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How to Move Pets Internationally

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Moving abroad can be scary as well as challenging especially when you don't know how to ship your pet internationally. Traveling with a pet is never easy, and the further you travel, the more difficult it gets.

How to Move Pets Internationally

International pet shipping can be a daunting task, but thankfully most commercial airlines try to make the process as easy as possible. For those who are moving with a pet overseas, there is some preparation and planning required to truly make things work. This guide will take you through some details regarding how to move pets internationally. It will also discuss some major airline regulations for people moving with a pet, as well as what you can do to prepare your pet when moving abroad.

Tips for moving a pet overseas

Planning in advance will give you enough time to be well-aware of how to move your pet internationally. According to the U.S. Department of State, you need to do the following before moving a pet internationally:

  • Have your pet examined and make sure it is healthy enough to make the trip. Your pet's health is an important factor in determining whether or not it can safely make the international trip with you. Taking it to a veterinarian and having it thoroughly checked out is the best way for you to find out if your pet is considered certified to fly.
  • Your pet must be certified by a licensed veterinarian. The specific rules and regulations regarding this vary depending on which country you are traveling to. But most countries require that the veterinarian who examines your pet prior to the move to have a veterinary license that was issued in the state in which you had your pet examined. You must have all of this paperwork signed by the veterinarian and completed in advance of your moving date. Some countries also require your pet to receive a USDA endorsement as well, in addition to certification from a veterinarian. This endorsement typically costs around $24 for dogs and cats.
  • Reserve your flight as early as you can. As is always the case when it comes to planning for a move, the earlier, the better. Try to plan your move so that you arrive at your destination on a weekday as opposed to the weekend because it sometimes may be necessary to have your pet examined by a licensed veterinarian upon your arrival.
  • Buy a sturdy, leak-proof container for your pet. The container should be big enough so that your pet can stand or lie down comfortably inside of it, but not so big that it would be thrown around if the flight happened to experience turbulence. Remember to line the carrier with something that is light and absorbent, such as newspaper or paper towel.
  • Have your pet get used to being in the carrier prior to the move. It's important that you allow your pet to get accustomed to being inside the pet carrier prior to your move so that on moving day it gets inside the carrier to board the flight. If it gets used to the container it will already feel safe and secure inside instead of feeling trapped and scared. This will be an important factor in determining how your pet handles the trip, thereby making the move easier for both of you.
  • Before booking your flight, check with your airline and inquire about any specific shipping policies. Each airline has different policies and regulations regarding international pet shipping, so it's usually best to contact the airline and speak with them and figure out how to move pets internationally: via excess baggage, cargo, or in-cabin.

International pet shipping via airlines

Although each airline has different policies for moving pets overseas, the rules and regulations are subject to change at any time and are under the provision of the Transportation Security Administration. There are three different ways in which most airlines will allow you to travel with your pets as explained below:

  • In-cabin: This method of travel means that your pet can board the plane with you and travel in the cabin, usually stowed underneath your seat in an approved pet carrier. Many airlines no longer allow this method of travel, so it's best to check with yours before you fly. You may also have to pay a fee for additional baggage.
  • Booking a separate flight: This option, also known as the cargo option, will usually charge a higher fee than you would pay for excess baggage if you bring your pet on board with you. As with the previous option, not all airlines offer this method, so please check with your carrier beforehand.
  • Shipping via a licensed commercial shipper: The final option offers you to ship your pet separately through a licensed and professional commercial pet shipper. Some airlines require this method of shipping if your animal is not small enough to be brought onboard as cargo. Typically, you will be charged the cargo fee plus a shipper's fee if you choose this option. As a rule, all pets that are over 100 pounds are generally always charged as cargo, even if they are traveling on the same flight as you.

Moving internationally with pets other than dogs and cats

Usually, the tips for international moving with a pet on board are the same for all kinds of animals. However, sometimes certain countries may have strict laws and restrictions regarding less common pets like birds and reptiles. Many countries don't allow people to move with all kinds of animals. So, before you plan to move abroad, make sure that you check all the regulations. Do a thorough research and double check that you can freely move to the new country along with your pet.

Cost to ship a pet internationally

The cost to ship a pet internationally may range between $2,000 and $3,000 or even more, depending on the services you use. The cost breakdown can be explained as follows:

  • Airline Freight Charges - When pets are shipped as cargo, the charges can be as high as $1200, depending on the airline.
  • Health Examination Certificate - Before shipping a pet overseas, the owner will need to procure a health certificate from the vet within 10 days of moving. This can cost up to $250.
  • Pet Carriers - In order to carry the pet, you'll need to buy a carrier or crate that costs up to $700, depending on the size of the animal.
  • Commute to and from airports - If you want to use the door-to-door service for the commute of your pet to and from the airport, it will charge you up to $800.
  • Customs - A clearance fee including import clearance, customs, vet inspection, taxes, and terminal fees can be charged at the airport. This can range from $50 to $600, depending on the country and its policies.

Robert Moreschi  Posted by Robert Moreschi on March 3, 2013

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