Are Pet Shipping Companies Worth the Cost?

Airline Pet embargoes, cancelled flights and complicated importation regulations force Pet Parents to search for more effective ways to travel or move with your Pet.

Pet Shipping Companies are increasingly a necessary expense for travelers. If you cannot fly with your Pet but you are determined to take them with you, a Pet Shipper may be your best bet.

The average cost for an international move with a Pet Shipper is $1000-$5000usd. Managing the logistics of Pet Travel can be confusing and stressful.

Pet Shippers handle: Health Certificates, Immunizations, Rabies Tests, and Import/Export Permits, Finding Airlines that Accept your Pet, and Coordinating any Quarantine stays. 

Shippers locate the best airlines for your destination, act as your agent with Cargo services, and ensure your Pet’s Immunization records comply with your Destination country’s requirements.

1. How Does Pet Shipping Work?

A. Pet transportation services are used for home relocations, family vacations where the pet can’t be missed, and relocation of stray animals from abroad. This service also saves the owner a lot of stress, travelers don’t have to worry about the well-being of their pet and hand the transportation of their pet over to professional animal handlers.

Pet Transportation providers can handle every aspect of your pet’s move including:

A. Veterinary and Vaccination Requirements.

Does your pet need a Rabies vaccine, a Titer Test, is their shot record complete, does the country you are traveling to allow pets under 15 or 12 weeks? A good Pet transportation company knows the various vaccination requirements for your species of pet and for their age.

B. Airfare: 

The cost of your Pet’s ticket (airway bill) is determined by your Pet’s Weight and the Crate/Kennel weight. The average is $350-$2,000usd and is the most expensive portion of your costs.

Document Preparation:

Your Pet will need at least 1 Health Certificate, 1 Import/Export Permits, and maybe an Acclimation Certificates. The cost is $200usd.

C. Government Endorsement for Health Certificates.

Many countries require your Health Certificate be Endorsed by a certified Veterinarian.  In the US it will be approved by the APHIS/USDA.

D. Kenneling

All airports have handlers for animal transport at their cargo facility. Some airports have private Kennels that are an additional cost, more comfortable and provide additional services and may only be available if your pet is handled by a Relocation Company (e.g. LAX in Los Angeles has Kennel Club LAX).  Some airlines in certain cities only allow pets in cargo handled by Relocation Companies.

E. Customs Clearances

From an International Flight, your Pet must be cleared through customs. This includes: Import permit, Health Certificate and Vaccination Records. The average cost is $500usd

F. Ground Transportation.

You can choose to pick up your Pet or have the shipper receive your Pet and deliver to your location. The cost is determined by how far you are from the airport and is often $200+.Door to door services from and to your home (Pick-up Drop off)

G. Courier services for Documents.

Receipt of Documents are time sensitive.  For example Rabies Titer test will need to be sent and returned via FedEx or UPS overnight.  The average cost is $100usd. Some countries require an endorsement within 10 days of arrival and some 48 hours. Expedited services are often necessary and if you did not remember, you may not receive your documents in time for travel.

2. How Do Pet Transportation Services Work?

The process requires much coordination; before the move, the relocation company you choose will inform you of all the necessary documentation from Health Certificates and possible USDA Endorsement, Immunization, Rabies/Titer Tests and Import and Export Permits for your destination.

They will locate suitable routes and airlines and guide you through choosing the proper crate and ensure its proper preparation.

Most companies pick up your pet from your home, and transfer to Cargo Services.  They will present all the required documentation and have an agent at the destination to clear customs on arrival.

3. Global Standards for Pet Transport

Most reputable pet transport companies are IPATA (Independent Pet and Animal Transport Association) members. This is an association that controls and supervises the pet transport industry, sets out standards of ethics, and oversees the performance of its members.  

As a member, businesses have exclusive access to a worldwide professional network of pet transport specialists whose reputation is guaranteed by their services.

Complications of scheduling vaccinations, health certificates, endorsements and flight bookings often compel travelers to hire a transportation service.

The more services you contract for the greater the cost. Unfortunately, many people underestimate the cost of relocating a pet. The costs of transporting your pet include ground transportation to and from the airport (you can opt to transport your pet yourself and save this cost), proper documentation, import charges and your pet’s separate flight ticket.

If your pet is transported as cargo, airlines charge for the weight of the crate and size of your pet. Therefore, the cost of a one-way international airfare for a pet may be equal to the cost of a first-class return ticket for its owner.

4. Understanding the Risks When Transporting Pets.

Traveling can be risky for some kinds of pets. Older, weaker dogs and cats can travel because there is no age limit for pet relocating. However, you have to carefully consider how much stress an older animal can tolerate.

Restless animals are also at risk of hyperventilation and injury if they have not been previously caged and exercised. Ultimately, the decision to fly with a pet is made by the pet owner after consultation with a tranportation specialist and a veterinarian.

See also Is it Too Hot to Fly my Dog in Cargo Or Checked Baggage?

or See Best Cargo Crate for Flying with Large Dogs in 2021

5.  Why Hire a Pet Relocation Service?

If you can afford the cost, you are essentially trading money for stress-relief, and the potential costly mistakes of undertaking the tasks of coordinating governmental regulations and airline logistics.

There are several myths about pet safety and air travel that increase pet owners’ fears when considering pet relocation. Most horror stories about flying pets are directly related to owners trying to relocate their animals without assistance.

Everyone knows there are some things that are better left to the professionals. Pet owners need to know that a pet relocation specialist means that their pet is in the hands of an expert. Professional pet relocation companies are committed to ensuring that all pets arrive safely and without incident.

Whether to DIY or Hire a Pet Shipper really depends on your budget and your knowledge of the documentation requirements and their timeline.  A Pet Shipper will average $1000-$5000usd.  Some companies allow an a-la-cart service. You may be comfortable with the Vaccination and Health Certificates and the shipper handles the Transportation (flights and delivery of your Pet to Cargo and act as your agent on arrival at your destination).

Two sources for locating Transportation Companies are: International Pet and Animal Transportation Association (IPATA) and your potential Airline’s Cargo Pet sections for their required carriers.

Next, See Can Extreme Temperatures Cancel Your Pet’s Flight In Cargo or Checked Baggage?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *