Military PCS Pet Relocation Costs and Policies in 2024

Patrick MacFarland Patrick MacFarland · Updated July 1, 2024

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When you’re in the military, there’s a good chance that at some point you’ll receive PCS orders. It’s hard to uproot your life and move to another location with little notice and in a short time period. The best approach after receiving moving orders is to plan ahead and be prepared.

The stress of military moves can be increased when you need to move pets too. Navigating military life with a pet can be difficult when you need to move. You’re already dealing with the ins and outs of the move — furniture relocation, sentimental belongings and your family situation like finding a new school or a church. Hiring pet transporters through a marketplace like CitizenShipper to deliver your furry friend takes much of the work off your plate.

But before you’re ready to commit to hiring a pet transporter, you should know the government policies so you can prepare for pet relocation for PCS orders.

Overview of Pet Transportation Costs

The total cost of transporting your pet varies, depending on a few factors. Every pet transportation company has different ways of calculating cost, but most follow a similar formula.

Factors Impacting Overall Costs

When hiring a pet ground transportation company, there are four main factors that affect the overall pet transportation costs. These factors are:

  • The distance of the move.
  • How large your pet is.
  • If your pet has any special health needs.
  • Whether or not your pet will be transported alone or with other animals.

Breakdown of Transport Service Fees

There’s a specific breakdown of the typical fees that pet transportation companies have. Let’s take a look at each of the factors in more detail.

Distance and Location

The most important factor is distance. The longer the transport, the more you will expect to pay. A related factor is your location — if you’re in a remote corner of the United States, it may cost you more to get a transporter to travel off the beaten path to pick up your pet..

Size of Your Pet

Some transporters won’t charge extra for bigger pets, but many will. Larger pets require more labor, from increased feeding to the need for more exercise on the road.

Plus, large pets take up more room in the vehicle. This limits the transporter’s ability to drive with multiple animals (and therefore make money more efficiently), or may force them to rent a larger vehicle..

Special Health Needs

If your pet needs to be given medicine regularly, needs to take more potty breaks than the average dog, or has some other health need, you may expect to pay more. If your pet has health needs, consider a transporter with a strong background in animal medicine/care. One benefit of CitizenShipper is that every transporter has 24/7 televet access.

Check online to see what health requirements are needed at your destination. Most states and pet transportation companies (and airlines) will require:

  • Your pet’s vaccination documents
  • A health certificate filled out by a veterinarian, which can cost from $50 to $300.

A pet health certificate is a form that documents that your pet is up-to-date on their vaccines and is in good health condition to travel.

Solo Rides

A fourth major factor is whether or not you’ll be transporting your pet alone or with other animals. As mentioned before, the more pets a driver can transport at once, the more money they’ll make. If your pet is comfortable with other animals, we recommend finding a transporter that “stacks” shipments.

However, this isn’t a good option for all animals. If your pet is easily stressed or doesn’t get along with other animals, it’s a good idea to pay more and book a solo ride.

New DoD Pet Relocation Allowance

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 transportation 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.

Using CitizenShipper is the best choice for military personnel that need to transport a pet during a PCS move. After your transport is complete, simply fill out this form in order to receive your reimbursement.

Details of Reimbursement Eligibility and Limits

In order to get reimbursed, troops must:

  • Use Form DD 1351-2 to claim pet expenses. You’ll get reimbursed once the travel claim is completed.
  • When traveling outside of continental US, service members must use government-run or federally-contracted transportation for their pet shipping needs.
  • If pet transport services are not available to their transoceanic destination, members must get a “non-availability letter” to get reimbursed for the pet transportation they booked separately.
  • If the pet is flying cargo because it exceeds the weight limit for in-cabin travel, the receipt must include the pet’s weight.
  • You may get reimbursed for pet transportation, microchipping, quarantines, boarding, hotel service charges, virus immunity testing and pet licenses. Remember that these reimbursements have a limit of $550 for travel within the United States and $2,000 outside the continental United States. Remember, keep all of your receipts.

Analysis of Rationale Behind Allowance Amount

The Department of Defense decided the reimbursement cap was a fair amount. The amount takes into account the average cost of pet transportation within the continental United States and internationally. The allowance only covers cats and dogs.

Ongoing Advocacy Efforts for Increased Coverage

Military advocates and pet owner advocates have lobbied Congress to increase coverage. Many members have multiple pets and pet transportation costs are on the rise.

It doesn’t appear that the reimbursement amount will increase substantially or cover multiple pets in the near future. The good news is that there are other options for families struggling to afford pet transportation following PCS orders. There are military relief organizations like Army Emergency Relief and Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society who have provided nearly a million dollars in assistance — an average of about $3,000 per client — for pet transportation costs.

Military Move Cost Savings Strategies and Resources

Pet relocation costs can stack up, especially if you are traveling across the country or need to find temporary housing for a pet. Moving is already expensive, so finding ways to save can mean a lot when you’ve received PCS orders.

Comparing Quotes Across Transport Service Providers

The best way to save money on pet transportation services is to compare quotes. In the past, you had to call pet transportation companies or fill out online forms one at a time, then wait hours before getting quotes to compare.

There’s a better way. CitizenShipper makes it so much easier to compare quotes. Simply fill out and submit a listing for free — within minutes, you’ll have multiple options to choose from. Less effort, more choices!

Fundraising Ideas and Assistance Programs

There are several organizations out there that specialize in helping military members out with their expenses. You can always look into some of these organizations that can provide grants or other discounts. Some organizations specifically in the pet relocation sector include Pets for Patriots and SPCA International’s Operation Military Pets.

Why Choose CitizenShipper?

There are many benefits to using CitizenShipper for your military pet move — it’s easy to use, you’ll receive multiple quotes instantly and there are many options. CitizenShipper also offers unique benefits like 24/7 televet access through FirstVet and a $1,000 Pet Protection Plan. It’s also been named a “Trusted Military Business” by MyBaseGuide.

How Do I Post a Listing on CitizenShipper’s Pet Transportation Marketplace?

  • Click “Get Transportation Quotes” on CitizenShipper’s home page.
  • Select the species from the list.
  • Enter the details of your transport — be specific: the more information, the higher quality quotes you’ll receive.
  • In a matter of minutes, a fleet of screened and vetted drivers will send you quotes.
  • You can use the internal chat system to discuss the details of the transport with every driver that submits a quote.
  • You can read reviews from previous customers and check out drivers’ ratings.

What About Military Moves Outside the Continental United States?

Most pet transportation companies in the United States only operate domestically. Unfortunately, with the size and reach of the United States military, many PCS orders involve a move overseas. If you need more information or a quote for military relocation outside of the US, contact our partners — Starwood Pet Travel — a veteran owned international pet transport company with decades of experience moving pets across the world.

Bottom Line

Military moves can be stressful and when you add a pet to the mix, it can be even more stressful. When you get PCS orders, you may not have time to maneuver the pieces in a timely and orderly manner.

CitizenShipper’s affordable pet transportation marketplace is a hassle-free alternative to traditional transport companies. When you receive PCS orders, take advantage of the DoD’s new pet transportation reimbursement policy and use CitizenShipper to help complete your move.