PCS to Italy with Pets

PCSing with pets can easily be the most stressful part of moving, especially when traveling overseas. Although the military “allows” you to bring two pets with you, it is you who will be responsible for paying those expenses. Do your own research ahead of time and ALWAYS have a back up plan in case plan A doesn’t pan out.

Helpful Links

Pet Travel Requirements

  • An animal must be over 3 months old to enter Italian territory
  • Microchip with 15 digit ID number (compatible with standards ISO-11784)
  • Valid Veterinary Health Certificate (within 10 days of your flight arrival) – USDA Bilingual International Health Certificate Form 7001 and if available, Military Vet Health Certificate DD Form 2209
  • Valid Rabies Vaccination (between 21 and 335 days old – cannot expire within 30 days of arrival)

Microchip Pets

  • In America most pet microchips are usually 9 to 10 digits. For European/International travel you will need a 15 digit microchip (compatible with ISO standard 11784 or 11785) so that the microchip can be read (by flight crew, vets, animal control, etc.).
  • If you do re-chip them they MUST receive their rabies shot AFTER they have been re-chipped even if they are up to date on their rabies vaccination. They must occur in that order so that the rabies certificate has the 15 digit chip number written on it. Remember, microchip must occur prior to rabies vaccination, otherwise it is not valid.
    Re-chipping and re-vaccination are both safe for your pet.
  • In addition, the pet cannot fly until 21 days have passed after their primary rabies vaccine (see below).

Valid Rabies Vaccination Certificate

  • You need an ORIGINAL rabies vaccination certificate signed in BLUE ink. No copies, a stamped copy in blue ink will not work.
  • Pets cannot fly until 21 days have passed after their primary rabies vaccine. A rabies vaccination is considered primary if either:
  1. an animal was up-to-date on its rabies vaccination but vaccination occurred prior to microchip implantation
  2. vaccination was not carried out within the period of validity of a previous vaccination
  3. the animal was vaccinated for the first time.
  • There is no time delay with booster injections; providing there is proof that the booster was administered before the last vaccine had expired.
  • 3 year rabies vaccines are not widely recognized in Europe, however they are accepted in Italy as long as it is not set expire within 30 days of arrival.

Valid Health Certificate

  • Includes: owners details, a description of the animal, details of identification and vaccinations.
  • Valid only for 10 days – health certificates must be completed and signed within 10 days of travel to meet airline requirements. If the expiration date is the same date that your flight arrives in Europe it is considered EXPIRED and your pet will not be allowed through customs. Remember to account for time/date changes when considering the 10 days of validity.
  • You need an ORIGINAL health certificate signed in BLUE ink. No copies, a stamped copy in blue ink will not work.
  • It is best to have these forms filled out by a military vet. If it is NOT a military vet, you have to find your local USDA office to get their vet to stamp and verify the health certificate.
    • Military Veterinary Health Certificate (DD Form 2209): this health certificate cannot be older than 10 days. No endorsement (stamp) is required if done by a military vet, since military vets are USDA certified.
    • USDA/APHIS Bi-Lingual International Health Certificate (Form 7001): This form must be used by civilian veterinarians. You will need to find your local USDA office to have their vet endorse (stamp) the health certificate form. The endorsed health certificate is good for 30 days but must be supplemented with a health certificate which is less than 10 days old. While this form may be used by military veterinarians, confusion about endorsement can arise so the use of Form 2209 is also encouraged.
  • If you have a layover in another country (for example, USA to Germany to Italy) it is a good idea to have a health certificate in the language of your layover country as well.

Reserve Flight/Transportation for Pets

  • During your flight booking with military travel (SATO), inform them you are flying with pets. They will try to find you a pet friendly flight itinerary. SATO is NOT responsible for booking your pet(s) for the flight.
  • Space is limited for pets, so call the airline to reserve a spot for them on each leg of the journey as soon as your flight is reserved by SATO. Make sure you tell the airline you are PCSing on military orders. There are certain exceptions for military. If a flight is full or unable to accommodate pets, SATO should try to find you a different flight within the same price range. If that flight costs significantly more, then you will be responsible for paying the difference.
  • The military only contracts with certain American airlines for official flights. Currently it seems to be Delta and United airlines. During the journey you may be transferred to another airline in alliance with Delta (KLM Royal Dutch, Alitalia, AirFrance) or United (Lufthansa, US Airways, Continental).
    • Some of these partner airlines receive high ratings for their pet services. In order to book with one of those airlines, find a Delta or United flight number that is serviced by the more desired airline and tell the SATO booking rep that you would like that flight at that time.
    • Lufthansa (through United or U.S. Airways) is often recommended as a very pet friendly airline. There are no heat restrictions (except for snub-nosed breeds), because they are held in temperature controlled areas during the flight and at the airport. They will sometimes feed, water, and walk your dog during layovers at no extra cost.
  • Remember: Once your flight is booked, call the airline to reserve space for your pet(s), then call again the next day to make sure the reservation went through and call again a few days before your flight. Also make sure that your pet is booked all the way through to your your final destination on any connecting flights or layovers. Nobody wants to find out on departure day that there was never a reservation for their pet and the flight is booked.
  • Contact the airline(s) you are flying with and get their requirements for flying pets. Visit the airline’s website and print off their requirements for flying with pets and bring them with you to the airport in case you encounter any problems. Make sure you contact ALL of the airlines you may be flying with. If you have a layover in a European country you may be switched to a partner airline that has a different set of rules.
  • Read reviews on pet travel with different airlines on BringFido.com or the Vicenza Doggie Club facebook page.

