Basic Animal Transport Requirements For Your Pet

Patrick MacFarland Patrick MacFarland · Updated January 17, 2024

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Preparing for pet travel can be quite overwhelming. In fact, it can make your life topsy-turvy, and you’ll be pulling your hair out from all the documents, requirements and regulations. On top of that, you also have to research animal transport options. There are so many out there that you’ll have 37 tabs open on your browser trying to figure everything out.

But don’t be dismayed; we’ll outline all the steps you need to take to prepare for your pet’s transport, the various methods for pet travel and some essential products to ensure your pet’s journey is successful.

One of the first steps in preparing for animal transport is a vet visit.

What Steps to Take to Prepare for Animal Transport?

There are several steps you should take to prepare yourself for animal transport. These simple steps should be completed promptly based on the requirements of your final destination state and the airline or pet transport company.

Pet Shipping with CitizenShipper

Step 1: Vet Visit

The first step is the most crucial one that you should do prior to animal transport. Make an appointment to visit your pet’s veterinarian. Ensure the veterinarian is accredited by the USDA. Since they will certify the health certificates and vaccines, they will not be allowed travel if they are not registered with the USDA.

Veterinarians will provide you with a CVI (Certificate of Veterinary Inspection). They can supply this certificate for all types of animals — from livestock to poultry to reptiles and amphibians, as of course, cats and dogs.

The health certificates must be completed with the veterinarian 10 days before travel in order for them to be up-to-date. Besides governmental offices, airlines and pet transport companies will require them prior to beginning the travel journey.

Step 2: Up-to-Date Vaccines

Besides the health certificate, all pets must have the required vaccines in order to travel to another state. There may be routine police stops, but the vaccines (as well as the certificate) are usually required to register your pet at your final destination’s governmental offices dedicated to Animal Control.

Regarding vaccinations, there is a list of vaccines your pet should be immunized with no more than 21 days before travel.

Vaccinations for Dogs

The list of required vaccinations for dogs:

  • Canine parvovirus
  • Distemper
  • Canine hepatitis
  • Rabies

The list of recommended vaccinations for dogs:

  • Bordetella bronchiseptica
  • Borrelia burgdorferi
  • Influenza
  • Leptospira bacteria

Vaccinations for Cats

The list of required vaccinations for cats:

  • panleukopenia (feline distemper)
  • Feline calicivirus
  • Feline herpesvirus type I (rhinotracheitis)
  • Rabies

The list of recommended vaccinations for cats: 

  • Feline leukemia virus
  • Bordetella
  • Chlamydophila felis
  • Feline I immunodeficiency virus

Step 3: Destination State Requirements

Usually, most states require a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection and an up-to-date list of vaccines. Still, sometimes there may be a few more requirements.

  1. Find a list of states’ Department of Agriculture pages on the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture website. 
  2. Find a list of State Animal Health Officials on the United States Animal Health Association website. 
  3. Find a list of requirements from each state on the USDA’s page for interstate pet travel.

Step 4: Buy a Carrier

This step is one that sometimes is overlooked. Buying a durable carrier that will adhere to airline (or pet transport company) requirements requires some research. These carriers or crates usually cost around $100; larger crates can run up to about $200.

Airlines have requirements for these large crates, and it’s best to buy one regardless of the option you opt for your pet travel.

Pet Cargo Crate Requirements

  • Your pet should be able to stand up, turn around in the crate and ensure they do not touch the top.
  • The crate should have secure locking with pins that extend past the extrusions above and below the door.
  • The crate should be ventilated on all sides.
  • The crate should have your pet’s name and your contact information.
  • Water and food bowls should be attached to the door and accessible from outside the crate.
  • The crate must be secure with hardware instead of plastic fasteners.

Besides the crate, you should also have some essential products to make your pet’s journey stress-free. Those can include calming chews for dogs or calming sprays for cats, a first aid kit for emergencies and other essential items.

Step 5: Reserve Pet Transport

Once you have followed the above steps, you’re on your way to securing your pet transport! The next step is to research the several methods of pet transportation out there. Those include air travel, train travel, ground transport, using a two-way marketplace and the do-it-yourself option.

Types of Pet Transport Services

Now that you have all the steps and requirements needed for transporting an animal, there are various types of pet transportation you can choose from.

Air Travel

Air travel is the fastest way to transport a pet. Remember that because airlines have several requirements, there is a limit on which pets you can take. Only dogs and cats are allowed. If your pet is small, it can fly in the cabin in a carrier placed under the seat in front of you. Airline policy only allows one or two pets per flight, so it’s important to call beforehand to reserve that coveted pet spot. If you have a bigger pet, it will have to fly in the cargo hold in a larger carrier that can accommodate a litter box.

Train Travel

Amtrak allows pet transportation, and just airlines, only cats and dogs are allowed. Having a pet on board the train only costs $25, but they have to fit in a carrier underneath the seat in front of you.

