How to Get an International Health Certificate for Pet Travel

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Traveling with your pet can be fun and rewarding for both of you. You won't have the worry and guilt of leaving your beloved pet behind while you go on vacation and your pet won't have to spend days or weeks missing you while you're gone. For travel within the United States, bringing your pet is relatively simple, as long as you can find pet-friendly lodgings. If you opt for international travel, however, you'll need to do some serious advance preparation for the trip. For starters, you'll need to get an international certificate for pet travel.

  • Get the international health certificate 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 all the vaccinations and paperwork in order.

  • Take your pet to a veterinarian who has been 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. To find an office in your area, visit the USDA website (see Resources below).

  • Have the veterinarian perform the specific tests and administer the specific vaccinations required by the country you will be visiting. The veterinarian will record the test results on the international health certificate.

  • 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.

Tips & Warnings

  • Make sure your veterinarian signs the international certificate for pet travel before you leave on your trip. This essential part of the paperwork is frequently overlooked and not noticed until people and their pets have arrived at an international destination. Without the signature, the pet will not be allowed into most countries and could be subject to a quarantine of up to 6 months. Quarantines are stressful on pets, so take every measure to avoid it.
  • Make a copy of the signed and endorsed international health certificate for yourself and keep it in your luggage. Make another copy and leave it at home. If your certificate is lost in travel, you need to have back-ups.
  • There will be a fee for the USDA Veterinary Services endorsement. This fee varies by state.
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