Cross-Country Pet Transport: A Complete Guide

Adaeze Nwakaeze Adaeze Nwakaeze · Updated February 23, 2024

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Planning on taking your beloved pet to another state or across the United States? Great! Whether it’s a beloved cat, dog, or other pet, you may be wondering how to go about it. After all, cross-country pet transportation is no small feat and may even be a little intimidating.

From ensuring that your cat or dog complies with state-specific regulations and finding an experienced and reliable transporter to managing the costs and ensuring your pet’s safety and comfort, there are a lot of issues to consider. Fortunately, this complete guide will provide you with all the information you need to confidently navigate the process of transporting your beloved pet from state to state and all across the United States.

What is Cross-Country Pet Transport?

Cross-country pet transport, also known as long-distance pet transportation, is the process of transporting a pet from one state to another. Every year, pet owners from all corners of the United States transport their furry friends between states. Most times, life’s transitions, such as relocations and career changes, call for this process — but it’s also ideal when you just want a getaway with your pet!

A current report by USDA shows that over 2 million dogs and cats are transported annually within the United States. It’s worth noting that domestic transport differs from international pet transportation, which involves transporting your pet to another country.

When you’re transporting your pet from one end of the nation, cross-country pet transport is what you’re looking for. The process involves finding a reliable, experienced pet transporter and ensuring that your pet is in compliance with all applicable state regulations. But where and how do you find these transporters?

Avoiding Fake Pet Shipping Companies

Safety should be of the utmost concern when you’re having a pet transported across the country. Unfortunately, there are fraudulent companies posing as professional pet shippers — they may be trying to steal your money or even worse, your pet. These companies are often not USDA certified, meaning they cannot transport your dog or other pets legally and safely across state lines.

In order to avoid fake pet shipping companies, check for pet relocation reviews online. This will give you an idea of how reliable the service is, how well they take care of pets and the level of customer support they offer.

The International Pet and Animal Transportation Association (IPATA) reports that the number of scams involving pet transportation services is on the rise. That means it’s more important than ever to take extra precautions.

  • Don’t hesitate to ask the company questions.
  • Check out their website and social media pages for reviews.
  • Look out for relevant qualifications.
  • Make sure they’re USDA certified.

By doing your due diligence, you’ll find a reliable and trustworthy pet transport service for you and your beloved pet.

How Can I Transport My Pet Cross-Country?

Now that you’re aware of the potential risks let’s discuss the two main methods for transporting pets cross-country: air and ground transportation.

Air Transportation

Air travel is the most common way to transport a pet cross-country. Several airlines allow pets to travel in the cabin, while others require them to travel in the cargo area.

Pros of Using Airlines for Cross-Country Pet Transport

  • Flying is a relatively quick and efficient means of transporting your pet cross-country.
  • For cats and small dogs, traveling in the cabin with you or an air nanny is an option.
  • For larger breeds, some airlines accommodate pets as checked luggage or as cargo.

Cons of Using Airlines for Cross-Country Pet Transport

  • Air travel can be a more expensive option.
  • It can also be a stressful experience for your pet, as they will be exposed to loud noises and cramped conditions during the flight.
  • Most airlines have strict size, weight and breed limits.

Ground Transportation

Considering the potential drawbacks of air transportation, you may find that ground transportation is best suited for your pet. For those wanting to transport their pet in the utmost comfort, a number of professional pet movers offer door-to-door services all over the country. With vans and other ground transportation at their disposal, they guarantee your furry companion will arrive safe and sound with no stress involved.

Pros of Ground Transportation

  • Door-to-door service is available with most ground transportation companies.
  • Professional pet mover services offer comfort and safety for your pet.
  • Ground transport is usually less expensive than air transportation.

Cons of Ground Transportation

  • Ground transport takes longer than air transportation.
  • Traveling cross-country with a pet can be stressful, especially if you’ve never done it before.

No matter what method you choose, read up on relevant regulations, do your research ahead of time and choose a reliable, reputable pet shipping service.

The Legal Process — Adhering to the Rules

Each state has different regulations when it comes to transporting a pet. These regulations include the type of pets they allow, the breeds of cats and dogs allowed, as well as any paperwork that is required. For pet owners, understanding these regulations and legal requirements is essential. But it’s even more important for pet transport companies to be fully aware of the laws and regulations in each state.

