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How to Choose a Pet Transporter

Like any other professional shipping service, pet transportation services have federal, state, and local regulations. Because pet transportation services are responsible for shipping live animals, the requirements for licensing and certification can be strict. Before trusting someone to transport pets for you, make sure they have the correct authority, experience, and knowledge to safely transport your pet.

What Authority and Licenses are Required for a Transporting Pets?


A person with a commercial business that moves animals from one location to another is considered a transporter under the Animal Welfare Act and must be registered with the USDA. They must provide the animals with, among other things, veterinary care as needed, an appropriate diet, clean and structurally sound housing, and protection from extremes of weather and temperature. If an animal is unregulated, such as a bird, fish, or reptile, an animal transporter does not legally need to be licensed by the USDA.  Regulations vary animal-to-animal, so make sure you hire a transporter with the proper authority to ship your pet.

In addition to being licensed, your pet carrier should provide a minimum amount of insurance. Usually this is one to five hundred dollars per pet. Pet transportation insurance should cover loss, injury, or death of your pet during the trip. Keep in mind, typical insurance will not cover illness or natural death during transportation.

Pet Transportation Service Experience

In addition to being properly licensed and insured, your carrier should have experience with your type of animal. A pet shipper used to handling horses may not be able to ship your snake properly. Make sure to choose a transporter that specializes in your animal, so you know they have the proper knowledge and experience.

Questions to Ask Pet Transportation Services:

  • How long have you been transporting pets?
  • What are your policies and procedures?
  • Are you licensed with the USDA, and insured?
  • How often do you stay in contact with me during the trip?
  • What are your fees?
  • How often do you let the animals out?
  • What do you do with animals that stay with you overnight?
  • What supplies should I pack with my pet?
  • Will you be able to follow any special instructions I provide you with for my specific pets?

Content Updated: April 24, 2019 – Lisa Friedrich