Pet relocation: how to safely move your pet overseas

Gabriela Peratello

Moving pets overseas can be complicated, expensive and stressful, unless you get the right support lined up in advance. Use this guide to international pet relocation services, and options for overseas pet transport to start you off.

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What does pet relocation involve?

If you’re moving abroad to live, work, study, retire or as part of a military deployment, you may need to move your pet as well as yourself, your stuff and your family.

Pet relocation involves the whole process of moving pets, from cats and dogs to more exotic animals, overseas, from pet preparation, to lining up the paperwork needed, the physical move, and completion of any medical or quarantine processed on arrival.

This guide covers all the basics - but every situation is different, so you’ll also need to do your own research and planning. A good place to start is the International Pet and Animal Transport Association² (IAPTA) website, which has lots of resources and ideas to help.

Looking for more?
You can also get our guide to moving abroad from the US, step by step - or learn more about finding cheap and reliable international movers, and the cost of moving abroad

How to move overseas with pets

Moving overseas with your pet or pets will involve a fair bit of planning. Here are some of the most important steps to consider.

Choosing the best method of transport for your pet

It’s common to find that airlines flying internationally will not allow pets in the cabin, which usually means your primary option for moving abroad with your pet will be by sending your pet as cargo by plane.

While being apart from your furry friend can feel stressful, IPATA advises that most animals, when properly prepared and looked after, can travel safely by air cargo³.

Double check with the airlines operating the route you need to take, if they’ll allow animals in the cabin - in some circumstances smaller pets can travel as carry-on, but this isn’t as common as you may like.

Preparing your pet for travel

Once you’ve worked out how to safely transport your pet, there are some key actions to take.

These will vary a lot based on the type of animal and where you’re going. If you use a pet relocation service, you’ll be advised on what needs to happen - if you choose to arrange everything yourself you’ll need to research your destination and the rules that apply.

Generally, you’ll need to think about:
  • Any required vet visits and checkups before you leave - vet health certificates are usually needed

  • Getting up to date with vaccinations needed in your destination, including rabies vaccinations

  • Microchipping your pet - often an import requirement

  • Buying a travel approved crate, and acclimatization to your travel containers

Understanding pet travel regulations

There are various country-specific pet travel regulations, which makes it pretty hard to give any definitive list of the rules you need to know about.

You’ll need to do some research into the health certificate, quarantine requirements, any customs procedures required, and the necessary documentation to ensure your pet arrives safe and happy at the destination.

This will usually mean calling the embassy of the country you’re moving to, to confirm the latest details and process.

Again, this is where using a professional pet relocation service can be helpful. You’ll pay a fee for this, but it will give you confidence that you have everything you need for the whole process to go smoothly.

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How much do pet relocation services cost?

How much your pet relocation costs depends on factors including:

  • The size and weight of your pet

  • Where you will go to and from

  • Your preferred pet transport method

  • Time of year

  • Requirements for health and documentation at your destination

Movehub® estimates the costs of moving a pet from the US to vary from around 2,000 USD to 3,000 USD depending on the exact circumstances⁴.

Tips to save on pet relocation costs

If budget is a big consideration, you may be able to cut a few costs without cutting corners:

  • Start planning well in advance

  • Get a range of quotes from different relocation companies to compare fees

  • See if your pet is allowed to travel as carry-on; this is unusual but not impossible

  • Use Wise if you need to pay overseas fees, to cut the costs of currency exchange

  • Consider doing some or all of the process and paperwork yourself

Military pet relocation

The rules around military pet relocation are set to change in January 2024⁵. Read on for all you need to know.

Does the military pay for pet relocation?

Up until now, the military has not paid for pet relocation, meaning service members needed to pay themselves.

However, from 1 January 2024, it will be possible to be reimbursed up to 550 USD to move a cat or dog within the continental US, for a permanent change of station, or up to 2,000 USD if moving outside of the continental US.

Military pet relocation services

If you’re moving before January 2024, or if your situation doesn’t fall within the new rules, it helps to know that there are services which offer discounts to military pets where relocation is needed⁶.

There are also organizations like SPCA International⁷ which can help with the costs in some situations.

Choosing the right way to transport your pet overseas

The right way to move your pet overseas will depend a lot on the type of animal, where you’re going and how much time you have to arrange everything.

Hiring a pet relocation service

Hiring a pet relocation service can make the process of your move overseas far less stressful - and buy you back precious time when you’ve already got a lot going on. However, there are fees to pay for this support, so you’ll need to weigh up your options to decide if it’s right for you.

How do I choose the best international pet relocation service?
  • Get quotes from several reputable pet relocation services which cover your route

  • Look for providers registered and regulated properly - the IPATA website is a good place to start

  • Double check that you understand exactly what services you’re paying for, so there are no surprises later

Moving your pet by yourself

It’s possible to move your pet by yourself, by completing all the pre-travel and on-arrival processes independently.

This will involve a lot of research as what’s needed varies enormously from country to country, but will save you money and give you flexibility over the timing.

If you’re moving abroad with your furry family member, there’s a lot to do to get organized. Pet relocation services can help enormously, although you can also keep down costs by making arrangements yourself.

Use this guide to decide what’s best for you, and remember to check out Wise as another way to make your money go further when you’re overseas.



  1. Please see Terms of Use for your region or visit Wise Fees & Pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information
  2. International Pet and Animal Transport Association
  3. IPATA - FAQ
  4. Movehub - pet relocation
  5. US Department of Defense - announcement
  6. - military pets
  7. SPCA International - military pets

Sources checked on 08.21.2023

This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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