The Ins and Outs of the DoD’s New Pet Relocation Allowance for Transportation

Patrick MacFarland Patrick MacFarland · Updated May 17, 2024

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A soldier in uniform and a woman sit on a couch, smiling and looking at a photo album. A small dog sits on the woman's lap.

Good news for pet-owning military members — Department of Defense recently announced a policy change to now allow repayment for pet relocation during a PCS move. Many of you have pets that are an important part of your family, so it became clear that paying out of pocket for pet relocation wasn’t a fair policy.

However, to get your money back, you need to correctly follow the steps of the policy. As the #1 pet transportation marketplace in the country, we’re here for our military and want to make the process as smooth as possible. We’ll guide you through every step.

You Received PCS Orders and Own a Pet; So What’s Next?

The first step to take is deciding how you want to transport your furry friend. What’s most important to you? Is it safety and comfort, are you most concerned about quick transport, or is cost the most important variable?

When Comfort Is Most Important

If safety and comfort are the most important, then ground is the way to go. There’s no substitute for having someone there at all times for your pet, whether it is you or a professional transporter.

Require a Quick Transport?

Unfortunately, sometimes you have to prioritize speed. If you require quick transport, flying your pet is the quickest option. However, there are significant downsides to air travel that you’ll have to consider.

  • Pet air travel tickets can be canceled at any time due to weather conditions or availability.
  • Cargo transport is the least humane way to move a pet. They’ll be alone in the cargo area of the plane where nobody can check on them.
  • Pets aren’t able to leave their carriers once they’re in the airport. On the ground, they can get out and take potty and exercise breaks throughout the trip.

DIY Travel Versus Hiring a Transporter

This is mainly a question of cost. The common thinking is that you’ll save a few bucks by driving the pet yourself. But when you dig deeper, that might not actually be the case.

Time Cost

Do you have to take time off to transport yourself? Cross-country moves can take several days, meaning you might need to use vacation days or if that’s not an option, take unpaid days off.

Equipment Cost

Do you have all of the equipment you need to complete the transport? While you can drive with an animal unsecured in the backseat, it’s highly discouraged and could lead to tragedy — even if you’re in a minor fender bender. Consider the cost of buying equipment for a one-off trip, all of the costs associated with lodging and meals, plus gas and other incidentals along the way.

Stacked Transport Discounts

Transporters often handle multiple animals at a time. If you’re comfortable with this “rideshare,” you’ll see that it’s actually the most cost-effective way to go. You’ll only pay a fraction of the gas, lodging and food costs of the transporter along the way.

And, since you’ll agree to a locked-in price, you won’t need to worry about surprise costs. What happens if you blow your transmission while driving across the country? That’s all on you. You’re not liable for any costs if something like that happens to the transporter.

Background on the New Relocation Allowance Policy

In June 2023, the Department of Defense released new policies regulating pet relocation reimbursement after Congress passed a new law in December 2022.

“As of January 1, 2024, military service members going through a PCS within the continental United States can be reimbursed up to $550 for one household pet, either cat or dog, and up to $2,000 for moves to or from a location outside the continental United States to cover costs related to the relocation of a pet.”

This is a first — before, military members had to pay for pet relocation costs themselves. Unfortunately, the new policy is not applied retroactively. The change came about because lawmakers noticed that moves with animals became burdensome and difficult. They sought to alleviate members of the military with this new policy.

What are the Details of the New DoD Policy for PCS Shipping Expenses?

This is a new law, so there’s not a lot of information about how to take advantage of it. The reimbursement has an allowance limit of $550 for travel within the United States and $2,000 outside the continental United States. Remember — and this is important — keep all of your receipts.

In Order to Get Reimbursed:

  • Use Form DD 1351-2 to claim expenses. You’ll get your money back once the travel claim is completed.
  • When traveling outside of continental US, service members must use government-run or federally-contracted providers for their pet shipping needs.
  • If transport services are not available to their transoceanic destination, members must get a “non-availability letter” to get repayment for the relocation they booked separately.
  • If the animal is flying cargo because it exceeds the weight limit for in-cabin travel, the receipt must include its weight.
  • The policy includes money back for pet expenses including their transport, microchipping, quarantines, boarding, hotel service charges, virus immunity testing and pet licenses.

CitizenShipper makes it easy for you to relocate your furry friends. It is the safest way to do so and we also make it easy to locate the forms. After all, it’s stressful to relocate, so we don’t want you to struggle with searching for the forms to get reimbursed. Just click on the link and fill out the form.