Leaving behind family and friends to move to America may be heart rending and emotional but how many of us could say goodbye to pets? Pets are often regarded as family members and most families wouldn't contemplate moving without them. But this is not a move down the street or into another part of town, this is a move to America and this article aims to provide you with the essentials you need to know on animal transport to the USA.
Animal Transport Laws in US
Luckily the laws regarding the transport of domestic pets have been relaxed a little for both America and Canada, meaning that the process is now fairly straightforward. For animals entering the US from the UK there is no quarantine period and a PETS passport is not necessary, although it is recommended just to make the process smoother and hassle-free. A rabies vaccination is not necessary either as the UK has maintained its rabies-free stance but you may decide to get one anyway, just in case and again, just to prevent any delays or hassle.
Most airlines will require a 'Fit to Fly' certificate which you should procure within 5 days of the date of export.A Fit to Fly certificate can be obtained from your vet and will include all vaccinations, micro-chip details, shippers details and include a statement of general health. Some airports may also have temperature restrictions in place and a vet will need to sign to confirm that your animal is fit enough to travel at certain temperatures. Check with the airport your pet will be flying to and check the individual State laws on pet export too.
The US laws listed here largely cover domestic pets such as dogs and cats. If you wish to import other animals to the US then you will need to carefully read their animal import guide on the APHIS website.
Many specialist pet airlines will handle the whole process for you including any travel documentation that you might need. They will communicate with the major airlines to book your pet onto the most suitable flight and will ensure that the crate and bedding meets strict custom regulations. They will also collect and drop off your pet. As with any service though, you do pay for the privilege. Costs vary depending on the package you've chosen and the size of the pet but don't be surprisedby a quote that is over £1,000. It's always best to compare quotes and only choose recommended pet airlines where you can. Try PetAir UK or Airpets.
Alternatively you could book your pet in yourself. Most international flights such as British Airways will take pets (low-cost airlines don't offer this service) and costs start from around £350 + extras. It is possible for small dogs and cats to be classed as check-in baggage and to travel in the cabin. KLM and Lufthansa both offer this service.
For more information on pet relocation and pet travel you can contact the UK DEFRA team who can answer questions about international animal export.