PCS Orders, household goods, POV shipping, the military has is all nailed down (mostly…) when moving to Germany. What about Fido? Almost everyday, someone is online asking, “Can I ship my dog to Germany?” The short answer is a very easy yes! While there are some steps you must take and some breeds have more restrictions than others, it is a simple process to make sure that Fido is with the family every step of the way.
Because everything in your PCS already has a system and pet shipping does not, you will want to get a good head start on this process. The first step you should take is to head over to the US Department of Agriculture’s page for animal exports. Select Germany from the drop down menu (or any other country you might be moving to) and you will be presented with the specific country requirements for bringing your family friend. As it goes, Germany is an easy country. Your pet will need to up-to-date on vaccinations and receive a health certificate no more than 10 days before the flight.
As stressful as all the regulations and paperwork may seem, you will find that the process is almost too easy. Many travelers report being largely ignored or simply waived through customs and immigrations areas with no attention given to their pets. Simple as it may seem, rest assured that your pets paperwork has been thoroughly reviewed before being returned to you at baggage claim.
Now that you know the paperwork is the easy, it is time to direct your attention to the hard part. Finding a carrier that will fly your pet exactly when and where you want can be a real chore. Further hindering the process are SATO travel agents that might not always have the right information. The best place to get absolute up-to-date information is from people who recently completed the process. Utilize the links on our resources page to find and join active Facebook groups at your PCS destination. Searching the web may find you general information but airlines change rules and regulations daily.
Currently, most families find success flying with Lufthansa. Be warned, the first time you call SATO they will tell you that Lufthansa is not allowed. That is not the case, you just have to push for it. You can easily find United Airlines flights that are operated by Lufthansa. Delta is another popular choice for pet flights. Whatever you choose, you should start the process early and contact the airline of your choice to work out all the details.
Prices can also vary widely between carriers. Not only can the prices vary but the difference between flying a pet on your flight and flying a pet a different day as cargo can be huge! For example, Lufthansa charges $400 for flying a large pet on your flight. Shipping that same pet on Lufthansa a different day as cargo can run into the thousands. This is why is it best to make a good plan and take your dog with you when YOU fly.
The military has another option with the Patriot Express which is very easy and almost restriction free. However, PE spots are few and go fast. I bothered SATO every day until my specific flight was available to book and took two of the three available pet spots that day. PE only flies from BWI to Ramstein and back but their process is very easy. The price is great too. The max kennel weight with dog is 150 lbs. This restriction is common among airlines and larger dogs will have to be flown as cargo.
A last option is to use a pet shipping company. These companies will take care of everything for you but they will certainly ask you to open your wallet. They will even come pick up the dog at your home and deliver it to your new address overseas. This may be the best option for families who try to fly their pets later after the PCS is complete or for very large breed dogs. I know of one family that paid $4000 to ship their Great Dane home to America.
I hope this has given you an idea of what you face and where to start. The process can be scary but thousands do it every year. There is no reason you can’t bring your families friend with you to Germany. If you have an experience shipping a dog please let us know in the comments below. I have also linked to a few of the resources listed in this article.