How To Move Your Pet Overseas
When you’re considering a move abroad, it’s important to make sure your loved ones are comfortable with upturning their lives – and this goes double for pets.
Your animal companion has no idea what’s coming, and you may be worried about entering them into a potentially complicated, stressful, expensive process.
We can ease your mind, with a simple step-by-step guide that ends with you and your animal companion enjoying your new home together.
9 steps for a seamless pet move
1. Check you’re allowed to move your pet
2. Hire a pet relocation company
3. Follow the rules
4. Visit the vet
5. Complete an import permit
6. Buy the right travel crate
7. Get pet insurance
8. A final vet visit
9. Prepare your pet for their flight
Follow these steps, and your pet will be enjoying their new home in no time
Check you’re allowed to move your pet
Before you start making preparations, take this make-or-break step.
Some countries prohibit certain breeds from entering the country, while others won’t let your pet in if you’re travelling from a long list of places.
While it’s unlikely that your tabby will be barred from entry, a pitbull terrier may be on shakier ground – so it’s worth checking before you do anything else.
Hire a pet relocation company
Your best option is to pay a professional to ensure that your pet’s move goes smoothly.
If you’re looking to cut costs, you can bring your pet to the airport and collect them on the other side, while remembering that you probably won’t travel on the same flight.
But otherwise, it’s worth leaving this complicated process to the experts, especially when you’re already trying to sort out your own stressful international move.
Instead of finding yourself arguing with airport staff – potentially on both sides of your journey – you can leave any wrangling to your own personal customs agents, safe in the knowledge that they know exactly how to solve any difficult situations.
Follow the rules
If they do let your animal in, your new country may have specific regulations to follow if you want your pet to move with you, from vaccinations to mandatory quarantine periods.
If you’re moving to Iceland, for instance, you must apply for a permit that costs around £100, and make sure your pet is microchipped, vaccinated, treated, and tested for various diseases.
Then, when you arrive, your pet will have to be quarantined for 14 days – and since there are only three days per month when they’re allowed to enter Iceland’s sole quarantine facility, you’ll have to base your arrival around that time restriction.
Each country’s rules are different, but one consistently good idea is to have your pet microchipped and tracked on the Global Pet Registry.
That way, it won’t matter where you travel with your favourite animal, because wherever you are, you’ll be able to trace them if they go missing.
Visit the vet
It’s time for every pet’s favourite place: the vet.
Don’t just show up, though. Call in advance and tell the staff where you’re moving, and they’ll book your pet in for all the boosters, blood tests, and vaccinations they require.
Don’t forget to ask for paperwork that proves your animal companion received all of the appropriate measures – and consider softening your pet’s feelings of betrayal with a few treats.
Complete an import permit
Every country has its own rules, and its own import permit forms for pets.
Make sure the relevant paperwork is completed in time for your animal’s trip, so they’ll be allowed onto their plane, and waved through on the other side.
Again, using a pet relocation company is your best bet, as they can ensure everything’s in order.
Buy the right travel crate
Pets are generally transported in a specially created area of a cargo plane’s hold – but to get in there, they’ll need a crate that fits them, and that’s been approved by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
Unless you build IATA-approved crates for a living, you shouldn’t attempt to make one yourself.
Consult the IATA regulations to see how best to measure their dimensions, and to go through rules and advice for your specific pet.
For instance, snub-nosed pets like boxers, pugs, and Persian cats shouldn’t typically travel in hot weather, and will need a crate that’s one size larger than them.
There are several sizes of crates to choose between – everything from a small container for a tiny kitten, to a giant crate for a golden retriever. If you’re in doubt, go for the bigger size.
The regulations are annoyingly complicated, so hiring a pet relocation company makes sense, as their experts can ensure everything goes smoothly. For a bit extra, they’ll even come to your home and measure your pet themselves.
After all, there are very few things worse than bringing your loving but confused animal all the way to the airport, before being told that they can’t board their flight because you got the wrong container.
We recommend getting a crate at least a few weeks before your pet’s journey, as that gives you time to acclimatise them to it.
Make the crate available to your pet as a place for them to sleep or play, and leave things in it that smell of home, like a blanket, toys, or even an item of clothing. This will calm and comfort them during the flight.
Get pet insurance
In the same way you insure your other family members against catastrophe, you should do the same for Fido, Whiskers, or Flappy in your new home country.
This isn’t a legal requirement; it just makes sense.
If something happens to your pet, you’ll want to access the best care possible without forking over your savings to pay for it.
Find some insurance providers online, check customer reviews, and get at least a few quotes before making up your mind.
Start this process at least a couple of weeks before your pet travels, to make sure they’re covered from the moment they enter the country.
Hello vet, my old friend
Book another appointment at the vet for 10 to 14 days before your pet’s flight, so your animal friend can get a final check-up.
This visit will be much less intense than the last one, but still give your pet plenty of attention before and afterwards, to ease any feelings of disquiet at the unusually frequent vet visits.
Prepare your pet for their flight
Feed your pet more than four hours before their flight. This will give them time to digest their food, and hopefully relieve themselves.
Try to also play with them or walk them before you leave for the airport, so they enter their crate well-fed and sleepy.
Don’t sedate your pet before they get on the plane, as this will weaken their sensory perception and make them more anxious as a result.
The cargo hold – where they’ll probably spend the flight – is temperature-controlled, dimly lit, and not overly loud. They’ll be with other pets, away from the rest of the cargo.
Your pet may spend a couple of hours in their crate before and after the flight, so when you pick them up on the other side, be prepared with treats or toys that’ll lift their mood.
Then all you’ll need to do is take them home and start introducing them to their new life.