Military Pet Moves: Your Most Frequently Asked Questions

Are you a member of the military preparing for a relocation? We know this can be overwhelming for you and your family, especially if you are taking your pets with you. You may be juggling a lot in a short time frame, and trying to decipher the complicated rules of international pet travel doesn’t make it any easier. 

Not to worry! Each year, PetRelocation assists military families with relocations worldwide, and we are here to help. Below you’ll find the most frequently asked questions (and their answers!) by pet owners who are moving on military orders. 

How much time do I need to arrange a move? 
I cannot wait that long. What do I do?
What is the EU "5-day rule"?
Why can't my pet travel on my flight?
What is manifest cargo?
Can my military veterinarian endorse my health certificate?
Can I pick my pet up at the airport?
Do you offer a military discount?

How Much Advanced Time Do I Need to Arrange a Move?

We require 30 days to facilitate your pet’s overseas move. This ensures us enough time to review your pet’s vaccines, advise on any veterinarian support your pet may need, book their flight, and arrange any import permits that may be required. We also work with a fantastic network of pet shipping specialists who often require advance notice on their schedules. 

I’ve received my orders, and I cannot wait a month to move. What do I do?

We understand that things move quickly for active-duty military. A great option is to leave your pet with a caregiver, such as a trusted friend, parent, or other relative. We are happy to arrange everything with your pet’s caregiver and provide the needed guidance to ensure they are reunited with you as soon as possible.

I’m moving to the European Union and have heard of the “5-Day Rule”. What is that?

Ideally, when a pet enters Europe, the owner travels within 5 days of them. This discourages travelers from 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. Not to worry, we can guide you and your veterinarian through the paperwork and timeline differences between these two processes.

GSD moved with his military family
Duke moved with his military family with our help. 


I am departing on a military charter. Why can't my pet travel with me?

The most common reason pets cannot accompany their owners on their charter flights is due to space constraints. These flights will often have weight and size restrictions that many pets exceed. This is especially true for larger dog breeds, which are popular among many military families.

What is a manifest cargo and why does it cost so much?

If your military flight does not have the space for your pet, we will arrange for them to fly as manifest cargo. Manifest cargo and excess baggage are both located in the belly of the plane, but when we book your pet as manifest cargo, they fly independently (not tied to a passenger’s ticket), which allows for more freedom regarding when they can travel. When your pet flies as manifest cargo on a commercial airline, we can also track their movement more easily with their air waybill number. 
Manifest cargo air freight is determined by weight. If you have a large dog that requires a custom travel crate, this will significantly increase the airfreight cost.

Can my military vet endorse my pet’s paperwork? If so, will this save money?

Yes, but only if your veterinarian is an active-duty military veterinarian or a General Schedule (GS-0701) veterinarian and your cat or dog travels to the European Union, Japan, or South Korea. This does not apply to contract veterinarians working for the Department of Defense. If you are unsure of your veterinarian’s classification, PetRelocation can assist you in finding out. 

If your vet and destination meet the above qualifications, they may issue and endorse your pet’s international health certificate. As a result, you will see a discount in your contract with PetRelocation as we will not need to send your documents to the USDA for endorsement.

two bulldogs moved with their military family
Farrah and Titus moved with their military family and PetRelocation


Why would I need you to deliver my pet after they arrive? Can’t I pick them up from the airport myself?

You are welcome to pick your pet up from the airport upon arrival if you wish. If you do so, you will see a decrease in charge, as this requires less work from our trusted partners. However, we recommend you consider the logistics involved before making that decision. 

Your pet will fly into a major airport while many military bases are remote. Will you have time to make that round trip? Is your pet arriving in a custom or extra-large crate? If so, do you have a vehicle to transport both your pet and the crate back to your home? (Please note: you may incur a fine for disposal if you can not transport an extra-large crate from the airport.)

PetRelocation is thankful for the service the men and women of the military provide and is happy to help if we can. Do you have a question we didn’t answer above? Let us know!  If you are being stationed overseas and taking your pets, we can help! Contact us today to discuss your pet’s move!


PetRelocation Team


Air Travel, Ask the Experts, Military Moves



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