Plane Restrictions

  • Some airlines will not fly pets below the plane or even fly them at all on overseas flights.
    • US Airways does not fly pets on transatlantic flights
    • American Airlines does not fly pets “in cabin” on transatlantic flights.
  • Certain types of planes ( ex. Boeing 747, 757) will not fly pets below the plane. Solution: Choose a different flight that accommodates pets taking a less direct route. You will most likely have a layover in Paris, Amsterdam, or Germany
    • Delta Airlines: Animals will not be accepted as checked baggage or cargo on any Delta operated 767 aircraft.  Animals will not be accepted as checked baggage on any Delta operated A330-200 aircraft. There are no exceptions to this restriction for any passenger.
  • Space A flights will ONLY transport pets when on official PCS orders. Space is very limited for these flights. There is also a weight limit of 150 lbs for the combined weight of the animal and crate.
  • If you request transportation to change your flight and the new flight is more expensive, you will be responsible for paying the difference

Breed Restrictions

  • Pug-nosed breeds may have restrictions or special shipping requirements. Usually these breeds cannot fly as checked luggage.
    • Dogs: Affenpinscher, Boston Boxer, Terrier, Brussels Griffon, Bulldog, Cane Corso, Dogue de Bordeaux, English Toy Spaniel, Japanese Chin, Lhassa Apso, Mastiff, Pekingese, Pitbull, Presa Canario, Pug, Shih Tzu, Shar Pei, Tibetan Spaniel.
    • Cats: Burmese, Exotic shorthair, Himalayan, Persian
  • Aggressive breeds may have restrictions or special shipping requirements.

Weather Restrictions

  • Heat embargoes may prevent your pet from flying during extreme temperatures. This protects the pet during storage/transportation at the airport and between flights.
  • Heat embargoes apply to ALL American airlines and usually last from mid-May to mid-September
  • Some airlines have military exceptions to heat embargoes when on orders. Pets may be able to fly during the mid-May to mid-September time frame as long as temperatures are expected to remain within normal range at each stopping point along the way. For this reason, some choose to fly at night to avoid extreme temperatures.
  • Pets may be able to fly during heat embargoes with a European company like Lufthansa or KLM that have climate controlled cargo areas. Transportation may not pay for a European flight, so costs would be out of pocket.
  • Space A flights may also be an option, only if PCSing.
  • Pet shipping companies, although expensive, are an option
  • You could also have a family member or friend visit during milder temperatures and bring your pet then

Port Restrictions

  • Check with your airline to see if they fly pets into Venice
  • Venice airport does not accept unaccompanied live “cargo” planes, because there is not a Vet on duty at the airport so they cannot in-process them.
  • Pets must fly into Milan and Rome if they are not on the same plane as you


  • Is NOT required for pets in Italy
  • If your inbound flight lands in the United Kingdom, your animal may be required to undergo quarantine. It is advisable to avoid flights connecting through the UK.

Flight/Shipping Options (Least to most $$$)

  • 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. All airlines comply with the IPATA animal travel regulations but they can add additional requirements.
  • Remember that all expenses related to moving you pets is a tax deductible moving expense. Keep all receipts for your tax records.

In Cabin

  •  For small dogs, usually weighing less than 15 pounds
  • Must fit comfortably in a soft sided carrier under the seat in front of you
  • Average price: $200
    • Delta Airlines: permits passengers to bring small pets in the cabin on most flights for a fee of $125 (within the US) -$200 (international) each way. CAD amount will be charged exit Canada, and EUR amount will be charged exit Europe.
    • United Airlines: An in-cabin pet may be carried in addition to a carry-on bag and is subject to a $125 service charge each way. There is an additional $125 service charge for each stopover of more than four hours within the U.S. or more than 24 hours outside of the U.S.

10646693_10203461702080510_4607486223053213835_nChecked Luggage

  • Pets fly below the plane where luggage is kept
  • May not be climate controlled
  • Price Range: $200-$500
    • Delta Airlines: Passengers with pets traveling as checked baggage must pay a fee of $200 (each way) on all flights.
    • United Airlines: The cost to ship your pet depends on the combined weight of your pet plus the weight of your kennel.


