The Cost to Ship a Pet Dog, Cat or Other Animal

Cost to ship dog, cat or other animal

If you are a pet owner, sooner or later, you will need to transport your pet, either with or without you. Pet owners take vacations; they relocate to new countries; they rescue disadvantaged pets. In all cases, there are 2 important questions to ask: what do I need to do and what is the cost to ship my pet dog, cat or other animal?

Obviously, all pet owners would like to ship their pet the best way possible, imposing the least amount of stress on them; however, cost is always an important part of the equation as transporting a pet can be quite expensive, especially internationally. Certainly, budget preparations should be made in advance.

Options to Ship a Pet Dog, Cat or Other Animal

Ground Transport

Auto transport

Ground transport may appear to be one of your best options for moving your pet, especially if you can accompany it; however, this option may not necessarily be the best option for your pet for many reasons. Being removed from its environment can be stressful for many pets, so the length of the trip is important when considering what type of transport you use for your pet. Ground transport may accommodate shorter trips, but not all trips can be short.

Depending on your route, auto transport may take a lot of time and expense, especially if you need to hire someone to drive your pet. When you consider the cost of the driver’s time, fuel, meals, overnight accommodations, auto or van rental and return travel, the cost can add up quickly. Also, being confined in a car for very long periods of time can be acceptable for some pets but not for others.

Although this is not the case in all countries, the availability of bus and train transport in the US is limited, and carriers like Amtrak will only accept small cats and dogs under 20 pounds. If these forms of transportation do not serve your destination, then you need to find other options when you disembark.

Find more information on transporting a pet by ground.

Transport by Sea

Certainly, ground transport is not always possible, especially if your destination is across a large body of water like an ocean. Very few commercial vessels will accept pets unless they are service or emotional support animals. The Queen Mary 2 is pet friendly if it accommodates your route.

Commercial Air Transport

Air pet transport

Air transport is the quickest option for traveling pets. Costs will vary significantly based on airline pet policies, the class of service used, size and weight of your pet as well as your route and destination country. Many pet owners share concerns with flying their pet, especially in the cargo hold, but safety is every airline’s first priority when it comes to shipping live animals and, considering the number of live animals flown each year to the number of incidents, flying is a viable option that should be considered as long as your pet can be acclimated to a carrier or crate.

There are 3 classes of service to ship dogs, cats and other animals on commercial airlines. Note that not all 3 options are available on all commercial airlines.

  • In-cabin – generally for small dogs and cats weighing less than 18 pounds and less than 19” high when standing (will vary according to airline pet policies
  • Checked Baggage – for larger dogs and cats (and sometime other animals) accompanied by an adult passenger. Weights are generally between 19 and 100 pounds but may be less) Travel will be in a special area of the cargo hold which is temperature and pressure controlled.
  • Air Cargo – unaccompanied dogs, cats and (sometimes) other animals or pets bound by destination country regulations or requirements. Travel will be in a special area of the cargo hold which is temperature and pressure controlled.

Generally, the cost to ship a pet dog, cat or other animal in the cabin or as checked baggage is a fixed price and the cost is charged for each direction of the flight. So, if you were flying from JFK to Paris round trip, your airline will impose a separate cost to fly to Paris and another similiar cost to return to JFK, no matter what class of service your pet was flying under.

Some airlines will tier their pricing based on the length of your route or the size of your pet, if flying either in-cabin or as checked baggage. Lufthansa and Philippine Airlines are examples of airlines that use this type of pricing.

Note that several airlines will impose an additional pet fee if the flight has a layover, even if your pet is staying on the same airline. (Air France is an example). Also, if your pet changes airline companies during a layover, another pet fee will always be imposed by the airline operating the next leg of the journey.

In-Cabin and Checked Baggage

Here are some samples of costs imposed by major airlines for pets flying in the cabin and as checked baggage. Note that these costs may change, so it is always best to contact your airline to confirm recent costs and make a reservation for your pet. Note that these are not round-trip costs;  they are charged for flying in each direction.

In-cabin cost

  • American Airlines – $125
  • Delta Airlines – $125 (US/Canada/Puerto Rico), $200 (International/Virgin Islands), $75 (Brazil)
  • United – $125 (more for longer trips with multiple layovers)
  • Southwest – $95 flat fee
  • Lufthansa – $59 (domestic w/in Germany), $69 (w/in EU), $92 (to/from N. Africa/Asia/Mediterranean Countries), $103-126 (intercontinental), $100 (to/from Japan)
  • KLM – EUR 30 to EUR 200 depending on destination
  • Turkish Airlines – 80 TRY w/in Tturkey, $70 USD (minimum) international

Checked Baggage Cost

  • American Airines – $200 all routes ($150 to/from Brazil)
  • Delta, Southwest & United – checked baggage service for pets is not offered
  • Lufthansa – $92 (domestic w/in Germany), $115 (w/in EU), $149 (to/from N. Africa/Asia/Mediterranean Countries), $172-218 (intercontinental), $200 (to/from Japan)
  • KLM – EUR 30 to EUR 200 depending on destination
  • Turkish Airlines – 120-260 TRY (depending on size of pet) w/in Turkey, $140 USD (minimum) international

Air Cargo

To estimate the cost to ship your pet dog, cat or other animal via air cargo is where things get complicated. Most airlines charge by dimensional weight which includes the weight of your pet including their crate and the dimensions of the crate. The algorithms used by cargo departments can be pretty complicated and very hard to estimate, especially for international transport as many factors affect the estimate including the cost of fuel which can vary frequently. United Airlines offers a dimensional weight calculator which is easy to use.

Simply put, the cost to ship your pet as air cargo is going to be considerably more than flying with it in the cabin or flying it as checked baggage. Why is this? Basically, because, when flying as air cargo, your airline will track your pet via an Air Waybill from the origination airport through layover airport(s) to the destination airport. The airline is responsible for the care of your pet from the moment it is checked in at the cargo facility. This arrangement is a bit different than pets flying as checked baggage where the owner has more responsibility to provide for care at layover airports when applicable.

In addition to the cost involved, almost all commercial airlines will require that an agent book your pet’s transport as air cargo. Agents will charge a fee for this which can vary significantly depending on the services required and the extent of documentation involved. As shipping a pet can get very complicated, the peace of mind knowing an expert is handling your pet’s transport is worth the cost.

If you need an estimate of the cost to ship your pet as air cargo, then you may want to contact an agent who can assist you with cost figures for your specific route and pet. The International Pet and Animal Transport Association is a worldwide organization of licensed transporters who can help you ship your pet safely. You can search for an agent by name, country or airport on their website.

You can also contact us if you have any questions about shipping your dog, cat or other animal as air cargo.

As the costs to ship your dog, cat or other animal as air cargo are significantly more than in the cabin or as checked baggage, why would a pet owner ship their pet using this option?

  1. The destination country requires it. (examples are UK, UAE, South Africa, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand and others).
  2. The owner or their representative cannot accompany their pet.
  3. The pet is being shipped for commercial purposes.
  4. The dog or other animal is very large (generally over 100 lbs. including crate).
  5. The airline does not offer checked baggage services for live animals.
private transport air jet charter

Private Jet Charter

Chartering a private jet is the ultimate in shipping a pet. Your dog, cat or other animal can fly with you in the cabin, relaxing and enjoying the trip either on your lap or right next to you, depending on their size (of course). Here are some of the benefits of chartering a private jet:

  • You can book your trip according to your schedule.
  • No security or check-in lines at the airport.
  • Temperatures are not a concern.
  • Any size pet can fly safely in the cabin with you.
  • There are no distractions from other pets or passengers.
  • You can choose in-flight options.
  • You have 2 private captains to serve you.

As you can imagine, the cost for a private jet is considerable; however, it will be the experience of a lifetime for both you and your pet. You can click here to find sample prices to ship your dog or cat via private jet charter.

Other Important Costs

There are other costs to consider as well when transporting a pet, especially internationally. Some of these include:

  • Cost of a crate or carrier and accessories
  • Veterinary and lab costs for tests, vaccinations and health certificates
  • Import permits (if required)
  • Government endorsement (if required)
  • Pre- and post-travel inspection (if required)
  • Quarantine costs (if required)
  • Entrance fees (if required)
  • Value Added Tax (VAT) (depending on the purpose of travel)

With all considerations involved, it is best to start early when planning to transport your pet because the costs can be notable. Certainly, it is worth the cost to ship your pet dog, cat or other animal when you relocate to a new destination, take an extended vacation or rescue a pet who does not have a home; however, costs can be sizeable when traveling far distances and being aware of those costs early on will allow you the ability to budget for them.


Comments

The Cost to Ship a Pet Dog, Cat or Other Animal — 28 Comments

  1. Ann – if you are flying, then the answer to your question would depend on your airline’s pet policies. Some airlines will allow 2 pets to travel in one carrier if there is room for both of them in the carrier and their total weight including the carrier does not exceed the airline’s maximum weight allowance. (Usually around 8kg). You can find airline pet policies for most major airlines here: https://www.pettravel.com/airline_rules.cfm
    Phil

  2. can 2 adult sibling cats travei in one carrier? they are 2 years old.

  3. Karthik – what you will need to do is to contact the cargo department an airline that flies the entire route and ask them whether you can book the transport or whether an agent is required to do that. If you have the weight of your pet and its crate, then they may be able to give you a good estimate of transport. If you do need an agent, then you can search for one in Mexico at IPATA.org. We do not have offices in Mexico and, as such, are not the best agent to assist you.
    Susan

  4. Hello,
    I plan to import a 4 month old golden retriever puppy from Mexico City to San Francisco. I wanted to know how much it would cost me approximately to import the dog as a cargo into USA

  5. Josephine – it is up to the airlines to decide whether they will allow your pet to fly into Ireland in the cabin. The Air Waybill requirement is for air cargo and may be imposed due to restrictions related to COVID-19. Try contacting KLM. Also, have you considered a pet friendly ferry? There are several of them that sail between the EU and Ireland and lots more if you sail to the UK and from there to Ireland. Start with Irish Ferries. More info here: https://www.pettravel.com/cruise_ferry_rules.cfm.
    Susan

  6. Hi, I am trying to take my cat into Ireland via Amsterdam coming from the USA. I want to have him with me in cabin to Amsterdam, and I heard Ireland doesn’t allow him to come in cabin so I was thinking to switch him out in Amsterdam to the cargo hold. However back in January when I emailed the Dublin airport vets they sent me a list of what I needed and one thing was a waybill. I looked it up and it is for air cargo. Does that mean Ireland requires them to come as air cargo only? Thanks.

  7. Hello Marilyn – if you intend to transport your German Shepard within the next several months, ground transport would be the only option. Commercial airlines in the US have suspended checked baggage and air cargo services for live animals. You can provide your information here and we would be happy to provide a free quote for ground transport: https://www.pettraveltransport.com/pettransportquote.html

    If you can wait until airlines resume cargo services for live animals, you contact the cargo department of an airline that flies the entire route for cost information if you are not flying with your German Shepard.
    Susan

  8. How much does it cost to fly German Shepard from florida to Elmira New York. She is 86 pounds.

  9. Lacy – you can find requirements to import your cat to Australia here: https://www.pettravel.com/immigration/australia.cfm. Unfortunately, South Korea is not an approved country for direct import to Australia. You can start the process in Korea with the 180 rabies titer test; however, between 4 and 6 weeks prior to export, your cat must be moved to an approved country for another titer test and further tests and treatments. See step #7. The entire process will take a minimum of 180 days to complete.\
    Susan

  10. I would like to get a cost estimate for flying my cat from South Korea to Melbourne Australia. He is a 2kg British Shorthairs. And could you show me a list about what I should prepared in advanced. Vaccine certification and so on?

