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What Paperwork Do I Need For My Pet’s Relocation?

Published on: April 8, 2022  |  Author: Starwood Pet Travel



A major move is a major undertaking, and pet relocation involves plenty of paperwork. It’s easiest if you’re traveling from one US city to another, but it can become quite complicated if you’re traveling internationally, depending on your destination. Everything has to be in perfect order, because the last thing you want to worry about is whether your furry family members will run into problems along the way.

Even if you’re taking a small pet with you on board, you still need paperwork, usually including a paid reservation for them.

No matter where you’re headed, you’ll need:

  • Original health certificate issued by a licensed and accredited veterinarian. Animals must undergo a physical exam within 10 days prior to travel. There are different versions of health certificates and different requirements depending on your destination.
  • Signed rabies vaccination certificate. If you’re traveling internationally, your pet’s rabies vaccination typically has to be completed more than 30 days but less than a year prior to travel.

If you’re moving outside the US there will be more paperwork for your pet's relocation.

However, exactly what you’ll need depends on the country. Each one has its own set of requirements about import permits, vaccinations, quarantines and so on that enable your pet to clear customs. Learn about common international pet import requirements. Airlines also have their own documentation requirements for pet transport. You may need:

  • Proof of microchip
  • Rabies certificates
  • General vaccination certificates
  • Import permits
  • Health certificates 
  • Customs forms
  • Other travel documents
  • USDA endorsement of relevant documents, if required
  • Flight reservations for your pets
  • Personalized identification and emergency contact information for each pet’s travel kennel
  • LIVE ANIMALS stickers for the travel kennel

Here are a few examples of the paperwork requirements for pets moving internationally.


United Kingdom or Europe

Coming from the USA, your pet will need:

  • Microchip (implanted before the rabies vaccination)
  • Rabies vaccination at least 21 days but less than 1 year prior to travel
  • International health certificate with USDA endorsement
  • Tapeworm treatment (dogs only) if traveling to the UK, Ireland, Finland or Malta
  • Transfer of Residence (ToR) form
  • Other customs forms

Make it easy on yourself. Get some help.

It's recommended that you start researching pet relocation paperwork requirements as soon as you know where you’re headed and when. Even if you don't know the "when", it's best to start early once you know the "where." That ensures you’ll have time to learn what you need to do and also get it done. Your pets may need new or different vaccinations, and the timing requirements for them can be very specific.

If you’re a ticketed passenger and your pet will travel with you onboard, you may be able to handle everything yourself with just some expert consulting and coaching. On the other hand, if you’re traveling internationally or your pets will travel in the plane’s cargo hold, getting assistance with all the documentation and travel arrangements you need, including flight bookings, permits and quarantine reservations (if needed) can be a monumental relief.

Experts know the rules (which can change). They have the contacts and established working relationships to ensure the process goes smoothly. An experienced reputable pet transport company is a “known pet shipper” to the airlines, whereas you are not.

You can try to navigate the paperwork maze on your own, but it can be very time-consuming as well as intimidating, worrisome, confusing and frustrating, especially if there’s a language barrier. Handing this job over to experienced professionals will save you a tremendous amount of time and bring you the peace of mind you didn’t think was possible, knowing nothing is slipping between the cracks with your pet relocation.

It’s an investment in your pet’s safety and your peace of mind – one less thing to worry about at a time when you have plenty to think about. You’ll have no surprises, just big smiles and wagging tails or purring cats as your family is reunited in your new city and/or country.

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