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I am travelling from the USA to France, transferring in Spain. I am bringing pets (live animals) which need to be declared at customs. They travel in the cabin with me (not cargo).

Both legs of the flight are with the same carrier, there's one ticket.

Do I have to go through customs in Spain? Do I have to go through customs in France?

  • If you use the same terminal in Spain, you should not go through customs till France. But as it is important, you should add all details you have so we can give the best answer. – Willeke Apr 28 '15 at 17:15
  • @Willeke What specific details do you need? I do not know which terminals will be used in Spain. – Szabolcs Apr 28 '15 at 19:58
  • If you give airlines and the airport you transfer, it is likely that some users here can work out where you will arrive and leave, at least the most likely ones. And if you give departure country and your nationality people can make better guesses at what is needed for you and your pets. And telling what kind of animals helps, as it can make a difference. – Willeke May 1 '15 at 16:20
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The general rule for customs in the EU is that you're only customs processed at your final destination -- except if you leave the airport terminal at an earlier transfer point.

Usually customs will be located right after the baggage reclaim at the destination airport, and there will be signs directing you to choose between green lane (nothing to declare), red lane (something to declare), and blue lane (nothing to declare because your entire journey was within the EU).

(If you leave the terminal in Spain and have baggage checked through to France, you'll have to behave as if arriving internationally at both airports. Hold on to whatever documentation you get from Spanish customs, so you can convince French customs that the animals and your cabin luggage was already in the EU!)


I'm assuming that you have researched what you're doing properly and that your only worry really is to get in touch with customs at the right time and place. If not, beware that traveling across borders with live animals can involve significantly more involved and restrictive rules than moving either persons or goods across the same borders, for veterinary safety reasons. Even when transporting animals between different EU/Schengen states, there are restrictions that must be observed.

In particular, just because your destination airport has customs processing doesn't necessarily mean it's equipped to do veterinary border checks (which you may or may not need based on the species of the animals and other factors).

Be sure to do your homework in advance.


For completeness, immigration checks are different from customs and happens at your first landing in the Schengen area (with variations possible if your itinerary involves both Schengen and non-Schengen Europe).

  • So I will have the chance to talk to customs officers in France even though the last leg is entirely within the EU. – Szabolcs Apr 28 '15 at 21:54
  • @Szabolcs: Yes. At some airports the customs lane is often not permanently staffed, but you'll be able to pick up a service phone or push a button in the red lane to summon an officer for processing you. – Henning Makholm Apr 28 '15 at 22:39
  • Blue lanes only exist in a handful of EU countries and in particular not in France. – Relaxed Apr 29 '15 at 13:08
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Once you enter the Schengen area you don't go through custom until you leave it, like when you travel inside the US.

So they will check your passport in Spain when you arrive, then nobody will check you in Spain.

It will be like to be in the same big European country.

Update I missed the thing that you have to declare your dog at customs. so you will pass the customs, with the green (nothing to declare) and red (my dog to declare) lanes, when you will try to leave the airport after collecting your bags in France.

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    Your passport is checked at immigration, which is as soon as you enter the Schengen area. But Customs is not at the same time. All passengers arriving at Schiphol (Amsterdam airport) get together in the bagage reclaim area after passport control for those who came in from outside Schengen, and then all go through customs. – Willeke Apr 28 '15 at 17:56
  • Most people never go through customs (or at least nobody is stopping them), but just through the passport check, immigration if you prefer, but it doesn't change the meaning of my answer – mucio Apr 28 '15 at 18:02
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    All people using airports for international travel go through customs. Most of them use the 'nothing to declare' channel (or within the EU the EU channel) but they can be stopped at any time when walking through. OP needs to declare the pets and will use the red channel, but needs to know where. – Willeke Apr 28 '15 at 18:08
  • I have updated my answer – mucio Apr 28 '15 at 19:49
  • I think the airports are backwards. The OP says traveling to France, transferring in Spain, so France is the final destination. – mkennedy Apr 28 '15 at 20:26

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