INTERNATIONAL PET SHIPPING
How to Ship a Dog or Cat Internationally
Arranging an international pet move can be a daunting task. Each country has specific vaccination, testing, health certification, and permitting requirements that must be met for your pet to be accepted. In addition to that, there are also very specific crate requirements that must be followed. Most airlines require that a member of the International Pet and Animal Transportation Association (IPATA) arrange and book the travel to ensure that your pet meets the requirements. If you are looking for advice on how to ship a dog or cat internationally, using an agent or not, you can find advice here.
The first thing you will want to do is request quotes from IPATA member pet shipping companies. Even if you plan to do the shipment yourself, you will be able to gather valuable information from the shipping companies. For example, you may get a reply stating that your dog will need to depart from JFK or LAX, as none of the domestic airlines will allow the transport. You may find there is a 6-month wait required after a blood test before your pet can arrive in the destination country. Pet shippers will also give you an idea of the cost, and you will have a backup plan and contact in case you are unable to get the transport done yourself. To get the most accurate quote, you will want to measure your dog’s max length (nose to butt) and height (floor to top of head).
Country Import Requirements
Every country has different import requirements, and those also vary depending on the country your pet is coming from. You can get basic information by searching the web for the destination country pet import requirements, for example, “United Kingdom pet import.” If your pet is departing from the United States, the USDA will have the official requirements listed for most countries, including the required health certificate https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/pet-travel. If the USDA does not have official requirements, you can usually find them on the destination country’s embassy and/or import websites. There are also third-party private company websites that list requirements, which are usually correct, but you never want to rely solely on a third-party non-government source. Always check the official government sites.
At a minimum, your dog or cat will need an up-to-date rabies vaccination and certificate. Most countries require that your pet be microchipped before receiving the rabies vaccination and that the chip number is listed on the rabies certificate.
Rabies Vaccination Certificate must include all the following information
· Name and address of the owner
· Breed, sex, date of birth (approximate age if the date of birth unknown), color, markings, and other identifying information for the dog
· Date of rabies vaccination and vaccine product information (manufacturer, product name, serial number).
· Date the vaccination expires
· Name, license number, address, and signature of the veterinarian who administered the vaccination
· Microchip number (if required by destination)
All vaccines that are required for import must be administered and documented by a veterinarian on a vaccination record like the rabies certificate requirements.
The airlines follow IATA container requirements based on the species and size of the animal, which can be found on the IATA website.
Please note that if you are shipping a snub-nosed breed, IATA requires the crate to be 10% larger than the general requirements state. Many of the hard-plastic crates that are sold online and at your local pet store will meet the requirements of IATA if they are of the correct size for your pet, have proper ventilation on all 4 sides, have solid bottoms, are strong and stable, and do not have plastic clamps holding the crate together. The guidelines are very specific and are not listed in their entirety here. Take your time making sure you purchase the correct crate for your pet.
More crate info can be found here:
- Crate requirements for international pet transport
- How to choose the correct crate size
- Cat and dog crate setup
How flexible is your schedule? It’s best to start planning your pet’s move as far in advance as possible. All fights are first come, first serve, and each airline has a maximum number of pets they allow on each flight. Most airlines allow the reservation to be made within 10-30 days of departure. Many countries only allow pets to enter on weekdays. You will also want to plan ample time for vaccinations to be administered and testing to be completed to comply with the import country requirements.
If you have a snub-nosed dog or cat (ie: Mastiffs, Bulldogs, Persian cat), a fighting breed (ie: Pitbull), or a large dog, you will have fewer airline route options than others. You will likely need to hire an IPATA member to book the flight.
Which Airline & Airport to Choose
Not every airline will allow pets to travel, so there is a chance that the airline and airport options available to your pet may be very limited. The US-based airlines are very strict on pet shipments, with a ban on shipping snub-nosed cats and dogs. Additionally, if your dog is large you will run into quite a bit of difficulty booking on a US-based airline, as they limit the crate size that they will accept on each aircraft. Some of the European, Asian, Australian and Spanish airlines have quite a bit more flexibility with breed and crate size limitations, but you’ll most likely need to get your pet to the coast for the flight (you can hire a company for the ground shipping as well). If you need to drive your pet to the coast, it may work out better to plan this before purchasing your own flight ticket in case you chose to fly out of the same airport.
Make sure to ask the airline representative if they will allow you to book your own pet reservation or if it must be done by an IPATA agent.
Do I need to hire a professional shipper?
You should be able to determine this rather quickly once you begin researching options. It will depend on the destination country, the breed of your pet, and the airline options available. Most US-based airlines require each international pet reservation to be made using an IPATA member. Many of the European airlines require a credit account to be established to make these reservations. Other airlines require a TSA known shipper to make the reservation. If you have found an airline that will allow you to make your own pet reservation, this is only recommended if the destination country’s import requirements are minimal. Pet shippers regularly receive last-minute frantic calls from people who have tried and failed to ship their own pet, which ultimately results in higher fees, delays, and re-completion of tests and paperwork.
US Military Members
If you are an active-duty military member moving on orders, make sure to tell the airlines and pet shipping companies. US-based airlines make exceptions to some of their rules for military members. Also, many pet shipping companies offer steep discounts to active military members.
The cost of transport will be highly variable based on your location, destination country, animal type, breed, and weight. Many airlines and destination countries require dogs and cats to travel as manifest cargo, so the routing options and pricing are usually quite a bit different than for passenger flights.
See the below for a brief explanation of the costs involved or visit our costs page for a more detailed explanation.
Vaccinations and Lab Tests
Starting at $75 for the EU, all the way up to $2,000 for Australia.
Health Certificate Appointment
Between $150-$300 for the EU, and $300-$600 for Australia.
USDA Endorsement of Documents
Starting at $38 for the EU to $173 for Australia.
$70 for a small crate, up to $1,800 for a metal or custom wooden crate.
Airline or Freight Charges
Starting at $500 for a very small pet going to the EU to upwards of $4,700 for a large breed traveling to Australia.
Each airline has its own freight rates and charges cargo by crate volume.
Varies from $800-$3,000 for the EU to $3,000-$6,000 for Australia.
Yes, some companies will charge you this much to send one pet to Australia! Shipping agent fees are highly variable and account for most of the variety in quote prices. More expensive is NOT always better when considering which pet shipping company to hire, so do your research.
Starting from $150 for the EU to $1,300 for Australia (this is the approximate quarantine fee in Australia).
If the destination country requires a quarantine, expect it to be pricey! If you need to hire a customs broker to handle the import, you can expect to pay them between $300-$1,000 for their service.
Ownership Transfer (Commercial Transport)
If your pet is traveling commercial, you may also need to pay taxes in the destination country. This is usually 18-40% of the freight and value of your pet.
Long-distance ground transport to and from the airports typically costs between $1.5-$3.5/mile depending on the company.
“Marck was really awesome. He took care care of all the paperwork and kept us updated. Great communication, great service! Our rabbit made it back home safely. Thank you!”
“Despite trying to move our Labrador from Houston during a pandemic and then a historic power failure on Houston, FFE came through for us. The team kept us in constant contact and went out of their way to help our veterinarian get set up with the USDA portal. Would highly recommend them for anyone moving pets internationally”
“Coco made it to Holland. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong but none of it the fault of Feathers and Fur. They were wonderful helping to fix the issues with my vet, FedEx and the USDA while time was ticking. Great communication in a very stressful time. Coco is settled in and happy.”
We’ll treat your pets as our own
Every team member at FFexpress is also a pet parent, so we know just how important your fur baby is to you. We only use the best airlines and facilities to ensure your pet is receiving the best care possible.
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