By: Nancy Kritzer | CRP

August 20, 2020

Pet relocation needs are often considered after an employee has accepted a position. If your company has new hires and transferees who are planning to relocate along with their pets, there are many points to consider. For example, housing at the new destination, household goods move logistics, and transportation options should be top of mind. Has the employee thought about their pets? Could pet relocation be as simple as opening their car door? Why not let their pet jump in the back seat as they ponder a long drive?

From a pet’s perspective, relocation may be fraught with confusion. Certainly costs may be involved, and there may be specific veterinary requirements such as current vaccinations. Before employees start making decisions, it is important to know the specific requirements their pet must meet, and what they may experience during a pet relocation.

Health and Vaccinations for a Pet Relocation

Many states require that pets have proof of current rabies vaccination from a licensed veterinarian. For example, the state of Florida maintains this requirement for dogs and cats 3 months of age and older. However, other states may require an official certificate of health. Requirements across states vary, and should be investigated prior to the pet relocation.

The United States Animal Health Association (USAHA) publishes a list of each states animal health officials. Additionally, USAHA publishes a list of sovereign territorial animal health agency members for the Navajo Nation and the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands. It is important to contact the appropriate state agency at the destination. You should verify the most recent requirements for pets moving to the new location.

After the Veterinarian Visit, What is Next on the “to do List” for a Pet Relocation?

Once the employee’s pet stops giving them guilt-inducing looks following the most recent visit to the veterinarian, the actual logistics should be considered. What is the best option to get the pet from their current home to their new home? There are a multitude of choices, each with its own advantages.


What could be easier than a nice drive with a pet? Consider how long the drive will be. Is it an hour, or is it several days? An hour, or even a few hours, might be easily doable for the employee and their pet. From a pet’s perspective, this might be their optimal choice for their pet relocation.

Now imagine yourself in the back seat of your car for several days. Would you feel comfortable and happy? Remember traveling for a day or two (or more) will also require stops at night. Hotels may accepts pets, and may charge extra for this convenience. Safety is also an important consideration. Each transition into and out of the car may provide an opportunity for a missed leash or a losing grip. Groggy pets might be susceptible to a fall as they exit the car. As a result, a pet may not prefer long trips in the back seat of their owner’s car.

Air Travel by Carry-on Luggage versus Cargo

Pets that can travel by air in carry-on luggage must be small enough to fit beneath the seat. Cats, small dogs, a rabbit, and similar small pets may be able to travel this way. Service animals and emotional support animals generally do not need to meet these requirements. For pets that meet these requirements, this might be a favorable choice. They get to be near their owner, and are protected in their carrier during the travel experience.

Airline travel has changed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Travelers should look into various airline policies regarding pets, service animals, and emotional support animals. Online resources such as Guide to Flying with an Emotional Support Animal may provide helpful information.


Air travel by cargo may be the only option if the pet is large. While the vast majority of pets that travel by cargo do well, some issues give owners pause for concern. The U.S. Department of Transportation publishes a monthly report to assist consumers with information on the quality of services provided by airlines. According to the June 2020 report, there was one report related to pet relocation. Recently many airlines have suspended the option for pets to fly in cargo. From a pet’s perspective, this type of travel may be more challenging. Since they will not be in sight of their owner, they may not feel happy and secure.

Rail Travel on Amtrak

Amtrak allows pets to travel by rail provided they meet certain guidelines:

  • Up to 20 pounds (pet and carrier)
  • Trips no longer than 7 hours
  • Signed pet release and indemnification
  • Pet must be at least 8 weeks old, odorless, harmless, and not disruptive

Notably, pets must travel with a human. Amtrak does not ship pets, or allow them to travel as a checked bag. With their owner along for the ride, travel by rail might be a surprisingly easy and pleasant option. The built-in limitation for 7 hour trips might benefit both the employee and their pet by providing scenic stops along the journey. Pets that meet the requirements may find this to be a favorable option.

Specialized Pet Transport

The International Pet and Animal Transportation Association is an organization of professional pet shippers. With members located in more than 80 countries, IPATA pet shippers work together to provide safe and secure pet relocation. There are specific requirements that must be met, such as vaccinations and health certificates. If the employee’s timing is critical and they are not able to bring their pet through air travel, IPATA may provide an option to meet their needs. From a pet’s perspective, if they can’t travel with their owner, then traveling through a professional service might be a viable option.

International Pet Relocation Health, Vaccinations, and Possible Quarantine Requirements

The United States Department of Agriculture Division of Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service notes there may be health requirements specific for international destinations. These requirements may include obtaining a health certificate, updating vaccinations, requisite diagnostic testing, or administration of medications.

The international relocation may require quarantine time for the pet. For example, pet relocation from the United States to Taiwan requires the importer to “…apply for an import permit and make a reservation of the post-entry quarantine space from animal quarantine authority at the port of entry.” Also, “When conducting the quarantine inspection, BAPHIQ (animal quarantine authority) will check the veterinary certificate and detain the dog or cat at the designated post-entry quarantine location for 7 days. During quarantine detention, the blood of the dog or cat will be sampled and tested again for rabies antibody.” Ultimately, pets that may need to undergo quarantine are bound to not be the happiest tail-waggers. However, when they are reunited with their owners, their happiness may increase. Especially if the owner shares big hugs and some delicious pet treats.

What Does This Mean?

It is important for new hires and transferees to understand issues related to pet relocation. Employers should be sure to extend the same level of service to pets as they would to human members of the relocating employee’s family. They should also ensure safe animal transportation options are available.

Employers should work with a qualified and experienced Relocation Management Company (RMC) that can provide guidance for safe and reliable pet relocation. RMCs can help clients and transferees understand how to arrange for the best pet relocation options.


Global Mobility Solutions’ team of corporate relocation experts has helped thousands of our clients understand how to help their new hires and relocating employees with pet relocation. We can help your company utilize pre-decision services to identify needs and requirements to ensure a smooth relocation process for the employee, their family members, and their pets.

GMS was the first relocation company to register as a “.com.” The company also created the first online interactive tools and calculators, and revolutionized the entire relocation industry. As a result, GMS continues to set the industry pace as the pioneer in innovation and technology solutions with its proprietary MyRelocation® technology platform.

Learn best practices from Global Mobility Solutions, the relocation industry and technology experts who are dedicated to keeping you informed and connected. Contact our experts online to discuss your company’s interest in learning about pet relocation solutions, or give us a call at 800.617.1904 or 480.922.0700 today.

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Senior Vice President, Domestic Services Nancy has over 30 years of experience in the real estate and relocation arena. Her real estate, relocation, and management experience is exceptional. She is responsible for the leadership, training and mentoring of new and existing coaches, ensuring the team is delivering the highest levels of customer service possible. Nancy holds the Certified Relocation Professional (CRP) designation.

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