Home - Moving To Ireland - Shipping a dog overseas – what I’ve learned so far

Shipping a dog overseas – what I’ve learned so far

***update*** I have written up a far more detailed article about this topic on the Ireland Move Club. In it, I cover everything I learned along the way, including a complete cost breakdown (which may shock you), issues I had with the pet re-locator, and some stuff that surprised me during the process. I recommend that you check out the article here if you’re planning moving to Ireland with your dog, especially those of you coming from the US.

Shipping a dog overseas

Saving Money on Your Pet's Move to Ireland, the Essential Guide

Saving Money on Your Pet’s Move to Ireland, the Essential Guide – Get it here

Anyone who has had the experience of moving internationally with their dog can probably tell you that sending their furry friend on an airplane can be quite a stressful experience. In most cases the dog (or other pet) is a big part of their family and sending them on a plane (or 2) on their own is not a nice thought. But if you want to bring them along, then there are not too many other options available.

I’ve flown dogs before between the USA and Ireland (in both directions) and I would say that flying from Ireland was easier from a paperwork standpoint – there were less restrictions/requirements coming to America than going to Ireland. However, I would say that neither direction was all that difficult. Essentially the rules are laid out for you by the CDC in America (http://www.cdc.gov/animalimportation/dogs.html) and by the Agricultural Department in Ireland (the EU Pet Passport system https://www.agriculture.gov.ie/pets/), and the instructions are pretty clear and easy to follow.
To travel to Ireland from the USA in 2014 my dog has to have a Vet Certificate, be micro-chipped, be up-to-date on her rabies vaccinations and receive a tick treatment a few days before travel. The implications of not satisfying the requirements are quite serious, so if you’re any bit unsure of what you need to do, be sure to get expert help. There are plenty of international pet moving companies out there who are willing to help. You just have to be willing to pay. And, as it turns out, after calls to multiple airlines it appears as though you HAVE to use a third party if you want to send your dog to Ireland from the United States. This wasn’t the case before, and I don’t know why they’ve changed it to be like this.

For my upcoming move
I have yet to choose a dog moving company for this latest trip I’m making. The last 2 times I flew with my animals, I did all the paperwork and airline booking myself. This time though, things are a little more complicated. Unlike the last time where I was able to take one flight direct to my destination point, this time it looks like my dog will need to make a connecting flight. Not what I wanted! I’ll be flying from the west coast of the United States, and the only option is to fly direct into Dublin. From what I understand the only airlines who are approved to fly pets in to Ireland from the US are Aer Lingus and Lufthansa. And (after booking my own airfare from San Francisco) I just found out that Aer Lingus now aren’t accepted animals for transport 🙁

So there’s the first hurdle. My options it seems are to have my dog fly from LA or San Francisco with a stopover in the United States or Europe, and then she would get a connecting flight to Dublin. Not at all ideal, but at least I have options. Another hurdle is the cost of the flight. Unlike the last times my animals flew, this time I am being forced to use a third party. Both Lufthansa and Aer Lingus are insisting on this. I called them up about it, and that’s the stance they have. This will significantly increase my costs.

So far I’ve received 2 quotes from 2 different international pet movers. One is significantly more costly than the other, and as of yet I can’t really see why. The service I requested was exactly the same, so I’m going to need to dig a little deeper to see why the price varies so much. Like I said I haven’t chosen which service I’ll use yet, and am still working on getting other quotes, so I’ll update you when I have more information. Just be sure to shop around if you’re making your own move. It seems most of these pet re-locators offer various levels of service e.g. door to door, door to destination airport etc, so figure out what’s best for you, and what you can afford. In my case I’ll most likely be doing the airport to airport service. Part of that decision is down to the inhibiting cost of full service, but I also want to minimize the time spent without ‘family’ for my dog, so I’ll want to drop her off myself.

Do’s and don’ts of pet moving
I learned a few of the do’s and don’ts of pet moving the last couple of times I flew with them. Here are some things that I paid special attention to that I think helped make the move easier for my dog:

  • All the pro’s recommend you never tranquilize your pets for a flight. I didn’t and it worked out fine for me.
  • It is also recommended that you give your pet plenty of time to get used to the kennel/crate they’ll be travelling in. Leave it somewhere they have free access to for a week or 2 before their journey, and put things in there that they are familiar with e.g. toys, water etc. I think this helped my pets overcome any anxiety about the kennel itself.
  • There are plenty of rules/guidelines too that you must follow when sending your pet internationally. You’ll need to consider crate size, food, water etc beforehand, so get familiar with the details. Each airline, and each state/country your sending your pet to may have it’s own guidelines, so check with them.

Just a quick note about pet moves to Ireland…
If your pet is moving to Ireland, then be aware that you won’t get to pick your animal up at the airport. All pets do have to come through Dublin airport, but once they arrive they are whisked off to Lissenhall Veterinary Hospital a few miles from the airport. Once there, they are checked out, and if everything looks good, are released to you that day.

Have you moved internationally with a pet? If you have any useful tips to share I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Don’t forget to stop by the Ireland Move Club and read my far more detailed article on this subject. You can find it here.


  1. Hi Liam,

    I am relocating to the US (San Francisco) with my dog. He’s small enough to fly cabin but I know a number of airlines (Aer Lingus, Delta), won’t fly pets in cabin. Given the length of the flight I know I’ll have to take a connecting flight on the East Coast. I was wondering if you could share what airlines you have used when bringing your pet in cabin to the US as Delta is no longer an option? Any help and guidance would be greatly appreciated!

    • Hey Patricia
      Unfortunately, any time I’ve flown back and forth between the USA and Ireland with my dog, they had to travel as cargo. I don’t know of any airline that allows dogs to travel in the passenger area when crossing the Atlantic. Within the US you can take him on board with you once the size restrictions are met.
      As an alternative (but definitely not for everyone) I do know someone who has looked at taking their dog via ship to Ireland.

      Best of luck with your travels. I hope it all goes smoothly.


  2. Hi Liam. I have two dogs currently in boarding in the US. Were in Ireland and we are now settled and looking to fly them over. We have flow our previous dog before (10 years ago), but all the rules have changed. If you know of any cost effective third party please let me know… With two dogs its not a cheap tranaction either way, but if we can save by using the best priced one it will help.

  3. Hi. I recently (3months ago) moved to Chicago from Ireland with my pet dog via Aer Lingus, the flight cost me €65 for her. due to unforeseen circumstances I have to travel back to Ireland and I am being quoted prices in excess of $2000. Money is tight so can you recommend any carriers that will take her for me. Also why do Aer Lingus allow her on the flight from Ireland without using a carrier and not from the US?

    • Aisling,
      Unfortunately, that number is probably at least what you will pay. It is crazy expensive! When flying internationally to Ireland from the US, you must use a pet carrier company. This is a relatively new requirement, as I have done it myself about 5 or 6 years ago without one. Back then it was 100’s of dollars, not thousands.


  4. hi all im moving to Austin shortly, i want to bring my dog with me, but the quote i got was 2000 euro i was shocked!!! is that within the normal price range

  5. Hi Liam,

    Our story is a bit different, but maybe you can help. We are moving from Dublin the to Barcelona, with our 2 dogs, we checked with Aer lingus, and they are charging us 1000€, for us that’s a bit expensive, you know any other way to travel with them, even by ferry.

    Thank you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *