Five questions you need to ask before planning your pet's relocation
New Job Assignment? Check.
Hours and hours of research on your new destination? Check.
Moving company selected? Check.
New school and home search? Check.
Immigration Visas signed and delivered? Check.
Your cat and dog’s travel arrangements to your new location? No?
No one wants to leave any of their loved ones behind, especially if a new job has you and your family moving halfway across the world.
Before any move, especially an international one, you want to ask yourself a few questions. These are tough, yet necessary questions and you should try and answer them as honestly as possible.
1. Can my pet physically handle the move?
Pet safety is paramount. If your pet is not considered a service animal, and if traveling by air, they will likely be transported in the pet cargo portion of the plane. These areas are temperature regulated but can be extremely loud and stress-inducing for your pet. If your pet isn’t in the best of shape, through illness or extreme age, they may not be able to handle long-distance travel as well as a younger pet. Only you and your vet can make this assessment.
When travelling by plane, every pet flies in a temperature controlled, oxygenated and pressurized environment, just like in the passenger cabin. The International Air Transport Association’s Live Animals Regulations are the leading standards for transporting animals on commercial airlines, and their sole objective is to ensure all animals are carried safely and humanely by air.
2. Have I allowed enough time to prepare for this move?
The timing involved in planning your pet's relocation depends on the destination. Many pet relocation companies generally require at least 30 days’ notice to arrange your pet’s travel plans, due to the availability of flights and vaccination, health and even some quarantine requirements.
For some countries such as Australia and New Zealand, the wait time can be extensive, so it is best to plan your pet's move at least 6 to 7 months out. For other countries or when moving domestically, the wait time is typically less than one month.
Speak to one of our expert pet relocation partners to learn more about the import requirements and time involved with fulfilling them.
3. Can I afford to bring my pet with me? What are some of the costs to relocating with a pet?
Many variables determine the cost of moving your pet such as size, weight and where your pet is moving from and to. When moving internationally with a dog, cat, or other kinds of pets, you need to budget for (these prices are estimates and are not to be confused with an issued quote):
Costs before your move
- Microchipping – typically from $25 to $50;
- Vaccinations, blood tests, and treatments – from $50 to $250, depending on the required vaccinations and treatments and your pet health insurance plan (if any);
- Health certificate certified by a USDA veterinarian – from $38 to $173, depending on the number of tests required. There will be additional fees if the certificate has to be translated and notarized at a consulate;
- Import permits (if needed) – up to $350.
- Customs clearance – from $30 to $500. If you’re moving to a country that requires pet quarantine, like New Zealand or Malaysia, you will also have to pay the fee to keep your pet at the quarantine facility;
- Pet carrier – between $50 and $200, depending on the size and brand
The cost of flying a pet overseas can be as low as $50 when the pet travels in the cabin and as high as $1,500 when the pet is transported in the cargo hold. Typically, the cost of transporting a pet by air is directly based on the dimensions of the carrier – the more space the crate takes up, the higher the price.
Once again, pet shipping costs are based on the type of pet and the distance to the destination country. However, the actual price to move your animal friend to your new overseas home will be greatly affected by the specific pet import requirements of your new country.
4. Is my pet eligible to travel to my destination?
Rules vary, so check the animal import laws of your destination country. Some countries don’t allow certain species, some breeds are banned from entering certain regions and some regulations depend on the country of origin, etc.
Be aware of all the relevant regulations – not only import restrictions, but also required documents and vaccinations, quarantine periods, microchip requirements, etc. This allows you to make an informed decision about your pet and to be able to prepare properly if you decide to take your animal friend with you.
5. Is the duration of my move worth the hassle to myself and my pet?
In a perfect world, you could ship all of your belongings and then bring your pet along with you, with no hassle or stress. But, the world of pet relocations can inevitably be stressful. And we get it. You want your pet with you, they're apart of your family.
If you’re only relocating for a short time, it might be worth it to recruit a friend or family member to keep your pet while you are away. Although it's always hard to be away from your furry companion, this option could save you time, money and stress for your pet.
If your time frame makes sense to bring your pet, the recommendation is always to start the planning process as soon as possible.
With these hard questions out of the way, let’s answer a few more of your burning questions to help your feel comfortable and prepared for your upcoming move.
Most reputable pet relocation companies are members of the Independent Pet and Animal Transportation Association (IPATA). The association regulates and monitors the pet transportation industry by setting ethical standards and overseeing the performance of its members. As part of their membership, companies can access a network of pet transportation professionals worldwide that have guaranteed reputations for the services they provide.
IPATA is an organization of pet transportation professionals: local pet taxis and veterinarians, major corporations, freight forwarders, and customs brokers. Because of IPATA’s standards for membership, affiliates can safely coordinate door-to-door service for the most precious of cargo, our pets! International requirements vary from country to country, so working with a quality pet relocation company that is up to date on the latest import requirements is critical.
