How to Bring a Service Animal on a Plane

Service Dog lying down at handler's feet

If you’re planning on bringing your service animal with you when you travel, you will need to make sure you have the right documents in place for a smooth trip. A lot of people start registering their dogs, ordering identification, or commissioning a doctor’s note without first looking into what is actually required. 

To fly with a service animal, you need to fill out a DOT form

In December of 2021, the United States Department of Transportation issued an updated ruling on traveling with a Service Animal. The biggest changes are that emotional support animals no longer have special privileges on airlines, psychiatric service animals are to be treated as service animals and not require a doctor’s letter, and all passengers traveling with a service animal are required to complete a DOT form, available here, and on long haul flights, an animal relief attestation form, available here.

What documents do I need to travel with a service animal?

According to the Department of Transportation, airlines are not permitted to require any documents other than the DOT form, including doctor’s letters and registration certificates. Many people choose to register their animal with an online registry like US Service Dog Certification because it provides visual identification that the dog is a trained service animal and that gives handlers comfort and confidence, even though it is not required. We always recommend checking with your airline before making any purchases. 

Can I fly with an emotional support animal?

If you are traveling with an emotional support animal, you do not need any documentation. Your animal will be considered a pet and you will need to pay a fee as designated by your airline. Ensure you let your airline know as soon as possible in order to have a smooth experience. 

What information do I need to fill out a DOT form

The first section is basic information about the handler and the service animal. You will include your own information and a description of the animal. For example, Brown Standard Poodle, 35 lb. If you are the handler but not the user, for example, a parent of a child who uses a service animal, you will put your name as the handler, and the user’s name below. 

Department of Transportation form, basic information

Do I need a vet signature to fly with my service dog?

Next you will need to include information about the health of your service animal, including current vaccines. You will need the date of their last vaccine and the date it expires. You need to include your vet’s name and phone number. You do not need to contact your vet or have them sign anything. It’s a good idea to keep a copy of your dog’s proof of rabies with you.


How do I fill out the training section of a DOT form

The third section of the DOT form pertains to your dog’s training. By completing this section you are attesting to the fact that your dog has been trained to perform a task that helps you with a disability. You must include the name and phone number of the person or organization that trained your dog. If you registered with an online registry, you still need to include the trainer. Online registries provide visual identification and are not training organizations. 

If you trained your dog independently you can put your own name and phone number. The ADA does not require a service animal to be trained by a professional or private trainer. People with disabilities have the right to self train their service animal.  


Service Animals must behave appropriately at all times

The final section is basically a good behavior sign-off. You are attesting that you and your dog will conduct yourselves appropriately. Realistically, this means your dog is a properly trained service animal that is going to behave as such. Growling, barking, sitting in the seat are all signs that your dog is not a properly trained service animal and you would be making a false statement. 


Finally, submit this to your airline as early as possible, and no later than 48 hours in advance of your flight, and print it out for your day of travel.

The Department of Transportation has made traveling with a service animal significantly more streamlined and has improved the process for people with disabilities. Please familiarize yourself with the process and only represent your dog as a service animal if it is trained accordingly. 

If you want to have the confidence to represent your dog as a service animal and avoid disputes, you can register for a digital certificate and ID card that you can print at home or keep as a screenshot on your phone. 

To VOLUNTARILY identify your dog as a SERVICE dog, register below.

Register your dog as a Service Dog and obtain your digital certification immediately via email.


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