Pet Travel Question: Moving a Tortoise

Tortoise Transport Options to the United States

Hello PetRelocation,

My daughter owns a tortoise—she now lives in the United States and would like to have her tortoise there with her. She is visiting the UK in August… How would she be able to take it, if possible, or have it taken?

Thank you,



Hi Kathleen,

Thanks for your question. While US import requirements for dogs and cats are pretty straightforward, relocating exotic pets such as reptiles and birds can be tricky. We advise checking the USDA website for more information about importing your pet tortoise.

You can also check out our tips for traveling with exotic pets. You'll see there that your daughter will need to check the CITES status of her species of tortoise. She can do that at the CITES Species Database.

Once she knows the status of her tortoise, she will know which permits she needs to secure in order to move her pet. She will likely need to get an import permit from the US Fish and Wildlife Services. These permits often take a long time to obtain, so it is a good idea to start planning the tortoise's trip well in advance of the travel date.

It's hard to say what the exact process will be for relocating the tortoise without knowing its species, but it's safe to say that your pet transport experience will be a lot easier with the help of pet travel experts. Fill out our online consultation form to be in contact with a relocation specialist or give us a call at 1-877-PET-MOVE if you have any questions.

Good luck!


Pet Travel Question Details:

Name: Kathleen
Number of Pets: One
Pet Type: Tortoise
From: United Kingdom
To: United States


Get in touch with a Pet Relocation Specialist if you're looking for assistance with your upcoming pet move.


Editor's Note: This post was originally published in July 2013 and has been updated with new information.


PetRelocation Team


Air Travel




United States, UK


Add a Comment

By Ali on October 23, 2018 at 2:18 pm

Hi there,How would I move a Russian Tortoise from The Netherlands to the USA? Does a Russian Tortoise need a permit? I know they're available as pets here in the USA as well. I'm trying to figure out the best way to ship him or possibly have someone take him with them on the plane when they travel here to the USA.Please help!

By Maegan at PetRelocation on October 24, 2018 at 9:23 am

Hi Ali! First step is to obtain a statement from the breeder or pet shop where your tortoise was purchased, stating it has not been taken from the wild. Then, yes, your tortoise will need a permit for import & export. The process of relocating endangered species (like the tortoise) internationally can take up to 6 months. Hope this gets you started, please let us know if we can help arrange your pet's relocation. Thanks!

By Holly Pollard-Wright on July 11, 2018 at 1:55 pm

Relocating from Chicago, Il to Los Angeles, CA and need to transport my 5 pound 7 year old Red-Footed Tortoise on August 27, 2018

By Christina at PetRelocation on July 12, 2018 at 2:33 pm

Hi Holly,You have a couple of options! You can go by air or ground. Air will be a shorter trip and less expensive (Delta flies this species), but ground has its advantages. If traveling by ground, your tortoise will have the ability to remain in his normal habitat. We have experience moving tortoises and would be happy to provide a complimentary consultation if you have any questions or concerns. Just fill out this form at your convenience and someone on our team will contact you as soon as possible!

By Minyu on May 9, 2018 at 8:00 am

I have a pet TURTLE not a tortoise. Can you bring a pet turtle on an airplane to Australia?

By Maegan at PetRelocation on May 11, 2018 at 9:43 am

Hi Minyu! Unfortunately, only dogs & cats are able to be imported into Australia. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news!

By this guy on December 13, 2017 at 9:43 am

how do you get a tortise licence

By on December 13, 2017 at 10:33 am

Hello and thanks for your comment!

Without knowing what license you are referring to, it is difficult to offer advice. If you would like more information on CITES permits, we would recommend visiting the CITES website here. Also, as mentioned in the blog, if you're moving to or from the US the USDA website is a great resource for learning more about import permits and requirements to move your tortoise.

We hope this helps somewhat, but if you need further guidance or would like a quote for our services please fill out this form. Thanks again!

By Ada granera on August 30, 2017 at 9:19 am

I'm travaling from los angeles to nicaragua and I want to take my tortoise with me what do I need?

By on August 30, 2017 at 2:34 pm

Hello Ada,

Thank you for reaching out! As mentioned in our blog above, it is hard to advise on the process and requirements without knowing your tortoise's exact species.

I recommend first checking the CITES database to discover whether or not your tortoise has to follow additional requirements under a CITES appendix.

It is safe to assume that no matter what the species is, your tortoise will need a health exam and certificate within 10 days of travel that will need to be endorsed by the USDA.

I hope this helps get you started in the right direction! Should you need further guidance, please feel free to contact us.

Add a Comment

Name is required

Email is required and must be in the format

Comment is required

Back to top