrical
adapter; luckily, I can power it up by plugging it into my
laptop. Plugs in Germany are often round and sunken, as are
their adapters, and that means that, for instance, most cell
phone power cords will NOT fit into an adapter. That's yet
another reason to leave the electronics behind and just buy
new ones here.
- Your best bet regarding taking your music is to have such
on the Cloud and on your laptop, HOWEVER, note that
countries have funky laws about downloading - you could end up
in Germany and find that they don't allow you to access your
music online because of piracy laws. If you take CDs, put the
jewel cases in storage; buy CD notebooks, that allow you to
put CDs in sleeves. I came to Germany in the era before iPods,
and brought 150 CDs reduced down to two simple notebooks that
I brought in my luggage (no jewel cases). I'm so glad I did!
Listening to "my" music helped tremendously in adjusting to my
new home. Germans listen to a lot of American pop music, so
leave the rock classics and dance stuff at home -- you will
hear plenty on the radio or be able to buy here. I brought
lots of country and western, old time, blues and indy bands,
because they are very hard to find in Germany.
- MAKE FRIENDS. Yes, you've heard again and again that
Germans can be polite but distant. But many are quite friendly
and social (particularly during Carnival!). Social, community
and activity clubs abound in Germany, for every activity and
interest, and many welcome English-speakers. Also, befriend
all the other expatriates you work with or live with,
regardless of where they are from. They are in the same boat
as you, and are usually quite happy to welcome you into their
circle of friends. If you don't work with expatriates, then
frequent stores and restaurants owned by such. Look on the
Internet for American movies shown in original form in your
area -- that's a great way to meet other English speakers.
- Walk every day (even if you don't have dogs). Walking is a
German custom, and it is the best way to enjoy your new home.
Walk around the building you live in, walk around your
neighborhood, choose a street to walk down as far as you can
and back. Explore, explore, explore! You will find groceries,
restaurants, cafes, pet stores, dry cleaners, electronics
stores, wine and beer shops, bike shops -- and lots of fun
things you weren't even looking for. Sunday is the most
important walking day in Germany. If you walk at the same time
every Sunday, you will become a fixture, and Germans will be
much friendlier to you -- they might even try to have a
- Pick a cafe, a pub, or a restaurant to visit regularly.
Make it your hang out, particularly if the folks you work with
aren't very social. You can sit at a table and read over a cup
of coffee or beer all day if you want -- it's quite normal
here. Having a regular hang out will help you feel a part of
the culture, and may even lead to a friendship. Personally, I
find that the best hangouts are the places owned by
expatriates, regardless of what country they are from (one of
my favorite places is a restaurant owned by a Pakistani family
here); they see you as one of "them," and the Germans who go
there will probably speak excellent English and be more
- People are people the world over -- most are very kind and
are happy to help a person in need. If you need help, ask. If
that person can't or won't help, ask someone else. In Germany,
you may end up asking four or five people before you find
someone to help. But just keep asking, if you have to.
- Keep a journal! Send lots of postcards! Take lots of
photos! Share this incredible experience with family and
friends back home! It will make you feel better about what you
are experiencing as well.
- If you get out every day for a walk, have reading material,
have something to watch or listen to after work, and get into
some kind of regular rhythm every day, you are going to be
FINE. And once you get Internet access, you can listen to American
radio shows, read USA news, e-mail all your family and
friends regularly, etc. The Internet in particular will make
your transition easier (particularly if you are moving alone,
or moving because of your spouse's job or studies).
- Questions about employment, taxes, voting while abroad,
etc., are NOT things I can answer! Please visit this
page of Germany-related sites and visit those sites to
find what you are looking for.
NOTE: The Safe Air Travel for Animals Act went into effect as of
June 2005. It was spearheaded by the American Society for the
Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and introduced in 1999 by Sen.
Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.). The original bill stated that more than
2,500 dogs and cats were severely injured on planes and 108 died
as a result to extreme temperature exposure during the late 1990s.
Low oxygen flow can also harm and kill animals. The act means that
airlines are now required to report how many pets are killed, lost
or injured on their flights. Many activists and pet owners,
however, say the law was amended to the point that it doesn't do
enough to protect animals. The original bill required temperature-
and oxygen-controlled areas for animals, as well as better trained
personnel to handle the dogs, cats, and other pets before, during
and after the flight. The amended bill just includes the
requirement that airlines report all animal casualties. And it
should be noted that airlines resisted the legislation.
