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PCSing with Pets

Moving with Pets

PCSing to a new duty station is very complex and challenging as it is, but adding pets to the equation presents another set of challenges that can seem completely overwhelming at times. Fortunately, and a Certified Military Relocator Agent can help guide you through the time-consuming and sometimes confusing rules and regulations you'll need to navigate, so your whole family, pets and all-can arrive safely at your new duty station.

While we've tried to be as detailed as possible, if you have a specific question we've failed to answer, feel free to contact us. We're here to help!


Here's a brief overview of what's involved in PCSing with a pet or pets:

  • A pet is defined as, “any animal claimed to be owned by a person; gerbils, rabbits, horses, fish, and birds are pets.” But Air Force Air Mobility Command charters will only transport  cats and dogs.

  • During a permanent change of station (PCSing) move, servicemembers and their families can only bring two pets along.

  • Moving your pet is your responsibility. There is no reimbursement for pet expenses, transportation, or kenneling while you are living in temporary housing.  (Most temporary housing does not allow pets.)

  • The U.S. Government offers $275.00 to help in pet relocation, but only to cover the costs of quarantining a cat or dog (which could last from 14 days to 6 months). This reimbursement does NOT apply to any transportation costs.

  • Shipping pets is considered a privilege, not an entitlement.

  • There is generally a weight limit of 99 pounds, including the shipping container, per pet.

  • Local transportation offices can provide guidance and help making arrangements for your pets, but it is up to you to make sure everything is finalized.


Jump to a topic that interests you.

Before you move

Moving day preparation tips

Transportation guidelines

Cabin transportation

Cargo transportation

AMC specific guidelines

Quarantining and kenneling



Before you Move

Here's a helpful list of things you'll need to take care of BEFORE the move:

1. Make sure to take your pet a check-up for your pet before you leave.

2. Ask your veterinarian for all of your pet's medical records.

3. Ask your veterinarian about any recommended veterinarians in your new area.

4. If moving overseas, make sure your pet (s) have all the required examinations and have gone through the appropriate quarantine process. Also check to see if you need you pets mentioned on you PCSing orders.  In some cases they are required, so check with you future command.  

5. Don’t forget to secure a form of identification to your pet’s collar, as well as identification and contact information to any pet carriers.

6. Plan immediately for shipping pets after receiving your orders.

7. Check if your preferred airline allows pets on your scheduled flight—many only allow 5-8 pets on any one flight.

8. Familiarize yourself with all pet regulations at your future duty station. You don't want to go through all the trouble of coordinating pet shipping, only to find out your pet is not allowed!


Moving day preparation tips

  • Make sure that any scheduled sleeping arrangements while in transit allow pets. Check for pet friendly hotels on your scheduled route.

  • Check to see if any states you will pass through have animal inspections at border crossings.

  • You may want to look at the idea of feeding your pet once a day and preferably at night.

  • Make sure to have the appropriate sized kennel or container for your pet.

  • If you are moving locally, take your pet to your new home a few times before moving in to let them familiarize themselves with their new habitat.


Transportation guidelines      

• Owners must make arrangements on commercial flights for the pet.

• Pet owners are responsible for the preparation and care of their animals and satisfying all documentation, immunization, and border clearance requirements, including quarantine.

• Shipping containers must be approved by the International Air Transport Association and be large enough for the pet to perform simply body movements such as stand up, turn around, and lay down comfortably.

• If you are a dog or cat owner only, one shipping option is on an Air Mobility Command (AMC) flight.

• Avoid busy weekend or holiday travel.

• Most airlines have shipping embargoes on pets during summer months (May through September) because of concerns about animals sitting on hot runways for extended periods of time. However, most airlines will accommodate pets on flights that leave after 9:00pm or before 6:00am. Contact your airline carrier for specific information.

• Cargo departments on larger aircrafts are air conditioned and pressurized.  Some commuter aircrafts are not equipped with pressurized storage areas. When traveling on commuter planes, make sure your pet will be safe traveling in cargo areas.

• Almost all airlines require certificates from your veterinarian stating the pet is healthy, suitable for flying, free of parasites, and current on all inoculations.

• Many snub nose dogs (pugs, boxers, bulldogs, etc.) should not travel by air in hot weather.  Pregnant animals, animals younger than 8 weeks old, and elderly animals also should not travel by air because of health risks.

• Upon boarding, ALLWAYS ask the flight attendant to verify your pet was correctly loaded and is comfortable on board.

• Be sure to arrive early to the airport.

• Make sure your pet gets plenty of exercise before you load it into a pet container.

• Line the bottom of the carrier with absorbent towels to minimize waste cleanup. Do not use straw, hay, soil, grass, or sawdust

• Be sure your carrier is clearly marked with your name, destination, and contact information.

• Bring plenty of food and water for your pet on long plane rides.

• Freeze water in your pet's dish before arriving at the airport. Water will usually spill if not in solid form (ice).

• Allow your pet to become familiar with its carrier before boarding. Have them use it for a couple days prior to PCSing to feel comfortable.

• Sedating your pet is not recommended.

• Never muzzle your pet during air travel.

• Make sure the door to your pet's travel crate is closed firmly, but not locked in case of emergency.

• Place a familiar article (clothing or toy) in the cage to help calm your pet.

• Give your pet only light food and water the night before.

• If your pet is too large for in-cabin flight, you should only speak with the air cargo department. In most cases, reservations agents are not familiar with rules for travel in cargo areas.


Cabin transportation

• $100-175. is a fairly standard rate for pet transportation up to 70 pounds, but check with you air lines. Fees could double for pets 71-99 pounds.  In-cabin transportation for pets larger than 100 pounds is not allowed. Contact your airline for specific rates and guidelines.

• Small pets can travel in the cabin of a commercial flight with an owner as long as the kennel doesn’t exceed 20 inches (L) by 16 inches (W) by 8 inches (H). Call your airline for specific guidelines. Most airlines charge an extra fee for in-cabin shipping.

• FAA regulations require your pet to be in a carrier at all times.


Cargo transportation

• Many airlines will not transport animals in the baggage area in “extreme” weather (above 85 degrees or below 45 degrees).

• Generally, each pet must be in a separate container, unless you are traveling with puppies or kittens that weigh less than 20 pounds each.

• General container size for baggage area transportation is 20.4 inches (L) by 27 inches (W) by 8 inches (H).

• AMC shipping dimensions are 20 inches (L) by 16 inches (W) by 8 inches (H).

• Bring photo in case pet gets lost.

• Write “Live Animal” in at least one inch tall letters on the side and top of your pet's shipping container. Write “this end up” and include arrows to indicate the top of the carrier.

• Include separate dishes for food and water, attached to the inside of the crate and refillable from outside.

• Attach a breakaway collar to your pet that includes all identification information.

• On flights longer than 12 hours, attach one meal's worth of extra dry food in a strong plastic or cloth bag and feeding instructions to the top of the crate. A copy of feeding and watering instructions should also be included with any other shipping documents.


Air Mobility Command (AMC) Specific Guidelines

• Pet travel on AMC flights is authorized only for PCSing personnel. The sponsor or a sponsor's family member must accompany the pet and have them listed on his or her orders.

• The traveler must pay for all transportation costs of the pet.

• Costs for pet transportation must be paid at check-in time.

• AMC has a 100 pound limit on pets; this includes the weight of the shipping container.

• Animals 70 pounds and under (including shipping container) require one space. Animals weighing 71 to 99 pounds (including shipping container) require two spaces. Costs will range with space needed.

• Anyone traveling with more than two pets must first obtain a letter of exception from AMC headquarters at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois.  The Traffic Management Office (TMO) can provide more

information and guidance.

• Pets traveling in cabin must fit in airline approved carriers no larger than 20 inches (L) by 16 inches (W) by 8 inches (H).

• Service members traveling to and from Japan can ship pets as part of excess accompanied baggage. Requests must be submitted to the personnel office during your outbound assignment interview. Traveling with your pet in this manner is not guaranteed.


Quarantine and kenneling guidelines for PCSing OVERSEAS

• At your new duty station, your pet will be placed in quarantine and must be checked out by a veterinarian.  Typical quarantine length is 14 days, but some duty stations require animals to spend as much as 6 months in quarantine.

• The U.S. Government offers $275.00 to help cover the costs of quarantining a cat or dog. There is no reimbursement for other types of animals.

• Pets shipped from the U.S. mainland to Iceland, Great Britain, Guam, and Hawaii are routinely quarantined.

• If you are moving into temporary lodging facilities, be aware most do not allow pets. Make sure you make arrangements for kenneling your pet while you are in temporary housing.


For more information

All airlines have a pet shipping embargo in the summer, beginning from the beginning of May through mid-September. Some make exceptions to travelers with specific PCSing orders, or for early morning/night PCSing flights.

Since every airline maintains its own policies and guidelines about pet shipping, you should contact your airline for specific information on transporting particular breeds and other guidelines.


Contact information for various airlines

United Airlines

In the USA: 800-241-6522

In Japan: 0120-11-4466


Northwest Airlines

United Airlines

In the USA: 800-225-2525

In Japan: 0120-12-0747


American Airlines

In the USA: 800-227-4622

In Japan: 0120-00-0860


Continental Airlines

In the USA: 800-525-0280

Delta Airlines

In the USA: 800-221-1212

In Japan: 0120-33-3742


Air Force Crossroads

Defense Manpower Data Center

USDA Animal and Plant Inspection Service

You know there is only one person who knows what it’s like PCSing with Pets and that’s you.  So we ask for all your IDEAS and subjects that should be covered in PCSing with Pets, so we may expand this section along with all the others.  We are also looking for PCSing videos and stories, good and bad.  Most of all, information that would help the next military member out when PCSing with Pets. Click her and submit your information and Photos.    Thanks