How to Ship a Pet Internationally: An Overview

A pet is a family member. You wouldn’t dream of sending a family member abroad without learning all you need to know about the transport process and what to expect on arrival. Pet shipping services like CitizenShipper take the heat off the pet owner by making sure you understand how the process works and what ensures your pet is safe. This is a handy on-estop guide on how to ship your pet internationally in the safest possible way.

On CitizenShipper’s online marketplace most pet transports are domestic, but there is some demand for international shipping as well. Every now and then, we get questions on how to ship a pet internationally. Pet owners and breeders are used to the way things are done in the States, but we’ve prepared these guidelines to help them adjust to international pet relocation.

Whether cruising the Mediteranean with your mastiff or taking your tabby around the world, read on to find everything you need to know about how to ship your pet internationally!

Things to keep in mind when moving pets overseas

Depending on your destination, there could be significant obstacles to pet shipping abroad. Each country has its own set of import requirements when it comes to animals. A licenced American vet should be able to provide you with the necessary certification, but there really is no guarantee. Rabies and vaccination certificates could be just a jumping-off point. 

Some countries require blood titer tests as far as three months prior to entry. Others might keep your pets quarantined for days before they can clear customs. Click here for a more detailed description of how countries are classified for this purpose. It’s worth taking a look to verify whether your pet has had all the right vaccines. A vet will easily be able to tell you, but we’ll get to that a little later!

Additionally, while microchip IDs still aren’t the gold standard in the US, many foreign countries require them. If flying anywhere on this list, consider chipping your dog to avoid pet travel complications. This quick, safe, painless procedure can prevent countless problems, which is why we recommend it to every pet owner.

What this illustrates is that your travel timeline might have to feature some serious leeway. When traveling internationally with pets in tow, flexible schedules are a must. Note that this applies even if your country of origin is entirely rabies-free! On your way back from a less controlled environment, strict criteria will apply to avoid the spread of disease.

Breaking down the process step-by-step

So, keeping all that in mind, what steps do you need to go through to ship a pet internationally? Here’s a simple breakdown of pet shipping requirements.

1. Veterinary consultation

Before the flight, it’s absolutely vital that you take your furry friend to a vet clinic for a check-up. Share your travel plans with the veterinarian as the pet goes through the necessary tests. Based on their expert opinion, you might want to consider precautionary measures or even adjust your plans. And if all is in order, your vet should be able to issue your CVI, pet passport, or other required documentation (see below) to ensure your pet travels to their new home safely and without delays. 

2. Due diligence

Before choosing an airline and/or pet transporter, do your research to find out if they’re right for you. The basic criteria should be whether or not a business is IPATA-standard compliant. The International Pet and Animal Transportation Association sets the industry standards across the globe. We advise that you only do business with international pet shippers and airlines who follow IPATA’s animal safety guidelines. These include container size and type, food and water, temperature and pressure requirements, and more.

3. Travel documentation

Your shipper or airline should inform you on what kind of paperwork you’ll need to have in place. To ship a pet internationally often requires specific health certificates, pet passports, microchip IDs, and more. These vary from country to country, so consult the transporter ahead of time and follow their instructions. Once you’ve gathered the requisite documents, make sure to keep them in a handy location. (You might be asked to provide them at several different points during the journey.)

4. External logistics

It’s the little things that can trip you up. You wouldn’t believe how many travelers forget to arrange pet transport between the airport and a pet’s new home! Scheduling can also be a nightmare, especially if you’re not familiar with international pet shipping procedures at your destination. For example, you might need reservations at pet boarding services at each stage of the journey. Don’t let yourself get caught out: plan ahead as thoroughly as you can.

5. Staying up-to-date

Figuring out how to ship a pet internationally can sometimes take a lot of time, especially during a COVID 19 pandemic. Rules and regulations change all the time, and it can feel like an effort to keep up. If your chosen airline has been affected by COVID 19, try to find out in time. If your destination country has changed its import requirements, maybe there’s still time to adjust your plans. It’s not always easy, keeping track of these changes, but it’s got to be done!

Get in touch with international pet shippers

You might find this hard to believe, but it’s not our intention to intimidate. Traveling abroad with pets can be a wonderful experience, if you have the forethought and resilience required. Not everyone does, however. There are a million little things to worry about before any trip, and our precious pets tend to complicate matters.

Fortunately, there are people out there who fly with pets for a living. Some can be contracted to organize the pet’s side of the journey for you, doing research and gathering paperwork. Others will literally babysit your furball during the flight, reuniting you at the destination. These services might cost a pretty penny, but who’s to say how much time and effort you’ll be saving.

So, our final piece of advice on international pet shipping? Consider hiring experts and having them worry about it instead. All you have to do is find reliable professionals who’ll take care of your pet as if it were their own. And if you need guidance on doing that, check out our other articles or drop us an email.

Safe travels, and happy shipping!

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