- Dogs brought to Germany directly from the US do
not go into quarantine if you have all of the paper work
verifying vaccinations. In addition to carrying all this paper
work on your person, attach the paper work in some way to the
dog crates as well. And make sure it is in both English and
For most of the rest of the EU, the same should
apply, but doesn't always. For instance, even though the
United Kingdom is in the EU, they have different animal
import laws than other Western European countries (much more
strict and inflexible, to the point that I strongly,
strongly, strongly urge you NOT to fly through the UK with
your pets). YOU need to check first! Check with your
country's embassy in the EU country you are going to, with
the country's embassy in your own country, AND the customs
office for whatever country you are moving to. Don't limit
yourself to just one source for your information! And don't
ask me, because I don't know anymore than I've put on this
- EU countries, including Germany, are becoming VERY strict
about certain breeds of dog. Check with your country's embassy
in the EU country you are going to, with the country's embassy
in your own country, AND the customs office for whatever
country you are moving to, regarding any possible breed
restrictions. I got this email in March 2006 from a friend:
"Remember the woman from my uni who was trying to bring her
dog to the UK via Atlanta? Terrible story to tell! Turns out
that her dog 'looks fierce' (Bulldog-Shepherd cross or
something) so would have been put down upon entry into the UK
because of the shape of its jowls! Good thing they found out,
days before the poor pooch was scheduled to be on a plane!"
- There have been some changes as of January 2012 regarding
bringing pets into Germany. Nothing too huge: your pet has to
be microchipped before the most recent rabies
vaccination (otherwise, you have to get another one), and you
have to fill out very specific forms, one of which has to be
verified by your local USDA office within a specific period
before your trip that "proves" your pet has been vaccinated
and microchipped. There are two web sites, this
one from germany.info, a private company, and this
one from the USDA. And then there's
this from the EU. These forms and changes are VERY new -
if you call a consulate office or USDA about them, don't be
surprised if they have no idea what you are talking about. If
you have taken a dog or cat into Germany from the USA since
January 1, 2012 and you feel there is any information missing
from these pages, or that need to be better emphasized, please
- In addition to all of the official paperwork/certificates
saying that the dogs have been vaccinated for rabies (and the
date of that vaccination -- many European countries do NOT
recognize two-year vaccines), you also have to have this
information in GERMAN. Affix copies of papers that affirm this
to the crate (I bought sheet protectors - the kind for
portfolios -- and put the paper work in them, then taped them
to the top of the crate). ALSO, keep a copy of these documents
with you, on your person, at all times during the flight and
I was lucky -- I had a friend of a friend who worked at a
translation company that was willing to do this for me. It
was very simple:
"The attached document certifies that this dog, Wiley, was
vaccinated against Rabies on January 15, 2001. His
vaccination was performed at Westgate Pet & Bird
Hospital by Dr. Paul Brandt, DVM, in Austin, Texas."
Das beigefügte Dokument bescheinigt, dass dieser Hund,
Wiley, am 15. Januar 2001 gegen Tollwut geimpft wurde. Die
Impfung wurde von Dr. Paul Brandt, DVM, in Austin, Texas am
Westgate Pet & Bird Hospital durchgeführt.
- And in addition to the health certificate information, put
a notice on the crate that says what your dog's name is, what
flight he should be on, etc. For instance:
"This dog is Buster. He is flying with his dog brother,
Wiley, and their owner, Jayne Cravens, from Atlanta, Georgia
to Frankfurt, Germany. They leave the U.S. on February 14
and arrive in Germany on February 15 on a Delta Airlines
flight. Once in Germany, a message can be sent to Jayne via
[name of employer here, followed by phone number]. PLEASE
TAKE CARE OF THIS BELOVED DOG!!"
Dieser Hund ist Buster. Er fliegt mit seinem Bruder, dem
Hund Wiley, und seiner Besitzerin Jayne Cravens von Atlanta,
Georgia nach Frankfurt, Deutschland. Sie verlassen die USA
am 14. Februar und kommen am 15. Februar
mit einem Flug der Delta Airlines in Deutschland an. Wenn
sie in Deutschland ankommen, kann an Jayne eine Nachricht
über die [name of employer here, followed by phone number]
gesendet werden. BITTE PASSEN SIE GUT AUF DIESEN GELIEBTEN
- Get a DIRECT flight from the U.S. to Germany, no matter how
much driving that may mean for you before or after the plane
ride. There are two reasons for this: (1) Your dog (or dogs)
will be subject to the laws of any country you land in, even
if they don't get off the plane. So don't even deal with it --
get a DIRECT flight! (2)
You do not want your dogs to be on the plane and in their
crates any longer than they have to be. And you will GREATLY
increase the risk of them being harmed or lost if you have to
- During warmer months, individual airlines have different
embargo periods when they simply won't accept pets as checked
luggage; if the weather is too hot on the day of travel at any
airport your pet will travel through, they could refuse to let
you bring your pet(s). So I suggest you don't try to bring
your pets over in the summer months.
