For many families, their pets are an important part of their family and when the decision comes to relocate overseas, then that often means their pets too. Dogs and cats travel the most, but other animals can be relocated too, but it is important to think about all the stresses on the animal itself as well as the costs involved when moving your pets.
A good starting point on research is to know where you are going and what your budget is as not everyone is lucky enough to have a business employer willing to cover costs to relocate family pets. Deciding to find a new owner for your pet(s) is a difficult decision, but if your time overseas is less than a year, it may be better to find a foster home for your pet. For longer term or permanent assignments overseas, we hope you can find a way to bring this vital part of your family with you. As regulations may vary for each country, each airline, and even each airport, you should research carefully your destination to ensure all requirements are met.
The most common domesticated pets like cats and dogs are generally approved to travel internationally. Expect these travel costs to be similar to the price of an adult airline ticket, then add on approved travel cage costs and vet bills required to get your documents in order. More exotic pets are often restricted, and farm animals are likely to require special importation for commercial use. Hiring a pet moving service is wonderful but you still have lots of work to do to keep it all organised. One family warned: "beware of pet transport companies in the States as that can tend to be extremely expensive. The contractor referred to us by Air France's USA cargo transport wanted to charge us $4000 to ship our fat cat from Washington DC to Paris, France".
Find a vet quickly who is approved for international pet travel and be sure that their accreditation is in good standing.
Regulations change and if your vet isn't up to date it could all fall apart. Mainland versus Island locations are generally easier to move to as they are without quarantine. A rule of thumb is if Rabies is a wide enough occurrence in wild animals at your destination, then your pet does not pose a risk. Island countries like the UK and Australia have managed to minimise rabies and so require a quarantine period to ensure no pet has rabies before importation. Standards and methods of quarantine have greatly improved and you may not even need to be separated from your pet if you start the process well in advance. Check with the country of import for details.
Always have vaccines up to date and keep the "sticker" for each dose with your pets paperwork. You will need to record the drug name, lot number, expiry date, vaccination date, and next due date. A general health check by an approved vet should include a review of vaccines and any special treatment such as de-worming and flea prevention that may be required before travel. Your pet may be required to have a rabies vaccine several months in advance of your move, but make sure it is not about to expire at your move date. Expect a final vet visit for a health certificate is required the week before travel.
Globalpetplus.com A pet travel and insurance company with a very informative website and emergency service assistance for your pet away. Find partners, recommendations and check-lists to help you in various ways.
Your country's transportation department website for overall reporting of pet travel on each airline.... USA reports are here.
What else to consider: Always beware of Pet Scams. Do not give your pet over or buy a new pet from any service you find questionable.
Have you moved recently with your pet?
Do have any extra tips to share with us?
Special thanks goes out to Mazza Close, my expat pet expert, who helped co-write this article.
This website is designed to aid you make your jump overseas far more enjoyable and informed. Check out my relocation tool-kit page for free downloads and recommendations. The Jump Overseas online Relocation Academy has specific coaching modules to help you through the hardest points in a relocation when you need directional help.