11 Things You Should Know Before Moving Abroad With Your Pet
2020 taught us a lot – including how much a furry friend can shine some light on life. In the UK, 3.2 million households bought pets during lockdown (BBC, 2021). As for America? Between March and September 2020, the number of foster pets in US homes increased by 8% (Shelter Watch Report, 2020).
Unfortunately, this has left many owners feeling concerned about what will happen to their pets after coronavirus restrictions are lifted, when we’re able to move abroad.
Well, if you can, why not bring your pet along for the ride?
There are a few things you should organise beforehand, though, to make the journey smoother for both you and your pet. Luckily, we’ve got 11 tips waiting below to make your move abroad ten times easier.
If you’re already familiar with the process, you’ll know that partnering with a pet relocation company will make the whole transition easier. So, why not dive in and get familiar with Starwood, our top-rated supplier? Simply fill out a few quick details about your move, and you’ll have a free, personalised quote back with you in no time.
A very helpful moggy, helping its owner find their way around their new home abroad
1. Talk to your vet
Before you consider taking your pet abroad, you need to figure out whether it’s actually suitable for travel.
For some animals, travelling abroad might be too dangerous. If your pet is getting a little fragile in its old age, is quite an anxious animal, or has had bad experiences travelling, it’s probably wise to avoid popping it on the plane, as it can all be quite stressful.
Plus, there are a few breeds that are more at risk of complications when it comes to travelling, particularly snub-nosed animals. The list includes:
- Boston Terrier
- Brussels Griffin
- Bull Terrier
- English Bulldog
- English Toy Spaniel
- French Bulldog
- Japanese Chin
- Japanese Pug
- Lhasa Apso
- Shih Tzu
- Himalayan cat
- Persian cat
The best way you can judge whether it’s safe to bring your four-legged friend along is to get an expert opinion from a vet. And if your pet isn’t suitable for air travel, fear not – there are always other ways to get it to your new home. To start with, try looking into the Eurotunnel or ferry options.
If your vet gives you the go-ahead, you’ll then need to make sure your pet has all the necessary jabs. These may vary, depending on where you’re heading – which brings us to our next section.
2. Do your research
Each country has its own set of pet regulations – some far stricter than others. So before you prepare anything else, look into your destination’s pet requirements.
It’s important not to skip this step, since some countries might not even allow your pet into the country. Various EU countries, for example, have banned certain breeds of dogs and birds from entering their borders.
You’ll also need to know which vaccines are required, whether your pet needs to be microchipped, and whether your pet will need to undergo a quarantine period once you arrive.
For the most accurate and up-to-date information, we’d recommend contacting the embassy of the country you’ll be moving to, or checking their government's official website.
3. Get all your documents together early on
Once you’ve assessed whether your pet is able to join you on your big move, it’s onto the fun part: documents!
Depending on where you’re travelling to, this will mean you need either a pet passport or an Animal Health Certificate (AHC). For any Brits travelling with pets post-Brexit, remember that you’ll now need to apply for a certificate, rather than use any old pet passports.
This certificate should be issued by your vet. It confirms various health checks, including:
- Being microchipped
- Having a rabies vaccination
- Receiving tapeworm treatment for dogs (if you’re travelling directly to Finland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Norway, or Malta)
The required documents will vary from place to place, so make sure to check on the relevant country’s government website.
4. Moving your pet abroad can be quite pricey…
…but it’s worth it for our furry friends.
The costs of moving abroad with your pet will vary depending on a handful of things, including the size of the crate you need and the distance of your journey.
Cargo costs are mostly affected by the size of the animal/crate, rather than the species. However, in terms of overall costs, the biggest factor is the destination country and its requirements.
To give you an idea of how much it could cost you to fly your pet abroad, we’ve listed some of the most popular journeys below:
|Crate size||Example of suitable animal|
|Series 100 (Small)||Small cat/kitten|
|Series 200 (Medium)||Typical tabby cat|
|Series 300 (Intermediate)||Yorkshire terrier|
|Series 400 (Large)||Australian cattle dog|
|Series 500 (Extra large)||English springer spaniel|
|Series 700 (Giant)||Golden retriever|
|Custom crate||St Bernard|
*Australia is more expensive because of its very specific inbound and outbound requirements.
The key factor affecting pet relocation costs is not usually the size of the animal or crate (this often only causes little variation in price), but rather where you're departing from and which country you're moving to. The requirements of the country you’re moving to also add to the cost – for example, paying for quarantine can be pretty expensive, but not all countries will make you quarantine your pet.
Of course, these are just general guidelines. If you’d like a personalised quote to find out how much it’ll cost to fly your pet abroad, simply fill in this form. Our suppliers at Starwood will be in touch shortly, with free quotes for you to compare.
5. Look into pet relocation services
There’s a lot to remember when moving your pet abroad, which can be very daunting for first-time movers. If you’re nervous, fear not – there are services out there that can lend a helping hand.