- Make plans to drive to the city where your departure
airport is with your dog(s) at least ONE day before you leave.
This will allow you to give your dog or dogs many hours before
the flight to sleep on their own beds, run around free from
their crates, work off nervous energy, etc. To take a dog from
a car after a long drive, and then put him or her in a crate
for an overseas plane ride the same day, is cruel.
- Contact the airline as early as possible -- even before you
buy your ticket -- to make sure you have all of the necessary
pet paper work for the trip, even if the airline has
information on its web site and you think you know all there
is to know. Also, ask them exactly where you should go at the
airport to check in the dogs (which counter? And can your dogs
be put in the crates at the counter rather than before you
come into the airport proper?).
- When you purchase your airline ticket, you will need to
give the airline information about the weight of each dog, and
the size of each dog crate.
AIRLINE AND AIRPORT SUGGESTION: One person wrote me lauding
Delta Airlines out of Atlanta to transport the dogs. One
person wrote me a horror story about American Airlines out
of Dallas in transporting dogs. So I went with Delta out of
Atlanta. Delta Airlines and the Atlanta Airport were ALL
that. I wrote Delta Airlines a love letter after I got
to Germany. They were absolutely amazing. Ofcourse, YMMV.
- Get your dog(s) used to the crate(s) long before
the trip! I'm talking MONTHS before. A suggestion: put the
crate where your dog normally sleeps, and put the bed your dog
normally sleeps on in the crate. Fix the door so it won't
close (or just take it off altogether). Don't do anything to
force your dog to go into the crate -- let your dog decide to
go in on his/her own. That may take days (it took many, many
weeks with one of my dogs, but it did happen). You can even
make a retrieval game -- throw in a dog treat for your dog to
retrieve a few times a day.
- Get your dog used to walking on leash regularly! If your
dog is used to just running around a back yard, you've got to
start working with him/her on leash many, many weeks before
you leave! There are many, many places in Germany for dogs to
go on leash, but during your walk to and from these places,
your dog MUST be on leash. Plus, a dog that is leashed trained
is welcomed into most restaurants and shops in Germany.
- Have you ever gone anywhere away from home overnight with
your dog(s)? If not, get them used to this! Take some long day
trips and short overnight trips with your dog(s). Bring
his/her/their beds along and maybe a beloved toy. This will
help them know that they are "home" whenever they are with
you, regardless of where they are geographically. Even just
two or three trips like this before you travel will help your
dog -- certainly more than drugs. If your dog is used to camping
with you, then your dog will probably do really well
traveling to Germany with you.
Two weeks before I moved to Germany, I put almost everything
I own in self
storage and moved myself, my dogs, and everything I
wanted to take to Germany to Kentucky, to spend the time
with my family. I didn't realize it at the time, but this
was a wonderful thing to do to help in the transition of
moving even further. The first few nights in Kentucky, they
were rather restless; but by contrast, from day one in
Germany, they were the entire time we were there.
(FYI, Wiley passed away in
2003, and Buster passed
away in 2006, both in Germany; the vets in Germany
were wonderful and made all arrangements regarding
the creamation of my dogs).
- In the span of just five days, two different people wrote
me to say that they had lost their dogs their first or second
week in Germany - the dogs had gotten loose and run off from a
yard or during a walk. So BE PREPARED for this potential
tragedy BEFORE you arrive: (1) Have recent, printed photos of
your dog that clearly show his or her markings, height, color,
breed, etc. on your person during the flight, and available in
case you need to put together a flyer to help find your dog.
(2) Have a tag made that your dog will wear before he or she
even boards the flight, noting YOUR contact information in
Germany. (3) Have a flyer template already designed on your
computer that has a photo of your dog, lists a description of
your dog, offers a reward, and says how to get in touch with
you, with room for additional information to be dropped in as
necessary, that can be printed out and be ready for copying
almost immediately. (4) Type the name of the city where you
will be moving to and the word "tierheim" into Google;
this will give you a list of dog shelters in your town.
Bookmark all of the tierheims in and around the city where you
are moving; this gives you a ready-to-use list of places to
contact if your dog gets lost.