Ensure that the company you choose is certified by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the International Pet and Animal Transportation Association (IPATA). The truth is that it’s extremely unlikely fraudulent pet companies will get these certifications. If a company has these credentials, it serves as a valid sign of legitimacy.

How to Ensure the Safety of Your Pet on Long-Distance Travel

If you are like most pet parents or breeders, your pet’s safety is your primary concern. And it should be!

Unfortunately, when pets are transported cross-country, there are some risks associated. Just like humans, pets can experience stress on long-distance journeys.

For flights specifically, there can be added risks like turbulence and oxygen deprivation which can pose serious health challenges for your pet. Your pet won’t be allowed out of their crate during the duration of their flight, so ensure that the crate has enough room to allow comfortable movement.

Hunger and dehydration are also other major concerns. Imagine your pet stuck on a flight or drive for long periods with no food or water. To help alleviate these risks, professional pet transportation companies have strategies to ensure your furry friend’s comfort and safety.

Most will make regular stops for food and potty breaks, have a vet on hand to provide medical assistance, and monitor your pet’s well-being throughout the journey. And for VIP pet travels, ensure they comply with the law and secure your pet with a seat belt.

On the other hand, air travel may require a different safety strategy — hiring air nannies. These qualified animal handlers are there to comfort, feed and provide water to your pet during their long flight.

What Determines Cross-Country Pet Transport Costs?

Every year Americans spend big on pet transport. But what exactly determines the cost of transporting a pet cross-country? Here are a few factors to consider:

#1. The Distance of the Journey

This is the primary factor in determining the cost of pet transport. The further you’re transporting your pet, the more it will cost. How far is your pet traveling? A 2,286.85 mile journey from California to Florida will be a lot more expensive than one from New York to Massachusetts of 180 miles. In that vein, drivers on CitizenShipper will typically charge you according to the mileage, around $0.50 to $1.60 a mile — so you can expect to pay around $1,100 to $3,700 for a 2,286 miles journey!

#2. Type and Size of Pet

If you’re transporting a larger animal, such as a horse, the shipping cost will be much more than shipping a small cat or dog. In the case of a horse, a St Benard or a Great Dane, you will probably need to transport them in a larger van, which will of course increase the cost.

Similarly, pet parents of cats, Chihuahuas, or other small breeds will be charged much less as they can fit into a small crate and do not take up much space. Exotic pets like reptiles will also incur higher transportation costs as they require special crates, and the driver must have a permit to transport them.

#3. Mode of Transport

For a cross-country journey, your pet is already crossing state lines and may have to cross several state borders. Each mode of transport, land, sea or air, will come with different regulations and fees.

Using a professional pet transport service will ensure that all of these regulations are adhered to and that you don’t end up with any penalties. For example, air travel has strict requirements and paperwork, which can increase the cost of your pet’s travel.

Accessing the Best Pet Transportation Services

Because the cross-country pet transport process requires a lot of coordination and planning, it is important to engage the services of a transporter who understands state regulations and safety protocols. Suppose you’re transporting your pet across the country for the first time. In that case, you need an experienced pet transporter who’ll provide the necessary information on pet travel requirements and documentation.

So where can you find such a reliable and experienced pet transporter? CitizenShipper! This online pet transport marketplace is a one-stop shop for all your pet transport needs. On the marketplace, you’ll find a network of pre-screened and qualified drivers across the United States. Get the best prices by utilizing our bidding system, then chat with your chosen driver via our instant messaging feature to seal the deal.

And yes, there’s a $1,000 Pet Protection Plan and access to First Vet services, so you can rest assured that your precious pet is in safe hands — unique features that make CitizenShipper the #1 top-rated pet transport platform in the United States.


Vet visits, competitions, and family visits can necessitate long-distance pet transport. A safe, affordable and stress-free journey for your pet is easily achievable with the right kind of preparation and transportation services.

So, when the time comes to plan a cross-country pet travel, think CitizenShipper. Get the best deals, reliable drivers and a safe journey for your pet. Submit your pet travel details today and get the best deals for your loved one!