An overseas move doesn’t have to be nerve-wracking, even if you’re relocating with a pet. Still, we understand why you might be concerned. You love your pet and want them to travel comfortably, and an international move involves enough preparation and planning that shipping your pet across the ocean might start to feel burdensome. We’ve come up with this handy guide so that you have the basics at your disposal.

Take a Trip to the Vet

Before your pet travels internationally, a veterinarian must certify that they are healthy and free from diseases like rabies, as well as provide documentation thereof. This medical examination may need to be completed up to six months before your pet’s travel date, so make sure that you schedule an appointment as soon as possible.

Depending on the country that your pet will be flying into, it might need different vaccinations and tests. However, it’s unlikely that you’ll have to figure this out on your own. Your vet will be able to provide you with information in most cases, and a pet shipping service, like Animals Away, will also help you determine what kind of examination your pet needs.

Prepare Travel Documents

After your trip to the vet, you’ll receive proof of health records and vaccination, plus a crucial certificate of veterinary inspection that needs to be validated by the US Department of Agriculture’s Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). Keep copies for your records, and make sure that you pet travels with the documentation in addition to your contact information, proof of information and an ID tag.

If you find that this kind of documentation is a headache, Animals Away offers paperwork preparation as part of our pet shipping services.

Find the Right Crate

Your pet needs to travel in an International Air Travel Association-approved kennel that is the correct size. Finding the right crate isn’t complicated. Make sure that the crate is made of plastic with metal bolt closures, are these are the only kind that airports will accept—crates with clips or dials are not approved. The crate should be just big enough that your pet can stand up, turn around and lie down in their natural position and, of course, should have proper ventilation. Animals Away can provide a crate for you if you use our pet shipping services.

It’s normal for pets to become nervous while flying in a crate. Acclimate them to the crate by making it a comfortable environment at home a few weeks before the scheduled flight date. Place food, water, blankets and toys in the crate and let your pet spend time there. This will make them much less anxious during their flight, because they will be in a familiar environment. A human escort might be more appropriate for pets who are especially uneasy flyers and don’t do well in a crate, even with prior preparation.

Just Before the Flight

On the day of your pet’s travel, give them a light meal eight hours before they enter their crate, but restrict their food intake otherwise. Do give them plenty of water, and let them out to relieve themselves as close to the flight time as possible. The IATA firmly recommends against giving your pet tranquilizers for anxiety, as sedatives and other tranquilizers can pose a threat to your pet’s health. Tranquilizing your pet should only be done under the instruction of a veterinarian.

By following this guide, you can simplify the process of your international move and ensure that your pet stays happy and healthy.