First and foremost: be aware the responsibility for moving your pet is on you, the owner. As soon as you know you may be stationed in Italy (or any other country overseas) start doing your research on what it will take to bring your pets with you. Notify your local travel office that you will be traveling with pets. Currently, the Department of Defense has very few programs and there are no federal entitlements for pet moving expenses. Although at this time the military does not pay for your pets travel expenses, you can probably claim them on your taxes as an unreimbursed moving expense.
If you have large dogs, any exotic pets (an animal other than a cat or dog) or are going to an Island (Hawaii, Japan, Korea etc.) you will need to be prepared to do lots of additional research and need at least 6 months of preparation to get your pet there or they will be quarantined…PLAN AHEAD!
The following sites will help you gather information:
US Dept. of State’s Pets and International Travel - http://www.state.gov/m/fsi/tc/c10442.htm
USDA Preparation of Animals Traveling Internationally -http://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_health/area_offices/downloads/Preparation%20of%20Animals%20for%20International%20Travel%20FY%202012.pdf
Your local military travel agency can arrange or change your flights for you to fly on a pet friendly airline, but you the owner must make actual arrangements with the airlines to fly pets. Local military travel agency will NOT arrange your pet’s flight accommodations. Your local military travel agency can change your flight to other airlines within the same price range but if the flights you need are more expensive you will be required to pay the difference. If your local military travel agency will not make your flight arrangements with a pet friendly airline take your issues up the chain of command or through the appropriate channels until you are able to resolve the issue. Many local military travel agency offices are not aware of their ability to arrange pet friendly flights.
Italy does not allow the importation of pets without an IPATA approved pet shipper unless the pets are being brought in on military PCS orders. It is very important that you notify the airlines and all other people you speak to about your pet’s move that your pets are indeed part of the exception for military PCS orders. If you decide to use an IPATA professional pet shipper do your research, check references and be prepared to pay large amounts of money for the convenience.
All pets being brought into Italy, and Europe in general, must be over 3 months of age, have valid and current vaccinations and require a 15 digit EU compatible micro-chip. The micro-chip most commonly used in the U.S. are 10-12 digit micro-chips and are not acceptable. Your pet will need to have a 15 digit EU compatible micro-chip inserted. Many vets do not carry these micro-chips. Be prepared to order online and have your vet insert it for you. Although you can choose to purchase a micro-chip scanner to fly here with your pet you will still have to have a 15 digit micro-chip inserted in order to obtain a pet passport and to move them back to the U.S. If at all possible complete this step before you leave the U.S. It is important that you are aware that inserting a new micro-chip invalidates all rabies vaccinations even if current or just vaccinated. You must revaccinate for rabies after the 15 digit micro-chip is inserted and at least 21 days prior to flying. The pet cannot fly until 21 days have passed after their rabies vaccine. You need an ORIGINAL rabies vaccination certificate signed in BLUE ink. No copies. A stamped copy in blue ink will not work.
Cats and dogs are required to have a valid up to date rabies vaccination that will not expire within 30 days of arrival, the 15 digit micro-chip, a bi-lingual international health certificate, USDA Form 7001, DD Form 2209 and depending on what state you are departing from there maybe additional requirements. Be aware that there are multiple forms of the health certificate required! All health certificates and forms must be filled out and signed within 10 days of travel. If you have lay overs or stops in other countries be sure that you have bi-lingual health certificates for each additional country you are stopping in. Also make sure that your pet is booked on all connecting flights. Once you board your flight ask the pilot and flight attendants to double check that your pets are on board.
Make sure you take into account that you will probably be traveling for more than 24 hours and health certificates must still be valid on the date you disembark. Check with your local USDA office and the airline you are traveling on to be sure you have all the needed paperwork and that it is properly filled out and signed. It is important to note that forms should not be filled out in black ink. Certain authorities will not accept forms filled out with black ink for fear they are not originals. It is best to insure blue ink is used on all forms.
When booking flights avoid stops in the UK as they have extremely strict rules and often quarantine animals. The UK should be avoided if at all possible when traveling with pets with layovers or stops. Be sure you know what each country you stop in requires for pet travel before you book your flights.
Italy does not have any specific dog breed restrictions however they do require that certain breeds be muzzled when in public. All owners are required to carry a muzzle for each dog when in public.
Each airline has different restrictions concerning crates, breeds, heat/cold embargos and fees. They also each have different exceptions to these rules for military on PCS orders. Research the airline website you are traveling on to find all applicable rules and exemptions that apply to you. Print out the airline policy and keep it with you when you are dealing with airline representatives and traveling. Most airline personnel are not informed of the actual policy and military exemptions. All airlines comply with the IPATA animal travel regulations but each airline can add additional requirements. (http://www.ipata.org/)
In general your pet’s crate must be large enough for them to stand completely straight with their head held as high as possible and still have at least 2-3 inches of clearance to the top of the crate. Your pet must be able to sit, lie down and turn around without restrictions. Plastic airline approved crates are most commonly used but you will need to replace the standard plastic fasteners with metal bolts. If your pet it too large to fit in a standard plastic airline approved crate they can be modified or custom crates can be built to accommodate your pet. You are required to provide a container for water and food along with a way for airline personnel to provide water without opening the crate. Generally this can be a simple funnel attached to the door. A bag of food, collar, leash and paperwork should be taped to the top of the crate. Crates must be labeled with “Live Animal” stickers. If your pet is considered a dangerous/aggressive or snub-nosed breed there will be more requirements for flying them. Be sure you do your research on specific breeds and the requirements of flying them with the specific airline you are flying the pet on.
