How much does it cost to ship a cat internationally?

If you’ve traveled abroad with pets before, you probably know how much of a hassle it can be. The standard of service may not be what you or your cat are used to. At different destinations, different regulations apply. Fees stack upon fees until you end up paying far more than you’d expected. Speaking of which, how much does it cost to ship a cat internationally anyway? Well, that’s determined based on a number of factors. Where you’re going, how long you’re staying, how many pets you’re bringing…

The total cost can be difficult to estimate, but it’s important to have a broad idea at least. Here’s a brief rundown of the expenses associated with international cat transport to set you on your way.

Veterinary visit

Prior to the move, you’ll need to have your cat examined by licensed veterinary professionals. If they deem it fit to travel, they’ll issue a certificate of veterinary inspection. And that’s just the first step on the long road toward the holy grail of Complete Paperwork!

The vet should inform you if any additional tests, licenses, or vaccines are required at your destination. Follow their instruction and jump through all the necessary hoops until you’re cleared to export/import your feline friend.

How much does it cost? Depending on which certificates you end up getting, the vet visits could cost anywhere between $30 and $300.

Cat carriers

Before taking off, your kitty will first need to fit inside an airline-approved container. Different companies maintain different standards, but most require that the carrier crate:

  • is made of sturdy, durable materials minimizing the chance of injury
  • is well-ventilated, the airflow keeping temperatures within an acceptable range
  • includes sufficient food and water for the duration of the journey

So don’t just roll up to the airport with any old crate and expect to be allowed to board! Consult the airline well ahead of the flight, and learn which cat carriers they require. Generally speaking, you can’t go wrong with any item designated as IATA-compliant.

How much does it cost? For an adult cat of average size, an airline-approved crate might set you back  $100 to $150.

Airline fees

Now, this is the big one. Airlines charge an extra fee for pet transportation to cover the handling costs and the liability risk they’re taking on. These fees can vary widely, and it can be difficult to ascertain what exactly each of them covers. They trend upwards when you fly internationally, so you’re out of luck there. But shipping a cat by plane is easier and less costly than shipping a dog, so at least there’s that!

Note that some airlines won’t let you book a pet transport directly. Instead, they might require you to go through an IPATA-certified transportation company, which adds an extra charge. See the end of this article for a few words of advice on that.

How much does it cost? Pet transportation fees vary from one airline to the next, from about $75 to several hundreds of dollars.

Pet import taxes

This one is a little murky since every country has its own set of rules. Some need you to provide a “pet passport” — basically a set of vaccination certificates. Others enforce a quarantine period on pets imported from countries with less-than-stellar health standards. (When bringing one in from the US, this shouldn’t be a problem.)

There are a number of regulations in play. For example, when trying to ship a cat over to the UK, here are the conditions you must meet:

  • The cat must be microchipped
  • There must be a certificate of rabies vaccination done at least 21 days before the trip.
  • There must be a rabies antibody titer test done (not for US residents, though).
  • You’ll have to have all your UK-related paperwork officially endorsed by APHIS.

Each of these steps comes with a commensurate fee, of course.

How much does it cost? In the above example, bringing a cat into the UK would cost approximately $55 in import fees.

Boarding costs

Despite your best efforts, the travel arrangements made for your cat and yourself may not always dovetail perfectly. Depending on the logistics of the journey, you might need to secure overnight lodgings for your kitty. And this can cost an arm and a leg, especially if you’re in a rush.

Still, given time to prepare, it’s usually possible to avoid or minimize this extra expense. Researching the area that you’re about to visit will let you scout the situation ahead of time. Whatever your budget may be, being prepared certainly cannot hurt.

How much does it cost? In the case of a layover, airlines offer comfort stop arrangements for as much as $500. 

Conclusion

The possibility of extra expenses, we hope, hasn’t put you off traveling with your cat? We can’t provide an estimate (beyond “several hundreds of dollars”) without knowing the specifics of your travel plan. However, now that you know roughly what to expect, it should be easier for you to get a clear picture. Ultimately, “how much does it cost to ship a cat internationally” is a question you’ll have to answer by yourself.

And if you’re struggling to get the kitty where she needs to get to, there’s help to be had! Professional air nannies make a living by flying your pet to its destination for a nominal fee. Simply describe your travel plans in a shipment listing, and you should start receiving quotes in a matter of hours. You can take it from there, and discuss the specifics of the international flight with the transporters directly.

Stay safe, and happy shipping!

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