- Get something that will provide the dogs water inside the
crate during the flight. This has to be more than one bowl of
water -- when the plane tilts after take off and before
landing, the water will entirely spill out. Several people
have recommended a large bowl of ice. Another person said
You may want to try to use a large hamster type watering
tube - a tube with a small ball in the end of a metal pipe.
They are held in place with some wire and do not spill. Your
dog can lick the ball in the end and get water when she
needs it. We use a similar setup outside on our hose spigot,
our dog learned how to use the device quickly.
- Should you drug your dog for an airline flight? I checked
all over the Internet and talked to my vet and, universally,
everyone said NO!! Your dog needs to be awake and
alert while he/she is in the crate on the plane. A dog has to
be able to brace his/herself when the crate and the plane is
moving and tilting. If you drug your dog, he/she won't be able
to do that, and risks GREAT injury (even death). A better idea
is to do all you can beforehand to get your dog used to the
crate and used to traveling -- that's the best way to prep
your dog for the plane ride, so he/she will know how to settle
- Arrange to have transportation waiting for you at the
German airport before you leave the USA! Vans are not really
that expensive. Your employer should be able to provide you
with suggestions and should be able to make these arrangements
for you (but they may not pay for it; make sure you know who
is going to pay for what). Any travel agent should also be
able to help you. Make sure the transport company you use
knows you are going to have a dog or two with you.
- Call the airline two days before your trip to confirm that
they have information about your dog(s). There is a maximum
number of pets allowed to be checked on each flight and some
people say it's first-come, first-served. That's why it's a
good idea to confirm, again and again!
- Your flight will probably be in the evening. So spend the
day wisely -- take your dogs on long walks, give them lots of
water, and let them get lots of energy out of their systems,
particularly outdoors. Give them a big breakfast, but skip
- Get to the airport two and a half hours before your
flight! Absolutely two and a half hours! You need all
this time to deal with lines and confusions and missteps and
additional paper work. And to make sure that, absolutely, your
dogs will be on the flight with you!
After arriving at the airport for my flight, I left my dogs
in the van and went into the airport with all my luggage (my
family was there helping me). We got everything checked in
and confirmed what I should be doing before I brought the
If you can, walk the dogs one more time before putting them
into the crates.
- Make sure EVERYONE knows you have dogs on the flight -- the
people checking you in at the gate, the captain, and the
flight crew. Everyone. Don't worry about being annoying. Make
sure the entire flight crew knows you have dogs on board, and
that you are feeling anxious about them. This will make
everyone more conscious about the dogs on board.
- Your priority after landing is getting your dog(s)! Go to
baggage claim and find out ASAP where you can be re-united
with your dogs. Don't worry about getting your bags -- get
your dogs! When you are re-united with your dogs, get them out
of the crate, and get them water, IMMEDIATELY.
- You've got to get your dogs and your baggage through
customs all at once (I actually got customs to let me take the
dogs out first, hand them off to a co-worker who was waiting
for me, and then let me come back in -- THIS WAS A TOTAL FLUKE
AND YOU WILL PROBABLY NOT BE THIS LUCKY). Customs won't let
anyone in from the outside to help you. If you are alone (as I
was), beg an airline person to help you manage all this
through the gates.
- As soon as possible, identify area vets that speak English
and find one for your pet(s). Ask co-workers for
recommendations. I asked my neighbors, and have ended up with
two OUTSTANDING vets. One is, hands down, the best vet I have
ever had in my life.
- Ticks are, unfortunately, everywhere over here in the
Spring and summer. You will have to check your pets frequently
for them. But there's no heartworms here! Wahoo!
- Everything you've heard about Germans and dogs is true --
they love dogs, and dogs are everywhere! Your dogs will
totally dig it.
At least this new tracking system lets consumers know which
airlines have a better track record. Each airline will now have
to publish data on exactly how many pets are killed, lost and
injured each year. Airlines are required to submit reports only
for family-owned animals. The reports will be posted online
monthly at the
Transportation Department Airline Consumer Report Web site.
The ASPCA will also publish
Airline information about flying with pets changes FREQUENTLY.
Monthly. Weekly. It makes it extremely hard to link to airline
information about pets -- which is why I don't. So you will have
to look for such information yourself.
Please DON'T JUST RELY ON THIS WEB PAGE FOR INFORMATION ABOUT
FLYING WITH YOUR DOGS. You need to investigate yourself! You
need to call and confirm any information you read here. You need
to do your own search on the Internet (country laws and airline
policies change FREQUENTLY). You need to contact your country's
embassy in the EU country you are going to, with the country's
embassy in your own country, AND the customs office for whatever
country you are moving to.
Never limit yourself to just one source for your information!