If you are moving in the high heat of summer or extreme cold of winter there will be more issues in moving your pets as all airlines are required to limit movement of live animal in extreme heat or cold. You must check with your airline to determine their policies and any exceptions for military PCS moves.
It is our understanding that Space A does take a very limited number of cats and dogs but only on PCS orders. The requirements are the same as other airlines but there is a weight limit of 150 lbs. total combined weight of the animal and crate. Double check with your Space A point of departure for more information and availability.
If you have very large dogs or any exotic pet be prepared to do lots of additional research and plan the move more the 6 months in advance. Check with the US Fish and Wildlife Services for additional export requirements. The time required to arrange to move exotic pets or birds can be extensive. Plan to start preparations no later than 6 months before you move.
When you arrive in Italy there is only one shuttle bus available from Venice Marco Polo airport. This shuttle only allows pets that are small enough to fit inside their crates on the bus seat or in between seats on the floor. There is no official method of pick up or help to move larger animals or from other airports. Check with your sponsor or Vicenza ACS for possible options. If you are arriving at any other airport or with an animal larger than a cat or small dog you will need to make arrangements to transport your pet from the airport to your hotel. Your sponsor should be able to help or at least put you in touch with PCS Pet Project of Italy to help arrange transportation.
Currently, the Department of Defense will not reimburse you for pet moving expenses. Don’t forget that all expenses related to moving your pets are probably a tax deductible unreimbursed moving expense. Keep careful track of all expenses and keep receipts related to this long and difficult process to get the most out of your tax deduction.
PCSing your pet out of Italy….
Currently, the military does not pay for your pets travel expenses, but you should be able to claim them on your taxes as a moving expense.
Your local military travel agency does NOT book your pet on a flight! All they do is give you a pet friendly flight if possible and only if you ask. It is YOUR responsibility to contact the airline and make arrangements for your animals. Your local military travel agency will NOT do it for you.
From Europe, Lufthansa and KLM are currently the most pet friendly carriers and have the least restrictions. If at all possible, get your flight with them.
If you have large dogs, any exotic pets (an animal other than a cat or dog) or are going to an Island (Hawaii, Japan, Korea etc.) you will need to be prepared to do lots of additional research and need at least 6 months of prep to get your pet there or they will be quarantined…PLAN AHEAD!
Animals must be at least 3 months old to travel. Please DO NOT buy a new pet right before you leave as you will not be able to PCS with them.
Your Rabies vaccine must be current and not within 30 days of expiring. If you do need to re-vaccinate, it needs to be done at least 21 days before you fly.
Your pet must have the 15 digit International microchip. If your chip is less than 15 digits or contains letters, it is no longer valid and must be replaced. A new rabies vaccine must be given when a new chip is placed, even if the rabies vaccine is current. The 21 day rule applies so do not wait until the last minute to check to see if your chip/vaccine are valid.
You must have a pet passport to leave the EU. The military vet clinic in Longare, Italy has the documents you need and can explain the process to you. This is not a long process and can be accomplished in one day if you start early enough. Your pet must be up to date on vaccines to get a passport.
You will need to bring your pet to the vet for a Health Certificate exam within 10 days of your flight. This is something that requires an appointment. If the clinic is unable to get you in, the local vets can issue the certificates as well, but that will cost you more. We advise you plan for your vet appointment well ahead of your move.
PCS orders DO NOT override the weather embargos or breed restrictions! If it is going to be 85 degrees or higher at any port during your trip your pet will likely be denied by the airlines. There are also cold weather restrictions for those traveling in the winter. Stay in touch with your airline so there are no last minute surprises on PCS day.
Dangerous, aggressive and “Bully” breeds are required by most airlines to have special custom made crates. They take a few weeks to make and cost a few hundred Euro so be prepared!
Snub nosed pets are not allowed on most airlines due to their breathing difficulties. Check with your airline about breed restrictions. Be prepared to ship these breeds cargo with the help of a professional pet shipper at considerably higher costs.
It is our understanding that Space A does take a very limited number of cats and dogs but only on PCS orders. The requirements are the same but there is a weight limit of 150 lbs. total combined weight of animal and crate. Double check with your Space A point of departure for more information and availability.
Don’t forget that all expenses related to moving your pets may be a tax deductible unreimbursed moving expense. Keep careful track of all expenses and keep receipts related to this long and difficult process to get the most out of your tax deduction.
This document was written and prepared by LeeAnn M. Farris with the express purpose of helping families move their pets to or from Italy. This document contains information about moving pets to and from Italy based on personal experience and interviews. The information is not legal, financial, accounting, tax or military advice, and should not be treated as such. You should not rely on the information in this document as an alternative to legal, financial, taxation, accounting, military or other advice from an appropriately qualified professional. If you have any specific questions about any legal, financial, tax, accounting, military or other matter you should consult an appropriately qualified professional.