  • Usually climate controlled
  • Sometimes flight crew will be on duty to take care of pets in flight.
  • If you will not be on the same flight as your pet, cargo is the only way they can fly. Venice airport does not accept unaccompanied live “cargo” planes, because there is not a Vet on duty at the airport so they cannot in-process them. Pets must fly into Milan and Rome if they are not on the same plane as you
  • Price Range: $175-$2,000
    • American Airlines: The fee for pets traveling in cargo is $175 per carrier (each way).

Pet Shipping Company

  • May be necessary for certain breeds, large dogs, or used as a back up plan
  • Price Range: $2,000-$5,000


  • Pets flying as luggage or cargo will need an approved pet crate/container or carrier. Some airlines may allow you to rent them.
  • Certain breeds may require special crates.
  • There may be weight restrictions, which include the combined weight of the pet and carrier.
    • American Airlines: The maximum weight of a checked pet and carrier (combined) cannot exceed 100 pounds.
  • There also may be crate size restrictions:
    • American Airlines: The maximum size for checked carriers is a series 500 kennel with the following dimensions: 40″ long x 27″ wide x 30″ high. However, this size carrier is not accepted on the Boeing MD-80 (S80). Pet carriers in cargo on MD-80s must be able to fit through the cargo door while remaining in an upright position. MD-80 cargo doors are 29″ high x 53″ wide. Series 700 carriers are not allowed on any aircraft.
    • Delta Airlines: Because the maximum allowed size of pet carriers varies among Delta and its various Connection Carriers, it is important for you to verify the permitted carrier size when making your Delta reservation.

Airline Crate Requirements (General)

  • Sturdy, non-collapsible
  • Ventilated on all four sides
  • The carrier/crate must be big enough for the animal sit, stand, lie down, and turn around in Measurement Guides for Airline Pet Carrier-Crate-Kennels
  • Screw-bolt closure (plastic clips holding it together do not meet the requirement)
  • Avoid carriers with wheels. If your kennel has wheels, they must be either removed or taped in order to prevent them from rolling in transit.
  • contain bedding, shredded paper or towels to absorb “accidents”
  • contain two dishes (one for food and one for water) attached to the inside of the kennel door

Things to Provide with Crate

  • A sticker with the words “LIVE ANIMAL” (provided by the airline) must be adhered to the top and at least one side of the kennel.
  • Health Certificate
  • Label carrier with owner’s name, pet’s name,  owner’s or nominated person’s address, contact number, and contact number at final destination. You might also include the time last fed (military time).
  • Photo of your dog
  • Hamster style water bottle for dogs
    • If you do not have enough time to train your pet to use a water bottle, two dishes will be fine. Some airlines do not feed or give water to your pets, therefore I suggest training them on the water bottles — place peanut butter on the end or use sugar water for training
  • Food dish – must be accessible from outside the kennel (attach a funnel to the outside)
  • Leash – an old one you don’t mind losing, in a zip-loc bag taped to the crate
  • Food in a Ziploc bag taped to the crate
  • Training pads or old towels for easy clean up. Some airlines require absorbent material.
  • DO NOT feed your dog less than 2 hours before the flight
  • DO NOT use sedatives on your dog: they will become lethargic, unable to regulate temperature well, and cause more stress

Other Travel Essentials

  • Treats
  • Collapsible water bowl (in cabin pets)
  • An empty water bottle filled once past security (for in cabin pets)
  • Cleaning/baby wipes (for cleaning up accidents or freshening up your dog)
  • Pick up bags
  • An old t-shirt or towel with your scent on it to help calm your pet.
  • Extra training pads for:
    1. absorbent material for the crate
    2. cleaning up after accidents
    3. getting your in cabin dog to go to the bathroom at the airport terminal bathroom between flights (use the handicap stall and spread them out on the floor)

After Arrival

Getting from the Airport to Post/Hotel

  • Pets flying as luggage or cargo will most likely be picked up from the over-sized baggage bay associated with your normal baggage belt. The over-sized baggage area for carousels 1, 2, and 3 were located behind carousel number 1 at Marco Polo. Someone “should” be there to check over your paperwork, but often times they are not. In that case, you should be able to go ahead and take your pet. You may want to have one person go to the over-sized baggage area, while another person waits for your bags.
    • Your pets crate may be zip-tied shut. Having a pair of nail clippers on hand may be wise.
    • Free luggage carts may be available near the over-sized baggage area
  • Consider taking the free military shuttle from Marco Polo – Venice airport or arranging to have your sponsor pick you up from the airport.
  • If you take the military shuttle, your put must remain in their crate and the crate must fit on a seat or between the seats on the floor of the shuttle. Basically only pets the size of a large cat. Italian law makes it illegal to transport pets below the bus.
  • For additional assistance: there is a group called PCS Project of Italy dedicated to to helping families PCSing with pets, especially with transportation of large pets to/from the airport. Feel free to contact them.

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