If you’re moving to Europe, you’re going to need a pet passport (almost all countries in the world accept a pet passport). This passport details all the vaccinations and treatments your pet has received and includes a description of your animal friend (name, age, color, breed, county of origin) and your name and contact information. To secure a pet passport, you need to prove your pet has been microchipped and vaccinated for rabies. Your vet should be able to issue your pet passport.
In addition to your pet’s passport, it is important that you obtain an international health certificate for your pet. An international health certificate for your pets is critical if you plan to take your pet abroad. An international health certificate usually includes name of pet, age, country of origin, breed, color, the owner’s name/contact info/address, etc. Some non-English speaking countries also require that the health certificate should be translated into the language of that country.
Certain countries restrict the types of animals that can be imported and exported. For example, many countries have banned American Pit Bull Terriers outright; this is sadly due to their aggressive reputations. Switzerland does not allow animals with docked ears and tails into the country without proof that the owner of the pet is moving to Switzerland.
Indonesia doesn’t permit any pets from countries that aren’t rabies-free into its own rabies-free zones; the United States and Canada are not considered to be rabies-free.
Import and export policies get thorny when dealing with exotic pets, such as wild birds protected by international trade laws. Additional restrictions apply to exotic animals. This is due to the fact that, if the owner ever needs to move the pet again, they need to demonstrate that the animal was brought into the country legally.
You will find below the information required to assist you in finding more information about non-commercial pet imports:
The European Union (EU) makes a distinction between commercial and non-commercial pet imports. It furthermore distinguishes between movements within European states or coming in from third party? countries. The following links provide more information about non-commercial pet imports from third countries and from within the EU:
- From third countries (including health certificates and identification)
- From within the EU (including pet passport)
Some Countries like the UK and the USA have started implementing even stricter regulations:
Additional guidance following Brexit:
- § Guidance on importing and exporting live animals or animals products
- § Importing animals, animal products and high-risk food and feed not of animal origin from 1 January 2021
- § Rules on importing live fish and shellfish for aquaculture and ornamental purposes
- For information about the legal authorities governing animal importation, please see the Laws and Regulations page on the Quarantine and Isolation site.
- In addition to CDC regulations, you must comply with US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and your destination state’s regulations, which may be stricter than federal regulations.
Several airlines allow emotional support animals to travel in-cabin upon meeting their requirements. You will need to check with the passenger side of your airline regarding their rules and regulations for allowing your pet to move this way.
Airlines are increasingly restricting in-cabin animals to registered and trained assistance animals only, such as guide dogs (Seeing-Eye dogs). You may be required to have medical evidence and/or demonstrate that your pet provides trained assistance for your health condition or disability.
With all the information we’ve provided above we also wanted to provide some bonus post and pre-travel tips for your pet’s international relocation.
These tips can help make the transition even simpler;
- Acclimate your pet to their sky kennel by “crate training” them several weeks before the trip. The advantage of this approach is to help minimize any stress or anxiety your pet may feel on the day of travel.
- Keep your pet away from the action while you are physically moving your household goods. This helps shelter them from the stress of the move.
- Take your pet to your veterinarian ten days before travel for a clean bill of health.
- Applying lavender oil from their head down, which has a calming effect without the adverse side effects of sedation, is also helpful. If other herbal options are available, try getting your pet used to it before travel as it may take several weeks to build up in their system.
- Pack an essentials bag. Include dry pet food, food and water bowls, waste bags, pet clean-up materials, medications (as needed), toys and other specialized pet items (harness or leash, lint roller, etc. – depending on the type of your pet).
- Confine your pet to one room or area of your house several days after arrival with his toys and familiar bedding.
- Avoiding over-feeding, exercise, and rapid water intake when he arrives home is essential because it can lead to tummy upsets and bloat, especially in deep-chested dog breeds.
- Update your pet’s microchip record with your latest contact details to help reunite you if they wander from your new home.
- Have multiple copies of all pet-related documents and keep them at hand when traveling to your new country.
- Consider getting pet travel insurance or, even better, international pet health insurance to ensure your peace of mind.
Welcoming your pet to your new home
After all the stresses of moving, pet owners are happiest when their pet arrives safely at their new home. Through careful planning and open communication with a pet relocation agency, your pet will travel safely, soundly, and in accordance with the laws of your new home.
From Los Angeles to Manila, and everywhere in between, pet owners around the world will agree; their house is not a home until their best friend is resting beside them.
When it comes to the well-being and safety of international pet relocations, we take an invested interest in making sure that you, and your cherished pet, have a flawless experience.Start your international pet relocation here