Ground Transport

The ground transport option is the most popular, as many are out there. You can easily find them online. Some only provide certain services, and it’s important to research which ones provide what. 

Big note: look out for fake shipping companies, because they are everywhere and will go after your money! Be sure to look for the warning signs when searching for a pet shipping company.

All pet transport services must adhere to the USDA’s rules and regulations in pet handling. You can also go to IPATA for informative articles about recommended pet transporters, fake scamming companies and more.

Driving Yourself

The fourth option we have is the do-it-yourself approach. You can simply grab your car and drive your pet to your final destination. It’s an easy option, because there won’t be any regulations or outside requirements besides the documentation you need. This option has several variables, including accommodation, food expenses, car wear and tear and gas costs.

Using a Marketplace

Another option is going through a two-way marketplace (like CitizenShipper). It’s a way to save money, and there are trusted, reputable drivers on the platform who compete for your business. You’ll get free quotes after posting your pet’s transport information on the website.

CitizenShipper Drivers Help Prepare for Animal Transport

Using a two-way marketplace like CitizenShipper to find an independent pet transporter is the answer you’ve been looking for. It’s trustworthy, safe and affordable. And because drivers bid for your business, you can save a whopping 60%-70% compared to a traditional pet transportation company.

Using CitizenShipper is Easy as 1-2-3!

  • When you plug in your pet travel info, there will be a laundry list of screened, background-checked, and USDA-registered drivers sending you quotes, usually within minutes.
  • You will then be able to compare bids and instantly chat with drivers across our network. Because drivers compete for your business, you can select a quote that fits your budget and requirements.
  • Once you choose the driver you like best, you’re ready to book your trip.
  • We charge a modest fee that varies per mileage.

There’s this saying that the best things in life aren’t free, and that motto holds true. Don’t book a driver solely based on price. The best drivers charge a little more for their services. We recommend you read reviews, communicate with the driver through the instant-messaging system and look at past experience before making your decision.

We truly work hard to ensure your peace and tranquility throughout the entire process. CitizenShipper also provides added benefits for you so you’re even calmer — up to $1,000 Pet Protection, Booking Assurance Guarantee, a messaging system where you can communicate directly with the driver and 24/7 TeleVet access through our partner FirstVet.

At CitizenShipper, the drivers in our network are animal lovers who will treat your pet like he’s a part of their family. 

Product Recommendations for Animal Transport

One of the important steps of pet transportation is making sure you have the right products for travel. You can research online, but here’s a list of a few items we think are worthy to get for your pet’s long trek.

Calming Products

Hemp Calming Max Strength Chews for Dogs

  • These hemp chews are safe to eat and your dog will love to eat them.
  • Because they are extra strength, they will ensure that they calm your dog effectively.
  • These chews are veterinarian recommended and completely safe.

Calming Pheromone Spray for Cats

  • This is a formula spray that calms your cat in any high-stress situation.
  • The safe-to-use spray will prevent your cat from clawing back, peeing and stressing.
  • The spray reduces stress effectively within seven days.

Travel Carriers

Prutapet Large Cat Carrier for Car Traveling with Collapsible Litter Box and Bowl

  • The carrier is easy to store, and can be stowed away in small places.
  • It has the essentials for travel — including a litter box and water and food bowl.
  • The carrier has excellent ventilation on all sides, which will ensure the safety of your cat.

Airline-Approved Pet Travel Bag

  • This carrier is durable, safe and water repellent.
  • It’s multi-functional with lots of storage, an essential part of traveling.
  • It can conveniently carry food, water, leashes and other must-have items for your pets.

For Other Pets

Transport Container for Reptiles

  • The container can be used for all types of reptiles or amphibians.
  • It is easily ventilated and has a double-opening design.
  • The container is durable, easy to clean, and made for travel.

Foldable Terrarium Kit with Plants

  • The terrarium is comfortable and breathable for all types of animals.
  • A heating lamp can be used for those animals needing heating and cooling.
  • It has wheels, which is easy to transport.

The Bottom Line

The pet transport process can be overwhelming. And you’re not alone — countless people are doing the same thing you are. Reaching out to Facebook groups to get help will ensure you have the right information. After going through the requirements needed for your pet to travel, choosing a pet travel option is the next step. 

If you just want someone to take on everything for you, consider CitizenShipper. Our drivers understand your animal means the world to you. They’ll treat them with proper care throughout the entire journey.

Shipping your animal across the country should be a wonderful experience; not a moment of  household panic. By trusting drivers on CitizenShipper to transport your beloved pet, you will be able to focus on other important matters.
As the #1 pet transportation marketplace in the nation, CitizenShipper ensures you will save money, time and hassle. The drivers on our network are dedicated to you and could even save the day! Get yourself a lifesaver now and post your pet’s transport to get free quotes instantly!


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