What You Need to Know About Moving Pets Overseas

GoodMigrations Whale


When moving overseas many of us instantly think about where we will move, what we will ship, and how everything will get there. It is not uncommon for us to forget about one very important family member… our pets. Whether you are relocating abroad with a cat or dog or some other furry (or feathery) friend, our pets are family members and moving pets overseas requires research and careful consideration.

Let’s dive right in.

Relocating Abroad with PetsThings to consider before relocating your pet overseas:

  • How long will you be overseas for? If you are moving abroad for less than a year, it might be a good idea to entrust a family member or friend to watch over them during that time.
  • Your pet’s current health condition: are they healthy and up for the task of relocating overseas? Think about not just their physical health but also their mental health and whether they will be able to withstand the long flight over.
  • Are they small enough to join you in the cabin (and is the flight short enough that they could go without a bathroom break) or will they need to be crated and go down below with cargo?
  • Will they need to be sedated and is this even an option for your pet under their current health conditions.
  • Is your pet permitted in your new location? Some places restrict the type of animal or dog breed permitted within their borders. (We will cover this in more detail below.)

After you have given the above careful consideration, it’s time to think about how pet-friendly that country is and what breed restrictions they have in place.

Pet-Friendly Countries

If you are moving abroad for retirement or lifestyle change and have flexibility on location then knowing which countries are the most pet-friendly will prove to be very helpful. A pet-friendly country is welcoming to bringing your dog to join you outside at café and restaurants. They allow your pet on public transportation as well. Many hotels and accommodations in the area allow for pet accommodations as well.

A great article on pet-friendly countries is by Vetstreet. Consistently, you will hear that France, Switzerland, and Germany top the charts as far as dog-friendly countries. Many stores and cafes allow for you to bring your dog along.

Check Breed Restrictions

Being pet-friendly is very different than relocating your cat or dog to another country. This has much more to do with breed restrictions, disease control, and legislation. We previously wrote an article on breed restrictions and moving abroad.  If you have a dog it’s important to know whether any of these restrictions apply to your breed.

There is no sense behind any of these breed restrictions and we do not support the banning of them in any country. However, these are the laws so its key to know if your pooch is one of them.  Commonly Banned Breeds included: Rottweilers, Doberman Pinchers, Pitbull types, and Mastiffs. Check to see if the country you are planning a move to restricts your dog breed.

It’s Go Time! Preparing for the trip

Every country has slightly different processes for importing pets so it’s never too early to start doing your research. Every country has different requirements; whether is a vaccination, quarantine, microchipping or permits.

Below are a few examples of what different countries require in advance. Having a hard time finding the requirements for the country you’re moving to? Contact us for some help.

The United States

  • Rabies vaccination record
  • Veterinary health certificate
  • Pets are subject to examination at the first port of arrival for any evidence of disease.
  • A valid rabies (rage) vaccination record must accompany dogs arriving from areas not free from rabies.

The United Kingdom

  • Vaccination record
  • Veterinary health certificate
  • Form C5- This form allows you to declare your pet to Customs and to claim any duty and VAT free reliefs if you are bringing a pet into the UK from outside of the EU.
  • Animals must comply with the Pets Travel Scheme (PETS). The PETS allow dogs or cats to travel into the UK without quarantine so long as they comply with the regulations. Check out Airpets for a list of the PETS regulations.
  • Pets must be licensed by the Animal Health Department
  • Animals must be fitted with a microchip (Scotland)
  • Dogs must receive a tapeworm treatment within 105 days of arrival (Scotland)



  • Vaccination record
  • Veterinary health certificate


  • Vaccination record
  • Veterinary health certificate
  • The veterinary health record certificate must identify the animal by breed, age, gender, and color.


  • Import application
  • Import permit- Import permits take approximately 10 business days from the date receipt by Department of Agriculture to be approved; however, incomplete or incorrect applications may take longer.
  • All animals imported to Australia must meet the requirements of the Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources and will be quarantined upon arrival.
  • Animals may be visited by only the person identified as the importer during the quarantine period


  • Vaccination record
  • Veterinary health certificate
  • Pets must be identifiable through a tattoo or electronic identification, such as a microchip.

After vaccinations, microchipping and paperwork are out of the way, it is important to know how your pet will be traveling.

  • Which airline will you be flying on and what are their policies for international travel with a pet? Dog Jaunt has a great list of airlines and their restrictions for traveling with a pet. 
  • Is your pet small enough that they can ride along with you in the cabin? Will you need to purchase a crate and have them fly down below in cargo?

If your pet is not able to fly in the cabin with you then you will need to purchase a crate and begin crate training. Getting your pet comfortable with their crate is equally important to any other step in this process.

The first step would be to find an appropriately sized crate for your dog or cat. Because dogs come in such varying sizes it’s important to find the right one. For cats, a good rule of thumb is 4 inches larger than their height and length.

crate training your pet
Getting your dog or cat comfortable with their new crate takes time and practice. That is why you can never start too early with crate training. The Humaine Society is a good resource for dog crate training. VetStreet has some good information on crate training for cats that you will find helpful.

So there you have it: Some great tips for helping you navigate the waters of moving pets overseas. We wish you and your furry friend happy moving!

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