Everything You Wanted to Know About Pet Relocation Services

Patrick MacFarland Patrick MacFarland · Updated February 23, 2024

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You’re planning a big move in the near future and that comes with many tasks to complete. From getting furniture out of your old house and into the new one to selling or shipping your vehicles, there are many moving parts. One of the most overlooked aspects of moving long distances is pet relocation. And the reality is that many people use air travel as a means to transport their pets. In fact, according to IPATA, over 4 million pets are transported via plane. But what other options are there?

Whether you’re flying or renting a UHaul and driving across the country, you may not want to (or be able to) bring your pets along with you. So how do you relocate your pets safely, comfortably, affordably and efficiently? We’re going to go over everything you need to know about pet relocation services by answering questions about moving with pets while providing advice and tips to make the process as smooth as possible.

Pet Relocation Services reunite this woman with her dog

How Can I Relocate My Pet?

There are many ways to relocate your pet. You can do research to find the best method for relocating your pet. Here are the most common options.

Air Travel

Air travel is usually the fastest way to transport a pet, especially over long distances. Remember that because airlines have several requirements, there is a limit on which pets you can take.

  • Many airlines only allow dogs and cats to fly.
  • Keep in mind that brachycephalic (also known as snub-nosed) breeds are restricted from flying in the cargo area.
  • Some airlines allow snub-nosed breeds in the cabin, but they must be under the weight limit and be small enough to fit under the seat.
  • If your pet is small, it can fly in the cabin inside 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.
  • Many airlines (like Delta Airlines and Southwest Airlines) have banned checked pets, with the exception of Hawaiian (with some restrictions) and Alaska Airlines.
  • American Airlines allows pets in the cargo area through their American Airlines Cargo program.
  • If you are relocating to another country, however, most airlines do allow larger pets to go in the cargo hold.

Train Travel

Amtrak allows pet transportation. Just like airlines, only cats and small 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, in part because there are many choices. You can easily find pet transportation companies online and fill out a form to receive quotes. Some pet ground transportation companies only provide specific services or operate only regionally, so do your research before requesting quotes.

Driving Yourself

The fourth option is to take the do-it-yourself approach. You can simply grab your car and relocate your furry friend to your final destination. It’s an easy option, because there won’t be any regulations or outside requirements besides travel and health documentation.

  • This option has several variables that may have some monetary impact, including accommodation, car wear and tear, food expenses and gas costs.
  • During the road trip, you also have to be aware that you should stop periodically for potty breaks, food and water breaks, plus time for your pet to walk around and get exercise outside.

Using a Marketplace

Another option is going through a two-way marketplace like CitizenShipper. There are many advantages of using a marketplace compared with traditional pet transportation companies:

  • It’s free to post a listing for pet transportation on the marketplace.
  • Once you post a listing, you’ll receive multiple quotes from transporters with a varying amount of experience.
  • You’ll save money because drivers compete with each other to win your transport.
  • You’ll also save time because you won’t have to fill out multiple forms to get quotes instead, the quotes come right to you!
  • The marketplace features trusted, reputable drivers.

A woman using pet relocation services holds a cat in the back seat of a car.

How Does Pet Relocation Work?

The way it works is different depending on the method you choose. The most popular pet relocation services out there are air travel and ground transportation.

Air Travel

  1. Call the airline and inquire about pet travel and their requirements.
  2. Make sure you arrive at the gate earlier than usual to prepare your pet for the flight and check in with the airline, as well.
  3. If you hired a pet relocation service or an air nanny, get everything squared away with them and they will handle the logistics.

Ground Transportation

  1. Once you know the pet relocation service you will work with to relocate your pet, get everything all taken care of beforehand; this ensures your pet is ready for the move.
  2. Take your pet to the vet for a certificate of veterinary inspection (CVI).
  3. The company will take care of the logistics, from picking up to dropping off.

Is Moving Traumatic for Pets?

Just like humans, moving can stress your pet out. Stress is something that can stay in the body for some time. So when planning your move and even after the move, it’s best to follow some tips. According to the RSPCA, it will take your pet about three weeks to fully adjust to their home and act how they’ve always acted.

Follow these tips to be sure moving is a seamless experience:

  1. Stick to the routine your furry friend is used to.
  2. Have them adjust to the moving boxes and moving supplies
  3. Pack their things last (and unpack them first when moving to your new home).

Once in your new home, follow these important tips:

  1. Stick to the old routines your pet is used to.
  2. Use your old pet gear until your pet is totally comfortable and adjusted.
  3. Don’t leave your pet alone at your new home for a while.

One way to ease the transition and ensure your pet has little stress during the moving process is to hire empathetic transporters. The journey should be an enjoyable experience for your pet.

Two women providing pet relocation services in front of a house with their adorable dog.

The Law on Transportation of Animals

The USDA and APHIS are the organizations that issue guidelines on everything that has to do with pet transportation and pet travel. They have rules in place when it comes to pet transportation.

Once you know where your pet will be relocated to, you should contact a USDA-registered veterinarian to obtain a health certificate. They will do an up-to-date checkup with all the required and recommended vaccines your pet needs and issue you the Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI). Your pet should be immunized no more than 21 days before travel.

Vaccinations For Dogs

Required vaccinations for dogs:

  • Canine parvovirus
  • Distemper
  • Canine hepatitis
  • Rabies

Recommended vaccinations for dogs:

  • Bordetella bronchiseptica
  • Borrelia burgdorferi
  • Influenza
  • Leptospira bacteria

Vaccinations for Cats

Required vaccinations for cats:

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

Recommended vaccinations for cats:

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

You should also be aware of the guidelines for each individual state, as well. Find a list of states’ Department of Agriculture pages on the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture website. If you want to further brush up on all interstate pet travel and learn more about requirements for pet relocation, visit the USDA pet interstate travel guidance page.

Are Pet Relocation Services Worth It?

The simple answer is yes. If you want to alleviate your stress, then it’s the perfect way to do it. These pet relocation services take care of all the logistics so you don’t have to worry about anything. At the end of the move, you’ll have your cherished pet at your door in your final location.

How Much Do Pet Relocation Services Cost?

There are numerous factors that can affect the price tag of pet relocation. Let’s take a look at these factors.

  • Distance: The distance of the pet transport plays a major role. The cost is determined per mile traveled to the location you need your pet relocated.
  • Pet Size/Breed/Type: The bigger the pet, the bigger the cost. It’s as simple as that. Also, the type of breed plays a role in cost. Snub-nosed breeds could incur additional costs because of the health risks that are involved. Finally, the pet type is an important variable. If you are relocating an exotic pet, it most likely will cost extra.
  • Health Documentation: The health certificate signed by a USDA-registered veterinarian costs vary, but they are usually $100-$300.
  • Equipment: Crates for small pets can range from $50-$100, but larger crates can cost up to $200 or more. You should also consider buying other essential products like a first aid kit, some toys or security blankets that will ease your pet’s stress.

The Hard Numbers

We looked at the various factors that go with the price, and now the question you’re asking yourself is how much it will cost?

Air Travel

  • Domestic air travel can cost between $90 to $125 in the main cabin for most airlines. In the cargo hold for Hawaiian and Alaska Airlines, it can range from as low as $100 to $225.
  • International pet transport is a whole bag of beans. Some airlines allow pets only in the cargo hold; some permit small pets in the main cabin. The in cabin costs are usually anywhere between $125 to $200. When going the cargo hold route, it usually will run around $1000. Each airline has its own pet policies with international pet shipping costs. Research these costs before traveling.
  • You can also hire international pet relocation services to do everything for you. The pet relocation costs for these companies can run anywhere between $1000 to $6000.

Keep in mind that you need to provide a health certificate, all vaccinations and an import permit to clear customs and immigration. The European Union has its own regulations that you should follow. The United States Department of State also has suggestions when it comes to international pet travel.

Ground Transportation

The consensus when it comes to ground transportation is that it can be as low as a couple hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars, depending on whether you choose to add perks and benefits to your pet relocation.

A woman utilizing pet relocation services while holding a cat on her shoulder.

How to Find a Pet Shipping Company?

Online is the place to start. You can also join Facebook groups where you can chat with others that have hired pet transportation services in the past. They’ll be able to tell you which companies are the best and which ones to avoid. If you have exotic pets or maybe even certain cat breeds, they can point you in the right direction of which pet transportation service to go with.

You can also search in Google. Read the pet relocation reviews that past customers have left on their websites or other pet travel sites. You can check out the International Pet Travel Association (IPATA) website to see if the animal transportation service you are wondering about is a member of a pet travel association.

Furthermore, the IPATA website has a lot of advice and tidbits about pet travel, how to recognize fake shipping companies or puppy scammers, and anything related. The ATA, Animal Transport Association, also has information you should take a look at before transporting a pet.

Finding an Affordable Alternative like CitizenShipper

If you’re not convinced by traditional transporters, 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. What are other benefits of a two-way marketplace?

  • Because drivers bid for your business, you can save a whopping 60%-70% compared to a traditional pet transportation company.
  • There are no hidden fees, there is direct communication with the driver throughout the entire relocation process, and the drivers in our network strive to take care of your beloved pet like it was one of their own.
  • We truly work hard to ensure your peace and tranquility every step of the way. 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.

Bottom Line

Relocating a pet is hard work, it’s overwhelming, and it’s stressful. We provided you with everything you need to know about pet relocation services. Whether it’s air travel or ground transport, it’s important to find a company that will provide the care your lovable pet deserves.

With CitizenShipper, you can get affordable rates with a better quality than a traditional pet transporter. Trusted by over 100,000+ pet lovers, CitizenShipper is the best option. It is safe and secure, and drivers on CitizenShipper know your pet means everything to you.

Your pet will be in the best of hands with CitizenShipper. Post your pet’s transport now and get free quotes in an instant!