  11. Mary – there are many transporters in the UK listed at IPATA.org. Did you search that website? If you can’t find one there, contact the Heathrow Animal Reception Center and ask if they can help you find an agent. We are located in the US and are not able to assist you.
    Susan

  12. Hi. I’m trying to get my pet corydoras fish (several of them, small fish) from the UK to the USA. Although security has no problem with them, apparently they will need to go cargo with a pet transporting agent. I’m trying to get a rough idea of what it would cost. There are no restrictions on bringing pet tropical fish of this species into the USA. They are well below any value that would incur a customs fee. I did go on the United Airlines volumized space/weight calculator and got 16 pounds for an 18″x12″x12″ container (the estimated size we’d use). I am having trouble finding a pet shipping company that does tropical fish….

  13. Nancy – United will require that an agent in Peru book the transport under their PetSafe Program. You can search for an agent in Peru at IPATA.org. If you fly another airline, your dog should be able to fly as checked baggage which will be a bit less expensive although it will involve a layover.
    Susan

  14. Hello, I need an estimate to fly with a 25 lb dog with United Airllines as I will be taking the same flight. It will be non stop from Lima airport to Newark airport, how do I buy the ticket? Thank you

  15. Hi Claire – as your Border Collie will be flying as air cargo, an agent in Australia would be required to book the transport. We do not have offices in Australia; however, you can search for an agent who serves Australia at IPATA.org.
    Susan

  16. I would like to get an estimated cost for flying my dog (Maremma x border collie, approx. 35kg) from Australia to Brussels, Belgium as Air Cargo. We are unable to accompany him. Many thanks

  17. Carolyn – if you are staying on Turkish Airlines in and out of Turkey, you should be able to transit Turkey; however, you should confirm this with an agent and/or Turkish Airlines.
    Susan

  18. Carolyn – due to the size of your dog’s crate and the weight of your dog, it must fly as air cargo on Korean Air and an agent who serves your origination country will be required to book the transport. As you are originating from outside of the United States, then you can search for an agent at IPATA.org.
    Susan

  19. Sorry I didn’t include our travel destinations for Turkish airlines. We will be flying from Lefkosa (North Cyprus) through Istanbul Turkey and then directly to Toronto Canada.
    Carolyn Patterson on January 19, 2020 at 1:42 AM said:

  20. We will be flying Turkish Airlines with our dog in May 2020. The crate measurements are 121.92cm (48″)x 81.28cm( 32″)x 88.90cm ( 35″) and crate with the dog in weigh a total of 56.55kg. What would be an estimate for the cost of flying him (obviously he would be in cargo on our flight)?

  21. Lexi – as you may know, the Philippines is not an approved country for direct import to Australia. Peninsular Malaysia is an approved area; however you must suply proof that your Dogue de Bordeaux has resided in Malaysia for a minimum of 6 months prior to import. Australia takes a minimum of 180 days to conform to regulations for pet import. Details here: https://www.pettravel.com/immigration/australia.cfm.

    We do not quote costs for transports that we cannot administer; however, we would say that Australia requires that your dog enter the country as air cargo and an agent will be required to administer the transport. We do not have offices in the Philippines or Malaysia; however, you can search for an agent at IPATA.org.
    Susan

  22. Hi, I would like to ask for an estimated cost for flying my dog from Manila to Malaysia, she is a roughly 85 pound Dogue de Bordeaux. And Malaysia to Australia.

  23. Mackenzie – as you are flying with your dog, it can fly as checked baggage on American Airlines. The cost should be around $200USD. Contact them to confirm.
    Susan

  24. I would like to get a price to fly with a 38 pound lab mix from Cincinnati, Ohio to St. Thomas, USVI

  25. Susan – all live animals flying as checked baggage must be accompanied by an adult passenger. Representatives of the airline cannot be counted as a representative of the owner. If you or your representative cannot accompany your dog, it must fly as air cargo and your airline’s cargo department handles the transport. An agent may be required.
    Susan

  26. The checked baggage, is this the owner of the dog or someone from the airline that would stay with my GS

  27. Hello Alex – we are licensed transporters; however, we do not have offices in Germany and, as such, not the best agent to administer the transport. You can search for an agent in Germany at IPATA.org.
    Susan

  28. I would like to get a cost estimate for flying my dog from Frankfurt Germany to Baltimore Maryland. He is a 60 pound Dalmatian.

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