These companies can help you with everything – from making sure you follow all the pet import rules, to arranging your pet’s travel.
There are tonnes of helpful companies and services out there – head over to our page on the top ten pet relocation companies to check them out.
A tall shaggy dog next to its owner, admiring its new home abroad
6. Make sure you have pet travel insurance
We hope it never comes to this, but it’s good to get your pet covered in case it experiences any illness or accidents on its travels.
Pet health insurance will cover illnesses and injuries, usually including diagnostic tests, surgeries, hospital stays, and medications. Some pet insurance providers even have a vet direct pay plan, which will make the reimbursement procedure much easier.
7. Make sure to get the right crate size
We’ve all been there – sitting next to someone who’s taking up too much room on the plane, getting cramp from the suffocating lack of legroom, fanning yourself to cope with the hot stuffy air.
Fortunately, you can make sure your pet has a comfortable flight by giving it plenty of room in its crate. Below, we’ve listed a few examples of the different animals you can fit within crates of different sizes:
|Leaving from||Arriving at||Cost|
|AUS||US||$6,000 – $10,000*|
|AUS||UK||$6,000 – $10,000*|
|UK||US||$1,600 – $2,000|
|UK||AUS||$3,000 – $4,000|
We know, animals aren’t exactly the easiest things to measure – what with all the teeth and claws at the ready – but you’ll need to measure your pet carefully to make sure it has enough space. If you opt for a pet relocation company to assist you on your move, some will require pictures of your pet as well as measurements, just to make sure you’ve supplied the right figures.
And, if in doubt, always opt for the larger crate – just to give your pet some extra space to breathe. In fact, some dogs, such as snub breeds, have to travel in a crate that’s one size larger – simply because of their noses.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is also very specific about the number and size of air holes in the crate, so make sure to take a look at their requirements on the IATA website.
8. Call your airline
It’s worth getting in touch with your airline (even if you haven’t booked the ticket yet) to ask about their options when it comes to travelling with pets.
It’s quite common for pets to travel on a different plane to their owner – whilst we travel on normal flights, most pets are sent on cargo planes carrying commercial goods, although there is a special section for animals. However, it's more common for people flying out of the UK to be on the same plane as their pet, so it’s worth checking with your airline whether this is an option for you.
Some airlines have additional rules for travelling with pets, and they could also fill you in on specifics, regarding both crate size and what you need to bring along for the trip.
Plus, if you’re lucky, you can also try arranging for your pet to fly in-cabin with you – provided your pet is under a certain weight. This way, your pet can stay in the carrier under the seat in front of you, rather than in the cargo area.
9. Prepare your pet for the journey
The more comfortable you can make your pet, the better it will be for both of you.
Like other aspects of training a pet, teaching it to travel comes in handy. So, before you make the big move, try a few practice runs – of course, you can’t practice on a plane, but a car is a great second option.
While some people believe the best way to deal with pet travel is to sedate the animal, many experts disagree. Sedation lowers sensory perception, which consequently makes the animal even more anxious. A better way to prepare your pet for air travel is to keep it active until boarding – helping it to burn off its energy and anxiety so that it’s ready to sleep.
You should also avoid giving your pet any food for a few hours before the flight, unless your vet tells you otherwise. Loo breaks might be a little overwhelming for a pet at the airport, and you don’t want an upset stomach before a flight.
If your dog is going to be staying in the cargo area for a while, you should fasten a bowl for water to the inside of the carrier. It’s also wise to tape a serving of food to the outside of the carrier – this way a flight attendant can feed them if there’s a delay.
10. Get your pet used to the crate early on
As soon as you find yourself a suitable airline crate, start building a positive association between it and your pet. The more time your pet spends getting accustomed to its crate, the safer it’ll feel while it’s travelling.
It’ll take some time, so patience is key, but try placing your pet in the carrier regularly – let it get used to being in there for longer periods of time with each try. It’s also a good idea to do this on a drive too (once you feel it’s the right time) – this way, your pet won’t be shocked by the motion of the plane.
11. Ensure your pet is comfortable during the trip
While it might be difficult to guarantee that your pet’s experience will be stress-free, there are steps you can take to make it better.
Rather than sedation, consider natural remedies and sprays, which often release pheromones to help calm your pet. You can also use these sprays in your new home to make sure your pet stays calm in its new surroundings.
Remember to provide your furry friend with a familiar blanket and a favourite toy, so they feel more relaxed during the journey. And if they’re up for eating once you arrive, it’s a good idea to have some of their favourite food on hand – they’ve earned it.
To welcome your four-legged friend into their new home, you can also bring some home comforts to help your pet adjust to this huge change.
Hopefully, you’re feeling more confident about the do’s and the don'ts when it comes to travelling with your pet.
If you’d like to make the whole process easier by using a pet relocation company, you can get a personalised quote from Starwood. To find out how much the journey will cost you, simply fill in this form.
Once you’ve arrived in your new home, it should be plain sailing.