Health Certificates and Travel Information
If you are thinking about traveling with your pet, there are some things to consider. If your pet is very young, very old, ill, or dealing with an ongoing medical problem, travel may be stressful for them. It may be better to look into a reputable pet sitter or kennel. If your pet has not traveled before, try a short overnight or weekend trip first. If you are in doubt, ask your veterinarian.
Know the challenges you may face. Pet care can differ from state to state and country to country. Tell your veterinarian where you will be traveling and for how long. Ask your veterinarian about any flea, heartworm, or tick risks in the areas you will be traveling through. If your pet has trouble with car travel, they will likely have trouble by air. Ask your veterinarian about the appropriate treatment for pets that become restless or carsick when traveling.
Vaccinations should be current and you should obtain a Pet Health Certificate that is dated no more than 10 days prior to your departure. Verify the Rabies vaccination requirements for the state or country you are traveling to and get a copy of your up to date Rabies Certificate. You will be required to have these if your pet is traveling by air. These certificates are also strongly recommended if your plans do not include air travel as you may need to board your pet unexpectedly and many kennels will not accept pets without these certificates.
To get an international health certificate you can request it from your veterinarian or from the embassy of the country you're planning to visit. Always request the international health certificate at least 6 months before you plan to take your trip. This will give you enough time to get the vaccinations, possible quarantine, exam and paperwork in order.
Bring your pet to a veterinarian certified by the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). International health certificates for pets are only accepted by foreign nations if they have been filled out by an APHIS veterinarian. All of our veterinarians are certified for international health certificates.
Have your veterinarian perform the specific tests and administer the specific vaccinations required by the country you will be visiting. The requirements are usually listed on the website for the country to which you are traveling. The veterinarian will record the test results on the international health certificate. This certificate should be dated no more than 10 days prior to your departure.
Take your completed international health certificate to a USDA Veterinary Services office to be endorsed. USDA endorsement is a requirement on all international health certificates. A USDA Veterinary Services office in your area can be found on the USDA website.
Bring the international health certificate with you to the airport to present to airline personnel and customs officers on demand.
Pets can become separated from their owners while traveling and are often not wearing their collars when they are recovered at shelters. Seriously consider having your pet microchipped - animal hospitals, humane societies, kennels, and shelters nationwide are using scanners that will read these implanted chips and let you be reunited with your lost pet. Microchip procedures are safe, quick, inexpensive, and very common.
Despite the likelihood that your pet will stay perfectly safe on your trip, it’s always good to be prepared for the worst. To increase the chances of a safe and quick return, bring a recent photograph and any pertinent medical and descriptive information, such as identifying marks, unusual scars or markings, microchip number, breed, color, and weight. These will be invaluable if your pet is lost.
The more care you take in preparing your animal for travel the better your trip will be. Your pet should wear a secure collar at all times with tags showing proof of rabies vaccination and your name, address, and phone number. This may make recovering your pet easier and faster if they should become lost.
Safety collars only! Never allow your pet to wear a choke, pinch, or training collar while traveling. Safety collars, which attach with elastic or Velcro, are also recommended for cats.