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Military Pet Relocation: 7 Useful Answers You Need to Know Before PCS Orders Arrive

Military Pet Relocation: 7 Useful Answers You Need to Know Before PCS Orders Arrive

Military pet relocation can be stressful for everyone involved, including pets. If you’re a military family with a furry friend, it’s essential to understand the process and requirements for relocating your pet during a move. Here are some frequently asked questions about military pet moves to help you prepare.

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about military pet relocation to help you get started:

Can my pet travel on my flight?

Pets can travel as either excess baggage or manifested cargo on most commercial airlines. However, there are some restrictions to be aware of.

Pets cannot travel as excess baggage if they are too large or the airline does not allow pets in the cabin. In these cases, your pet will need to travel as manifested cargo.

Check with your airline for their specific requirements, as you must book manifested cargo pets in advance, and additional fees may be involved.

Document services can be beneficial when booking a pet on a flight. They can provide the necessary paperwork and help you navigate any potential roadblocks.

What is the EU 5-day rule?

Europe requires pets to arrive within 5 days of the pet owner to be considered a “non-commercial” movement. The purpose of this rule is to discourage bringing animals into the country for commercial purposes (such as for sale or breeding). If your pet arrives more than five days before or after you, your veterinarian must issue a “commercial health certificate,” which must be endorsed within two days of travel. 

Our services always include templates and guidance, working with the pet owner and the veterinarian to ensure you have the correct certificate and all instructions for the appointment. For more information regarding relocation to Europe, please visit Shipping Pets to Europe

What are the options for military pet relocation?

Pets can travel in a cabin, manifested cargo, or excess baggage. Manifested cargo and excess baggage are located in the aircraft’s cargo hold. However, manifest cargo pets fly unaccompanied, independent of the passenger travel itinerary. This allows your pet’s itinerary to be a bit more flexible.

When your pet flies as manifest cargo on a commercial airline, we can track their movement and provide updates. Lufthansa airlines also offer a Premium Live Animal Service to connect at The Frankfurt Animal Lounge. Read more about the differences between excess baggage and manifested cargo pets.

Many airlines will also allow restricted breeds to travel only as manifested cargo pets (not excess baggage) due to the additional care and professional pet programs that manifested cargo pets receive, ensuring the pet travels safely.

Which veterinary documents are required?

The destination and transit countries (if your pet is connecting) will determine the required health documents. Europe requires proof of a primary rabies vaccine and a health certificate issued within 2 or 10 days of travel.

Some countries will require a rabies titer test, additional vaccines, treatments, and tests. For more information on country requirements, visit our website.

Our services always include guidance and prefilled documents to ensure your pet meets all airline and country requirements. The military veterinarian can perform the health exam and endorse the health certificate if they are an active-duty military veterinarian or a General Schedule (GS-0701) veterinarian and your cat or dog travels to the European UnionJapanUnited Kingdom, or South Korea. This does not apply to contract veterinarians working for the Department of Defense. If a non-military USDA-accredited vet performs the final health exam, the documents will need to be sent to the USDA APHIS veterinarian for government endorsement. 

How far in advance should I start planning my pet’s move?

Plan your pet’s move at least eight weeks in advance to ensure adequate time for all necessary arrangements. It will give you ample time to gather the necessary paperwork and make arrangements. 

If a military service gives orders on short notice, work with your pet relocation specialist to expedite pet relocation. However, depending on your pet’s eligibility to meet country requirements, it may be necessary to remain in the US longer until eligible. In that case, ask for help from your friends or family member to keep your pet until they are eligible for travel. This will help your pet be the most comfortable and help minimize expenses. 

It is also essential to ensure your pet is eligible to meet the requirements of your destination country. Some countries have stringent import requirements, so it is essential to do your research in advance.

Options for pet boarding and minimizing expenses

Many Pet Relocation companies will offer complete door-to-door services. You should evaluate your needs and determine which services are necessary. When it comes to minimizing expenses, there are a few things you can do:

  • Book early: Booking your pet’s relocation service well in advance can help to ensure your pet is eligible to travel when the time comes and reduce the possibility of boarding services or quarantine.
  • Check for discounts: Some pet relocation services offer discounts for military families. Be sure to check for any available discounts.
  • Check with organizations that can assist with grants, Dogs on Deployment, and Leave No Paws Behind.

How much does it cost?

The cost of shipping a pet varies depending on several factors, such as the size of the pet, the destination, and the shipping method.

On average, international pet shipping can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $7,000. However, getting a quote from a professional pet shipping company is crucial for an accurate cost estimate. A few organizations can assist with grants, Dogs on Deployment and Leave No Paws Behind.

Continental Pet Relocation discounts all service members traveling on PCS Orders. Please feel free to contact us to find out more. 

Can I claim the expenses on my taxes?

If you are a military family relocating with pets, you may wonder whether you can claim the expenses on your taxes. The good news is that you can deduct some of the travel expenses associated with your pet’s relocation. It can include expenses such as transportation, veterinary visits, and import/export fees. It’s important to remember that the tax laws regarding deductions for pet relocation expenses can be complex, so it’s best to consult with your accountant. Your accountant can help you determine deductible expenses and how to claim them on your tax return. To ensure a clear record of all expenses, itemize the services and supplies associated with your pet’s relocation.


Military moves can be stressful, but with some planning, you can make sure your pet has a smooth transition. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the FAQs for military pet moves and start planning as early as possible.

Understanding the process and requirements is crucial, as working with your veterinarian to complete the necessary paperwork and considering professional pet relocation services. With the proper preparation and support, your furry friend can travel with you and settle into your new home without stress or difficulty.

And finally, remember that professional pet shipping companies can be a valuable resource when shipping your pet. They can help you navigate the process and ensure your pet arrives safely at your new duty station.


Continental Pet Relocation is a professional pet relocation service provider helping military families relocate their pets to destinations worldwide. 

As a pet relocation service provider, we understand the unique challenges that military families face when relocating with their pets. We have extensive experience working with military families and are well-versed in the regulations and requirements of moving pets to and from military bases worldwide. Our team is dedicated to ensuring that the pet relocation process is as smooth and stress-free as possible for the pets and their owners. To ensure the safe and efficient transportation of military personnel’s pets, we work closely with them, enabling them to focus on serving our country.

At Continental Pet Relocation, we aim to provide a stress-free experience for pets and their owners during the relocation process. We offer various services, including document preparation, booking of flights, pet boarding, and import/export permits. Our team can also accommodate special needs pets, such as those requiring medical attention or specific dietary needs.

Read more on the About Us page…

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