What to Expect When Shipping a Pet Internationally

Patrick MacFarland Patrick MacFarland · Updated April 29, 2024
Tips for successfully shipping a pet internationally.

Are you considering shipping your pet overseas? Whether you’re in the process of relocation, need to send a pet to a family member, or are part of an animal rescue organization, you should understand the logistics of shipping a pet internationally before taking the plunge.

International pet transport can be a complex process; educate yourself about the requirements and costs associated with it. One way to navigate this complicated process is to hire a professional pet moving service. Starwood Pet Travel is the #1 international pet transportation company — they handle most steps of the relocation, from booking flights to helping with permits, quarantines and vaccines. Working with professional pet transporters takes the stress out of moving internationally.

Whether or not you hire professionals like Starwood, it’s important to know the steps of preparing for an international move. This guide will explain what to expect when shipping a pet internationally, from paperwork and cost estimates to quarantine laws and more.

Logistics of Shipping a Pet Internationally

When shipping a pet internationally, many requirements must be met. These requirements may vary depending on the destination country. For example, some countries require that the pet be microchipped and have a valid rabies vaccination. Other necessary documents may include:

 Proof of ownership

  • A health certificate (similar to a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection)
  • A certificate of export.

 In terms of cost, international pet shipping can be quite expensive. The cost will depend on several factors, including the pet’s size, the distance of the pet’s travel and the type of transport (air or ground). We’ll outline the costs in more exact details below, but in general, international pet shipping can run you from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars.

Other Factors to Consider when International Pet Transport

In addition to the cost and requirements, there are several other factors to consider when shipping a pet internationally.

  • Depending on the destination country, there may be restrictions regarding the types of pets allowed.
  • In some countries, your pet may need to be vaccinated against certain diseases before being allowed entry.
  • Some destinations may require that the pet be quarantined upon arrival.

Research the requirements of the destination country and make sure you meet every requirement before shipping your pet.

How Much Does it Cost to Ship a Pet Internationally?

Because it’s usually a longer distance requiring more logistics, international pet transport typically costs substantially more than domestic pet transports.

 There are many airlines that fly internationally — most of them allow dogs and cats on the aircraft. While most carriers permit small pets in the main cabin, others only allow pets in the cargo hold with special crates.

 In-cabin flights for pets usually cost between $125 to $200, but prices vary by airline.

  • Cargo hold flights are much more expensive, usually over $1000.

 Because international pet transportation is very popular, there are also licensed companies that offer these services. The international pet shipping cost estimates for these companies run anywhere between $1000 to $6000.

 One thing to take note about international pet transport is that there will be more documentation that you need to present in order to clear customs. Usually, health certificates and vaccinations should be completed and valid no more than 10 days before travel. You should also have an import permit ready.

 The European Union has its own regulations that you should follow. The US State Department has recommendations when it comes to international pet travel.

Tips for Pet International Travel

Because international pet relocation can be so overwhelming, there are tips that can make things smooth sailing. Be sure to have the required veterinarian and vaccination documents (preferably from a veterinarian registered with the USDA) handy because they will be checked when reaching customs at your destination.

 There are also a few tips that can save you headaches during the pet travel process.

  • Airlines have a strict temperature requirement. It can’t be too hot (over 85 °F/29.5 °C) or too cold (below 45 °F/7.2 °C), so pick a time where airlines will allow your pet to fly.
  • You should always book a direct flight with no layovers — this reduces your pet’s stress in the cargo hold.
  • Make sure you freeze water in a large crate bowl, so your pet has enough water for the entire flight. International flights can be anywhere from 6-10 hours, so this is very important!
  • Be prepared to get to the airport early for check-in and be with your pet until it’s time to put them in the cargo hold. That will soothe and calm your pet.
  • Check with a veterinarian about calming chews or sprays, but don’t give your pet any sedatives unless your vet has approved it.

Bottom Line

International pet shipping can be a complex process. But with proper research and preparation, it’s possible to make the process easier. When you’re planning on shipping a pet internationally, learn the requirements, cost estimates, paperwork and quarantine laws of the destination country.